Wednesday, April 4, 2007

"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins

First off, I'll let everyone know that I will not comment on my own religious views in this column. I truly want this to be about the books, not about my own personal issues. Having said that, let's take a look at Dawkins diatribe.

I'm going to leave it up to each reader to say whether it's a "good" or a "bad" book, because I think in this case, it's really going to depend on your own religious views how you see this book. Obviously, the title should give you a rock-solid idea of where Mr. Dawkins stands on the issue. He is an atheist and very proud of it. He is also a scientist and uses scientific method and theory to make his case against the existence of God.

Some of the information is very interesting, such as the section on cargo cults and how they can be found on several small islands that can in no way, shape or form communicate with each other. The comparison of the cults and how each has evolved is thought-provoking indeed; it gives one pause to realize that the same sort of "religion" can and does show up in very disconnected places, and how do we explain that? Dawkins also looks at other interesting topics, such as morality, and how we are actually programmed to be moral so as to ensure the future of the species. Basically, no commandments were needed because we're genetically structured to do the "right" thing; if we didn't, there would be no future generations.

I won't go into too much more of the actual topics themselves because, as I said, I think most will have made up their minds before they ever open the book. What I can tell you is that Dawkins almost sinks his own argument with his delivery. For someone who goes on and on about religious intolerance and bible-thumping fundamentalists, Dawkins himself does a great job of "thumping" himself. I found the first half of the book very difficult to get through, not due to the topics/subject matter, but due to Dawkins own smugness and condescending tone. If he's truly looking to enlighten people and convince them that it's delusional to believe in God, Allah, Buddha or any other deity, he really shouldn't all but call those same people stupid, idiots, and morons. There is such a thing as presenting a point of view that aims to change some one's mind while still being respectful of that person as a human being. Dawkins really misses the mark on this in the first half of the book, and I think a lot of readers, even those that agree with him, are going to be put off by it. I know I was, and this was a book that I really wanted to read!

Challenge yourself by picking up something you don't think you'll like or agree with. It's never good to stick to the same thing all the time, whereas it's always a good thing to learn and expand your horizons. Just be aware that some of the things you pick up will be difficult to get through, such as this book. I'm very glad that I kept going and didn't throw down the book, but let me tell you, it was hard. I will agree with Mr. Dawkins wholeheartedly on one thing; keep an open mind and make your own decisions.

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