‘The God Delusion’ reviewed

by Richard on November 29, 2006

Steven Tomkins reviews Richard Dawkins’ tome, handing out plaudits as well as brickbats.

RICHARD DAWKINS IS RIGHT. His deicidal bestseller The God Delusion attacks the absurdities and cruelties, the contradictions and superstitions, the rip offs and fantasies of religion across the world and throughout history. I couldn’t agree more. It’s enough to make you wish Abraham hadn’t been in when God called round.

The problem is, like other fundamentalists, Dawkins won’t stop talking when he’s finished talking sense. Rather than surveying the countless varieties of religion, weighing up their mixed record, and arguing that on balance we’d be better off without it, he is only willing to see the dark side, and writes off the whole thing, dismissing evidence that makes a monochrome worldview uncomfortable.

He sees the moral failures, but not the moral breakthroughs. He lists the atrocities and ignores the triumphs. He cuts through the supposed proofs of God’s existence like a particularly moist sponge cake, but shows no conception at all of why people actually believe – other than that they’re a bunch of morons who don’t know any better.

Good stuff, which comes with thanks to the Turbuent Cleric

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 11.29.06 at 6:54 pm

What’s the big deal about the Tomlinson post?. He praises Dawkins for his diatribe against Christianity’s bad record, but it hardly takes a genius - or an an atheist - to do that: the most virulent critiques of the church come from within the church itself, and has done so since the time of the prophets.

Then he has a go, not so much at Dawkins’ kindergarten theological education, but at his throwing out the baby of good Christianity with the dirt bathwater of the bad. Again, how incisive of him!

And then Tomlinson’s praise for Dawkins as a biologist: fair enough as far as it goes. But Tomlinson seems to be quite unaware of of the disputes raging within contemporary evolutuionary theory, what Andrew Brown in the title of his informed, acute and entertaining book calls The Darwin Wars (1999). If Tomlinson thinks Dawkins hates religious fanatics, he should see the odium he heaps on the late American neo-Darwinian Stephen Jay Gould. What Brown says of Dawkins’ American clone Daniel Dennett, who has also just written what looks to be an ignorant book on Christianity, could equally be said of Dawkins himself: “It’s like watching the Americans in Vietnam: he drenches his opponents in high explosives, declares victory, and then gets the hell out.” In other words, Tomlinson gives Dawkins a clear playing field when, in fact, it is crowded with fellow biologists who happen to be disputing the territory.

One totally positive thing you can say about Dawkins: he is a very gifted prose stylist indeed who can write for professional and lay alike. Would that most theolgians could write as clearly and eloquently.

2

Wood 11.30.06 at 9:40 am

Not Tomlinson, Kim. Tomkins.

I’m given to understand that Dennett’s book isn’t nearly as ignorant as Dawkins’. I’ll know in a few days when I’ve finished reading it.

3

Kim 11.30.06 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for the correction, Wood: sorry about the misnomer!

4

Gino 12.15.06 at 9:23 pm

Anyone who thinks religion has had ANY breakthroughs or positive thing is a Total Moron!! Dawkins is as on track as Darwin was!

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