Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Delusion called God

God Delusion, the last word in atheism, was unforgiving. The book is loaded, argumentative, incisive, ruthless and even nasty at times. If you can live with the tough language and the tight flow – mind you, you don’t have any racy storyline to keep you riveted – this turns out to a great read.

If you do want to read this book, I’d recommend surfing the initial 100 pages, giving the next 100 pages a very light curse, and then concentrating on the last 100 or so pages. The last pages are the essence, and are crystal clear, with less of rhetoric, but I suspect most won’t last till the last page. I would not be surprised if you feel cheated, of Gods, of religion, of the so-called holy-books, of people around you. But then, you must have felt so even before getting to this book. This book is not supposed to be a light-hearted fiction anyway, so you should know.

Like an American colleague of mine wrote to me once “Though few know of my apostasy, you wouldn't believe how wonderful it is to be mentally free!” I guess I can’t add to those words without spoiling them. I emphasize ‘American’ since he was one to be brought up in a conservative, rural part of the religious America – of the yesteryears.

I’d leave with one last wonderful quote (from the Wikipedia link above): Robert Pirsig's observation in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”: When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.

This book from Richard Dawkins is the last nail in the coffin for religion - if you can manage holding this book in your home that is.


At Monday, August 25, 2008 3:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think destroying a religion is that easy... do you ????

At Monday, August 25, 2008 5:06:00 PM, Blogger Hypnos said...

I have that book, but have not managed to read it, though I am a big fan of Dawkins - not for his atheistic movement, but for his genius.

And for the fact that he gives our theist brethren someone to bash :)

BTW, are you sure that Pirsig quote is from ZAMM? AFAI remember, it is from Lila.

At Monday, August 25, 2008 7:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: [Would love to have a name I can communicate with]. No, certainly not. Religion is way too deep-rooted to 'destroy', but if you are referring to my sentence "This book from Richard Dawkins is the last nail in the coffin for religion" in the post, what I really meant was that for people who've come to actually read this book (which means they are at least partially open to see the argument behind atheism, I would presume) they'd certainly be satisfied. Of course, it takes quite a lot to get as far as to read this book, and I suspect most religious, pious people won't. They would probably think it's blasphemy to read this.

@Amit: Right, I'm devouring Dawkins other books - Selfish Gene, and Ancestor's Tale. I'm impressed with his works - though not as much as Carl Sagan or Bill Bryson. That quote was directly from the Wikipedia link I had provided in the post... so I can't establish it's authenticity. :)

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 4:13:00 AM, Blogger Ramkumar said...

no one needs a book to tell them how religion plays a role in hatred, violence etc. but for an agnostic to take the next step, he has to know if atheism provides
1. moral upbringing.
2. blind hope in the times of adversity.
Does the book address these two?
These two are popular notion.

btw, u hv become atheist or was atheist. By the way u sounded, if 1 complete this book, then 1 wud become atheist.

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 4:05:00 PM, Blogger Hypnos said...


"if atheism provides
1. moral upbringing.
2. blind hope in the times of adversity."

a. what has belief or disbelief in a god got to do with morality or moral upbringing? does anyone need to necessarily follow a religion or believe in a god to impart moral values to their offsprings?

b. is atheism a religion that it needs to be providing a source of morality? it is only a lack of belief in god.

c. isn't blind hope in times of adversity more of an illusion than help? i would much rather take real hope from family, friends etc. than some imaginary deity which does not ever help.

d. agnosticism to atheism isn't a 'next step' taken by decision. you don't need to go to a church and get baptised to be "welcomed to atheism". it is mostly a case of different words used by different people.

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 4:41:00 PM, Blogger Ramkumar said...

I was merely asking if the book addresses these issues.

U still didn't answer my Q :)

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Ramkumar: Sorry, my work place doesnt allow access to blogs.. got to use by-pass software. :)

Coming to your questions, they are very interesting, coz why do you [used in a general sense, not exactly you] expect something to provide you hope during adversity, and moral upbringing? Does something or someone (God, your parents, a book, or religion) have to tell you that you should be good? Or else you'd be fried in hell if you aren't? The book argues that those who are truly and inherently moral will be moral - and they don't need others to tell them or scare them into being moral. And about diversity, I dont think the book has anything specifically on iy, but if I can add my pence, I don't know why somebody has to give hope during adversity. It's simple - you handle the situation yourself, within your limits, in full confidence that no super-power is going to help you, along with help from people around you, and that there is no mystical person in heaven who will give you a hand. On the contrary, it's actually funny that I see, almost once every week, that someone has a fatal accident en route or while returning from a place of worship. Or a stampede happens. Why? When you go to God during an adversity, why do you get killed instead? Is it salvation? Calling to heaven? So why do religious people

Of course, you don't need this book to tell you that there is no God - you know that if you ask the right question, but this book enteres territories that our thought process might generally not. I was an agnostic ever since I started reading and questioning stuff - and was a weak athiest. Suffice to say that such books (not only this) has concretized my beliefs (or lack of them).

@Amit: Great points those, except the last one. Agnosticism and Athiesm are two different things, and the demarcation is quite clear... it is not a mere difference in terminology, although people might be vacillating between both. Richard Dawkins is a staunch Athiest, while Carl Sagan is primarily an agnostic and a weak athiest.

At Monday, December 14, 2009 1:42:00 AM, Blogger Living with Denial said...

If you have arbitrarily decided to appoint yourself as judge and jury and decided the matter closed once and for all, no point arguing with you. But otherwise you might want to read also 'The Dawkins Delusion' :)


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