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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  5,026 ratings  ·  90 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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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
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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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.
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.
Mary Storm
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
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
Jim Razinha
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
“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
"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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
"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
Noel G
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
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
Dan Arel
This book was fantastic! A collection of essays, from his love of science, to book reviews and personal battles with other famous scientists. Ending w/ the famous letter to his 10 year old daughter.

I personally loved the section and essays on pseudoscience, religion and the back and forth between him and Stephen J Gould. I found each essay to be inspiring and never boring. At the end of each, you would check the clock to see if you had time to read one more.

As with all of Dawkins books, I finish
This book is just as aggressive as I thought it'd be from its name. So the sensitive religious people should be warned in case of an offence.

It was a really nice collection of essays on various topics. I found some parts with less Biology to be a little boring, probably cause I've already read many books pointing out the negative sides of religions. I read those parts mostly skimming so as not to get bored and abandon the book. But I've noticed that the author's writing style will never not be
Aug 02, 2007 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science-y geekwads
I read this for Dawkins's correspondance with his academic rival/intellectual equal (essentially, his American counterpart) Stephen Jay Gould, which was quite interesting. As this book was published shortly after Gould's death, Dawkins included a touching eulogy to the man with whom he clashed academically for three decades, but greatly admired as a dedicated scientist, evolutionary biologist, and friend. Dawkins admits that while it has yet to be determined who will be victorious on the schola ...more
la dimensione ideale di Dawkins e' il saggio lungo, anche perche' gli argomenti trattati necessitano un approfondimento che il saggio breve non consente. Nondimeno, questa raccolta di saggi brevi apparsi su varie pubblicazioni mantiene il fascino e la lucidita' che l'A. riesce immancabilmente a infondere in tutti i suoi scritti. Taluni scritti, peraltro, sono inquadrabili correttamente solo se si sono letti i suoi precedenti libri. Come sempre, personalmente concordo con quasi tutto quello che D ...more
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The Radionuclide ...: A Devils' Chaplain by Richard Dawkins 13 9 May 19, 2013 07:12PM  
  • Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment
  • God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory
  • How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
  • What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty
  • Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
  • Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up
  • The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound
  • Atheism: The Case Against God
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
  • Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
  • The Meme Machine
  • Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
  • The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture
  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity
  • Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think
The God Delusion The Selfish Gene The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution

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