Dear E. Beresford "Bez" (Leeds, UK) I couldn't help reading your review on this book - surely as a believer in God the title should have given you a slight clue to its content and therefore the choice whether or not to read it??? So to put in your review
"I don't mind if people don't believe in God, but leave all us believers alone."
It works both ways. You could have left this one on the shelf and saved yourself the trauma. You state right at the beginning
"As a believer in God, I was never going to like this book."
So why read it and give a predictably bad review???
It seems to me that its always difficult to have your world view challenged, and that this challenege can be quite traumatic. And so people can shy away. But if we face up to these challenges, then usually we respond to and grow from what we learn. I'm sure that many people expect not to like Richard Dawkins book before they read it - some will have their expectations met, some won't. Some will review it one way, some will review it another. Some will continue to believe in God, some won't. Some who don't believe in God might read other books & change their minds. And so the world goes. Intelligent people will keep wondering why we're here, until someone comes up with a definitive answer, which might just never happen. Or might be something simple that we all knew all along.
Having a worldview challenged is one thing - that is called debate. Being told that you are a child abuser, and "mad, stupid, ignorant or evil" is another thing. The first is what flows from an open society - something that is a side effect of Christianity, incidentally. The second is designed to close down debate, and get people to hate religious believers. Were I to say such things about others, in the name of Christianity, it would be considered a hate crime.
"As a believer in God, I was never going to like this book."
I think this statement is a little foolish (although it depends how it was meant). I believe in God, but I am quite capable of enjoying, liking and respecting a well-written book on atheism. I believe it is important to challenge my own position and to read alternative viewpoints.
Unfortunately this book was not well-written and merely seemed to expose Dawkins' own delusions. I lost a lot of respect for him when I read this book.
"Unfortunately this book was not well-written and merely seemed to expose Dawkins' own delusions. I lost a lot of respect for him when I read this book."
You and quite a few other people, it seems, from various comments in the Press by people who might usually be dawkins' allies.
What I'm wondering is how many "open minded" people who praise Dawkins' book will be "open minded" enough to read "The Dawkins Delusion", by Alister McGrath, or "Deluded by Dawkins" by Andrew Wilson. I'm betting there won't be too many people in that group.
Too much like having their world view challenged, perhaps?
A.J. Bradbury: "What I'm wondering is how many "open minded" people who praise Dawkins' book will be "open minded" enough to read "The Dawkins Delusion", by Alister McGrath, or "Deluded by Dawkins" by Andrew Wilson. I'm betting there won't be too many people in that group."
I don't know.... I know of quite a few - of course some don't approach The Dawkins Delusion? critically or with an open mind either but will still read it (I guess that involves Chrsitians as well as atheists).
I find though, it is quite funny to read anything by people who refer to themselves as 'freethinkers' and then just parrot off everything that Dawkins says while dismissing everything Dawkins dismisses - and I wonder whether Dawkins himself is in this category - I saw no evidence in The God Delusion that he was genuinely seeking to be challenged on anything.
I didn't think The Dawkins Delusion? was that great - it was good enough, but not brilliant. It's definitely worth reading though.
In any case, I think we should be cautious about saying that people simply won't allow their worldview to be challenged - of course there are some like that on all sides of every debate. But I believe that the important thing is to engage with those who ARE open-minded - of any faith or none - and to encourage and promote that.
For years I have had to put up with Christians telling me that I will burn in hell for not believing in their god. I have been told that if I am not with God, I am with the devil and that makes me 'evil'. Christians stand in the middle of the high street and shout at people, whether they want to hear it or not. They come to your door and push leaflets through whether you want them to or not.It was your choice to read this book.
Things have gotten pretty strange in England since you lost the Ashes....People burning in Hell, Devil worshippers, Christians in the High Street shouting at people. People ringing doorbells....oh the inhumanity.
Thank God my Mum and Dad left in the 50's before the "Christian Troubles" and emigrated to Australia.
Realistically though haven't we got more important issues to worry about.
Hi there S. Gilmore, it was refreshing to read your views. The reason I started this discussion was not to critique this book but was astounded at the lack of open-mindedness of the review by E. Beresford. I am all for your challenging your 'own position and to read alternative viewpoints' and to make an informed review on a book such as this, but the message portrayed by the latter individual was that 'I don't like this book and wasn't going to like it because it goes against my beliefs' and no mention of how well or not it was written or how well researched it was. I personally have no idea who Dawkins is and have not read the book I will freely admit this fact but had to say something as my perceptions of a good review (as I'm sure most of us were taught at school) is state your preference and back it up accordingly either way. I commend your ability to accept that this topic of books are there to question peoples beliefs whether or not you agree with the authors findings. Also I am intrigued by A.J. Bradbury's statement in the following post... "What I'm wondering is how many "open minded" people who praise Dawkins' book will be "open minded" enough to read "The Dawkins Delusion", by Alister McGrath, or "Deluded by Dawkins" by Andrew Wilson. I'm betting there won't be too many people in that group."
I agree too. It works both ways - you need to read both sides of the story to come to your own well-rounded conclusion, and whether or not you like this book everyone has their own interpretation of what may or may not be the truth. Again it is down to 'choice' - one can choose to stay with one's convictions as a believer in God or stay with one's atheist beliefs or choose to alter your beliefs but as to whether the book is written and researched well or not is also a choice.
More importantly I firmly stand by the phrase 'don't believe everything you read' have the conviction to make up your own minds!!!! Thankyou to all those who have posted on this discussion page it is interesting to see peoples views be they open-minded or not.
I read this book because I wanted to be able to critique it without being accused of not actually having read it, which you may have noticed is a common complaint amongst defenders of Dawkin's book. I was never going to like Mein Kampf, but I read it as part of my history A level. I find that a slightly strange observation.
I feel it is important to defend your beliefs against people who are so desperate to prove that God does not exist. I am sorry that you feel that God is not real, as I used to feel like that and it is very lonely. I am not going to try to convince you, that is not my place, but I do reserve the right to defend my beliefs against a book which attacks them without fear of sarcastic repsonses such as yours.
It is not foolish to expect not to like a book which claims that God is a delusion. As a christian, I would choose not to make personal comments about an individual's intelligence whom I have never met.
"What I'm wondering is how many "open minded" people who praise Dawkins' book will be "open minded" enough to read "The Dawkins Delusion", by Alister McGrath, or "Deluded by Dawkins" by Andrew Wilson. I'm betting there won't be too many people in that group.
Too much like having their world view challenged, perhaps?"
The thing is that most atheists will have been through the process of changing their world view already. I wasn't born an atheist. As a child I was brought up to believe in God. Sent to a church school, Sunday school, weddings and Christening always in church, and, I hasten to add, I was not traumatised by this at all, it wasn't in my face, but rather always in the background. God is good. Trust in him. God made all this. As I grew up my world view was challenged by things I read, people I met and places I went to and my world view changed. Do you think I will be changed back again? I doubt it. I do plan to read both those books, out of curiosity, and it think it's my curiosity that has ultimately rescued me from the soporific embrace of religion.
I find this debate very interesting, particularly when considering how open minded we are or aren't about religion. I have been accused of not being open minded, but the fact is, I used to be an athiest and was always putting people down who believed in God. This changed because of the experiences I had. This might suggest that I was fairly open minded in comparison to reviewers here, so determined to pretend God does not exist.
We are not born atheists. Children have a sense of spirituality that adults often lose. You may not agree with this, but I have seen it in my own children, who I have purposely never discussed relgion with or taken to church in the hope that they might find answers themselves.
I think that non believers are far more defensive then believers, because they are afraid. I should know, I used to be one.
Actually, wasn't it Professor Dawkins himself who said, "You can say with complete certainty that, if you meet anyone who claims not to believe in evolution, he is either ignorant, stupid or crazy (or evil, but I would prefer not to consider that possibility)." Would have to look through my bookshelf when I get home to double check where he said it. So Richard Dawkins is quite capable of putting down those he disagrees with by questioning their intelligence...
office_tramp, the interesting things is that most Christians have been through the process of changing their world view already too. I was not born a Christian. I didn't become one until I was 21. Likewise, my world view was challenged by things I read, people I met and places I went to. But most of all, it was challenged by coming face to face with myself and discovering that I wouldn't like anyone else to see what I was really like inside... Ouch! A painful but sobering experience. But maybe that's getting off the subject of the thread :o)
in no sense did I question your inteligence, I simply suggested that it is not very kind to call an individual foolsh who you have never met and know nothing about. In fact, it is slightly arrogent. However, I in no way suggested that you were not intelligent. I used to be an atheist, so I am hardly going to put someone down on that basis. I am not that Christian that you so dispise!
"I have been accused of not being open minded, but the fact is, I used to be an athiest and was always putting people down who believed in God."
I would never put someone down because they believed in God! (Although I do draw the line at all that new age guff, I have to confess, and keep the faith healers and clarvoyants away from me!.) Many of my friends are religious and I don't hold it against them. I believe absoultely in freedom to believe what you want. I do get tired sometimes of having to defend my position. I (and by extention, all young people) was once accused by my mother's next door neighbor of simply being to lazy to go to church! Pretty offensive, non?
The point that I was making was that I admit that I mocked people for having faith in the past and now realise that to be a cruel thing to do. I haven't suggested that you have put people down. Why so defensive? You respond to my comments as though I am the person who judges you for not going to church. I have not done so. I am sure that you are a better person then I used to be for being open minded and not putting people down. I have not put anyone down during these discussions, but have simply revealed my faith and past experiences. Interestingly enough, I have been attacked for this, called foolish and closed minded. That's fine, I don't hold any grudges. Life is too short.
E.Beresford, I do not mean to imply that you are foolish by what I said above. As I said in my post, it depends on how your comment was meant, and in any case I only said that the statement itself was potentially foolish. I apologise if I caused any hurt by my remark.
office_tramp, like A. Ratcliffe, I have been through the process of changing my worldview, and will probably continue to 'hone' it until I die. It is a sweeping generalisation to say that atheists have already challenged their views and changed them - some have, some have not (some have switched them for something just as fundamentalist and unchanging as before). Likewise for Christians, deists, whatever.
"There are plenty of people who call themselves Christians and do just that: they assume that since I am an atheist, I can't be very intelligent. I do wish you'd get your stories straight."
Some Christians assume atheists are stupid, some atheists assume Christians are stupid (Dawkins himself comes pretty close to this in some interviews). Some Christians don't assume atheists are stupid, some atheists don't assume Christians are stupid.
Some atheists assume that Christians think they're stupid, some Christians.... you get the idea.
My point is that it is rude, arrogant and pointless to question someone's intelligence based on their beliefs - I believe in opening up debate and exploring what and how other people think. I don't think this is even a matter of faith, just intelligent thinking and good manners.