25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Paperback)
This was the first of Dennett's books I've read, and will certainly be reading more. Having read Dawkins, Harris etc I didn't expect another author to have anything dramatically new to say. I was wrong. Dennett's book is somewhat akin to Dawkins's God Delusion, but without the overbearing focus on Gods existance.
It is a treatise on religion from a biological and scientific (evolutionary) stanpoint, questioning how and why religions evolved.
Dennett, though an atheist himself, seeks not to attack religion, rather to explain it. He shows a trully questioning approach - he provides lists and explanations of the kinds of questions we should be asking, providing some answers to these, and leaving others open to the reader.
Hopefully those of a religious disposition will be able to find this work more palatable than Dawkins's work. It is certainly less confrontational to their beliefs. An ardently and unquestioningly religious person would find it to be objectionable, no doubt, as they would any such questioning of the absoluteness of their beliefs regardless of the handling. Still, if ones faith is trully strong enough then surely one should be able to face and ackowledge the questioning of that without considering it blasphemous. In any case, a book is unlikely to ever change anyone's views unless unless their very week to start with, but Dennett knows that. People that will find this book most interesting are those that want to know more, especially something new, not just the same old atheism vs. theism squablle, about religion and its relationship with science.
The book is certainly an easy read at all levels. Perhaps slightly more demanding than Dawkins; though Dawkins does tend to dumb things down a little too much perhaps. There good insights thoughout, and the depth of research behind it is sound, and the writer does not pretend to have the answer to every question.
This is the worthwhile contribution to this field and a good companion to the related wors of Harris, Dawkins etc