Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion: Book Review

richard_dawkins_book

I first read The God Delusion a number of years ago and although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it wasn’t until I was required to study it as part of a master’s course in religious studies that I fully appreciated the brilliance of this masterpiece. Dawkins’ aspiration for not only the God Delusion but for the entire corpus of his written work is to “touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that religion monopolized in past centuries, “as Carl Sagan had done with his masterfully crafted books. The God Delusion not only achieves this lofty goal, it transcends it.
One of my favourite features of this book is that it doesn’t condescend or speak down to lay readers. Instead, it raises their consciousness and elevates their understanding in areas not only relevant to Richard Dawkins’ own specific field of expertise, i.e., evolutionary biology, which he successfully employs to undermine the god hypothesis, as Darwin had begun to do over a century and a half ago, but it diligently calls upon a whole host of specialized areas of academia, from anthropology, history, biblical studies, theology to philosophy; all these specialized areas of academia, among others, are dealt with by Dawkins in an interesting and intellectually honest manner. How does Dawkins achieve this feat in the face of the limitations imposed upon him by his own specialized area of knowledge? Simple. Where his expertise ends, the expertise of giants in their respective fields begins, and each passing of the torch is crafted in such as a meticulous and magnificent manner that the reader is afforded the luxury of reading a single coherent case against the god hypothesis that is seasoned with the brilliance of the world’s leading anthropologists, historians, biblical scholars, as well as genius’ from a variety of other relevant fields and faculties of thought. Dawkins’ own expert testimony, coupled with the testimony of the supreme scholarship from which he draws, superbly supports the poignant and well-sourced claims made by Dawkins. Frazer, Adams, Attenborough, Ehrman, Dennett, Harris, along with a beautifully orchestrated choir of seasoned scholars, all come together to season this potent cocktail constructed by Dawkins to crush credulity and vaccinate humanity against an intellectual plague that has beleaguered our species since the superstitious dawn of a socially acceptable delusion, which has seen young women mutilated, raped and stoned, that has caused innocent men, women and children to be callously burnt at the stake, drowned, imprisoned, that has stifled scientific progress, subverted human rights and caused facts, wherever deemed heretical or counterproductive to this meme pool, despite their obvious truth, to be fiendishly framed as dangerous fictions. Facts are only an offence to those who have taken refuge in fantasy and rationalism, as useful as it has proven to be for our species as a whole, is only offensive to those who harbour affections for irrational beliefs. The God Delusion is a tour de force in 21st century rationalism and my hope for this book is that it will one day assuage the irrational fears of the faithful and help them to cast off their mindlessly inherited shackles of belief, and embrace facts and rational thought, no matter how damaging to their egos such consciousness raising might be.

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