The Richard Dawkins Delusion
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I must point out that i felt Dawkins should have kept his own writing less confrontational and let his facts and arguments speak for themselves. I think both men have let their emotions get somewhat the better of them in these books. I may one day reread both Dawkins book and this book after each other and see if i can set aside the personal rudeness and point scoring, to determine if either writer actually presents sensible arguments. Mar 19, J Alec rated it it was amazing Shelves: theology. Reading this alongside the God Delusion is perhaps one of the most interesting and engaging discursive experiences I have had with two books.
The most important thing I learned from this book in particular is that Dawkins' attempt at scientifically disproving God's existence is thinly-veiled by the misplaced confidence of now out-dated logical positivism.
Feb 12, Charbel rated it did not like it Shelves: disliked. Instead of a comeback volume designed to dispute Dawkins' massively popular book, we get just-over-a pages of rants that strangely read like a negative review of the God Delusion. I picked up this book for two reasons: 1 I liked the idea that someone wanted to add something to the debate, and 2 the authors seemed credible to do that, with Alister McGrath havin The Dawkins Delusion?
I picked up this book for two reasons: 1 I liked the idea that someone wanted to add something to the debate, and 2 the authors seemed credible to do that, with Alister McGrath having a strong background in science and theology. However, I was thoroughly disappointed. One of the things that ticked me off was the constant depiction of atheists in the book as nothing more than "Dawkins followers", as if all atheists belong to the church of Richard Dawkins. The fact that atheism is fundamentally unorganized in any way seemed to have escaped the authors, as did the idea that atheists openly criticize Dawkins and specifically view him positivly only for his outspokenness on the subject and his wonderful scientific contributions.
Beyond that the rest of the book is merely a collection of pseudo-arguments that constitute nothing more than a waste of time. For example, on the subject of faith Dawkins is very clear that accepting things without questioning them is ludicrous, but McGrath which McGrath is not clear goes on to say that that is not the definition of the 'Chrisitan faith' , as opposed to the Muslim faith, or the Hindu faith or the Buddhist faith.
Hence we see that McGrath is biased in his or her "arguments" defending not religion in general, but specifically the Christian religion. In fact, most of his arguments are Christio-centric and seem to forget all other religions. Well then what is the definition of the Chrisitan faith according to McGrath? None apparently is given. Another "argument" presented goes like this I'm paraphrasing : if God does not exist, then how come so many people turn to religion late in life? This argument seems to indicate that there is, not just a correlation, but a direct causation between the existence of God and late in life conversions.
McGrath seems to forget one of the fundamental themes of psychology, the question of whether human beings are consistent in their believes, their tastes, their personalities, all their lives, or are they prone to change. Never mind that personal experience is largely the main force behind these conversions, and that personal experience is subjective and is very much up for interpretation; and hence can't be used in an objective debate. But to McGrath all of that is irrelevant. In conclusion, this book seems to be an attack on Dawkins for having written The God Delsuion in the first place.
Obviously McGrath, who was once an atheist, felt offended by Dawkins' book and decided to declare out loud though in a very well written manner that he regrets nothing, which on its own is fine, but after having put the term "atheist fundementalism" in the title, as if atheists form some sort of militia led by Dawkins, is highly inadequate for such a measly piece of "objective reasoning".
Jan 11, Paul rated it liked it Shelves: the-new-atheism , apologetics. How Dawkins continually substitutes rhetoric, vitriol, and ignorance in lieu of sustained and cogent argumentation. How Dawkins is selective in his appeal to history to indict the faithful e. Basically, McGrath does an excellent job at showing The Dawkins to be a third-rate hack. Someone who needs to keep his nose in the Petri dish and out of the business of philosophers and theologians. Be that as it may, the book is extremely short and this doesn't allow McGrath to really law the wood to The Dawkins.
McGrath doesn't go for the jugular - just what The Dawkins needs. Don't get me wrong, the ad hominem approach definitely has its merits, but this isn't the most powerful way to proceed. The Dawkins should be ripped apart logically, philosophically, and theologically. McGrath doesn't do this. Perhaps its because they are both at Oxford?
Perhaps it is because McGrath is an English gentleman? Nothing wrong with that. But The Dawkins has chosen to get into the mud. If you're going to wrestle someone in the mud, you're going to get dirty. McGrath maybe gets a spot or two! To clean for my liking! Nov 21, Kris rated it it was amazing Shelves: religion-christianity , books-owned. Clear, pointed, and effective.
The Dawkins delusion
As usual, McGrath cuts right to the heart of the matter, elucidating and unraveling Dawkin's flawed ideas. My only complaint is that it's not a longer work, though I know there are more thorough rebuttals in McGrath's other works, like Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life. Here are some good quotes from McGrath describing Dawkin's writing: "The book is often little more than an aggregation of convenient factoids suitably overstated to achieve maximum i Clear, pointed, and effective.
Here are some good quotes from McGrath describing Dawkin's writing: "The book is often little more than an aggregation of convenient factoids suitably overstated to achieve maximum impact and loosely arranged to suggest that they constitute an argument. Dawkins's pervasive cognitive bias, which accentuates the evidence he likes and overlooks or discounts that which he does not. Sep 23, Jeff rated it did not like it. I picked this book up with the Dawkin's God Delusion because it was right next to it. I'm sorry to say as short as it is I couldn't get through two chapters.
Every other paragrah seemed to reference an earlier book or argument either by McGrath or Dawkins. When he wasn't self-promoting he was nitpicking on Dawkin's choice of examples or quotes. I won't say that its not informative as to different interpretations of the situations Dawkin raises in his book but it does little else. I found it a bi I picked this book up with the Dawkin's God Delusion because it was right next to it. I found it a bit insulting, any reader should know that the author has an objective, especially when the author spells it out for you at the beginning of the book.
The whole Atheism fundamentalism he insists on pushing Dawkins into was a bit strange, trying to compare religion to Athesim is just silly. Jul 30, Ryan rated it really liked it. On the whole, I enjoyed the book. As for its strengths, I think that the authors provide reasonable critique of The God Delusion. Yes, the writers are Christians, but their only reliance upon Christian doctrine for rebuttal is found in chapter four.
The God Delusion. By Richard Dawkins - Books - Review - The New York Times
This provides a broader basis for their critique, highlighting both theists and atheists who disagree with Dawkins on evidential and philosophical grounds. Two things stood out as particularly insightful and devastating. What I find most devastating i On the whole, I enjoyed the book. What I find most devastating is the way in which they portray Dawkins as an atheist fundamentalist, a label that he would eschew, I'm sure.
But their portrait of Dawkins as such does not seem far off the mark; it is the impression I had when I read Dawkins. The second point I also found on the mark was the consistent refrain that Dawkins doesn't so much provide sound logical arguments as he provides catchy sound bites that sound like they might be an argument. But a long litany of bald assertions does not an argument make. Now, Dawkins is perfectly capable of making good arguments, as the authors point out in his critique of Paley's watchmaker analogy. But as many others have pointed out theist and atheist alike , Dawkins move from science to philosophy takes him out of his area of expertise and into a foreign land where his native tongue does not translate as well as he would like to think.
Over and over again the McGraths point to places where Dawkins claims to have proved a point, yet his points are assumed rather than proven. There are, however, weaknesses to be found. For those reading from a more conservative Christian perspective, some of the assumptions made by the authors might not sit well. If you are looking for a robust critique of evolutionary theory, do not expect it here.
The McGraths are fine with theistic evolution, and while this serves the purposes of their argument well, some Christian readers might have biblical or theological reasons to reject this view. Another weakness is the sometimes polemical tone which can come across in their writing. The introduction begins with a congenial tone, but the farther in you read, the more polemical the writing becomes. Dawkins himself is no stranger to this style of writing, but it would have perhaps served the authors' purposes better if they would have avoided some of their direct verbal jabs at Dawkins and stuck to arguing against his points.
Finally, there are some places where it seems that some more work could have been done to perhaps offer a stronger critique. For example, in answering the accusation that religion is evil, the authors neglect to ask how it is that Dawkins is even able to use the category of evil. Perhaps this is an unfair criticism, as the intent of the book is to offer a intellectually honest rebuttal to the points surrounding the God Delusion, not to come up with every possible defense.
Still, readers might want to give further depth to their critique by consulting the likes of Alvin Plantinga or William Lane Craig. In conclusion, I recommend this book to anyone who has had some interaction with The God Delusion. While you might not be able to agree with every jot and tittle, it is still a good response given its length and intended audience. If you have not had any interaction with The God Delusion, it might serve you better to read it first or to just go talk with your friendly neighborhood atheist and ask him what it is all about before jumping into this response.
Happy Reading! Aug 14, Carl rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone who has read Dawkins or is interested in the relationship of religion and science. Shelves: christianity , philosophy. So, for some reason this book is coming up pretty high on my Goodreads list, even though it's been a while since I've read it. My review seems a bit like trash talk to me now, esp. To be honest, I saw an uncut debate between these two on youtube a while back, and have to admit Dawkins came out on top. Well, it's been a while-- and I just don't trust debates anyway, I think written, relatively sympathetic communication is the best way to work So, for some reason this book is coming up pretty high on my Goodreads list, even though it's been a while since I've read it.
Well, it's been a while-- and I just don't trust debates anyway, I think written, relatively sympathetic communication is the best way to work through things. Well, there is a lot more I'd like to dig into re: the thought of both of these thinkers, so I think I will just say that I'm not so sure I stand wholeheartedly behind my review anymore, though I will need to return to this later to be sure. Gosh, I need to not get onto this stuff past midnight when I can't sleep Finally finished!
A great book. Short, sure, but the last two chapters in particular really dug into the meat of the issues, and the final chapter even got into binary oppositions, deconstruction, and all that other epistemologically and ontologically savvy goodness that Dawkins lacks. I really need to actually get around to reading Dawkins' book. I also really liked Terry Eagleton's review of The God Delusion which can be found online somewhere-- I'll try to find the link and paste it here. From what I understand, Dawkins jumps into several different fields he is inadequately prepared to discuss, let alone criticize Christian theology and worldview, philosophy, epistemology, etc , and McGrath and Eagleton are well suited to take him to task for those particular failings.
Eagleton, of course, is not a scientist actually, I don't even know if he is a Christian, but that is beside the point-- I'm more interested in the fact that his background in criticism and philosophy give him the epistemological sophistication and humility which Dawkins lacks , but McGrath is a very appropriate choice for a response, as he not only has degrees in both a science I believe it was one of the biological sciences and in theology at least I think he had a degree-- he may have just studied on his own , but also converted to Christianity from Atheism after pursuing both fields of knowledge.
Again, I really need to read Dawkins' book-- I suspect, from these reviews, that my post-modern-academic heart will scream with outrage at every other word of Dawkins' clumsy logical-positivism, but if I'm going to be outraged anyway, I may as well make sure that I'm outraged at the real thing, and not just some idea. First off I'll admit to not having read The God Delusion itself. The absolutely fundamental point for anybody thinking of reading this book to consider is that it is NOT a plug for Christianity. The book is very short my edition is 78 pages - 12 of those pages are notes, references and further reading and focuses on refuting the points Da First off I'll admit to not having read The God Delusion itself.
The book is very short my edition is 78 pages - 12 of those pages are notes, references and further reading and focuses on refuting the points Dawkins makes in The God Delusion. The fact that the McGraths are Christian is almost incidental: they occasionally draw upon examples from Christianity.
From the offset it is evident that the purpose of the book is to discredit The God Delusion. The book is very focused: there is little of the rhetoric and nastiness which I understand plagues The God Delusion. Most of the points made are very well-written, although the McGraths occasionally ignore what I feel to be the more obvious responses to Dawkins' ramblings. The most prominent example is the section attempting to refute Dawkins' idea that Christian faith is irrational.
The McGraths put across a slightly convulated argument; I was expecting them to point out that the Greek word used in the New Testament for "faith" is "pistis", which is best translated to "trust based on prior evidence". The Biblical definition of faith is completely rational and certainly not "blind", and I am surprised Alister McGrath of all people did not make that point. While the McGraths correctly criticise Dawkins for tarring all Christians with the same brush, they occasionally slip and describe Dawkins as, among other things, atheism's "leading contemporary defender".
I am sure that any reasonably well-educated atheist would be offended by being put in the same corner as Dawkins. All that said, the vast majority of the arguments are very fluid and to the point. For someone looking for a response to the claims made in The God Delusion and only in The God Delusion, this is a good candidate for reading. Alister McGrath acted like a Christian fundamentalist when he responded to the book of Richard Dawkins with an attack on his personality in the form of a book "The Dawkins Delusion".
Richard Dawkins has every right to look at me as a believer in God and say that the idea of God is a delusion, since it is all in the mind and in the heart, etc. Swap you the Inquisition for chemical warfare. The countless millions who have devoted their lives selflessly to the service of others in the name of Christ or Buddha or Allah are wiped from human history — and this by a self-appointed crusader against bigotry.
He is like a man who equates socialism with the Gulag. Like the puritan and sex, Dawkins sees God everywhere, even where he is self-evidently absent. He thinks, for example, that the ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland would evaporate if religion did, which to someone like me, who lives there part of the time, betrays just how little he knows about it. He also holds, against a good deal of the available evidence, that Islamic terrorism is inspired by religion rather than politics. These are not just the views of an enraged atheist. They are the opinions of a readily identifiable kind of English middle-class liberal rationalist.
All of these phenomena, one imagines, would be as distasteful to his brisk, bloodless rationality as the virgin birth. Yet one can of course be an atheist and a fervent fan of them all. His God-hating, then, is by no means simply the view of a scientist admirably cleansed of prejudice. It belongs to a specific cultural context. One would not expect to muster many votes for either anarchism or the virgin birth in North Oxford. I should point out that I use the term North Oxford in an ideological rather than geographical sense.
There is a very English brand of common sense that believes mostly in what it can touch, weigh and taste, and The God Delusion springs from, among other places, that particular stable. At its most philistine and provincial, it makes Dick Cheney sound like Thomas Mann. Dawkins quite rightly detests fundamentalists; but as far as I know his anti-religious diatribes have never been matched in his work by a critique of the global capitalism that generates the hatred, anxiety, insecurity and sense of humiliation that breed fundamentalism.
This is not only grotesquely false; it is also a device to outflank any more reflective kind of faith by implying that it belongs to the coterie and not to the mass. The huge numbers of believers who hold something like the theology I outlined above can thus be conveniently lumped with rednecks who murder abortionists and malign homosexuals.
As far as such outrages go, however, The God Delusion does a very fine job indeed. In its admirably angry way, The God Delusion argues that the status of atheists in the US is nowadays about the same as that of gays fifty years ago. The book is full of vivid vignettes of the sheer horrors of religion, fundamentalist or otherwise. Nearly 50 per cent of Americans believe that a glorious Second Coming is imminent, and some of them are doing their damnedest to bring it about. But Dawkins could have told us all this without being so appallingly bitchy about those of his scientific colleagues who disagree with him, and without being so theologically illiterate.
He might also have avoided being the second most frequently mentioned individual in his book — if you count God as an individual. Religion is exactly the same thing: it is the pre-scientific, rudimentary metaphysics of our forefathers, which mainly through the natural gullibility of proselytised children, and tragically for the world survives into the age in which I can send this letter by electronic means.
There follow several paragraphs in the same fanciful and increasingly emetic vein, which indirectly explain why he once thought Derrida should have been awarded an honorary degree at Cambridge. These oppositions only help to support policies, such as those of the present US administration, based on prejudice and illiberality.
For a moment I almost sympathised with Richard Dawkins. It would not be obnoxious of Richard Dawkins to ask how Eagleton knows these things. These are all forms of irrationality, however understandable or even magnificent we find them, and it is not overweening for rational atheism to expose this irrationality, as it always has done. Eagleton may have oodles of faith in me but I am free to have not much faith in him, or in his God. That A. Grayling does not wish to understand forms of divination by the stars is fine, given that, as far as I know, he is not writing a book about astrology.
But the implication of his letter is that Richard Dawkins has no need to know about the various and subtle forms of religious thought, even though he is writing a book on religion, because he already knows what he thinks, and he thinks religion is wrong. It is a great shame that the most public defenders of secular thinking show all the dogmatic arrogance and evidence of closed minds that they associate with religious thinking.
But in some ways it is also unjust.
In ancient Israel astrology was an offence, and was rejected as a source of knowledge, as were all other kinds of divination, magic generally, and consultation of the dead. No atheist is principally that. Dawkins spends most of his efforts on genetics, because it is a useful and verifiable way of analysing how living creatures come into being and reproduce or fail to. His atheism bulks large at times because he sees that religious fantasies are demeaningly potent in human culture, so it is time to urge people, by means of reasoning based on evidence, to think clearly about the world and about our natures.
What could be more worthwhile in the present situation? Enter Dawkins, foaming with suburban rationality …. Log In Register for Online Access. Contact us for rights and issues inquiries. Letters Vol. Michael Steinberg Rochester, New York. The nature of personal experience does make it difficult to use as a convincing argument for those who have not had such an experience. He dismisses the idea that the universe could have been created and designed by a Supreme Being because that Being would need to be even more complex, even more intricate than the universe he created — in other words God would need to be even more complex than the laws of physics, or the human brain or a virus or a Boeing Now Dawkins draws his conclusion based on his own experience of the world and his belief that complex things can only arise from simple things through natural selection or the laws of physics.
But even Richard Dawkins has no experience of things that occur outside of the known universe. Speaking as a physicist, I would say that the laws of physics themselves are hardly simple. Either that or I wasted a lot of time studying for my physics degree. Dawkins is like the eighteenth century Indian maharajah who stated categorically that it was impossible for water to support the weight of an elephant walking across a river.
Of course, he had never seen ice — it was simply something that was completely outside of his experience of the tropical climate of India. In the same way, the possible origin of the universe is outside our direct experience, limited as we are to living within it.
But there is other evidence for the origin of the universe, although strangely it is an area that Dawkins barely acknowledges. This is strange, because many Christian apologists propose this as the strongest evidence for belief in God. For Dawkins to ignore it seems perverse at best, and reminds me of an ostrich at worst. Consider the question: if God does exist, what sort of evidence would you look for to convince you that he does? The only thing I can think of that is really conclusive, rather than merely suggestive, is a direct intervention of that God in the world, in other words, a revelation.
The Christian claim is that this is what happened in Jesus. The account of his life, death and resurrection in the gospels shows the sort of person that he is. Many have set out to disprove it but have foundered as they have looked more and more deeply into the facts. Could it possibly be God intervening in the world he created?
Dawkins does not seem to be prepared to engage with this question, and we can only speculate as to the reason why. Science works on falsifiability. The challenge for Dawkins is to engage with the best of the arguments for Christianity — not a strawman of his own creation.
- The God Delusion;
- Rule of Fear: Book 1 of The God War Trilogy!
- Schillers Rezension - Über Bürgers Gedichte! (German Edition)!
- Beyond Belief.
Can Dawkins produce strong counter-arguments to undermine the authenticity and reliability of the gospel accounts and in particular of the resurrection of Jesus?