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The Review Man

Formerly of Goodreads, now of both words, in the coming times only here?

Currently reading

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
Robert M. Pirsig
Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism)
Jean Baudrillard, Sheila Faria Glaser
Leaven of Malice
Robertson Davies
The Salterton Trilogy
Robertson Davies
Effi Briest (Penguin Classics)
Theodor Fontane
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
Nicholas Ostler
Cases And Materials On The Law Of Torts
Robert M. Solomon
Public Law : Cases Materials and Commentary
Philip Bryden, Craik, Neil, Craig Forcese, Forcese, Craig
A Property Law Reader
Bruce H. Ziff
The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins I firmly believe that both sides of the New Atheism-New Christianity debate are untenable. As Exhibit A I submit The God Delusion. Dawkins whines about a misogynistic, uncaring God, conveniently ignoring the fact that this non-issue has been satisfactorily addressed in any intro theology course. (Dawkins' easy way out? Declaring theology to be a sham. But of course if God does not exist then he certainly cannot have any negative qualities, so I really don't see what all the fuss is about.) He raves about memetics, despite the fact that the meme is a dull and unscientific idea that ought not to have a place in any reasonable discussion about God and science. He can't bring himself to finish a chapter without name-dropping evolution and natural selection; in fact, he's so proud of these two that you'd think he'd come up with the damn things himself.

Of course, Dawkins' opponents are by and large stupid too, and he takes great pleasure in pointing out some of these flaws. The rants contained in The God Delusion ensure that it is an entertaining polemic if not an instructive one. I hardly think that Dawkins has deliberately cultivated the image of a humorist, but that might have been a more apt career choice.

To be fair, Dawkins is right about a good many things. Planet Earth's system of organized religion is almost surely not what was intended back in the first century. I have noticed that many of my Christian friends will avoid that label, instead preferring to style themselves "Jesus-followers" or "deeply spiritual people". It's convenient because most people don't hate Jesus or Eastern religion as fervently as they do the Old Testament God (essentially, they're saving face), but it also adds to the body of evidence supporting Dawkins' point. However, I would contend that while organized religion may be a problem, Dawkins has focused on too small a subset of the human population. A great many humans are unintelligent, uncaring or downright cruel, and so it does not surprise me that many of these negative traits can also be found within the subset of religious humans. Call me crazy, but it's not God or religion that's deluding humanity; I think it's humans themselves. Whether that means the collective we made up God to delude ourselves is up for debate, but either way the force of Dawkins' argument is lessened when one considers the sheer stupidity of so many human beings.

The real reason The God Delusion is worth reading? It might force some readers to stop and reconsider their thoughts on the issues dealt with therein. Dawkins isn't going to convince diehard Christians to curse God; nor will his numerous detractors succeed in making disciples of atheists. This book is primarily of value to those perched on the fence. Dawkins just might have succeeded in raising their consciousness, although perhaps not in the way he expected.