The international bestselling broadside that has taken the world by storm
Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and a fellow of New College. The Selfish Gene catapulted Richard Dawkins to fame, and remains his most famous and widely read work. It was followed by a string of bestselling books: The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor's Tale and a collection of his shorter writings A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the 1987 Royal Society of Literature Award, the 1990 Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the 1997 International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science, the Kistler Prize in 2001, and the Shakespeare Prize in 2005. The God Delusion was originally published in 2006 and has since become a worldwide bestseller.
The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense." The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it. (Oct. 18) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this hard-hitting critique of religious belief, Dawkins (Oxford Univ.) explains why the belief in God is both wrong and dangerous. Unlike his past works that only touch on the subject (e.g., The Selfish Gene; The Blind Watchmaker), this book is thorough and pulls no punches. Dawkins starts his "attack" by covering the various definitions of God as well as nearly every classical argument for the existence of God. He then proceeds to build his case based on a Darwinian/scientific perspective of why he believes there is no God, period. He concludes by offering a scientific explanation for religious belief but not before treating religious-based morality to his rapierlike criticisms. While he does acknowledge that many of his criticisms would also apply to political or sociocultural beliefs, he does not take that line of thought any further, which is a shame. Nonetheless, both fans of Dawkins and his many opponents will want to read this book. Recommended for all academic libraries and larger public libraries with an interest in the topic. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Brad S. Matthies, Butler Univ. Lib., Indianapolis Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.