Review: The God Delusion 53

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin,  Boston and New York, 2006, 406 pages

Richard Dawkins is an inspired and inspiring exponent of Darwinism. His books on evolution are rigorous and entertaining, and the frequent leftist political jabs that crop up in them, though irritating, can be overlooked as they are irrelevant to his subject and will soon become outdated in any case. Sadly, in The God Delusion, Dawkins’ leftism is more than an irritant, it trivializes the debate. He states that the purpose of the book is to ‘raise consciousness” – the arrogant phrase of the feminists. With its unworthy aim and silly model the book amounts to little more than a replacement of God and religion by the politically correct desiderata of the leftist professoriat.

This is far from Dawkins at his best. Not surprisingly, the most interesting points he makes are concerned with evolution. He contributes a Darwinian idea to the discussion of why religious belief is ubiquitous. Mankind’s impulse to religion may be explained, he suggests, in Darwinian terms as a by-product of a trait naturally selected for survival. Simply stated, faith (gullibility) is a by-product of the child’s unquestioning obedience to parental authority. “Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal leaders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival.” The by-product idea is also used by evolutionary psychologists to explain why mankind has a natural tendency to impute agency to natural phenomena (decision-making short cuts). Similarly, religious mania is a by-product of the “genetically useful tendency” to “fall in love”. Finally, he floats an interesting conjecture that consoling gods evolve from childish imaginary friends by a sort of psychological “paedomorphosis” (a retention into adulthood of childhood characteristics ). On this theory, “religions could have evolved originally by gradual postponement, over generations, of the moment in life when children gave up their [imaginary friends] – just as we slowed down, during evolution, the flattening of our foreheads and the protrusion of our jaws.’

Yet it is precisely his scientific habit of mind that leads Dawkins most widely astray. He posits the existence of a creator God as a scientific hypothesis that, as such, needs to be tested. Then by using probability he brings us to the conclusion that almost for sure there is no such thing. I do not think that treating belief in God as a scientific hypothesis actually makes the arguments against it more persuasive.

In the first place, and while accepting the impossibility in logic of proving a negative, it is possible for one to arrive at the conclusion by reason alone (what else?) that the God idea is a bad one, an irrational fantasy, an error, and that God exists nowhere outside the minds of the deluded. Secondly, it panders to the feeble argument that scientists should keep ‘an open mind’ to the supernatural. Finally, if one agrees with Popper that a theory is scientific if it is falsifiable, the God hypothesis can only be treated as a scientific idea if it is capable of being falsified. Proving probability almost to certainty does not do it. However narrow the probability of God, even a teeny tiny ‘short of zero’ space provides enough real estate for God and his angels to dance on.

Dawkins sets up a spectrum of belief in the probabilities for God’s existence, ranging believers from‘1. Strong theist. 100% probability of God, through 4.Exactly 50%. Completely impartial agnostic, to 6. Very low probability, but short of zero, de facto atheists to 7. Strong atheist. “I know there is no God…’’ Dawkins puts himself at number 6, a de facto atheist, tending to 7. Why not squarely in 7? Because, he iterates, “reason alone could not propel one to total conviction that anything definitely does not exist”. As a convinced level 7 atheist, I am as annoyed by this prevarication as Dawkins is by believers.

The refutation by probability is Dawkins’s own. (He proudly quotes Dan Dennett’s description of it as “unrebuttable”.) It is the same idea he used in his impressive book Climbing Mount Improbable: that natural selection, for which he uses the metaphor of a “crane”, can accomplish complexity more probably than can a creator God, for which he uses the metaphor of a “skyhook”. The complexity of a creator God would itself, he points out, demand explanation. Elegantly described as it is, I fail to see how this is the magic formulation to confound believers. Why should a believer concede either God’s complexity, or that, even if it’s granted, it must have come about by a ‘crane’ – a Darwinian process in another, pre-existing universe? If push comes to shove, the believer can set up infinite regressions of God – God’s god, God’s god’s god – and call them all God. “Turtles all the way.” God can be the cause of the Big Bang, the Big Crunch, this universe, the “multiverse”. Wherever the frontier of knowledge is, there can he locate God.

Having reduced God’s existence almost to nothing, Dawkins turns to the question of where we get morals from if not from God. I agree that we do not get them from God. But I find little merit in his arguments.

He argues that Scripture is certainly not a source of morality, and that, as a matter of fact, we do not get our morality from it. Like others among recently published atheists (Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris), Dawkins has a grand old time showing, in the words of Randolph Churchill which he quotes, that “the God of the Old Testament is a shit”. The trouble is, as his bibliography reveals, he has found out almost nothing about the history of religions. The Abraham myth, for example, is not about an evil father prepared to murder his own son, but about God’s forbidding the sacrifice. It is the founding myth of the Hebrew faith. Its rejection of human sacrifice was a giant moral leap forward for mankind.

Not only does Dawkins display his ignorance of religious and cultural history, he relies on highly dubious sources for his argument against the morality of the Old Testament. The chief authority he cites is one John Hartung, a fellow Leftist and follower of Noam Chomsky, and one of the numerous anti-Zionists who believe that the Jewish state is ‘racist’. His schtick is to show that Judaism itself, and the immorality of the blood-thirsty ancient Israelites as demonstrated in the Old Testament, prefigure the blood-thirsty modern Israelites and their treatment of Arabs in their ‘apartheid’ theocracy. A perfect give-away of Hartung’s view appears in the original essay (which Dawkins regards as ‘entertaining’) where he refers to ancient Israelites at war in ‘Canaan-cum-Palestine’! Hartung also believes, against all the evidence, that Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty. For Hartung, Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people are not to be credited with anything good. Even the ‘golden rule’ expressed as ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’‘ (Leviticus 19.18) is not so moral according to Hartung, because it applies only to Jewish neighbours. Hartung here relies on a line of interpretation favoured by Maimonides, but as a matter of exegetical fact, other lines of interpretation by Jewish commentators have maintained that by ‘neighbor’ is meant a non-Jew. In any case, a later verse of Leviticus (19.33) repeats the command to love a ‘stranger’ (specifically a non-Jew) as thyself. Furthermore, a commandment by the Jewish God to the Jews to ‘love’ – that is, to act righteously towards – their fellows-in-covenant is not by implication an immoral commandment simply because it excludes – if it does – those not bound by the same rules and responsibilities. Patriotism is, after all, ‘in-group’ favoritism everywhere. It is only to the politically correct of this strange era in which established norms are inverted by the politically correct such as Dawkins and Hartung, that patriotism is now a sin. They and their like-thinkers form an in-group of their own. They manifestly extend little love, or righteous dealing, to those who are outside it.

Most irritatingly, Dawkins also drags in Hartung’s reference to an experiment conducted by an Israeli professor, George Tamarin, on Israeli school children between the ages of eight and fourteen. Presented with an account of Joshua at Jericho, they were asked whether Joshua ‘acted rightly or not’ to destroy Jericho and kill all the people and animals therein. The choice of answer was A (total approval), B (partial approval) and C (total disapproval). The results showed that 66 per cent chose A, 26 per cent chose C and 8 per cent chose B. Writes Dawkins: ‘the justification for the genocidal massacre by Joshua is religious in every case. Presumably, the savage views they expressed were those of their parents, or the cultural group in which they were brought up. It is not unlikely [!] that Palestinian children, brought up in the same war-torn country, would offer equivalent opinions in the opposite direction.’ These experiments prove nothing more than that Israeli children are capable of an historical reading of what they all recognize as a story from the Old Testament. They were asked whether Joshua behaved rightly. Behaving ‘rightly’ within the context of a bible story means obedience to God’s command. Historically, extermination was the way of war, assimilation was wrong, other religions were impure. It says nothing about the Israeli children’s moral views, only their religious knowledge. Once taken out of the sphere of religous knowledge, the same text set in China with a Chinese general in place of Joshua, produces the right moral answer from Israeli schoolchildren – disapproval. And while Professor Tamarin is busy proving how ‘savage’ Israeli children know their bible stories, those Palestinian children are very likely, in fact certainly, every day on Hamas children’s TV, being taught moral lessons to strive for the genocide of the Jews by becoming suicide ‘martyrs’. Biblical literalism is not the basis of Israel’s legal system. On the other hand, Koranic literalism is the basis for Sharia. This obsessive need to indict Israel on every possible count, with half-truths and lies, and by applying to it standards never applied to any other nation, is part of the sickness and derangement of the Left.

Hartung states that the Bible is “a blueprint”’ of in-group morality, complete with instructions for genocide, enslavement of out-groups, and world domination. Yet, he says, the real evil of the Bible is that it’s “sold as a foundation for morality … as a guide to how people should live their lives”. So it’s the false advertising that really bothers him? Perhaps a health warning should be printed on its cover saying something along these lines: “Some of the cultural practices herein are not suitable for modern life and may, if carried out, subject the perpetrator to criminal or civil liability. With respect to genocide and enslavement, it may be advisable to attempt these in Sudan. Jehovah is not a suitable role model for American citizens. Circumcision, while proven to be beneficial in the prevention of the spread of AIDS and cervical cancer, is now widely regarded as child abuse”.

Literalist readings of the Bible, caricatures of Jehovah, and fundamentalist trumpetings, while providing good laughs (indulged in by Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and all atheists everywhere) do not establish the immorality of Scripture. Leaving aside the tedious exegeses by contemporary believers who tease out the most progressive ethics from its pages, if the Bible is read as a set of historical documents, and as an “in-group” ’ survival “blueprint”, it cannot be said to be immoral.

Dawkins extends his criticism of religion-based morality by suggesting that the fundamentalists of all faiths perform their immoral acts with a strong belief in their righteousness; and that being the case, it is not the religious who are immoral, but the religion, or religion itself. Religion as such sets up the exclusivity of the ‘in-group’, which Dawkins regards as an evil idea. That to him is what is really immoral about religion. And what is moral, therefore, in his view, is the break-down of in-groups by humanism, universalism, and a creed of universal ‘human rights’. Further, and taking the piety to ridiculous lengths, humans should not form an ‘in-group’ that excludes animals. This fashionable vapidity is Dawkins’s morality without God. And what is the source of this morality of his? Astonishingly, and disappointingly, he conjures up a djinn – the “Zeitgeist”.

This djinn, which we are told is a fact, is the gradual moral progress of “civilized” people away from “genocidal racism, xenophobia, oppression of women and minorities, homophobia, and cruelty to animals”. So, it’s a pink djinn!

Where is the Zeitgeist headed? To a “post speciesist condition in which humane treatment is meted out to all species that have the brain-power to appreciate it, a natural extension of earlier reforms like the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women”. How will the Zeitgeist spread from the civilized world to the barbaric world (so much larger )? Through conversation, editorials, radio chat shows, the Internet. (Not by a foreign policy of spreading Western values). “Most of us in the twenty-first century are bunched together and way ahead of our counterparts in the Middle Ages or in the time of Abraham”. Who is “us”? Dawkins and his friends in the ultimate in-group, leftist academia, the echo chamber of the great and the good.

He does concede that the progress of the Zeitgeist will not be smooth. “There will be local and temporary setbacks such as the United States is suffering from its government in the early 2000s.” Local and temporary setbacks, such as George W. Bush? Not Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, none of the Arabian despots, not the ayatollahs, not Ahmadinejad, none of the African tyrants, not communism, national socialism, or Islamofascism, but Dubya? “But over the longer timescale, the progressive trend is unmistakable and will continue.” Ah, this is fine cocktail-party sentiment, ever so sweetly optimistic.

However, whether he recognizes it or not – and it seems he does not – the Western “progressive” class to which Dawkins belongs is under severe threat, both from within and without. Democracy is dying with the populations that created them. Demographically and ideologically, Europe is giving way to Islam. What will happen to the Universal Court of Rights for Humans and Smart Animals when the Caliphate is reestablished?

What gives rise to the Zeitgeist? The onus, says Dawkins (echoing God-believers when asked how God came into existence) is not on him to answer. He does, however, believe that mankind has an innate morality not derived from religion. How is this innate morality shown? Dawkins cites certain scientific experiments to show that most people, even remote tribal cultures, will agree on moral outcomes when given hypothetical moral dilemmas. For example most people will choose the death of one person in certain circumstances to save five. But whatever one may think of these experiments – and whether they are about morality at all and not an assumed utilitarianism (or ‘consequentialism’), they no more establish innate goodness than other experiments show innate badness. For example, the famous Milgram experiment, replicated in various forms in many places where the Zeitgeist blows, demonstrated that most people will inflict pain and even death on another person when obeying (non-divine) authority. A certainty of innate morality is a very difficult concept to extract from any aspect of culture, including religion, since cultures are made of ‘in-group’ rules. Interestingly, the ‘civilized’ people of the Zeitgeist correlate closely with Judeo-Christian nations and cultures, the ones which have separated church and state, the former colonialists, the technological and scientific innovators, the citizens of democracies – the ones which are now losing faith the fastest. An intellectual history of tolerance and its manifestation in cultural institutions, including religious institutions, would provide a better explanation for the moral progress that Dawkins ascribes to the ‘Zeitgeist’.

With or without the djinn, why does Dawkins elevate compassion, a private decency, to the supreme progressive moral principle? Why not, say, justice (which is, by the way, the supreme moral principle of Judaism)? I suspect because he is so deep in the multiculturalist fog of the Left; the fog that blurs distinctions, moral or otherwise. The fog that invariably equates American Christian fundamentalists with the Taliban; that distorts the push and pull of First Amendment jurisprudence played out in the courts of a secular nation into a threat of an impending theocracy; that believes terrorists are “today’s equivalent of Salem’s witches and McCarthy’s Commies”. It even clouds Dawkins’ scientific judgment: he brings in Sam Harris’s nonsensical city crime statistics as proof of the American religious right’s immorality. Having correlated Republicans with religious conservatives, he looks at the crime rates of cities and finds that of ‘the twenty-five cities with the lowest rates of crime, 62 per cent are in “blue” [Democrat] states, and 38 per cent are in “red” [Republican] states. Of the twenty-five most dangerous cities in the US, 76 per cent are in red states and 24 per cent are in blue states.’ Perhaps Dawkins is not aware of the fact that cities themselves are political jurisdictions, so one would have to count up the number of Republican and Democratic elected representatives at the city, county, state, federal and Presidential levels to establish whether the city is (majority) Republican or Democrat. If one were to do so, the picture may well emerge that most inner-cities, where most of the crime within a state is committed, are Democrat, irrespective of where the state stands politically (but again, what determines a state’s color? Presidential elections? State Governor elections?) The only way of knowing whether most felons are Christian Republicans is to ask prisoners their religion and how they vote. I would confidently wager that most are not Republicans, considering that the Democratic party is keen to enfranchise felons.

Dawkins is a good exponent of evolutionary theory, though a poor and apparently ill-informed political thinker. As a scientist he has earned his scorn for religious dogma. Scientific knowledge has displaced God as an explanation for natural phenomena and dilutes the hold of formal religion. But we might ask of this Darwinist: if belief in the supernatural is natural, if our brains have evolved to favor irrational belief, as you say they have, can the “impulse to religion” be eradicated? Will not our evolved gullibility always find other irrationalities to latch onto? Evolutionary theory seems to be telling us that as a species we are inclined to blind faith and will make religions, cults, gods, prophets, messiahs and other infallible authorities out of whatever material is to hand – global warming, for instance. Or will further evolution wholly correct the religifying predisposition? And are there not also natural selection pressures that favor an “impulse to skepticism” – for after all many of us have it? Is it rational of us to look forward to an age in which irrational belief no longer bears significantly on human action? Is evolution going the way we atheists would wish it to?

I fear not. The most atheist of the world’s populations (Europe, Japan, Russia) are not reproducing themselves. Rather than raising atheists’ consciousness, Dawkins should be telling us to “go forth and multiply”.

C. Gee

Posted under by on Saturday, July 18, 2009

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  • liz

    Good review. I noticed I didn’t post on this previously. I agree that Dawkins does a good job explaining evolution but is painfully clueless politically. If he would only stick to promoting and explaining evolution he’d be a great influence for good in the world, but he doesn’t know when to shut up, unfortunately.
    A couple of commenters here disagree with your conclusion that encouraging atheists to ‘go forth and multiply’ would work. I think it would. Just as parents are a huge influence on children in forming religious beliefs, they could be just as great of an influence on their children to think rationally.
    They could innoculate them from religious influences by teaching them the factual history of religions, and encourage them to see reality as an exciting and fascinating arena for scientific exploration and discovery, rather than as a flawed, second-rate, temporary substitute for eternity.
    Just think of a world filled with as many mentally balanced and rational people as there are now religiously handicapped and insane ones!

    • http://theatheistconservative.com Jillian Becker

      Thanks for this valuable comment, Liz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.pandaram Bobby Pandaram

    Please explain what the statement below means. [Genes] swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence.

    • Jillian Becker

      It doesn’t seem very obscure. Genes trigger events of the body, the body thus directed acts in the world. Not a very good metaphor, the “lumbering robots”, but the point is made. As for genes being “the ultimate rationale of our existence” – that’s bad philosophy. Where exactly in the book does the passage occur? It’s not quoted in the review.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cynthia-Curran/100002510899902 Cynthia Curran

    Well, most Red states have a lot of blacks that have higher crime rates than a blue white state like Vermont. In fact around 1970 So Ca had one of the lowest crime rates and it range between purple to red. in fact Orange County California has historically has had lower crime rates than most Blue Areas since its black population is less than 2 percent. In the OC, Purple Irvine white-Asian and White Mission Viejo which is red have one of the lowest crime rates  among cities 50,000 and higher.

  • barefoot cinderella

    most of dawkin’s arguments against belief are shrill and petty — FSM, sky daddy, these are all strawman and unprincipled arguments, atheist philosophers are embarrassed at his ineptitude, he should just stick to biology.. the hitch outclasses him as far as writing goes so..

    • George

      I understand your point barefoot cinderella and I can also identify with your assertion  , however I must add that he does that as a form of communicative sarcasm .  He uses sarcasm to indicate the addressed sarcasm itself.
                               You also bring out a point that I have also been saying for decades , and that is atheists need not only put more emphasis on addressing biology , but also science,  and basic common-sense analysis.        
                            The real problem is that when communicating with people ( i.e.—religionists )  one must communicate with them in the  “language”  that they understand or communicatively identify with and often times using this type of phraseology may be a necessity in order for the adverse group to gain a true perception of the message YOU or others are trying to convey.    Dawkins has been labeled as one of the ” new atheists “. Personally I find such a term laughable at least.   They are not   [ new ]   in any sense but more and more aggressively assertive  in their delivery for sure. 

  • George

    Here I am sitting in the coffee shop  reading an article in  USA TODAY dated Monday March 5, 2012—– by Judy Keen , Marisol Bello , Doyle Rice and William M. Welch

                             The front page major headline is about the [ Killer tornadoes aftermath ].  The title of the article reads ;   [  ” Amid tragedy ,  ‘thank God ‘   ]  ——- can you believe this ?    Let’s see , we have a bunch of tornadoes that are referred to as ACTS OF GOD since according to Christians , God controls all the forces of nature and everything happens at the will of God.   So let me get this straight , we have this supernatural being called GOD that sent a multitude of tornadoes that killed a lot of innocent people and just because a few people survived , these delusional brainwashed  Christians  (IMO)  THANK the supernatural perpetrator that sent the tornadoes in the first freakin’ place.  Huh ?  Say what !   Are these people for real ? Am I missing something here ?  What’s wrong with this picture ?
                              As I have stated in a previous post on another article , to thank God for people being survivors of a horrendous ACT  OF GOD  is the equvalent of people surviving  a nuclear weapon blast set off by a terrorist and also the resulting radiation effects and then thanking the terrorist that detonated the device because of the  few people that survived.   Unfreakin’ real., Once again , this proves how people that become engulfed in religious indoctrination become totally void of common sense . This is the epitome of being delusional.     Of course USA TODAY ( the paper that publishes a regular column titled— ” On Religion ” but nothing about  ” On Rationalism ” doesn’t surprise me.    Bias is what bias practices.
                      So this deity called GOD sends tornadoes that kills innocent people and stupid Christians pray to and give thanks to the supernatural invisible perpetrator.  What utter stupid brainwashed fools. Imagine if a sicko person spread nerve gas in to a small town and it killed everyone except a few people who hid in an airtight chamber somewhere . Then people thank and praise  the culprit that spread the deadly nerve gas in the first freakin’ place.    Pardon me for my rather “harsh ” expressions regarding this .   People then go around saying things like — ” Our prayers are with the victims “.   So what ? Is this going to bring them back alive by utterring useless words into thin air to some imaginary invisible Daddy In The Sky ?  I cannot for the life of me understand how people in general allow themselves to be so gullible .   It is truly mind-boggling.  Talk about DELUSIONAL !!!!  

  • Anonymous

    Jillian: What’s an “irrational belief?” Perhaps atheists simply draw the line at a different spot, than Catholics, Buddhists, etc., and if so, do we measure human progress by moving the line around, or leaving it alone and respecting and discussing, sometimes fighting, about the differences? Full disclosure and accountability are my “solution”, as it were.

    • Don L

      Living your life according to the laws of a god!  It’s to live your live according to the unknown because of fera…highly irrational and self-destructive.  How’s that for an example?

    • George

      Believing in something that cannot be proven and also believing in some imagined invisible supernatural being or paranormal alleged entity in itself makes no rational sense.    Theists ( or religionists ) accept their beliefs based upon (1) fear, (2) indoctrination  and (3) inadequacy.  Nothing in the concept of the supernatural deities and demons makes any rational sense whatsoever but are based upon what people are forcibly “spoon fed ” since childhood and as such they later become enshrouded in these indoctrinated beliefs as part of their mental “psyche” which they accept unquestionably as a result of their indoctrination.   
              Furthermore the person making the claim that  some supernatural being exists has the burden of proof  upon himself/herself  ( not vise versa ).  Furthermore if someone were to prove to me that some supernatural being does exists , I still would not worship or praise such a being considering all the horrible  [ ACTS OF GOD ] carried out worldwide for all of melennia.  If a “judgement day ” is coming as Christians and some others proclaim , then I want to be the first in line to pass my judgement up[on such a horrific and mass murdering deity. I want to  be the first in line on judgement day to serve your deity with a warant for his arrest ( a citizen’s arrest ) for crimes against humanity and the earth for all the ACTS OF GOD ( such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, famines, sdroughts, tornados, mud slides, snow blizzzards, plagues ( such as The Spanish Flu, The Black Plague, West Nile Virus, Ebolo, etc, ) , miscarriages ( aka-still born births via the will of GOD ) , deformed babies ( such as Siamese twins –aka ACT OF GOD ) and a multitude of more too numerous to name.
                       As Robert Green Ingersol stated —  ” Christians asked me how could I be so cruel and dare attack their deity . I ask them in return —How could they be so cruel and defend such a deity ? ” .  Certainly makes sense to me .

  • George

    I’ve been monitoring many print media publications ( newspapers, magazines, pamphlet  bulletins , etc. ) and I’ve noticed something that is a widespread pattern.  The fundamentalist Christian zealots are kicking our butts when it comes to speaking out openly in the print media publications ( particularly –letters to the editor ) . Many atheists will quickly post a comment on a secular discussion forum, or secular newsletter or atheist publication ) but are almost  totally silent when it comes to speaking out in the mainstream media ( especially the print media ).  On a regular basis I see Christian letters to the editor bashing atheists and secular freethinkers in general and yet NO rebuttal responses from the secular society in general.
                          I have found myself responding regularly while fellow atheists make criticism of my letters regarding the content comments but they themselves are too cowardly and too lazy to write a letter themselves but they have no qualms whatsoever of telling me what I should have said or a better way I could have phrased  this or that.  Actually it pisses me the %$#@ off.
                          I’ve had atheists tell me that they read my letter to the editor and then they go to nit  picking of what I should have said or they didn’t like the way I came on too strong and all this bullcrap but they won’t lift a finger themselves to bother to submit a letter themselves. The most tired and worn out flaky excuse I hear is   ”  I don’t have the time ” .  Oh yeah right .  I guess it takes too long to bring up a newspaper e-mail page and type a couple of paragraphs on the computer and push the SEND button.  I’m sure that is such a lengthy and tiresome action. That probably takes an entire five  minutes and might interfere with their TV program.
                     Almost on a regular basis I hear conservative talk radio personalities bash atheists and I use to call in routinely and then I have to put up with sarcastic remarks from  fellow atheists who didn’t have the guts to call in themselves but they have time to badmouth my input over the airwaves.  Personally I’m getting increasing fed up with it and yes I’m sounding off and venting my frustration and dissapointment.  I use to go to city council meetings and make a statement or go to public meetings and voice an opinion or statement from a secular perspective while a few fellow atheists attending would not dare even to open their mouths but boy ole boy can they mouth off about what they liked or disliked of what view I presented. Oh darnit , there I go sounding angry again. I guess I should be put on the list of angry atheists ( considering I’m getting more and more ticked off at the public silence of fellow atheists ) . These are the individuals who want other people to stick THEIR necks out for their benefit while they hide in the background cowering in silence. Then they have the gall to complain of how our message is not getting out more .  What’s wrong with their mouths ?  What’s wrong with their hands ?   Societal changes come about by people taking risks and standing up for their convictions and speaking out , speaking up and growing a set of freakin’ BALLS ( pardon the expression ).  I love to see like minded atheists engaging in dialogue among one another  to share ideas and viewpoints ( but this ALONE is NOT good enough ). We must take it a step further and let our voices be heard in the public sphere.  Otherwise the religious zealots will continue to walk all over us because they see NO resistance or rebuttal , so it enboldnes them to mock us even moreso. If atheist ( rational freethinkers ) can’t understand this sensible positi9on then I submit that atheists in general are NOT as rational as many portray themselves as being but are actually narcissistic , conceited, egotistical and in somes cases ignorant. Now if someone wants to make an ad hominem personal attack on me for stating this truth , then  go ahead , as I’ve heard it all before .  We need to become more assertive in the public “arena” as well as among one another , otherwise we are simply [ preaching to the choir ] –pardon the religious expression. This does not mean trying to convert people to atheism but to defend secular beliefs and freedoms—that’s all.  It ‘s time for us to get stronger ( not weaker and more silent ) .  Yes , there  are risky situations  of coming out of the closet as a rational secular freethinker  but burrying our heads in the sand and hiding in the closet is making things worse ( not better ).  Our future survival depends on US !

  • Peter

    I find myself disagreeing with Ms Gee on two points.

    First, the State of Israel is founded on biblical reasons, with adherents of Judaism claiming that the territory is land promised by their god.  It has the semblance of a Western civilised country but the inequality among the inhabitants and the disregard of human rights and human dignity makes it nothing short of an apartheid system.  It is no use citing the abhorrent Shari’a law to legitimise Israel’s actions because a truly civilised nation would never adopt the barbaric measures of its enemies.

    Secondly, I don’t think Ms Gee has understood evolution and how it works, be it that of genes or memes.  Atheism is a result of memetic evolution, it is learnt and arrived at by reason.  The exchange of ideas (=memes) results in their reproduction, the inevitable changes and mutations and eventual evolution.  Genetically, humans may be disposed to believe blindly, if they don’t use the rest of their intelligence – as we see in most people.  This is a necessary survival trait for infants to trust in their parents’ care.  But realising that there is no supernatural stuff after all has nothing to do with your parents’ beliefs but rather with how much you have used your brain cells when you grow up.  So evolution is going in the way we atheists want it to.  Proof of this is that today (2011) and here (Malta) I can write this without any fear.  Unfortunately, evolution of any kind does not necessarily happen at the same rate everywhere.

    • C.Gee

      “Biblical literalism is not the basis of Israel’s legal system. On the other hand, Koranic literalism is the basis for Sharia.”  Is that what you disagree with in my review? 

      Upon what reading of Israel’s law do you arrive at “apartheid”, which was itself a written legal system?  Not a literal reading, obviously.  It would be useful if you undertook a legal reading comparison between Israel’s law and South Africa’s old law – and Arabian states’ modern laws (especially, say, Saudi Arabia’s laws with respect to Jews.)  The accusation of “apartheid”  can be leveled at Israel only by the deliberately ignorant and malicious.  

      The Israeli state and its legal system – good or bad, legitimate or not – is secular. I cannot see how demonizing the Jewish State by mis-characterizing it as a religious state or its citizens as bigots helps make the case for the morality of atheism.  I think that Hartung, possibly Dawkins, you, and the progressive post-national left, are trying to make Zionism into a religion to give cover to political disapproval of it.  But even if it were a religion, Zionism’s state is more civilized than Islamic statehood in the Middle East. To say otherwise on behalf of atheism,  is to give atheism a bad name – and to demonstrate a religious tendency to anathematize the impure. 

      As to your second point,  how does it address anything in my  review of Dawkins?   It does not reveal any misunderstanding of mine of evolution of either meme or gene.  To talk of the evolution of memes is a manner of speaking, a metaphor.  Dawkins has fun with memes – with ideas taking on a life of their own. But the analogy of genes to memes breaks down in normative discourse: evolution is morally neutral. Species’ survival is morally neutral. On the other hand, ideas are born in and adapt to a moral environment created by and consisting of words. To suggest that progressive leftist idea-species are more morally “evolved” and for that reason better than the dinosaur conservative or religious idea species, is to turn evolution into a (God-like) supernatural perfecting tendency: a teleology, similar (not surprisingly in this memetic world) to the Marxist idea of history. Dawkins’ “zeitgeist” is such a tendency. That fundamentally misconstrues evolution.  

      You say: “But realising that there is no supernatural stuff after all has nothing to do with your parents’ beliefs but rather with how much you have used your brain cells when you grow up.  So evolution is going in the way we atheists want it to.”

      If we atheists started to think that we could dictate the course of evolution, I would say we were neither atheists nor Darwinists.  If we think that we can breed or mutate a meme-world of ideas free from irrationality, we have lost our minds. 

      The absence of belief in God is not a guarantee of clear thinking nor of moral behavior.

  • Ben

    Dawkins` verbosity have allways stopped me from finishing his books.He tries to prove with the help of poorly understand yet biology that there are not any god.Scientists of today declare that great number of scientific hypothesis are indemonstrable.We atheists act on Occam`s rezor principle: we don`t need this hypothesis that is ridiculouse in its traditional forms of the Bible,Koran and so on.

  • Ben

    “the burden of proof falls on the believer”,but cunning  priests avoiding of literal ( obviously senseless )percepsion of the Bible create the indefinite  rubber world accordingly to the new scientific discoveries.In reality the traditional religions are dead and believers worship the coloured mummies.

  • LmM

    Very well written but a host of grammatical errors. Please let me know if you would like an editor.

    • C.Gee

      By all means email the errors to us. We’ll fix ‘em.  There is an errant 5, and a strange gap, I notice, so we should do a revision in any case.Thank you. 

    • Jillian Becker

      LmM – thank you for your offer. Please send your editing suggestions to C.Gee by email care of me at  

       jbecker@theatheistconservative.com

  • HugoC14

    Since Dawkins and readers of the conservative atheist do have a certain commonality, namely that that they “believe” in some sort of evolution of life from non-life over millions and perhaps billions of years how do they account for the fact that scientific testing of dinosaur bones have turned up ages of 23,000 to 33,000 radiocarbon years from Texas to Alaska. The 65 million years between man and dinosaur do not exist based on C-14 analysis alone. http://www.dinosaurc14ages.com/ and in the book, “Evolution: The Decline of an Hypothesis,” published in Italian and edited by the VP of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Nov. 2009, Dr. Roberto de Mattei, historian.

    • Jillian Becker

      What is your question? Could you please clarify your point?

      Do you doubt evolution?

      Are you suggestng there should have been some sort of evolution from the extinct dinosaurs?

      Are you trying to correct some time-attributions?

      Do you think God created the universe just as it is five minutes ago fossils and all?

      Please tell us what you’re getting at.

    • http://www.facebook.com/steve.m.cardon Steve M Cardon

      I think what you are trying to say is that Atheism is itself a religion of sorts, and that the theory of evolution involves “faith” instead of science. It is not and it does not. A lot of people get confused because the term ‘theory’ is misused and substituted for the word “hypothesis”. A scientific theory is a hypothesis that has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Then and only then is it elevated to the status of “Theory” If you read about dinosaur bones carbon daited as 33,000 years old, you seriously need to reconsider your sources of information.

  • HugoC14

    Since Dawkins and readers of the conservative atheist do have a certain commonality, namely that that they “believe” in some sort of evolution of life from non-life over millions and perhaps billions of years how do they account for the fact that scientific testing of dinosaur bones have turned up ages of 23,000 to 33,000 radiocarbon years from Texas to Alaska. The 65 million years between man and dinosaur do not exist based on C-14 analysis alone. http://www.dinosaurc14ages.com/ and in the book, “Evolution: The Decline of an Hypothesis,” published in Italian and edited by the VP of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Nov. 2009, Dr. Roberto de Mattei, historian.

  • Hellosnackbar

    As a long time admirer of Richard Dawkins I find that his former aloofness has been somewhat sullied by Dawkins groupies.
    In short, his rise to fame (quite justifiably) has seemingly given birth to a rockstar type of persona i.e a form of mild narcisscism.
    That being said he and Christopher Hitchens do a great job of disabusing the American public
    of belief in imaginary omipotent,and omniscient monsters in the sky.
    I just came across this site by accident and was surprised and delighted that there are other people in the world that are supporters of a libertarian Godless philosophy.
    Common sense doesn’t need the sanction of a mythical entity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Pittelli/1157577837 David Pittelli

      “libertarian Godless philosophy” – Have you ever heard of Ayn Rand?

      • Jillian Becker

        Sure. We write about her often, and quote her, with strong approbation.

  • MrFace

    I find this article rather informative and definitely opens my mind more as I think of what may or may not be out there. I am a self-proclaimed atheist (number 7 on the scale from above) as well as a fiscal conservatist and strong supporter of the constitution and all the inalienable rights given to us by the document. I found a few atheist conservatives in my home town; montgomery, alabama. However, it is hard to relate to anyone here(because of the so called Bible Belt) because of the ingrained religion from these parts. It is very refreshing to see others out there that can give me more reason to actually contemplate meanings of life, theism, conservatism, etc, et. al.

    Thank you much and hopefully I can be more part of this site in the near future.

    Later,
    Cam

    • Jillian Becker

      We are glad you found us, MrFace.

      Please stay with us and let us know your thoughts on what we say.

      You may have noticed that there’s a lively discussion going on under About Us. Quite a few readers – both currently and in months past – express views that you may find congenial.

  • Edyang

    You cannot know with certainty that there is no God. To claim that is the ultimate hubris.

    There are many scientific and philosophical arguments for the existence of God. See the works by Dr. William Lane Craig.

    Here are some arguments:

    The Kalam Cosmological Argument Based on the Beginning of the Universe:

    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    The Moral Argument Based upon Moral Values and Duties

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    The Teleological Argument from Fine-tuning

    1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
    2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
    3. Therefore, it is due to design.

    All of these premises are defensible from a philosophical and logical point of view.

    • Jillian Becker

      Edyang – these are very tired, old, circular arguments, long since and very thoroughly refuted, every one of them.

      Sorry, but you'll have to do much better than that if you want to make out a case for the existence of God.

      No one has yet succeeded – but that's no reason why you shouldn't keep trying. Good luck!

  • Xytan4

    My conversion to atheism was a swift one. All my life I always questioned whether or not there was a God, church service bored me like nothing else. As I grew older I started voicing my questions to my grandfather, and he responded by giving me a Bible and telling me to read it every day. That was a bad mistake, upon reading the first chapter Genesis those questions only grew stronger and as I read more I became disbelieving that educated people could actually accept the tripe in this book as Absolute Truth. So that was that, I promptly threw the Bible into the garbage and have since then been firmly an Atheist.

    • Jillian Becker

      Welcome, Xytan4!

      We hope to hear more from you in our comment sections.

  • JDBlues

    While I haven't read “The God Delusion”, I've watched videos of “the Root Of All Evil?” and part of “The God Delusion”. From those viewings I can say I wasn't particularly impressed by Dawkins. He appears to me to be an “atheistic agnostic” as described by George H. Smith in “The Case Against God”. Also, as far as I can see, the burden of proof falls on the believer, not on the disbeliever and it shouldn't be too difficult for someone with his credentials, and practiced in the endeavor, to make any believer who attempts to argue their position painfully aware that their faith is utterly devoid of empirical evidence, nonsensical, and completely at odds with reason.

    While admittedly I'm not well read on the subject, three books I have read , (The Bible, The Age Of Reason, and the above mentioned “The Case Against God”) have informed my thinking on theistic belief. I don't consider myself an intellectual and therefore will readily admit to having some difficulty in comprehending some philosophical arguments on the subject, although I did find Smith's explanation fairly easy to understand.

    I have a purpose here in doing so, and I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to provide you with a bit of my background:

    As a child I was reared by devout believers in Missouri Synod Lutheranism. Even though I was being thoroughly indoctrinated into the faith, I can clearly remember being sceptical of much I was being taught simply because it was presented essentially as “the bible tells us so, therefore it is absolute truth, the bible being ” the word of God”. I do remember that at the time I was dismayed by much of the biblical slaughter and by what I perceived as the unfairness that was attributed to god. I suppose I must have been a natural sceptic, and defiant to boot, because I kept questioning although not actively seeking truth, until I, when as a young man, stumbled across “The Age Of Reason”. I was thrilled to have my thoughts and disblief shared by someone deserving of respect.

    I remained a theistic agnostic until my fortunate meeting with someone who reccomended “The Case Against God”. At which point I had the arguments against faith presented in what I think is probably as simple a manner as is possible given the complexity of the subject.

    The reason I mention all of this is because of the difficulty I had in arriving at a confident rejection of all theistic belief. Learning the truth, and the difficulty in rejecting the religious dogma was, for me, a slow and emotionally tortuous process which involved significant anguish due to the learned fear of rejecting god.

    I suspect I'm far from alone in having the difficulties I experienced in my transition from faith to a strict reliance on reason. It seems to me that if there is not already there could, and should, be a straightforward and simple text that lays out the basic arguments for the rejection of faith that could be published inexpensively and widely distributed. Such a booklet, or pamphlet, could ease the process for people who are open to, or actively seeking truth. I would think this text would also address the issue that religion holds no monopoly on morality or values, and that it would also provide a list for further reading.

    Admittedly the distribution of such a booklet would be problematic, to say the least, but were it available it could possibly even be slipped into some schools as a supplement to teaching evolution, and as alternative viewpoint to creationism. I would hope at least that libraries would put it on their shelves. I may be being naive in my idealism in this regard. If anyone knows of such a text, please let me know. If no such book exists, maybe one of you would consider writing one.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to have rambled so, and I recognize that I'm way off the subject of the book review, for which I apologize. I'll offer in my defense that I'm the only athiest I know, and it follows of course, that I'm the only conservative athiest I know. I am therefore starved for connection with like minded people.

    If anyone knows of any real time forums or “meet ups” for conservative athiests would you please let me know. I live near Madison Wisconsin and am reluctant to approach any athiests there because I'm fairly certain that they would almost surely be leftists.

    Thank you for your indulgence. I'm open to any reading or other suggestions, and of course to all constructive criticism.

    • Bill

      JD, it's always good to read about other people's journey to reason from faith.

      “The Case Against God” is an excellant book that certainly led you to reason. I don't think there is something more compact to encourage more people to discover the truth.

      In many philosophies, many people accept tenets as undisputable truth and tend not to reevaluate their premises even against new information. They do not realize this right away and sometimes never realize this, even in the face of obvious contradictory information!

      This is why it's not so simple. I doubt if the percentage of atheists will grow fast soon. However I also think that the USA will eventually have 30% of its population being atheists or non-religious. Once past that point, religion will lose its influence among politicians. I was a teenager in the 1970s and I remember when the Republican Party was NOT controlled by religious factions (Jerry Fallwell was one of the first to hijack the Republican Party at the time Reagan was elected POTUS).

      I will be grateful for a modest increase in atheists/non-religious from its estimated 14 to 30%. From there, life will only get better faster!

      • JDBlues

        Bill, thanks for responding to my comment.

        It is difficult to conceive of any text more compact than “The Case Against God” that would begin to cover the subject. I suppose I'm hoping for some sort of thumbnail that might pique the curiosity of anyone open to reason enough to cause them to investigate in more depth.

        You're absolutely right about many adherents to various philosophies accepting the tenets of their respective philosophies as incontrovertible truth and are unwilling to even listen to opposing viewpoints. Leftists come to mind in that regard as quickly as do the religious faithful. On the same token, I've met people who embrace conservative positions without really understanding their reasons, and I'm not sure that's entirely for the good either.

        I would be interesting to know the current number of actual athiests compared to the number who will admit to being athiest. Certainly many who publically call themselves agnostic are in fact atheists. It requires significantly more courage to categorically reject god, than to admit to thinking the supernatural unknowable. Of course agnosticism is a big step in the right direction.

        I agree that it's likely that we will see an increase in our percentages unless the muslims and the catholics continue to propagate at the rate they have been. In which case we may well be in a world of hurt.

        Of course we can only hope that the vast majority of new athiests are conservative athiests.

    • Jillian Becker

      JDBlues, I 've ordered “The Case Against God”, will read it and perhaps review it. Thanks for telling me about it. Obviously a book I should have heard of, but hadn't. You do mean the one by George H Smith? (There is another one by Gerald Priestland.)

      Your story of becoming an atheist is interesting. I don't know any contact groups near where you live in Wisconsin, but here's a site in California worth looking at and one contact can lead to another, so you may feel it worth visiting.

      http://siliconvalley.unitedcor.org/node/7

      They claim tens of thousands of atheist visitors!

      Thank you for your comment on my review of Ann Coulter's “Godless: The Church of Liberalism”.

      • JDBlues

        Hi Jillian,

        I hope you'll enjoy “The Case Against God”, and yes, it is the one authored by George H. Smith. I'll be eager to know what you think of it, please let me know.

        I'm glad my bit of personal history didn't bore you. Having made contact with you people has been stimulative for me. I have been rereading the bible. I doubt that I'll read all the way through it again, but it's always good for a laugh! It absolutely baffles me as to how otherwise intelligent people such as Coulter can accept the book as truth. I really suspect that few of those who profess to believe it's the word of god have ever given it an objective read, if in fact, they've read it at all.

        Thanks for web site address. I'll check it out.

        Thanks you for your excellent review! You obviously are capable of reading critically, and think very clearly as well. You're exactly the type of person the world needs more of, many millions more. Have you ever considered having yourself cloned?

        John

    • Paulus

      Your history reminded me of my own. My parents were Amish and when they left that faith they naturally went to another very conservative faith, referred to as the “Truth” among the “friends” – not Quakers. I was led to believe that the only path to heaven was thru this faith, and I knew it was not nearly as widespread as many other religions are. This led me to ask my mother “what about all the people in Africa? Do they have no chance?” She told me that every person would at some point in their life get their chance. I just couldn't buy that. I still look back to that experience as the turning point for me. Also spent long years pretty much agnostic and finally decided it was all just silly and there was no such thing as a god. Much reading of historical fiction, particularly the many novels about ancient native americans by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, showed me how legends about real people can turn those same people into gods in a matter of a handful of generations in the absence of the written word. I think all polytheistic beliefs came about this way, and monotheistic beliefs arose when cultures started mingling and had to coexist. I know pagan tribes lived in close proximity, sometimes worshipping different pantheons but I still believe mixing cultures to be the catalyst. I only mention all this as an alternative to what I consider a silly proposition by the author of “The God Delusion” as the root of religion.
      OK, I haven't read any of the books mentioned here, just found this site thru a link from IBD editorials…. and really enjoyed reading your history as I mentioned. I am probably the only conservative atheist I know as well.

      • JDBlues

        Paulus, welcome to the site, I've only been here a short time myself.

        Thanks for your kind comments regarding my history. Your's is interesting also, having come from an Amish background.

        I think you would enjoy both “The Age of Reason” and “The Case Against God”. Paine is amusing in his critique of the Bible, and Smith explains the philosophical arguments against the supernatural in as easy to digest manner

  • Zar

    Before I begin, I am dyslexic. Spellign errors shoudl be expected.

    Not to be too much of a wet blanket but, while I agree wiht much of this Review I do disagree with soem elements. For one thing, why is it that today we use thew word “Religion” as a Synonym for Theism? We all know Atheists aren't Religious because they are Atheists, but this assumes that Religion is all about beleif in gods. Its not. Religion is simply a set of beleifs regarding the nature of our existance, and is not the same thing as Theism at all.

    In reality, everyone has a Religion. This includes Atheists. ( DO not misread. I didnt dsay Atheism was in and of itself a Religion. I said Atjheists have Religion, because they have a set of beelifs about the nature of our existance.)

    And here I agree with the Author of this Review. Dawkins thinks Religion is evil because it creates Social Divisions base don Tribal Groups who are at odds with each other and have an Us VS THem mentality. His Solution is the same as that of other Atheist Humanists, such as Dan Barker or Sam Harris: Get everyone to embrace the same beelfis I have.

    In this way he's not really advocatign a world with no Religion, he's simply arbitrarily declarign his own beleifs to be non-relgiion, and assumes everyoen who is not Relgiious agrees with his views. He then assumes that the world woudl be a better place if everyone agreed with his personal beleif syustem and the problem in the owrld is cause dby others not sharign his personal beleifs.

    I fidn this supremely Arrogant and, as the Author stated, Hypocritical. Dawkisn is essentially askign us nto adopt his beleif system and abandon everyone elses. His solution woudl create SOcial Unity because we'd all then have Shared Values and beleifs, but the same woudl be true if everyone abandioned their bewleifs and converted En masse to Catholisism. Once we all Embrace the Truth of the Catholic Faith and submit to the Pope, there will be no more stirfe, and no more divisions. This same argument could be made for Mormons as well. Once we all realise the truth that Joseph Smith Jr. was the Prophet who came to giv us the Restored Gospel of Jesus Chruist and submit tot he Authority of the Mormon Faith, we will see no social or Relgiious Division and Tribal Feuding will end. We can do this for Sunni ISlam as well, for once peopel relaise Muhammad was the Prophet of God and submit to the Koran, and folow the Hadiths of the SUnni Tradition, the world will be united.

    The only difference is that Dawkisn assumes his beleifs are self evident truth any raitonal person will arrive at if they just stop beking blidned by Faith and use Logic and Reason instead. And here is where I must also disagree with the Author of this Review. Faith is called Gullibility above, and Dawkisn pretty well agrees. But is that what Faith really is? I'd say no. Thats because I do not define Faith as Atheist Circles have tende dot sicne the mid 19th Century. Faith is not beleiving in soemthing even though there is no evidence for it. Faith is actually confidence in a given proposition pr person, or loyalty thereto. Faith was never udnerstood as beleif without evidence. (Spare me a misquotation of Hebrews.)

    Faith can actually be the result of Reason and Logic. In fact, Dawkisn praie of Reason and Logic reveals he has Faith in them!

    I also don't think beleif in God is a Delusion or Irrational. Dawkisn didn't really show that the existance of God is unlikely using Probability, and even other Athiest Reviewers have critisised his Logic on this. Not simply becuase anythign sahort of Zero Probabuility leaves room for God, but because the Logic behidn what he said in hbis book (Forgive me I read it in 2006 and dotn rmember all fo it) really was base don assumptions that he himself cannot prove.

    And sicne Dawkisn never bothered to read what serious THeologians or Philosophers have said about the ecxistance f God or talked to Scientists who beleiv ein God (They do exist you know) but intead relied on Atheist Articles and Books written from the same general beleif systsem he holds to, he never really engaged in discussign beleif in God as it is actually held by Theists.

    For example, how can his Probability Argument really hold up to Paul Tillichs views of God? Tillich beleived God was not an actual beign but the “Ground of Being”, a sort of Superstructure fro which the Universe was Emergent from. There is also a Pantheistic view in which the Universe as we know it is God. What about the THeology of Rowan Williams? Dawkins actually takes the view of God he argues againt from Sterotypes of “Relgiious beleivers” as foudn in Athiest books, as a “Magical Man who lives in the Sky”. He then procceeds ot Ridicule this Magical Man who lives in the Sky, or Sky Daddy, and never bothers to actually discuss the God as beleive idn by Chrisdyains, Jews, or Muslims.

    Speakign of which, the Brilliant Scinetific analysis you praised about why Relgiion (Really Theism) exists is not realy Brilliant. I am gettign a degree in Psycology and thus am goign to be a Scientist myself, and this is my personal feild. The idea that beleif in God came out of Natural Selection as aprt of a Childs need to obey and beleive his or her Parents, and from imaginary Friends, and projectign Anthropomorphisms onto Natural Phoenomenon is more Frued than Modern Science. People who study the Psyclogy of Relgiion today do not bleive that the need for a Divine Parental Fgure created beleif in God.

    I realise that Ahtiests need to find a reason that peopel beeliv ein God that precludes his existance. I know that as an Ahtiest your not liekly to entertain even hypothetically the idea that maybe peopel beleiv ein God because he exists, but if God does exist and thisd si why people beelive in him this woudl make sense. Still, if you insist we only view this as Atheuists then why not try to undrstand God from Modern OPsycology and not 19th and early 20th Century theories? Such as beleif in an overarching creator comign orm the awareness of our own COnsciousness and the assumption that everythign else must have soem form of Cinciosuness, includign the overpower of the Univrse itself? Rather htan look at God as a sort of Divine Parent that evovled as a side effect of Parental Dependancy, Modern OPsycology woudl argue that perhaps bleif in God came abotu as a natural extension of beign self aware, and aware of our own COnciousnes.

    The Idea that Giod was created just to explain the gaps in our knwoeldge is also a bit outdated.

    Still, overall I liked the Essay.

    • C. Gee

      I do not think that the evolutionary psychologists' explanations for religious belief that Dawkins mentions are “brilliant”, only that they are interesting. Perhaps you will investigate them further in your study of psychology.
      Modern psychology's explanation for man's belief in God or the supernatural as a projection of his own consciousness upon the universe is, in fact, what is at work in Dawkins' description of imputation of agency to nature.

      The gaps in our knowledge are used by believers to assert God, not to explain them.
      This idea of God is no more “outdated” than any other. It is perennial.

      • Zar

        Actually Dawkins's idea came from Freud, who taught htat God was a creation of our need for a perfect Father Figure. This is why Dawkins uss the mocking term “Sky Daddy”, because Dawkins is simply parroting Atheist Literature that copies a Freudian concept tjat God was created as a sort of supreme Father Figure and came about as the By-Product of a CHilds need ot listen to and have a Father Figure.

        Modern Psycology dosn't teach this at all.

        Incidentally, beleif in God is nto the same as beleif in the SUpernatural. One can reject one and still beleive in the other. One can reject God's existance and stuill beleiv ein a Supernatural Order. CO sequently, and as contradictory as this may soudn to you or others, oen can also beleiv ein God and not in the Supernatural. God is not really udnerstood as SUpernatural by all Theologians, nor by all Christians.

        And, I remidn you, in modern POsycology there really is no distinciton between Relgiiosubeleifs and Secular ones. One of the problems with a Militant Athiesm is how it likes ot pretend somehow that it combats Relgiion, and how Religion is in and of itself a great evil. ut usually they simply mean THeism.

        Religion is not THeism, and the Militant Ahtiesm of Richard Dawkins, which is not “Lack of beelif in a god” but is instead a comprehensive Philosophy about the nature of existance, is a Religion.

        Worse still, how can we really do away with Relgiion? In the midn of “The Religious” as it is misdefined, God is not an abstract Religious COncept. Peopel who pray to God are prayign to a Real being. This is hwo their Brains resond to God anyway. Recent studies have conformed that, when peopel Pray to God the same regiosn fo the Brain act active that are Active in talking to other People. God is a Tangeble, Real preasence to them. Psycologically speaking, they are talkign to a Real, preasent being,not a myustical, otherworldlyh entity that exist int eh Relam of Reliionbut not the real world.

        The same is true of other Concepts foudn in Relgiious beleifs. Chrisyains beelive Jesus was actually the Saviour of the owrld and his Crucifiction was an actual Historical event, as was his Ressureciton. Muslims really beleive the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was Visited by the Angel Gabriel. Christains, Jews, and Muslism all beleive that Moses leading the CHidlren fo Israle out of Egypt, and recieivng the Ten Commandments on SInai was an actual Historical event. They all see Angels and Demons as actual beigns, not as Relgiious beigns seperate form everyday life.

        In this way, Religion really becomes a meanignless distinciton. Supposeldy, the Docrtinal and Dogmatic philosophy of men like Dawkins, or even you, soemhow aren't Relgiion even thoguh they have all the same traits as Relgiion becaue they are “Reality”. But anyoen who disagrees with them won't see them as Reality. Also, despite the continual attakc on Relgiion as Irraitonal, the truth is that all of the Relgious beleifs you can attack as not fonded in Logic can, an have been, defe ded Logically by THeologians, Philosophers, or even Scientists. What your actually discussing is what peopel actually beleive is true, and not teo categories, one beign Relgiion and the other somehow Reaosn and Logic.

        Many of the “Religious” have perfeclty valid logical reasons for htier belrifs, and many of the “NonReligious” have inherantly irraitonal and illogical justifications.

        I just think beign Militantly oppsoed to Religion is foolish. Not only is it just an attakc on soemoen elses beleifs that really you cant disprove, you really don't want to remove Relgiion form them, but rather want them to adopt a new Religion.

        This wa smy central critisim of Dawkins.

        • Bill

          Zar, I have seen the gist of your posts – you are implying that atheism is a religion. I have my own opinion and you have yours. In my 34th year of being an atheist I realized I have absolutely no faith. I have expectation that the airline pilots and the computerized automatic pilots will keep the airplane aloft – empirical evidence of safety. But that is not faith. You say I have beliefs. I have no beliefs. You can say whatever you want. I am beginning to think you are a troll of some sort.

          Forgive me. I am just an engineer with a mathematics background. No two people agree on every single issue. I see things from my perspective and you see things from your perspective. Mine is based on the evidence of the senses.

  • Proxywar

    I just wanted to add.

    C.Gee, you should write an atheist-conservative manifesto/book.
    I would buy it. I've never heard an atheist defend christian morality as logically
    as you just did, it was quite interesting. It was like listening to the deist beliefs of the founding fathers (which made America so unique when it comes to religious freedom) speaking from the grave.

    I'm now slightly skeptical of christian moralities worth because of this review. Where as before I whole heartly believed in the dawkins incomplete yet complete secular form of the Zeitgeist. Now that I think of it Dawkins praised Buddhism in his book which was a little contradictory to his secular belief system seeing how Buddhism like Christanity and Judaism all follow the gloden rule.

    • Princess Mortal Princess

      'Now that I think of it Dawkins praised Buddhism in his book which was a little contradictory to his secular belief system seeing how Buddhism like Christanity and Judaism all follow the gloden rule.'

      The thing is Buddhism completely compatible with atheism, it's a nontheistic 'philosophy' more than it is a 'religion'.

      There is a lot more to Judaism, Christianity, and most every other religion than just the Golden Rule of treating other the way you want to be treated…
      Buddhism (in a nut shell) promotes compassion and kindness for all life and seeking truth and enlightenment, that's it.

  • Proxywar

    “If push comes to shove, the believer can set up infinite regressions of God – God’s god, God’s god’s god – and call them all God. “Turtles all the way.” God can be the cause of the Big Bang, the Big Crunch, this universe, the “multiverse”. Wherever the frontier of knowledge is, there can he locate God.”

    No the believer can't. Dawkins makes this very clear by stating if they do so they would be commiting the fallacy via God of the Gaps. ie. default logic. Which is to say; Natural selection can be scientifically tested where as God and/or ID can not. I think you missed this part of the book.

    • aeschines

      Since when has logic stopped belief?

    • J. Grünner

      That would just prove that God is not scientifically provable or testable. Logic does not imply the applicability of the scientific method. Especially because in order to discuss God logically in scientific terms, you would have to agree on the premises you base your conclusions upon or reach an agreement on some common ground fundamental theory.

      • Don L

        You F’n idiot…there is absolutely no way to discuss a god logically!  It’s a made up answer for the fear of the unknown.  Only fearful losers believe ion such tripe.  And, as for the scientific analysis…Stephen Hawkings pretty much answered that…There just isn’t any, nor has there ever been, any time for a god! Go lohis This!

  • Jon_McGill

    Love this review!

    I have been actively involved in Richard Dawkin's website for a few years now, and have gotten overwhelmed at times by the uncritical leftist attitudes that infest his site. There need to be more Atheists who are willing to voice such criticisms as these. Christopher Hitchens is one of those… at least on some issues, although I suppose he doesn't consider himself a conservative, really. I hope this web site will prosper! The leftists seem to have lots of money backing up their own web site in the form of RD.net. Not everything on RD.net is repulsive, but it is extremely leftist in it's outlook. T'would be nice to have a counterbalance of the same quality!

  • Josh

    Using Dawkin's spectrum of belief I would say I am a 4. I really appreciate the unbiased approach you took in reviewing his book. I understand that the premise of your review was that Atheism was not benefited by this book, like it could have been. But, it is refreshing to see someone intelligent enough to call someone out on their mistakes even if they are on the same side of the argument.

    • Josh

      Also, when you said “Rather than raising atheists’ consciousness, Dawkins should be telling us ‘to go forth and multiply.” Are you not implying that all atheists children would be atheists? Does that not contradict what you said about the skeptical mind, shouldn't the children of atheists at least examine (with skepticism) for themselves what they are mentally spoon fed from birth. Using a skeptical mind is what led me to be a #4 instead of a #7, because until someone can scientifically prove there is no entity with intelligence that played a part in life and existance, which is not scientifically possible at this point, then I cannot make that leap of “faith” either.

  • aeschines

    More reviews please! I am always interested in new books to check out from my town's vasty underused library.

    Unlike a great majority of book reviews I have read, these reviews are long, detailed, informative, and always interesting. Keep 'em coming.