-uht!'s Reviews > The God Delusion

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
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's review
Jun 13, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: religion

Okay, so it starts off very dismissive, pedantic, and dickish, but in the last half, this book totally grew on me. There is some really decent information in here that could've only been written by Dawkins. I really had to get through about 150 or 200 pages to anything that spoke to me, but I really dug the section "Why There Almost Certainly Is No God" and especially loved the section on religious memes, comparing them to the selfish gene. Also very fascinating was the section on "cargo cults" and the speed at which they developed and covered their origin tracks. Having come from Mormonism, this is an all-too-familiar theme. "Where are the gold plates now?" "Uh... well, an angel took them away." "Cool, I believe it." There's some cool discussion on the evolutionary origin of morals and 4 possible candidates for why morality arose.

I enjoyed some of his theories on how religion piggybacked evolution, specifically the ideas that it's evolutionarily advantageous to trust parents and tribal elders, and the idea that humans are natural-born dualists, applying 'meaning' and 'purpose' to external objects. He makes a pretty good case for these ideas. (And in doing so, explains why moths fly into the flame... kickass!)

A few of my favorite quotes (in no particular order):

"Ambrose Bierce's witty definition of 'to pray': to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy."

"The logic [of the intelligent design proponent] turns out to be no more convincing than this: 'I [insert own name] am personally unable to think of any way in which [insert biological phenomenon] could have been built up step by step. Therefore it is irreducibly complex."

"...if God really did communicate with humans that fact would emphatically not lie outside science. God comes bursting through from whatever other-worldly domain is his natural abode, crashing through into our world where his messages can be intercepted by human brains--and that phenomenon has nothing to do with science?"

"The idea that there is a me perched somewhere behind my eyes and capable, at least in fiction, of migrating into somebody else's head, is deeply ingrained in me and in every other human being, whatever our intellectual pretensions to monism."

From Arthur C. Clarke: "Any Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

"If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would 'commit robbery, rape, and murder', you reveal yourself as an immoral person, 'and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you'."

From H.L.. Mencken: "People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police."

"Always devise your rules as if you didn't know whether you were going to be at the top or the bottom of the pecking order."

From Seneca the Younger: "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."

Of abortion doctor killers: "A certain kind of religious mind cannot see the moral difference between killing a microscopic cluster of cells on the one hand, and killing a full-grown doctor on the other."

Voltaire: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

"Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them . . . to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades."

"I thank my own parents for taking the view that children should be taught not so much *what* to think as *how* to think."

Mark Twain: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

"'Really' isn't a word we should use with simple confidence . . . 'Really', for an animal, is whatever its brain needs it to be in order to assist its survival."
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Reading Progress

June 13, 2007 – Shelved
July 17, 2007 – Shelved as: religion
Started Reading
September 1, 2007 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Alisha (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:23PM) (new)

Alisha based on all the books you've read and are currently reading, i'd be tempted to think that all you do it read! didn't anyone tell you that what you don't know can't hurt you? geez.

message 2: by -uht! (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

-uht! :) i'm making up for lost time. all those years trying to reinforce the holes in those walls i put up in my brain i wasn't reading. plus, look who's talking!

oh, and as you might expect, this book is the new 'why i'm not a christian' and addresses a lot of the ID arguments.

message 3: by Alisha (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Alisha hmm. of course dawkins is on my never-ending list of authors to read. i think i might start with the selfish gene though. so is the god delusion preachy? i hate preachy books.

did i tell you ive bought like 25 books within the last two weeks and i don't think ive even made a noticeable dent in my to-buy list.

message 4: by -uht! (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

-uht! preachy? nah... dickish? quite a bit. :)

25 books in 2 weeks? um... i think you may need to go to a meeting. i'm sure there are people who can help.

message 5: by Alisha (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Alisha i've actually heard there's a pill for it. and a christian retreat i can go to where i'll be told i wasn't born that way and god can change me if i let him.

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