I’m really not interested in getting into anything controversial on my book blog, but I just finished Richard Dawkins’ work The God Delusion so I’m going to say a few things. I have mixed feelings about this book. Dawkins is very insightful, and I found he about covered every type of bizarre confrontation I’ve had with overexcited believers in the past. But the book also made me sad because, does it do any good? It’s still going to be taboo to argue against religion, and only non-believers will ever pick up this book. Overall, without going into too much, Richard Dawkins presents well reasoned and researched arguments, without being dry or condescending. I disliked much of the middle section, however, because it seemed to veer off-topic. Or, more likely, he stayed on topic but I wasn’t capable of following it. The book’s main topics include: how religions form, why human morality does not come from the scripture or religion, and the facts of science which are based on evidence, not faith. Anyways, I don’t want to upset any of my religious friends and family (I love you!), so I’m not going into it anymore. It was a good book for those interested, and even believers might be curious about its perspective.
“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” — Douglas Adams
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Those of us schooled from infancy in his ways can become desensitized to their horror.” Pg. 51
“The fact that something is written down is persuasive to people not used to asking questions like: ‘Who wrote it, and when?’ “How did they know what to write?’ ‘Did they, in their time, really mean what we, in our time, understand them to be saying?’ ‘Were they unbiased observers, or did they have an agenda that colored their writing?'” Pg. 118
“‘If you don’t understand how something works, never mind: just give up and say God did it. You don’t understand how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! … Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God… Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. We need those glorious gaps as a last refuge for God.” Pg. 159
“Since plenty of others were born into religions other than Christianity, how did God decide which future people should receive such favoured birth?” Pg. 293
“Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief…The book is true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book. By contrast, what I, as a scientist, believe (for example, evolution) I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I studied the evidence. When a science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake and is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn’t happen in holy books.” Pg. 319
“Does the embryo suffer? (Presumably not if it is aborted before it has a nervous system; and even if it is old enough to have a nervous system it surely suffers less than, say, an adult cow in a slaughterhouse.) Does the pregnant woman, or her family, suffer if she does not have an abortion? Very possibly so; and, in any case, given that the embryo lacks a nervous system, shouldn’t the mother’s well-developed nervous system have the choice?” Pg. 331