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2,806 of 3,197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the Reviews!, October 28, 2006
This review is from: The God Delusion (Hardcover)
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. Memorizing the Bible neither adds nor subtracts from our ability to feel faith.

And that's the bottom line for me. I am unable to accept an assertion of any kind supported by nothing more than faith. I need some kind of truth, some kind of evidence.

There are or might be moments when I am jealous of those capable of faith. I would love to believe, when a loved one dies, that he or she is going to a better place and that we'll meet again some day. What a lovely, comforting thought. Would that it were true, or that I could believe it. But I don't--and it makes this life and every moment in it more valuable to me.

I once asked myself how a person totally unfamiliar with religion, might choose among the world's offerings, might decide to adopt one of the world's thousands of religions. I could find no way. They all claim they're right and all the other religions are wrong. But are any of them right?

Now I'm thinking similar thoughts about God. I saw a website recently that compiled the names of all of the gods, worldwide and throughout history. They found 3800 different gods or supernatural beings. If I were inclined to believe, which one would I choose and why?

Dawkins points out that we're all atheists. We don't believe in Amon-re, Zeus, Thor, Apollo, Odin, etc., etc., etc. He just goes one god further.
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Tracked by 17 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 595 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2006 6:02:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2006 6:07:08 PM PDT
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Posted on Oct 28, 2006 6:21:28 PM PDT
If you are annoyed by Einstein's quotes, then your issue is with Einstein, really. I don't claim to be able to read Einstein's mind. I'm just making a reasonable assumption that the remarks that were attributed to that great man were recorded accurately in the literature. I would wager that Einstein's beliefs about religion were more complex than a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2006 11:16:15 PM PDT
Kundalini1357 is correct. Here are a few Einstein quotes that I don't recall finding in "The God Delusion." (page numbers are from "The Expanded Quotable Einstein", Princeton University Press, 2000):

"I see a pattern, but my imagination cannot picture the maker of that pattern. I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one?" (p. 208)

"Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres." (p. 214)

"I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details." (p.202)

and, my fave,

"It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it. . . The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it ... In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it." (p. 207)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2006 3:08:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 29, 2006 10:04:39 AM PST
Susan says:
Luke, most doubters do not go around criticising their friends/relative or colleagues, We keep quiet about it. I shared an office for a year with a fundamentalist, never told him what I felt or how he should think. This was even true when he brought people in to the office and attempted to teach them stuff I thought was nonsense. To me (at least) the current reaction and criticisms by Dawkins and others are based on a fear of the intolerant/violent actions of fundamentalists. Now many people have commented on these pages that these are not true christians/muslims/jews etc. I, however, agree with Dawkins that it is the presence of so many religiously devout (albeit peaceful) people that allow fundamentalists to function. Moreover, it only takes a few fundamentalists with the Bomb to annihilate mankind. If your society maintains a large percentage of skeptics then such fundamentalism become untenable within it.
Okay I admit that inside myself I feel that the religious are deluding themselves. Indeed my feelings are exactly the same when I read of how the ancient Greeks or Vikings worshipped their gods. I am sure that the religious feel I will pay for my mistakes on this issue. But why shouldn't the skeptics give voice to their reasons for being so? After all turn on the TV any sunday morning and we get the other side.
The original review was very good. I think it does come down to the degree of proof your mind demands. I went the other way from christianity to skepticism (not hard-line atheism). This occured when I realised the Bible was probably so corrupted and edited as to be completely unreliable (again this is my opinion, i don't want to debate it).

Posted on Oct 29, 2006 3:47:53 PM PST
J. Berndt says:
A well written an articulate review. I appreciated reading it as your take on this subject is shared by so many--both with faith in God and faith in "not-God". Trying to explain faith in God is like trying to smell a color or hear a number, so I won't attempt it. I would however like to demonstrate how one totally unfamiliar with religion can decide to put their faith in Christ (and he/she will not have to pick a religion as a result). The question I often hear is "how can you choose Christianity vs. any other religion without trying each one out and making an informed decision?" To a person of faith this is like asking how he knows he loves his wife when he hasn't slept with thousands of other women in his search of the right mate. Christianity (for lack of a better term) is about a relationship. It doesn't follow a set of rules or a philosophical system like all other major world religions. It's about willingly accepting (that is to say "believing") a love. The thing that trips so many people up is that it's not a forced love. We don't have to take, we have to will to take it. God will never violate your will--that's what keeps us all from being robots. Now I suppose some may say they don't believe in love either, but then no one ever liked listening to them anyway.

Somehow in our ignorance of what it means to believe in God we've equated God with religion, and religion with faith and faith with church etc.... If the religious masses could peel back and put God before their rules, and if those skeptical about God could start seeing God as God and not God as religion I believe we'd find that we're not that far apart on this matter. Again, the heart of the issue is relationship, not religion. The question is do you believe you can be loved by something bigger than yourself, not can you rationalize a set of rules long enough to believe in them.

The one comment I would make about this book: trying to disprove God by using a strict intellectual arguement is like trying to prove God does exist by handling poisonous snakes. Both leave much undiscovered.

Suggested reads for those willing to look at the other side of the coin: "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis and "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. Both will be appreciated by thinking men and women.

Posted on Oct 30, 2006 8:11:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2006 8:12:01 PM PST
Violinist says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2006 10:35:01 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2006 11:45:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 31, 2006 12:01:03 AM PST
Susan says:
The point is that these people are, listen to or are elected by fundamentalists! I am British, I have no doubt that Blair is the first British prime minister to actually believe in God for 50 years (as opposed to turning up on sunday and then forgetting about it all an hour later). It is difficult to overestimate the degree to which islamic fundamentalism is a reaction to the obvious christianity based rhetoric coming from these people.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2006 12:33:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 31, 2006 12:36:03 PM PST
"The best documented event in all of ancient history"? Maybe not, Daniel. The Egyptian dynasties were very well documented. The wars of the Greeks and Persians are documented in great detail. These are just a few of many.

As I understand it, the Jesus story comes to us through the words of four people, none of whom were his contemporaries. Some evidence.

Even if Jesus appeared to have been resurrected, there are plenty of explanations for that event other than religious ones. Remember, the Piltdown man?

At any rate, you choose to believe in the Jesus story. I find the evidence not just inadequate, but unconvincing.

As for my knowledge of religion, it's not very deep. Karen Armstrong's "The History of God" is about as far as it goes--that and a lifetime of living with religion.

But Dawkins wasn't attacking religion. That target is just too easy to demolish. He was attacking belief in God.

When it comes to belief in God, nothing anyone has written, nothing anyone has experienced, trumps our own life experience. And that's true for all of us--you too.

Posted on Nov 2, 2006 1:24:20 AM PST
Peter Ryan says:
At the core of the argument as to whether Dawkins will "convert" people to atheism is this; I was raised a Catholic, I am an atheist. I have read the Bible, the Koran, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, studied mythology and philosophy, read "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid", David Zindell's "A Requiem for Homo Sapiens" and many other books on morality, ethics, religion, science, philosophy and the like. Most fundamentalists (of whatever persuasion) I know have read only their "holy book" and writings espousing the same theories. You cannot enlighten that which closes its doors against the light.
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