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The God Delusion [Hardcover]

Richard Dawkins
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,808 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 18, 2006
A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions—fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium—that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense." The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it. (Oct. 18)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Scientific American

Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, tells of his exasperation with colleagues who try to play both sides of the street: looking to science for justification of their religious convictions while evading the most difficult implications—the existence of a prime mover sophisticated enough to create and run the universe, "to say nothing of mind reading millions of humans simultaneously." Such an entity, he argues, would have to be extremely complex, raising the question of how it came into existence, how it communicates —through spiritons!—and where it resides. Dawkins is frequently dismissed as a bully, but he is only putting theological doctrines to the same kind of scrutiny that any scientific theory must withstand. No one who has witnessed the merciless dissection of a new paper in physics would describe the atmosphere as overly polite.

George Johnson is author of Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order and six other books. He resides on the Web at

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (September 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618680004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618680009
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,808 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,596 of 1,756 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disillusioned Catholic November 11, 2006
I read numerous reviews before I bought this book. Because of the controversial nature of the topic I was very interested in the perspective of the reviewer. Often this perspective was easy to guess but not always. So to make this review more valuable to the reader I would like to state my background first. I am a 50 year old active Catholic who has slowly become disillusioned by religion starting as a child when told my Protestant friend would not go to heaven. For years I existed on "faith" since I personally could find no evidence that God existed. As a Catholic there is also a good helping of "guilt" for good measure. I am also a very strong Constitutionalist and believe that the only way to get along is to have freedom of and freedom from religion. With the recent surge of religious fundamentalism and its effects on politics I have become increasingly concerned about what Dawkins calls the American Taliban and the push for a Christian Theocracy. This actually scares me more than Al-Qaida. The words "Faith" and "Belief" have been morphed into the word "Truth". This new "Truth" has caused me to do a lot of searching for answers for what really is true.

Richard Dawkins book was extremely helpful and was the first book I have read on the Atheist side of the fence. I found Chapters 1 through 4 and 7 through 9 easy to read. Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 10 were more scientific and a hard read for the average person. I actually needed a dictionary at my side to get through those chapters. I particularly liked the section in Chapter 3 on Pascal's Wager which I had mistakenly credited to Einstein in the past.

What I had found so interesting is that he expressed ideas that I had been developing in my brain for years, but did not feel free to discuss with others.
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2,745 of 3,128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the Reviews! October 28, 2006
I've just finished reading the 141 reviews above mine, and I think they're utterly fascinating--almost as interesting as the book. And the scores--the numbers who find each review helpful--are equally remarkable.

Some reviewers, delighted to find their opinions supported by Dawkins, use the opportunity to bask in their superior intellects and display their generous contempt for those who disagree.

Other reviewers feel personally attacked by this book, fending it off as best they can so they can retain their illusions, which are obviously valuable and meaningful to them.

Actually, you don't even have to read the reviews to see which is which. Just look at the numbers. If you see very few finding the review useful, you'll know the review was written by someone opposing Dawkins' ideas. And if the majority find the review helpful, that means it agrees with Dawkins.

This tells me that most of the people who are bothering to read the reviews are already pro-Dawkins--and it bodes ill for his hopes that his book will convert the believers.

It won't convert many believers, not because it is wrong--it isn't--and not because it isn't well-written--it is--but because whatever else you can say about faith, it isn't easily extinguished. For those who have it, it is the only life raft on a limitless ocean. Those who don't have learned how to swim, or plan to.

The most annoying reviewers, from my point of view, are those whose remarks demonstrate they haven't read the book (such as the fellow who insists Einstein was a believer), or those who feel Dawkins doesn't have the Biblical knowledge to back up his conclusions.

He doesn't need any Biblical knowledge. None of us do, when it comes to the question of belief.
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301 of 343 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaches its intended audience December 21, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Many have criticized this book for not speaking in a voice that could influence religious fundamentalists away from their delusion. There is no way the topic can be discussed that would have any hope of doing this. It would be akin to writing a book that through gentle persuasion would reason a paranoid out of his delusions. Ain't going to happen.

I believe the intended audience is those who already have grave doubts, and are looking for a well reasoned examination of the issue. I was impressed by the simple and straightforward approach to resolving a basic question: "since we can't know for sure if God exists, shouldn't we all be agnositics?"

I also enjoyed his definition of a pantheist (I'll leave that for the reader to discover).

The opening sections on Einstein and his "religious" beliefs, and a general discussion of pantheism and deism are worth the price of the book just by themselves.

As an aside -- those reviewers who cite Einstein's religious conversion away from atheism have clearly not read even this much of the book.

Written with great humor and wonderful quotations -- I am sure there is something here to offend just about everyone -- but also with great courage and forthrightfullness.
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1,114 of 1,320 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best work on atheism January 4, 2007
Before considering Professor Dawkins's bestseller, a mention must be made of the over 300 reviews here posted as well as the assorted blogs, debates, and article the book has provoked. Reading through these, whether pro or con, one can not help but notice a clear and unnerving trend, not unlike one sees in reviews regarding works on the Middle East conflict; those who agree with his thesis from the outset almost always offer resounding and unadulterated praise without considering even the possibility of flaws in his methodology or logic. Of course, at the same time, those who hold his position as heresy rarely respond in any logical method to his position and rarely even seem willing to acknowledge the professor's obvious strength's as a writer. Such failure of reasoning on both sides points to a disheartening decline in the state of the western intellectual tradition that should give every person pause.

As a great fan of Professor Dawkins's previous work, "The Selfish Gene," a book that provided me with considerable food for thought several years back and profoundly altered my thinking, I looked forward with some excitement to "The God Delusion." Reading the new book on recognizes quickly that this is in fact one book, with three goals. Professor Dawkins imagines these goals as not only compatible, but structural to the argument he seeks to build. As for me I am less certain.

The first part restates much of what might be found in "The Selfish Gene," albeit more briefly and with some editions based on more recent scholarship.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great explanation.
Published 9 hours ago by PENTONEY FAMILY
3.0 out of 5 stars good read
Although I disagree with several of the conclusions drawn in his book, Dawkins makes clear arguments for his beliefs. Read more
Published 14 hours ago by Rick Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific explanation for evolution
Very detailed and informative. I was impressed by the author's knowledge. Will share the book with others who want to know the truth.
Published 21 hours ago by Peggy North
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
I found it really boring to read. I preferred God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.
Published 1 day ago by Daniel Foust
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It is interesting but it is hard to read.
Published 1 day ago by Frank
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good book! It can be a little bit boring at some point, but is worthy to read!
Published 2 days ago by Pablo
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. I have read through it many times ...
Excellent book. I have read through it many times and wish more people could read it. I've handed this book out to many a family and friend whenever a debate arises. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Rhystatic
1.0 out of 5 stars A complete waste of time.
I bought this book on the recommendation of a new friend, who couldn't stop praising Dawkins' incisive thinking. Read more
Published 4 days ago by David Knapp
5.0 out of 5 stars Confirms my beliefs (or non-beliefs). In my case it's ...
Confirms my beliefs (or non-beliefs). In my case it's preaching to the choir. Those who are of the opposite persuasion will probably not read it.
Published 6 days ago by James Talbot
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 days ago by ryan
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More About the Author

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995. Among his previous books are The Ancestor's Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.

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The God Delusion
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