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#41 – The God Delusion

August 18, 2007

i saw it on tv, they were selling pieces of heavenIn the movie Melvin Goes To Dinner, one of the characters comments during a discussion about church “If I was to write a book about religion, I’d have to call it There’s No Possible Way There’s A God.”  Richard Dawkins unfortunately wasn’t able to come up with a title as catchy as that one, but with The God Delusion, he’s basically written that very book.  Dawkins is advocating complete and immediate atheism with this book, and after finishing it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better put together thesis.  Every aspect of his argument, and every possible counterargument to his position, is raised and fully addressed.  He’s clearly been doing this for a long time, and he’s quite good at it.

The God Delusion is worth reading if only for how fantastically well-reasoned it is, and how intriguing some of Dawkins’ suggestions are.  There’s a certain satisfying irony in hearing him explaining why humans developed religion using Darwinism, and as a kid who was taught to be terrified of hell in catechism class, I found particular pleasure in his chapter on the impact of religion on childhood.  As you might expect from a British scholar demanding the end of all religion, the book can get a bit condescending at times (describing it as ‘preachy’ seems inappropriate in this case).  It also has its moments of hilarity, though – Dawkins dedicated The God Delusion to his friend Douglas Adams, and a similar wit shows up through enough of Dawkins’ writing to keep things entertaining.

Because I don’t really like to discuss religion, and because apparently my grandparents just found out about Small Victories, I won’t go any further into my thoughts on the content of The God Delusion except to say this: although it’s definitely worth reading, it does seem a bit pointless.  I mean, just this summer, I’ve read about the imminent climate change crisis, the growing anti-intellectualism in the United States, and the twin potential and danger posed by artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.  In the face of all this, arguing about atheism starts to seem awfully petty, you know?

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