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The Dawkins Letters: Revised Edition - Challenging Atheist Myths Paperback – 20 May 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Christian Focus; Revised edition edition (20 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845505972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845505974
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 1 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Wow, this is an intelligent and well-crafted view of RD's book. (Reader on www.richarddawkins.net)

Note from the author: The poster, 'richarddawkins.net' (is this an official view?) accuses me of lying and gives the example of the quotes on the cover of the book having been made up. From a Christian perspective this accusation of lying by either myself or CFP is very serious. Lying for Jesus is obviously self contradictory and wrong. The example that the poster gives is just wrong. All the quotes came from the Dawkins website, were seen by many people, and I have copies of them all. However over 300 posts were removed from that particular thread - including many of my own posts and all the ones referred to in the book. Perhaps it was just a coincidence but whatever the case those quotes did exist. If the poster is writing on behalf of richarddawkins.net, they know this and therefore are themselves not telling the truth. It is not the first time that a lie is told in order to accuse others of lying. It is very strange that richarddawkins.net are so keen to accuse me of lying, it indicates a certain level of desperation. They are struggling to answer The Dawkins Letters and so have to revert to attacking the author. (David Robertson ~ Pastor, St Peter's Free Church of Scotland, Dundee & trustee of SOLAS, Centre for Public Christianity)

"The shortest, the cheapest and in some ways the sharpest book is The Dawkins Letters ...clever, humourous and right to the point." (Ron Ferguson, Life & Work, Church of Scotland magazine)

"This book is a refreshing, excellent read...I wouldn't hesitate to pass this book on to a non-Christian, atheistically-persuaded friend." (Hannah Wooley, Evangelical Magazine, Evangelical Movement of Wales)

This book is a more than useful contribution to the 'Dawkins Debate' and one which has helped me to understand more about the flawed arguments contained within The God Delusion. The book comprises a series of ten letters to Dawkins, the first of which was published on Dawkins' own website, which counter the arguments in Dawkins' book chapter by chapter. Robertson is clearly well-read and marshals his arguments in a balanced and intellectually sound way. But this is not an inaccessible academic treatise; he writes clearly and understandably in such a way that most people will be able to grasp the arguments easily. He avoids the temptation to 'rubbish' Dawkins, just dismantles and challenges his arguments frankly and cohesively. The final letter (to the reader) "Why Believe", contains a very useful and extensive reading list which most will never get to read in entirety but is helpful to have. (Christian Marketplace ~ Resourcing retailers and suppliers)

"...probably the book's greatest triumph is that it doesn't come across as being a knee-jerk polemic right back at Dawkins, but rather a book that deals with bigger atheist arguments (myths) and as such has more value than just for the next few months." (Gary Aston, Youth Pastor, England)

Review

The book does a particularly good job of point out the unending contradictions between what Dawkins wants to believe and what he must actually believe. (Tim Challies ~ Blogger at www.challies.com)

This book is a refreshing, excellent read... I wouldn't hesitate to pass this book on to a non-Christian, atheistically-persuaded friend. (The Evangelical Magazine ~ Published by Evangelical Movement of Wales)

Brief, brilliant and compelling... It is a remarkable apologetic for the Christian faith and an essential tool in winning the battle of ideas. I'd give it ten stars if I could! (Richard Morris, Wesley Owen)

This book is a more than useful contribution to the 'Dawkins Debate.' (Christian Marketplace ~ Resourcing retailers and suppliers)

The content is excellent. It's a fun, engaging read. (Ligon Duncan ~ Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary)

Wow, this is an intelligent and well-crafted view of RD's book. (Response from an atheist on Richard Dawkins Website)

"I have read your manuscript. In a word, it is SUPERB! You really do an extraordinary job." (Samuel Logan ~ International Director, World Reformed Fellowship)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
David Robertson is a Scottish Presbyterian who ministers in Dundee. Having read Dawkins 'God Delusion' he decided to respond with a series of letters addressing the major themes of the book. These include letters addressing: the notion that atheists are the truly enlightened, intelligent ones; the impossibility of true beauty without God; the myth of atheist tolerance and rationality; the myth of a cruel Old Testament God; the false dichotomy Dawkins creates between science and religion; the "who made God?" argument; the nonsense that all religion is inherently evil; the myth of morality within an atheistic worldview; the myth of an immoral bible, and; the charge of child abuse.

Where to start? The first half of the book is definitely less persuasive than the latter. One might conjecture that Robertson's understandable irritation with Dawkins slides off into sarcasm and thus dents the force of his presentation. Seriously critiquing Dawkins view of "multiverses" could have been achieved without mockery. Even if, especially at this point, one does think that Dawkins might deserve a dose of his own medicine. Further, the brevity he must deal with each topic to fit his chosen format (short letters), inevitably leads to some shortcuts in his arguments. For example, Robertson doesn't really address some of the real moral problems from reading the Old Testament. This is an area he really should have spent considerably more time on, as it's something one hears more and more often. His letter on this, frankly, comes across as assertion rather than explanation for how Christians view this problematic material. It lacks substance and wanders off into preaching/proclamation rather than tackling the difficulties. This was the most disappointing chapter in the book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like the previous reviewer (S.Gerhard) I came to this book because I'd read The God Delusion (which I enjoyed, although it's not without its weak points) and wanted to read a Christian response. I'd already listened to a recording of a lecture given by Robertson at Queens College, Belfast and although unconvinced by the content, wasn't totally discouraged and thought that I'd read the book anyway, thinking it might have more to offer. Unfortunately, I can't really say that it does. Like the lecture, the book relies heavily on rhetoric and the substitution faith-based assertion in place of argument - something already pointed out by previous (non-Chrisitan) reviewers. Robertson also does all the things he accuses Dawkins of doing, e.g. preaching to the choir and taking statements out of context/misrepresenting them. His 'atheist myths' are a mixture of exaggerated caricatures of Dawkins' position and `Christian myths' turned on their head. The whole first chapter, for example, is built around a misconstrual of Dawkins' term "consciousness raising". In chapter ten, he seizes on Dawkins' rhetoric comparing the religious indoctrination of children with child sexual abuse and runs with it to create a paranoid 1984 scenario where Stalinist-atheist thought-police come around to take Christians' children away from them (p.115). Surely neither he nor anyone else can seriously believe that this is what Dawkins is advocating? Although his taking offence at the comparison with paedophiles is understandable, it's worth pointing out that Robertson himself is happy to employ rhetoric equating loving relationships between consenting adults with the sexual abuse of children, when those adults happen to be of the same sex (p.38).Read more ›
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Christians, particularly of the evangelical type to whom Robertson belongs, can be really bad at responding intelligently to arguments against their beliefs. They tend either to flail wildly, retreat into comfortable ghettos or fail to engage properly at all. So it is refreshing to get a book like Robertson's that refuses to resort to type but instead provides an intelligent, reasoned, compassionate and compelling argument that manages to deal properly with the real issues.

Robertson does a superb job of not only addressing the issues that Dawkins' book The God Delusion raises (challenging ad hominem arguments, pointing out logical inconsistencies), but also at taking on wider myths, as he calls them, employed in Atheist rhetoric. It does not come across as a tub-thumpers' wild ravings, but rather as a book that constructively deals with bigger arguments.

If you are a Christian then this is a great book to read to help you talk with atheist friends. Buy a few copies and give them away. Or if you have been challenged by reading The God Delusion then this book will cause you to think again about why you believe what you do believe.

The call often goes out for Christians to dare to read the books of prominent atheists, but having read this I would issue the opposite challenge: If you are an atheist, if you are serious about having your ideas tested and engaging in real debate, I dare you to read the Dawkins Letters.
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I took up Gaston's challenge above with enthusiasm, but found myself very disappointed. As a former Christian with a theological training, now an atheist, I am following "The God Debate" with interest. I enjoyed Dawkins' book, though it definitely has its faults, and was interested to read what seems to be regarded as the best Christian rebuttal.

It is an easy read and makes some good points, but I found Robertson's book very annoying in parts. Again and again, he acknowledges one of Dawkins' points, makes an assertion, does not back it up, then falls back on rhetoric. For example, one of Dawkins' arguments is that the God of the Old Testament is frequently vicious and cruel. Personally, I think it is a good point. I am waiting for Robertson to explain to me how to explain Abraham being ready to kill his son, or Joshua wiping out a nation. But no. This is skated over and we read about a God who is apparently "a God of mercy, justice, beauty, holiness" etc. This is preaching, not argument.

I could give other examples, but this isn't the appropriate forum to continue the debate itself. This book is worth reading, to get a Christian perspective, but its lack of follow-through and intellectual rigour is intensely frustrating. Maybe at some point a Christian will deliver a thought-out, robust reply to Dawkins' arguments. Until then, we can only wait.
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