The God Delusion

June 29, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

godThe God Delusion by Richard Dawkins


It’s been about seven years since I declared myself an atheist. I was hesitant to make a big deal out of it, since, like a person’s religion, I felt it was a private matter that didn’t have much bearing on day-to-day life. In a world where evangelism is common, where the converted will knock on your door to talk about Jesus, I felt like it was appropriate to keep it to myself.

Richard Dawkins doesn’t feel this way. In fact, I wonder if I’m even the target audience for The God Delusion, since his intention with the book is to convince religious people to give up their gods. His arguments are intended to knock down the tenets of religion, leaving believers with no choice but to give up God and become atheists. In short, the book is evangelism. It’s atheist evangelism, to be sure, but it’s evangelism nonetheless.

The book is also unnecessarily confrontational, and even insulting. When looking at opposing arguments (religious ones, that is), he uses words like “silly” or “infantile” or “ludicrous”, and I can’t help but wonder how he thinks he will convert people using language like this.

This is all a shame, not only because he takes this approach to the subject matter, but also because the arguments he makes are meritous and worth considering, religious or otherwise. I waffled with whether I was agnostic or atheistic for years, and had I read this book when I was younger, it would have helped me realize my position much sooner (had I been able to get beyond Dawkins’ tone).

I listened to the audiobook edition of the book, which was narrated by Dawkins and his wife. In one respect, it was helpful to have two narrators. Dawkins quotes long pieces from other works, and it helps to know when the quote begins and ends, since one narrator will pick up the quote and return to the other narrator when the narrative returns. In another respect, though, it was distracting. Sometimes they shifted speakers for no reason, and it was sometimes hard to manage the thread of the conversation.

I found a lot to like in The God Delusion, but I found a lot I didn’t like, too. It’s a weird blend of good content buried under a stratum of aggression, but those who can stick with it will leave with a lot to think about. I have a hard time seeing how a Christian would (a) choose to read the book, or (b) be convinced by Dawkins’ arguments. I think it’s a book best geared toward those who are examining their own lack of faith.

Started: May 8, 2018
Finished: May 19, 2018

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