Day Fourteen: Book Review - The God Delusion
I just finished having an extremely frustrating conversation with a "free thinking" friend of mine. We were having an argument about religion and, to my surprise and his, I found myself in the position of defending the faithful. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while should be familiar with my thoughts about organized religion and its various and sundry practitioners. Although I'm no Bill Maher, (who spits in the faces of the pious every opportunity he gets) I am also, by no means, a proponent of blind faith. However, to be honest, I normally grow weary of those who share my irreligiosity. More often than not, these folks, like my buddy, are the kind of angry, virulent atheists that delight in intentionally offending people of faith. That's really not my bag. I prefer not to engage in that kind of unremorseful douche-baggery.
Our conversation brought to mind a book that I read some time ago. Since I've been meaning to get around to including book reviews on this blog, I figured now was as good a time any to provide a very quick and dirty review of Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion.
In his latest book, The God Delusion, (which could reasonably have been subtitled F_ck God and the Idiots Who Believe He Exists) world-renowned British evolutionary biologist, author and enthusiastic atheist Richard Dawkins traces the arc of religious-oriented aggression – from the Crusades to 9/11 – and determines that all religious belief, no matter how personal, is both delusional and perilous.
Dawkins begins by circling the wagons around atheism. In four "consciousness-raising" declarations, he defends non-belief as evidence of a healthy, intelligent and independent mind. Had he chosen to stay on this path The God Delusion may have been a welcome addition to the socio-religious debate. But Dawkins’ coherent defense of atheism quickly devolves into a slanderous rant – one that indicts both religious moderates and dogged fundamentalists alike.The tragedy in this book lies in its rigidity. Dawkins laments the fact that Southern slave-owners used religion to justify their pro-slavery position, but refuses to acknowledge that enslaved African-Americans and abolitionists used religion to bolster their arguments against human bondage (most African-Americans, as a point of fact, continue to find strength in religion today.) Indeed, Dawkins’ rejection of religion as anything but a tool of oppression or opiate of the masses is the major irredeemable flaw of the book. It is not enough that Richard Dawkins is himself an atheist. He wants everyone else to be one too. Dawkins comes across as intolerant and unyielding – an absolutism that is usually the terrain of the very zealots whom he derides.