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Dawkins summarises the main philosophical arguments on God's existence , singling out the argument from design for longer consideration. Dawkins concludes that evolution by natural selection can explain apparent design in nature. He writes that one of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain "how the complex, improbable design in the universe arises", and suggests that there are two competing explanations:. This is the basic set-up of his argument against the existence of God, the Ultimate Boeing gambit , [16] where he argues that the first attempt is self-refuting, and the second approach is the way forward.

At the end of chapter 4 "Why there almost certainly is no God" , Dawkins sums up his argument and states, "The temptation [to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself] is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability.

It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable". Dawkins does not claim to disprove God with absolute certainty.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Instead, he suggests as a general principle that simpler explanations are preferable see Occam's razor and that an omniscient or omnipotent God must be extremely complex Dawkins argues that it is logically impossible for a God to be simultaneously omniscient and omnipotent. As such he argues that the theory of a universe without a God is preferable to the theory of a universe with a God.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

The second half of the book begins by exploring the roots of religion and seeking an explanation for its ubiquity across human cultures. Dawkins advocates the "theory of religion as an accidental by-product — a misfiring of something useful" [20] as for example the mind's employment of intentional stance. Dawkins suggests that the theory of memes , and human susceptibility to religious memes in particular, can explain how religions might spread like "mind viruses" across societies.


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He then turns to the subject of morality , maintaining that we do not need religion to be good. Instead, our morality has a Darwinian explanation: altruistic genes, selected through the process of evolution, give people natural empathy. He asks, "would you commit murder, rape or robbery if you knew that no God existed? In support of this view, he surveys the history of morality, arguing that there is a moral Zeitgeist that continually evolves in society, generally progressing toward liberalism. As it progresses, this moral consensus influences how religious leaders interpret their holy writings.

Pluralism, Religious | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Thus, Dawkins states, morality does not originate from the Bible, rather our moral progress informs what part of the Bible Christians accept and what they now dismiss. The God Delusion is not just a defence of atheism, but also goes on the offensive against religion. Dawkins sees religion as subverting science, fostering fanaticism , encouraging bigotry against homosexuals , and influencing society in other negative ways. He is most outraged about the teaching of religion in schools, which he considers to be an indoctrination process.

He equates the religious teaching of children by parents and teachers in faith schools to a form of mental abuse. Dawkins considers the labels "Muslim child" and "Catholic child" equally misapplied as the descriptions " Marxist child" and " Tory child", as he wonders how a young child can be considered developed enough to have such independent views on the cosmos and humanity's place within it. The book concludes with the question of whether religion, despite its alleged problems, fills a "much needed gap", giving consolation and inspiration to people who need it.

According to Dawkins, these needs are much better filled by non-religious means such as philosophy and science. He suggests that an atheistic worldview is life-affirming in a way that religion, with its unsatisfying "answers" to life's mysteries, could never be. An appendix gives addresses for those "needing support in escaping religion". The book provoked an immediate response, both positive and negative, and was published with endorsements from scientists, such as Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA James D. Watson , Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker , as well as popular writers of fiction and the illusionists Penn and Teller.

Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart says that Dawkins "devoted several pages of The God Delusion to a discussion of the ' Five Ways ' of Thomas Aquinas but never thought to avail himself of the services of some scholar of ancient and mediaeval thought who might have explained them to him As a result, he not only mistook the Five Ways for Thomas's comprehensive statement on why we should believe in God, which they most definitely are not, but ended up completely misrepresenting the logic of every single one of them, and at the most basic levels.

The ethicist Margaret Somerville , [36] suggested that Dawkins "overstates the case against religion", [37] particularly its role in human conflict. Many of Dawkins' defenders claim that critics generally misunderstand his real point. During a debate on Radio 3 Hong Kong , David Nicholls, writer and president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia , reiterated Dawkins' sentiments that religion is an "unnecessary" aspect of global problems.

In an interview with the Time magazine, Dawkins said:. I think that Gould's separate compartments was a purely political ploy to win middle-of-the-road religious people to the science camp. But it's a very empty idea. There are plenty of places where religion does not keep off the scientific turf.

Religious Pluralism

Any belief in miracles is flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science. Astrophysicist Martin Rees has suggested that Dawkins' attack on mainstream religion is unhelpful. The debate was titled "Has Science Buried God?

Many books have been written in response to The God Delusion. In Turkey , where the book had sold at least 6, copies, [77] a prosecutor launched a probe into whether The God Delusion was "an attack on holy values", following a complaint in November If convicted, the Turkish publisher and translator, Erol Karaaslan, would have faced a prison sentence of inciting religious hatred and insulting religious values. In ruling out the need to confiscate copies of the book, the presiding judge stated that banning it "would fundamentally limit the freedom of thought".


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Dawkins' website, richarddawkins. The book has been officially translated into many different languages, such as Spanish, German, Italian, and Turkish. Dawkins has also promoted unofficial translations of the book in languages such as Arabic [82] and Bengali. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Book by Richard Dawkins. For the documentary film, see The Root of All Evil? Dewey Decimal. Smith Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon , a similar book by Daniel Dennett Efficacy of prayer Evolutionary psychology of religion The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud , which also proposes that theism results from a delusional belief system God of the gaps Morality without religion Pascal's Wager New Atheism Spectrum of theistic probability. Retrieved 8 March Who's Who. The God Delusion.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Archived from the original PDF on 28 February The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December Retrieved 16 April Archived from the original on 13 October Retrieved 14 September Thank God". Atlantic Free Press. Archived from the original on 15 September The Observer. Retrieved 5 October But that is my whole point!

Religious Pluralism

We pick and choose which bits of scripture to believe, which bits to write off as symbols and allegories. Dawkins states preachers in the southern portions of the United States used the Bible to justify slavery by claiming Africans were descendants of Noah 's sinful son Ham. During the Crusades , pagans and heretics who would not convert to Christianity were murdered. In an extreme example from modern times, he cites the case of Reverend Paul Hill , who revelled in his self-styled martyrdom: "I expect a great reward in heaven I am looking forward to glory," he announced as he faced execution for murdering a doctor who performed abortions in Florida, USA.

Archived from the original on 1 April Retrieved 8 April Archived from the original on 18 February Retrieved 13 March Galaxy British Book Awards. Archived from the original on 24 April Retrieved 12 September Archived from the original on 8 July Retrieved 24 July Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing.

Archived from the original on 6 January Retrieved 14 November The Times. Archived from the original on 6 April Retrieved 4 March New Haven: Yale University Press: Hart goes on to say "[n]ot knowing the scholastic distinction between primary and secondary causality, for instance, he imagined that Thomas's talk of a 'first cause' referred to the initial temporal causal agency in a continuous temporal series of discrete causes. He thought that Thomas's logic requires the universe to have had a temporal beginning, which Thomas explicitly and repeatedly made clear is not the case.

He anachronistically mistook Thomas's argument from universal natural teleology for an argument from apparent 'Intelligent Design' in nature. He thought Thomas's proof from universal 'motion' concerned only physical movement in space, 'local motion,' rather than the ontological movement from potency to act. He mistook Thomas's argument from degrees of transcendental perfection for an argument from degrees of quantitative magnitude, which by definition have no perfect sum.

Any human identity is made up in part of beliefs about how to live—what is admirable, worthwhile, shameful, precious. These are not abstract opinions, but are better understood as parts of who we are, distinctions that guide us through the world as surely as a sense of up and down or near and far. And they are full of consequences.