The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. 406 pp., notes and index. $27.00 cloth.
"Imagine a world with no religion."--John Lennon
Richard Dawkins, author of the bestselling The God Delusion, has written a book which logically and methodically argues against the probable existence of God and the very essence of religion. It is hard to imagine any reasonable person with a modicum of common sense--even though polls suggest over 90% of Americans believe in life after death--could believe in God or the value of religion after finishing Dawkins's polemical blitzkrieg.
There are no punches pulled in this book by Dawkins, who is an eminent Oxford scholar and avowed atheist, as evidenced in the second chapter called "The God Hypothesis":
"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of 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." (31; italics mine).
On the same page, he defines the God Hypothesis as a "supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. God, in the sense defined, is a delusion; and, as later chapters will show, a pernicious delusion." (31).
Dawkins proceeds to dissect religion and the concept of God. He looks upon the three Abrahamic religions as "indistinguishable" (37): "Most of my readers will have been reared in one or another of today's three 'great' monotheistic religions (four if you count Mormonism), all of which trace themselves back to the mythological patriarch Abraham" (36). He goes on to say, "I know you don't believe in an old bearded man sitting on a cloud, so let's not waste time on that. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented." (36).
It doesn't matter if you call your God by the name of Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah. Dawkins covers all angles and aspects over ten distinct chapters. These chapters, which could be likened to Dawkins's Ten Commandments, have such titles as "Arguments For God's Existence," "Why There Almost Certainly Is No God," "The 'Good' Book And The Changing Moral Zeitgeist," and "What's Wrong with Religion? Why Be So Hostile?" Each...