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762 of 875 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By a practising Muslim...
An excellent book, very well-written and thoughtfully argued. Stimulating and challenging - at times scathing - but something which definitely propels one to delve deeper into the reasons for belief - or indeed lack of them.

Dawkins' central thesis seems to be that the evolutionary process of natural selection, as propounded by Darwin and bolstered by the...
Published on 14 Mar. 2009 by Mr Tea-Mole

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2.0 out of 5 stars DAWKINS GOES MILITANT. AND FORGETS HIS EVOLUTION.
As a fellow scientist I have great respect for Dawkins ability to popularize complex ideas. Who can forget "THE SELFISH GENE"?! His ideas used to come across crystal clear and redolent with logical symmetry. And I think that he is long overdue for the Nobel Prize for his introduction of the notion of memes. I am afraid though that he bit the forbidden fruit for a...
Published on 26 Aug. 2007 by NeuroSplicer

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762 of 875 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By a practising Muslim..., 14 Mar. 2009
By 
Mr Tea-Mole (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
An excellent book, very well-written and thoughtfully argued. Stimulating and challenging - at times scathing - but something which definitely propels one to delve deeper into the reasons for belief - or indeed lack of them.

Dawkins' central thesis seems to be that the evolutionary process of natural selection, as propounded by Darwin and bolstered by the amalgamation of much subsequent indicatory evidence, provides a viable and real alternative to the "God Hypothesis" - indeed it blows it out of the water. But, why then - if blatantly false - is religion so ubiquitous? Evoking theories of evolutionary psychology and the human need for consolation and meaning (as well as the scientific ignorance of our ancestors), Dawkins explains the popularity of religion in purely secular terms.

But what, then, about morality? How can we derive our principles of right and wrong if not from an absolute source of incontrovertible authority (God / revelation)? Again Dawkins responds by explaining how the roots of morality have Darwinian origins and includes a chapter on how the moral lessons of traditional religion (quoting biblical scripture, although I suspect his treatment of the Quran or other sacred texts would be equally unsympathetic) are not that endearing anyway. Why be so hostile though - isn't religion a good thing, a quaint yet harmless cultural phenomenon? Well no, look at the fundamentalists, terrorists, homophobes and other fanatics being spawned by the religious project in increasingly large numbers. Dawkins is unequivocal: religion is dangerous and we need to protect ourselves from it.

So what's the solution, what do we do? Simple, answers Richard with customary gusto: take a strong dose of courage followed by an even stronger one of rationalism, then cast off these restrictive fetters we've inherited from childhood. Grow up, for God's sake (no pun intended), and breathe the fresh, fragrant air of twenty first century scientific freedom! Our experiments have revealed, after all, that there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden.

This, in a nutshell, is a synopsis of the book and something, I must say, I found to be an exhilarating read. I approached the book with an open mind, determined not to allow the predilections of my preconceptions taint my appreciation of his arguments, and was sufficiently enthused to write directly to the author (I await his response). It's always refreshing to have your beliefs challenged, and Dawkins is an expert at doing that. He also has a brilliant knack of reducing complex scientific content down to digestible chunks (peppered with generous offerings of very entertaining humour), and this adds considerably to the readability value of the text. It's not for nothing that Dawkins was the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, demonstrating his ability to explain - in simple terms - science to the layperson. Also worth pointing out is one of the key benefits of the book in the way in which it collates into a single place so many of the classic as well as modern arguments for belief versus disbelief, making it into a cutting-edge handbook for reference.

So what of the key questions the text raises? How can people of faith come to terms with the structured and forceful arguments outlined above? Can we marry faith with modern twenty first century scientific rationalism or are the two fundamentally incompatible, consigned to follow paths of mutually irreconcilable divergence?

I, for one, remain content with my faith as a Muslim after reading Dawkins' book. Although appreciating the validity of many of his arguments, and recognising the negative impact that extreme religion can have, I'm not convinced entirely by the argument for blind and random evolution. Too many holes exist for my liking, and a "leap of faith" is required similar to what the religious person must commit to. I also found his section on the "anthropic principle" to be singularly unconvincing. Cosmology and the origin of life is something science is still stabbing in the dark at (although Dawkins says he has "faith" the answer will be found as the discoveries of science continue). I choose to have faith that the answer has been given to us, whilst fully respecting those who choose to disagree. Ultimately, it's the personal prerogative of each individual to forge an understanding of existence unique to them, whether buttressed by an accepted world-view or not. Dawkins challenges and stimulates us into believing that there is nothing outside of ourselves - we are the sum and substance of billions of years of chance occurrences and all supra-natural entities our ancestors believed in are nothing but the fictions of human imagination. What we choose to believe, though, is our individual and independent choice.
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215 of 251 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In 100 years I sense this will be seen as a timely book, 18 Jun. 2007
This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
The other reviews of this book demonstrate what a touchy subject this is! Whatever your views I would recommend reading this book. It's fluent, well argued and engaging - although he is sometimes so angered by religious people that the fury starts to seep through and you can sense his knuckles whitening on the pen.

As with many theses the nuggets are sometimes tucked away. He casually reflects at one point how "believers" are actually atheistic about many gods (Apollo, Ra, Vishnu, Odin etc) - they dismiss almost as many gods as he does.

His scale of believing/not believing is interesting too: this isn't just a case of yes or no, there are many graduations on the way through - so, which are you? Quite atheistic but vaguely think there might be a God? Find out where you are on this handy, easy-to-read scale!

Seriously: this is a book that puts religious belief into perspective. If you are fifty like me, Christianity was probably a big part of your childhood education, and you challenged it at your peril. Like everything else your teachers believed in (corporal punishment, fair play, fitness, mind/body balance) in later life you have to assess the value of those ideas. Are you going to try to pass them on to your children? Are you sure that's right?

My tip - don't read the intro when you start: it's the angriest chapter, as it recounts the polemical (and sometimes downright horrid) attacks which have been made on Dawkins about the subject, so he's cross.

My own beliefs? Why should you care! This is an amazon review. It's about the book and whether it's worth reading. Enough with the ranting already.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most important book I have ever read, 4 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The God Delusion (Kindle Edition)
For me, this book put religion in perspective. We are very lucky to have people like Dawkins who are brave enough to stand up and talk sense. The book made a big impact on my thinking and I have since spent some time on youtube listening to the author and other like minded intellectuals. This book should be read by everyone.
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332 of 397 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preaching to the converted, 28 Sept. 2006
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Hardcover)
If you're reading this, the chances are you're either a 'radical atheist' (the preferred term of Dawkins' late friend Douglas Adams, to whom the book is dedicated), hoping that The God Delusion will give you a good satisfying dose of anti-religion rhetoric; or you're a devout believer, hoping to be roundly appalled and outraged.

Either way, you could be disappointed. For the first half or more, The God Delusion is more rigorous and scientifically demanding than we have been led to expect (Jeremy Paxman in interviewing Dawkins called it 'entertaining': well, yes and no). Dawkins goes to great, and occasionally tiresomely great, lengths to detail why the existence of the universe, the development of life and the variety of creation can be comfortably explained by science and probability. And then he gets to grips with traditional justifications for the existence of God, disposing of them in his own neat way. Perhaps these sections seemed superfluous to me as someone who is satisfied that Dawkins is right and there is no God; and doubtless they will seem equally superfluous - in another sense - to those who believe in God and not in Dawkins.

(It's worth saying at this point that when Dawkins means 'God', he means a personal, supernatural creator of the religious scriptures, a God-being rather than the more progressive notion of God as something nebulous that exists in all of us. This is after all the commonly understood meaning of God, which children are taught and most Christian, Islamic and Jewish adults continue to believe in. For sophisticated modern believers, who do not take the scriptures literally, Dawkins doesn't really regard you as religious at all; and you take that as an insult or compliment as you see fit.)

All this is worthwhile but when the book was more than half over, by page 200, and we were still on "The Roots of Religion," I couldn't help wondering when it would all get going. I needn't have worried. Dawkins, who has been quite restrained up until now - his disrespect limited to the odd sneer of 'faith-heads' or referring to the God of the Old Testament as a 'psychotic delinquent' - lets fly with the passion of his true feelings once the subject turns to morality.

And it is a thrilling, invigorating display. Dawkins systematically dismantles all arguments for morality being connected to religious belief in any sense (indeed shows how diametrically opposed much religious teaching is to widely accepted morality), addresses tricky issues like the Darwinian explanation for altruism, disposes of a few sacred cows along the way (Mother Teresa is "sanctimoniously hypocritical [with] cock-eyed judgement," God an "evil monster"), and horrifies us with religion's historical and present-day cruelties and injustices.

The other principal benefit of The God Delusion is that it gives us an opportunity to see all Dawkins' religious arguments in one place, having previously experienced them only in snippets of other books, newspaper articles and TV programmes. And he wastes no time in reiterating some of his favourite rhetoric:

"I think we should all wince when we hear a small child being labelled as belonging to some particular religion or another. Small children are too young to decide their views on the origins of the cosmos, of life and of morals. The very sound of the phrase 'Christian child' or 'Muslim child' should grate like fingernails on a blackboard."

"I have found it amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and almost all the other gods that have been invented since the dawn of man. I just go one god further."

And having put the fear of, well, God into us by detailing the dark side of religious belief (Dawkins would argue that there is no bright side: if your good morals and deeds are determined solely by a God you believe in, he argues, you are an "immoral person we should steer a clear passage around"), he is too professional to leave us floundering. Instead he injects the last ten pages with a soaring essay on the passion of science, which "widens the window" on what we can see, and leaves us with a lasting taste of the freedom that can be ours if we can only dare to think for ourselves. It is reminiscent of this beautiful passage from his earlier book Unweaving the Rainbow, which seems a good place to end, letting the wonder of what's really there speak for itself:

"Fling your arms wide in an expansive gesture to span all of evolution from its origin at your left fingertip to today at your right fingertip. All across your midline to well past your right shoulder, life consists of nothing but bacteria.

"Many-celled, invertebrate life flowers somewhere around your right elbow. The dinosaurs originate in the middle of your right palm, and go extinct around your last finger joint. The whole history of Homo sapiens and our predecessor Homo erectus is contained in the thickness of one nail clipping. As for recorded history; as for the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Jewish patriarchs, the dynasties of Pharaohs, the legions of Rome, the Christian Fathers, the Laws of the Medes and Persians which never change; as for Troy and the Greeks, Helen and Achilles and Agamemnon dead; as for Napoleon and Hitler, the Beatles and Bill Clinton, they and everyone that knew them are blown away in the dust of one light stroke of a nail file."
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5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful argument but perhaps a little too argumentative?, 25 Sept. 2012
By 
J. Brand "jbrand" (Somewhere else) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
Ii will probably not be news to most people that Dawkins' main premise is that the proofs of god's existence are flawed and the probability of god's existence is so astoundingly remote that without some quite unlikely new evidence being produced we should ignore the concept.

Expressed like that this is a very simple book and one which is very difficult to argue with. Dawkins' quite comprehensively covers most of the main theological arguments and proofs for the existence of god and quite convincingly establishes that they are flawed in some way. Believe in god as an act of faith by all means but do not try to persuade anyone that it is a logical choice let alone something that is proved. However as said that is a fairly trivial point to dismiss those arguments.

The better part of his book is where he considers the social effects of religion and illustrates the corrosive and damaging nature that religion can all too frequently have in society. Effects that mean that even if religion is long established by tradition it certainly has no automatic right to respect and the tacit assumption through much of modern society that we should respect it should be overhauled. The fact that someone believes in a particular god should far from giving them a right to impose those opinions on others be a reason to be suspicious of their motives. Is that too suspicious of religion? well consider Dawkins' arguments against religion being imposed on children and you might change your point of view. Dawkins' covers a lot of the moral, ethical etc. arguments for religion in society and reasonably easily demonstrates that far from being a moral source most religion is at best a selective reading of a few ancient texts. To follow the texts literally would be frighteningly evil so far from a moral source religion is just a synonym for whatever some section of society has decided and has little to do with what they profess to be their sacred texts.

Of course not all religious people do deserve such opprobrium and that is one of the criticisms of the God Delusion. Richard Dawkins does seem a little too keen to put all religious people in the same box, Taliban fundamentalists and parents sending their child to sunday school seem to be grouped together in the same breath. He is also a little too keen to paraphrase other peoples arguments, resorting on a couple of occasions to presenting an imaginary argument with a religious proponent which is a particularly weak way of presenting his arguments as it can easily be dismissed, if a religious person would say that he should be able to quote an example and quoting hypothetical arguments lays him open to a charge that he is misrepresenting religion.

Above all what Dawkins' does not do is prove that god does not exist. He demonstrates that god has not been shown to exist, that there are far more probable explanations and that religion where it does exist can be so socially damaging that there should be a presumption against religion rather than the tacit respect that it all too frequently is given.

An excellent book if you'll excuse two dodgy strawman presentations of religious arguments but as they're not central to his argument they do not detract too much.
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2.0 out of 5 stars DAWKINS GOES MILITANT. AND FORGETS HIS EVOLUTION., 26 Aug. 2007
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
As a fellow scientist I have great respect for Dawkins ability to popularize complex ideas. Who can forget "THE SELFISH GENE"?! His ideas used to come across crystal clear and redolent with logical symmetry. And I think that he is long overdue for the Nobel Prize for his introduction of the notion of memes. I am afraid though that he bit the forbidden fruit for a scientist: Star System.

The huge success and popularity he enjoyed for his previous books obviously addicted him to public recognition and with every new book he tries to titillate the media into turning him into an even bigger Star. His ideas get more and more provocative - sadly, mostly to provoke. From the air-time he gets, I would say he has the moves down pat.

He might be an Oxford Biologist, and an excellent one at that, yet the territories he endeavors here are not Biology. For, any Biologist never forgets that we humans, are nothing more than metazoans, groups of cooperating animal cells. So are birds, butterflies and dogs. Birds can appreciate music, butterflies color patterns, whereas dogs can learn tricks. Yet they cannot comprehend simple algebra. We humans can do all of the above (and much more), nevertheless, there is no reason whatsoever our abilities to be unlimited. Actually, the opposite has been proven to be true.

Case in point: we fail to comprehend the illusion of time. Our brain separates our consciousness into memories (past), present (lasting about 3sec) and imagination (future). The arrow of time is but a human shortcoming. Even its most modern definition (as the increase of entropy) only replaces the einsteinian "observer" or the classic "clock" with a humanly measurable change. We do incorporate time into our physical laws - only because that is how we perceive and are able to measure the phenomena they describe. Modern physics acknowledges, however, that time is but a human-brain artifact.
So, Plato had nailed it 2,500 years ago: we can only perceive the shadows of the true universe as it is reflected in the cave of our finite, animal intellect.

Surprisingly, for a scientist he confines himself within...religious arguments. What he claims demand the reader's FAITH: abandon the beliefs you were brought up with only to have them replaced by his own ideas. As with Hitchens (who, contrary to mild-mannered Dawkins, is vitriolic) PRIDE has gotten the better of his objectivity.

So, does God exist? I am afraid that's for each of us to decide for himself. The answer does not fall within the realm of human science.
The nature and actions of God, as described in most major religions and accepted by most faithful, fall well out of our scientific range. Such an existence cannot either be proven or disproven.

After all, how can our evolutionary juvenile brains begin to grasp an eternal entity that created the universe that sprung life?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whether a theist or an atheist, this will make you think., 19 Aug. 2014
By 
R. Wilkinson (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
Eloquently written. The case it well put for explaining the authors position on not accepting the existance of God. Dawkins does not deride others for believing in God, but for not questioning statement, rules or customs that are taken as axioms in religions.
It is one of the very few books that I have found to have a lasting effect on me and change the way I think. I was brought up with Christian parents. I am an engineer with a scientific education and a keen interest in astronomy, physics and science in general.

I found myself accepting almost all of the points in this book. However, probably because of my upbringing, I cannot (yet) declare myself to be an atheist, but now the inconsistencies and illogical dogma of various religions I now seem to find to be groundless and irritating and, as can be seen today in northern Iraq, unnecessarily lethal.

The first half to three quarters of the book are compelling. The latter sections, to me, seem to be drawn out. For example, the discussions about Stalin and Hitler I understood in the first page, however this seemed to be drawn out to be longer than necessary.
A highly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Challenging Read, 30 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Kindle Edition)
I read this as I wanted to read Even Dawkins has a God by Neil Laing and had to read this one first. Although it did not change my mind it did soften my opinion of Dawkin and helped explain his sometimes abrasive or outspoken opinion of people with an alternative point of view. Especially his opinion about people who sit on the fence. Worth a read but a bit heavy going in places and probably easier if you have read some of his earlier books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book, why I didn't read it before?, 30 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
I loved this book through and through, I was reading it and thinking that I must read it again! It is a very clear and easy to read even for me whose first language is not English; clear, concise where he needed to be, straight to the point and not too technical when it came to the scientific parts (which I very much appreciated since I am not a scientist myself), loads of further reading references, and very funny, it is a must read for EVERYONE that at any point in their lives have questioned the existence of God. In my opinion the best part of it was his approach to atheism is one of pride and being able to enjoy and appreciate life without the false promises of religious believes. Thank you Dr Dawkins.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If everyone in the world became non-believers just think how much better the world would be, 6 Dec. 2014
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Every religious person in the world, no matter which religion, should read this, then maybe they would realise just how ridiculous the concept of religion is! I was a confirmed atheist before reading this, and Richard Dawkins with this book has confirmed everything I have ever thought about religion and religious people. I'm thankful that my parents allowed me to make my own mind up about these matters, I just wish religious parents would stop brainwashing their children just because they were. If everyone in the world became non-believers just think how much better the world would be!! The only down side to atheism is you don't get any holidays!
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