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on 7 April 2008
The best retort for Dawkins' God Delusion in my oppinion as it is highly readable and accessible in the same vein as Dawkins. Other replies miss the mark I feel, by going over the heads of the very people who need them.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone even if you haven't read Dawkins, as David Robertson presents all the arguments in a courteous an balanced way.
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on 1 January 2016
Has the distinction of being one of only two books I've binned in 70+ years. What a load of tosh!
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on 23 June 2014
What a great wee book! It is simply outstanding! It is a must read for anyone who read Dawkins book 'The God Delusion'. Reading Dawkins was to me like reading Hitler or Stalin, as they basically speak in the same language, use similar arguments and are filled with lies, hatred, deceit and intentions of destroying religion. Apart from Germany under Hitler and Russia under Stalin the only countries led by atheists were China during Mao's reign and Cambodia under Pol Pot. How many millions of people who oppose the atheistic despots were killed? Millions in every single one of them. Today we can see what atheistic country looks like in N Korea, so why Dawkins wants us to get rid of religion and have an atheistic country like one of the countries above,
Reading Robertson's book helped me to understand the reasons why Dawkins wants to do that, why he spreads his hatred all around and where this will lead us as the society. The arguments of Robertson in this book are clear to the point and logical and convincing. I enjoyed how he unveiled Dawkins slow process of deceiving people and putting in practice the rule of Goebbels that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it... It fear that society to which Dawkins leads us would be far much worse then Germany under Hitler. In the same way as Hitler saw Jews as a virus and exterminated 6 millions of them, so is now Dawkins saying that all religions (Jews, Christians and Muslims) are a virus and there is a need to get rid of them.
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on 28 February 2008
I'm an agnostic. Dawkins' book didn't tip me off the fence into atheism, but this book has me teetering to the 'belief' side of things.

It's well-written, intellectually more rigorous than Dawkins and a damn sight more gracious.

Robertson comes across as a reasonable gentleman; Dawkins as a bit of a ranting toff.
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on 15 March 2008
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.

Nonetheless, things pick up considerably in the second half of the book. The tone changes, becoming less polemical, and far more compellingly argued. Indeed, the strongest letters cover the basis for morality without God and whether religion is really the source of all evil. Here Robertson takes Dawkins to task for his continual oversimplification, ad hominem polemics, failure to express what Christians actually believe rather than his straw-man caricatures, and his genuine failure to engage informed and erudite Christian tradition. To say one does not need to know about spaghetti monsters is surely effective and clever rhetoric, but is simply a strategy of evasion, an utter cop out to avoid being challenged by the best of Christian thought. The latter half of the book also pushes Dawkins to consider the outcome of his polemics and where it might lead, especially in view of the irresponsible charge of child abuse.

Overall, Robertson's book is well worth reading, if only for the latter half of the book, which is passionately expressed, critically on target, and better representative of the concerns about the underlying philosophy Dawkins holds. Moral relativity and the drive of the selfish gene unchecked by the good, loving, and holy God revealed in the face of Jesus, are more likely to lead to 'might is right' and 'the ends justify the means' than 'care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in your midst' and 'love your neighbour'.

Perhaps some day, when the heat has gone out of the current polemics, Robertson will write a much more lengthy and detailed response. If he does, I'd be glad to read it.
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on 21 December 2008
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).

Many of the previous Christian reviewers of this book praise David Robertson as "gracious and humble" or some such, whilst lambasting Richard Dawkins as splentitive, vitriolic, ranting, etc. I'm afraid I don't really see a significant difference in tone between the two books. Robertson easily matches Dawkins in terms of scorn and ridicule, and is certainly no slouch when it comes to patronizing condescension, e,g, Robertson derides the question of the origin of God as being at the level of a six-year-old. While he is entitled to that opinion and that response, I do feel obliged to point out that perhaps the reason six-year-olds ask such questions is that it only requires the intellect of a six-year-old to recognise "God has always existed' for the lazy special pleading it is.

There are inconsistencies too. On the subject of morality, Robertson argues for an absolute morality that can be derived from the Bible, while elsewhere insisting that we take the Bible in its historical context - you can't have it both ways. If you assume morality is absolute and can be derived from the Bible, then if Abraham's willingness to slit his son's throat was pleasing to God in the Middle Bronze Age then it's pleasing to God now. Similarly, if the Lord is happy to command (and assist in) wholesale slaughter across an entire region (Josh. 10,40), then how do you get the idea that God frowns on genocide today? During the plagues of Egypt it is frequently God who `hardens pharaoh's heart' (so much for free-will!) to prevent him from allowing the Israelites depart - the purpose of this is to allow God the opportunity to demonstrate his power by sending more plagues to afflict the Egyptians (Exod. 10,1ff.), i.e to show-off. This kind of manipulation can hardly be considered moral. If David Robertson has explanations for these passages (some of which were raised by Dawkins) I'd be interested to hear them, but they should be real explanations. It's not enough to simply cite another passage in which God's got his `nice-God' hat on or simply assert: `I've read the OT and I think God is nice - trust me on this one, I'm an expert.' Well, I've read the OT too, and it strikes me that the overarching message is not love but obedience: Follow God's commands and he'll be nice to you; disobey him and he'll afflict you in all kinds of nasty ways (cf. Lev. 26,14-39). This is, of course, the moral of the Abraham story - total (unthinking) obedience brings God's favour. But I digress - the point is that I agree entirely with Robertson when he says that you have to view the Bible in its historical context. The morality on display in the OT is entirely consistent with the Bronze/Iron Age context it derives from - a harsh and callous world that called for a harsh and callous God. This hardly recommends the OT as an instruction manual of absolute morality.

I have countless other objections to what David Robertson says and how he says it but I've almost run out of space and I don't want to rubbish the book completely. There are some valid points tucked away amongst the rhetoric and at the very least it provides an insight into the Christian position and mode of thought. If you're a non-believer, you'll find it a frustrating read, but persevere with an open-mind and you will find some food for thought. If you're a believer you'll obviously find a lot you agree with as the book is aimed at a Christian audience. At this point I can't avoid a final criticism. In the section on further reading, David Robertson says he can't recommend that his readers also read Dawkins' book - they can take his word for how bad it is! This strikes me as an astonishing statement for someone purportedly in favour of open-mindedness, considering the other side of the argument and thinking for oneself. It would seem that this only applies to atheists; Christians should read Christian-friendly books and simply believe what their pastor tells them about mad, bad, dangerous-to-know Dawkins. This is, of course, utter nonsense. Read The Dawkins Letters by all means, but read The God Delusion as well (again with an open mind, if possible) - who knows, you may even find some of your Christian myths challenged. ;-)
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on 25 November 2015
The book is a useful alternative view to Richard Dawkins' arguments for atheism ("The God Delusion"). I don't agree with every argument that David Robertson puts forward, but he writes in an accessible and fairly logical way. David counters Richard's arguments by a) pointing out some unscientific (or illogical) conclusions drawn from certain episodes in history and/or from scientific discoveries and b) pointing out that picking out a few examples of Christians behaving badly is not a reasonable argument for the non-existence of God. I also found it useful to read “Rescuing Darwin: God and evolution in Britain today” by Nick Spencer and Denis Alexander (published by Theos).
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on 21 December 2014
Really good read , really helped to put Dawkins assertions into perspective and debunk the more fanciful points made by Dawkins.Helps to sort fact from fiction .
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on 4 April 2015
A very good book for the ordinary person. Very clearly explained and easy to read.
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on 1 October 2007
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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