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A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,610 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
One of the most renowned evolutionary biologists at work today, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on subjects that matter deeply to him - and matter urgently to all of us. A Devil's Chaplain brings together the best and most provocative of his essays, on subjects ranging from evolution to ethics, from travel to literature, from education to religion. The r ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 29th 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2003)
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Jun 12, 2007 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Devil's Chaplain is an excellent collection of Dawkin's writing, ranging across the topics of genetics, memetics, pseudoscience, religion, terrorism and the nature of life itself. This is a field trip through Dawkin's mind, including letters to the prime minister, introductions to the books of others, and pieces that have appeared in popular print. His eulogy for his good friend Douglas Adams is particularly touching, and no less so is his treatment of his late rival, Stephen Jay Gould. But th ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Marijan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Knjiga je zbirka eseja pisanih kroz desetljeće i više i podijeljenih u nekoliko cjelina. U niima se Dawkins, u svom beskompromisnom stilu dotiče uobičajenih i manje uobičajenih tema- biologije, znanosti, tradicije, odnosa s drugima- i lucidno razjašnjava stvari. Sapienti sat.
Mary Storm
May 23, 2013 Mary Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The essay on Postmodernism is a delightful skewering of that pretentious twaddle dished out in so many social science departments.
Okay, this review is going to be a little about the book as a whole and a lot about an irritation about one of Dawkins' habits.

First off, the good stuff. My favorite essays were The Great Convergence, The 'Information Challenge', the eulogies for Douglas Adams and Hamilton and lastly Good and Bad Reasons for Believing (A Prayer for My Daughter), which is how I found out about this book in the first place. It was heart warming to see how Dawkins' passion, which so often is expressed in a stern vo
Sep 19, 2008 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some excellent essays. A touch too close to being a bit racist here and there, but perhaps that was inaccuracy of language. For the first time I think I actually understand something about evolution. His point about the 98% figure of genetic similarity with chimps was well made. He cited the fact that if you compare two books, there will be a lot of common letters and the figure would suggest similarity. But if you were to compare them sentence by sentence, they would probably share only a tiny ...more
Sep 06, 2010 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As you would expect, this is a stimulating sets of essays, reviews and recollections from evolution's finest advocate. As an introduction to the theory of evolution, its impact on the other sciences and the necessarily complications for dogmatic thinking in other fields it has created through the ages - and still does - it is first class. His short shrift with 'Intelligent Design' and 'Alternative Medicine' is delightfully to the point.

Many of the pieces, though, show a more 'human' side (Dawkin
Sep 20, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of essays, written before Professor Dawkins succumbed to the pomposity that is sadly so often an accompaniment to fame, and started to confuse intellect with wisdom, is one of my favorites. Most of the thirty or so essays in the book display the charm, erudition, and clarity of exposition that are characteristic of his earlier work, though some of the pieces dealing with religion prefigure his subsequent descent into shrillness and condescension.

The tone of the final essay, "A P
Mar 06, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not partial to collections of an author's shorter, previous writings. Although they can give an overview of the subject's thoughts, too often they are hodgepodges of ideas better formulated in the author's major published works. Objectively, A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Essays does give the reader general insight into Dawkins' thinking from the groundbreaking The Selfish Gene (1976) until he began writing the greatly important The God Delusion (2006). Practically, most readers will want to p ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Nuphile rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I prefer it when Dawkins sticks to the science and leaves out the philosophy, not because I think he's so incorrect, but because I think his arrogance distracts from his correctness.
Jim Razinha
Aug 04, 2011 Jim Razinha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Dawkins more often than not is labeled arrogant, whther in print, in lecture or in person. Having read, listened and talked to Dawkins, I would be hard pressed to argue the contrary. Nevertheless, I still like him and what he has to say, even if I don't understand everything.

The Devil’s Chaplain is a collection of essays published in 2003, that according to the backleaf of the paperback, is “an enthusiastic declaration, a testament to the powers of rigorous scientific examination to reve
Mohamedridha Alaskari
What excellent material in this book, first when I started reading this book I found some mysteries I could not understand some of it but then by completing the section one by one I found an explanation of each mystery.

This book giving a very clear idea about the sciences, mysteries, myths and reality. His articles make sense for me at most.

Most important section is the last one.

Very recommended for the skeptics in the science researches. Thank you Richard!
Oct 30, 2012 Kieran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What a great collection of essays, for the most part. The only reason I did not hand over five stars is that I got horribly lost in the collection of prefaces to other books and eulogies for people I had never heard of. In saying that, the two pieces on Douglas Adams were wonderful (though I have read them elsewhere). I suppose in their own right these pieces were brilliant, though I am not sure that putting them in this collection gave them the context they deserved! The strong ending, support
Feb 06, 2014 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cuando decidí leer el Capellán del diablo tenía la idea que sería un libro de ataque a las religiones, por el título y tomando encuentra que es de uno de los jinetes del ateísmo, pero me equivoqué totalmente es mucho mejor, me topé con un libro lleno de ciencia, explicando el maravilloso de la evolución, la vida abriéndose paso por miles de años, echando por el piso una teoría tan débil como el diseño inteligente, la vida actual de nuestras especies y ecosistemas son el conjunto de errores tras ...more
Bob Anderson
Mar 17, 2015 Bob Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This essay collection from Dawkins is a great read, with several gems and high quality throughout. Dawkins’s characteristic style shines throughout the book, on topics ranging from book views and polemic pieces to eulogies and a heartfelt letter though troublingly distant letter to his daughter. My favorites in this books are 2.3, “The Information Challenge”, (the essays are organized into broad sections based on their content, this is the third essay of the second section) which dismantles the ...more
David Siemer
As a fan of Dawkins, this is somewhat repetitive with other books I really liked - such as God Delusion and Greatest Show on Earth. I would only recommend this one for serious fans.
There are some essays I loved in A Devil's Chaplain but I still prefer The Blind Watchmaker and Unweaving the Rainbow.
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Collection of essays, mostly on evolution and its mechanics but a few on topics like cultural transmission of memes, human nurture, and cloning. There were also a few book reviews and a letter to his daughter that spoke--heartbreakingly--to me. It's about evidence-based beliefs as compared to those from tradition, faith, and authority. I wish I'd written in. I should print it and send it to my son.

There was only one essay specifically blasting religion, but I must say it had its moments. For exa
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"The first collection of essays from renowned scientist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins is an enthusiastic declaration, a testament to the power of rigorous scientific examination to reveal the wonders of the world. In these essays Dawkins revisits the meme, the unit of cultural information that he named and wrote about in his groundbreaking work The Selfish Gene. Here also are moving tributes to friends and colleagues, including a eulogy for novelist Douglas Adams, author of The
Eric Orchard
This book begins brilliantly. the esays in the sections Science and Sensibility and Light will Be Thrown are amazing, powerful examples of writing on science, life and culture. I felt that the essays more concerned with religion fell off the rails. I found these essays less reasonable and often ugly.

This is understandable as some were written directly after September 11 2001 and in a state of anger.

I found the letter to his daughter especially off putting. at one point writing that her dog is
Jun 09, 2011 Daniela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“What a book a devils chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horrid cruel works of nature”, Writes Charles Darwin half jokingly to his friend when describing the process of natural selection and how imperfect the natural world is. This letter that would of normally be seen as obsolete inspired Mr. Dawkins to combine a collection of his essays and others essays to explain why we shouldn’t fear science and to describe why naturals selection should not be seen as “wastef ...more
Sergey Artamonov
Jan 11, 2015 Sergey Artamonov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, science
"Капеллан Дьявола" - это сборник произведений малого формата: эссе, рецензий и статей. Однако ни о какой хаотичности говорить не приходится, потому что тексты объединены по главам тематически (биология, меметика, Африка, некрологи и т.д.).
Тексты относятся к разным периодам и дают представление примерно о двадцати годах научной и творческой жизни Докинза. Так случилось, что многие мысли, высказанные в "Капеллане Дьявола", русскоязычному читателю уже знакомы по более свежим (но раньше переведённым
Walter Villalobos
Apr 28, 2013 Walter Villalobos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Resumen Dawkins

En cada una de las líneas que forman este recopilatorio de sus escritos mas sobresalientes, se puede percibir la esencia misma de Dawkins. Todo aquel que lo ha visto y ha leído el libro, sabrá de lo que hablo. Si bien la primera edición es del 2003, al día de hoy se mantiene firme como un árbol robusto que resiste grandes vientos.

Cada uno de los apartados trata diversas temáticas de la vida diaria, como el mismo título lo dice: desde ciencia pura hasta una carta personal. Sin luga
Mar 22, 2007 Kalilah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a less the thorough understanding of evolution, (too many of us I fear )
Very interesting if superficial look at aspects of science, philosophy, sociology and of course evolution. The authors passion for his topics is evident and infectious even though at times the arguments and terminology may confuse those not thoroughly versed in the field.

There are numerous attacks on religious and other belief systems which do not rely on, or require, evidence so if you are a believer and sensitive about your beliefs or your right to those beliefs, then be warned, this book wil
Dec 18, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This book is a collection of Dawkins's essays, book reviews, forewards, eulogies, letters, etc. from the past 25 years. The 32 essays are organized thematically into different sections such as "Science and Sensibility," which is Dawkins's magnificant ode to science and reason, and "The Infected Mind," which forms the bulk of his polemic against the virus-like persistence of religion. Other chapters discuss such varied topics as 'alternative' medicine, genetic information content, the flaws of th ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Aljohn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tiptop collection of essays written by The RD, however boastful the book has presented itself to be. I especially love the Science & Sensibility section in which Dawkins referred to Science as the only real truth, with cool hand, tackling the ape family tree, and the like. Citing examples would spoil the hereticism of the wide caboodle. RD may sound increasingly full of himself but he actually mastered the art of sometimes losing the overall momentum of the book, thus not afraid of ...more
May 05, 2014 Kerszi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jeżeli ktoś lubi R. Dawkinsa, to na pewno się na tej pozycji nie zawiedzie. Chociaż wolałbym coś nowszego wydanego po 2004 roku, a te teksty niestety są troszkę stare ale jakże na czasie. Jest dobrze. Tylko przy jednym rozdziale przysnąłem jak opisywał książkę Goulda, już sam nie wiem czy był jego mocnym oponentem czy przyjacielem. Reszta rozdziałów jest bardzo wciągająca. Nie ma tu artykułów tylko o biologii, religii, jest za to cały kolaż wszystkiego; taki miszmasz, są jeszcze mowy pożegnalne, ...more
Sep 19, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, evolution
"Devil's Chaplain" brings together various book reviews, prefaces, eulogies, articles and essays from Richard Dawkins into a single volume. Although none of these essays stray from his familiar areas of expertise there is a different flavor to this work than his other books. Many of the essays feel less formal and as if his personality bleeds through more noticeably than in his books. And though the variety of this collection was novel at first I eventually began to miss the format of his other ...more
May 27, 2016 Koke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
وعلي الرغم من ان الهوس بالبدع امرتافه الا انه يمدنا بمزيدمن القرائن التي تدل علي ان العقول البشريه ربما بوجه خاص عقول صغار السن لديها الصفات التي ميزناها علي انه مرغوبه للطفيلي المعلوماتي والعقل اقل القليل يعد مرشحا معقولا للاصابه بشئ مثل فيروس الكومبيوتر حتي وان كان هذا العقل لا يشبه البيئه التي يحلم بها كل طفيلي مثل بيئه نواه الخليه او الكومبيوتر الالكتروني
ريتشارد دوكينز
Noel G
Jul 21, 2015 Noel G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dawkins at his best - in bite sized chunks.

I have yet to finish a complete Dawkins book, I find them, tedious, and repetitive. This though is a collection of the best parts of his writing. Brief and focussed some of the articles are brilliant. A few are less so, but overall, the best thing of his I have seen. And the only one I have managed to read through to the end.
John Orman
Jul 19, 2012 John Orman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this collection of his best essays, Dawkins uses wit and an analytic mind to speak out against pseudoscience, religion, and mysticism. One essay takes on "crystal power." As far as religion and science ever converging, Dawkins answers with an emphatic NO!

One essay is a moving eulogy written for Douglas Adams in 2001. Quite interesting is his Correspondence with a Darwinian Heavyweight, an exchange of letters between Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould.

Also quite revealing is the author's open lette
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The Radionuclide ...: A Devils' Chaplain by Richard Dawkins 13 11 May 19, 2013 07:12PM  
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
  • God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory
  • Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
  • How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
  • The Meme Machine
  • Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
  • Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up
  • Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
  • Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
  • What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty
  • Atheism: The Case Against God
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
  • The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound
  • Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think
  • The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture
  • The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

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“We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes.” 86 likes
“Even those who do not, or cannot, avail themselves of a scientific education, choose to benefit from the technology that is made possible by the scientific education of others.” 57 likes
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