Top critical review
46 people found this helpful
Right thesis, but could have used a good editor
on 27 October 2007
This book will surely attract agnostics and atheists as its majority audience so it is saying what a lot of us already know and think. The book says a lot we'd all like to have said publicly and globally, like atheists don't murder thousands of people by flying planes into buildings, etc., so it is a gratifying agent for saying what needs to be said and heard. I continue to be amazed at how many religious people don't actually know the contents of their Bible and Quran and/or do not question it. I am one of those people who doesn't close my door to Jehovah Witnesses, I give them time and alarm them with the Bible's stories of Jephthwa, Elisha, Lot and Abraham and query whether this is the behaviour of righteous people or the barking mad who would be committed to mental asylums if they were around today. (The last JWs that came to my door actually had no knowledge of Elisha's God-invoked murder of children in 2 Kings as punishment for them laughing at his bald pate.) So, if so many theists don't even read their own holy texts it's difficult to see how many will rush out to read this book. It's like the majority of fundmentalist Muslims supporting the fatwa against Salman Rushdie without having actually read The Satanic Verses.
Which brings me to a few failings I see in this book:
- It doesn't hit its stride until circa page 200 when it starts looking at the absurdity of the Bible by reference to its content, especially the Old Testamant. That's a long wait to get serious in a 370-page book.
- The narrative is meandering and fragmented. Dawkins repeatedly walks into subject areas then quickly puts the subject aside saying he will come to that later. This resembles a University lecture where the lecturer has the basic backbone of what he is lecturing on and an end game but wanders off at tangents as he goes. The book would have far more punch and cogency had a good editor been allowed to structure it and give it more coherence.
- Dawkins does get emotional on the subject via a plethora of exclamation marks and italicised words that dilute the power of the arguments that would be stronger without them.
- At times he resorts to ridiculing his adversaries, at one point even using the schoolyard "Nar-nar-na-nar-nar". Again: formidable, objective reasoning isn't enhanced by child-like language.
- And finally, Dawkins can be self-indulgent with copious name-dropping and mentioning his wife reading the book aloud to him from cover to cover which was a little wincing.
Without these distractions, its intended audience of reasonable and reasoning theists prepared to question their beliefs would have a better platform to debate and engage from.