by Richard Dawkins
Why Faith is not a virtue.
Although I don't agree with everything he has to say, I greatly admire Richard Dawkins as a writer. But, when it came out, I decided not to read The God Delusion, because I didn't expect to get much out of it: I was already an atheist, so didn't need disillusioning. Putting it bluntly, there were too many other books out there waiting to be read.
But then I spotted a copy of The God Delusion audiobook in my local library, so decided to listen to it over a couple of weeks while driving my car and performing household chores. Audiobooks are a great way of reading when you're not in a position to read.
I have to say, The God Delusion turned out to be pretty much what I expected: polemical, extremely well-written, and passionate. The book was also a lot politer than its title might imply, although Dawkins clearly—and quite rightly—has no time whatsoever for religious beliefs.
The unabridged audiobook was read by Dawkins himself, along with his wife, Lalla Ward. I thought this two-voices approach would sound strange, but it worked remarkably well—especially as both are excellent readers.
As you might expect, Dawkins provides a relentless barrage of arguments for why believing in the Jewish/Christian god is irrational; for why the god of the Old and New Testaments is a thoroughly despicable chap; and examples of the harm that religion has done, and is still doing, to this world. In my case—and, I suspect, in the case of most of his readers—he was preaching to the converted. But it was all entertaining stuff.
Dawkins also explores possible evolutionary explanations for why the nonsense that is religion might have arisen, and still survives several centuries after the Enlightenment. I found this section far less interesting, being uninterested in, and generally sceptical about, the application of evolutionary theory to psychology.
I don't think The God Delusion will win over many converts to the atheist cause, but it might well sway some people whose faith is already faltering—or, as I prefer to think of it, whose sense of reason is already showing signs of improvement.