Saturday, October 21, 2006

The God Delusion


Richard Dawkins latest book has been flying up the best seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic and for very good reason. The book as with all of his writing is well written and tightly argued. If the title has not given it away this is a book critical of religion and it's negative impact on the world we live in.

Along with many others Dawkins can give offence because he refuses to accept a fairly commonly held view in western societies. He does not think that faith or religion deserve any respect or special consideration. All statements and claims are equal and we have every right to examine and criticise them. This offends some readers, but Dawkins makes no apology about it.

There is not a lot in this book that those who have read Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett will find earth shattering. In fact while each writer takes a different approach it's not to hard to see that they share a vast amount in common. Dawkins has said more than once that he hopes the readers of this book will come away convinced that there is no sensible reason to believe in a God.

The book provides a snapshot of much of current atheist thinking and briefly outlines a history of atheism. One of the real values of the book are the many references and recommendations that will help an interested reader greatly broaden their understanding. The book begins with Dawkins own position and then moves to look at arguments for God belief and arguments for disbelieving in a God. The writer touches on morality, the origin of religion, the bible and the problems of belief.

It is in the problems of belief that the books real strength lies. For anyone who saw The Root of All Evil the arguments while not new are greatly expanded and elaborated upon. The two central problems that Dawkins sees with religion center around it's distortion of social relationships in democratic societies and the great harm it does to children.

It has been a long time since books critical of religious belief have appeared in best seller lists. To have so many in such a short time suggests that many readers both religious and non-religious have started to accept that religion is having some problems. Before people jump on the bandwagon to critise this book as many have already; I would ask why is it alright to talk about your religious faith, to advocate it's value and importance but not alright to critise religion and point out we may be better off without it??

Read this book whatever your religious views, at the very least it may help you understand that there are a great number of us who share similar opinions but who have been drowned out by the religious majority.

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