I read this a couple of years, and ago very early on in my deconversion, I found it very interesting. I wanted to come back to it again and managed to pick it up on Audible so I thought I would give it a listen. It’s narrated by Mr Dawkins and his now ex-wife Lalla Ward, it is very well done and the switching between the two voices helps bring a nice rhythm to the quotes, pose and rhetoric within the book. I can see that Lalla Ward has narrated a few of Richard Dawkins books with him, which will be interesting to listen through as I dive into his backlog in due course.
Richard Dawkins is a very prominent voice within the Atheist community, debating, reflecting, engaging, and writing on the subject of belief, faith and religion a lot. He comes from an evolutionary biologist background and has spent a good amount of his career building himself a reputation in the field of study. You can see him talking to Bret Weinstein (another brilliant voice within the evolutionary biology world) here (well worth a watch):
I have read and reviewed one of Mr Dawkins books before, ‘The Magic of Reality‘ which is written for a younger audience than the 31 years I have under my belt. I found it really interesting, and I must note that in the last six months there has been another book added to the ‘delusion’ mantra by Richard Dawkins. ‘Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide‘, also aimed at the younger audience as a more modern and readable cousin of ‘The God Delusion’. This new book hasn’t sold anywhere near as well as ‘The God Delusion’, which is interesting. I am going to read it at some point and then write a review – obviously. So, watch out for that in the future.
This book is aimed at the religious believer who simply believes because they have always believed. It’s designed to shake and challenge commonly stated reasons for belief, which I think it does very well. It isn’t meant to be a clear answer to all religious claims, nor is it intended to be a watertight argument for atheism. What it does is explain atheism in extremely clear language, making sure the reader understands what it means to be an atheist.
It then looks at main Christian claims for the existence of God. Take Morality, Consciousness, Existence, Scripture as examples, more are covered in the book. These are systematically challenged, and Mr Dawkins expresses his thoughts on why these things are used to explain God, why we have used them as reasons for God in the past (and present) and how we can understand them within a Darwinian framework.
Essentially, evolution can make sense of these things so why do we need God?
Now this book is far from perfect. There are a couple of scriptural mishaps which Andrew Wilson goes through in his book ‘Deluded by Dawkins‘, which is an interesting little read by a New Frontiers Elder in the UK who knows his Bible very well. This is the family of churches that I was part of before I deconverted.
I also think that the idea of Faith isn’t addressed nearly enough within this book. Science makes claims, which it then tries to falsify, and each day we don’t falsify the claim the more certain we become about something. This, for example, is why evolution is now regarded as a scientific fact and theory – something which confuses a lot of people. Essentially, we are as certain of evolution as we are of gravity, something you can test right now if you just drop the nearest pen to you. But we all require a certain amount of faith in believing anything.
Obviously, you know by now that I don’t think we have the ability to decide what we do or do not believe, but that doesn’t mean we can be completely sure of anything either – we can’t be.
Now I think there is a big difference between faith in gravity and faith in a religion. It would have been really interesting to get Mr Dawkins views on faith a little bit more as it is still required to make any step within our world towards any decision. This is something Sam Harris goes into in his Book ‘End of Faith’, which Richard Dawkins quotes a few times within this book.
Now before we go onto a few quotes, it should also be mentioned that this was the book that got me excited about evolution. This was the book that told me that every five years most (if not all) of the atoms of your body have been replaced. This was the book that allowed me to understand that a lot of the reasons I believed in God could be explained within a Darwinian framework. It was also the book that helped me realise I do not have to be an expert in evolutionary biology to understand enough from layman reading to see how the most likely reasons for morality, consciousness and purpose exist within nature. I won’t break these down here, as I think the book does a great job of this and references a good amount of other work that one can go away and read if interesting.
‘Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.’ Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion (p. 64). Transworld. Kindle Edition.
This resonates with me so much. If God is there and He purposefully brought me about then surely, He would want me to use my rationality to search for Him – to ask questions, to probe areas often left ignored, to engage in dialogue with others and to take steps based on what is presented?
If I died and found God, I hope that God would be more impressed by my desire to search and live honestly, than by blind belief in unfounded truth claims.
‘I have found it an 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 and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.’ Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion (p. 77). Transworld. Kindle Edition.
Atheism, to me and many others, is the reality that one is not convinced of a God (or Gods), not that one is convinced there is no God (or Gods). So many believers miss this, we are not living in certainty, we live in what is or in this case is not convincing.
I would encourage anyone to read this book. So many people have either been turned off it or turned onto it for the wrong reasons.
Aggressive atheist brandish it like a sword and concerned believers banish it like a demon. It is just a book; it holds ideas that are interesting and mostly based on reason and logic. They are testable and can be thought through. Many people have debated about them and they are another part of a wider group that is wanting to honestly reflect on the topic of religion and its importance in the twenty-first century. Allow them to enter your brain and allow your reason (due to evolution ;)) to help guide you along as you then engage further with more nuanced topics and other ideas.
This isn’t the full stop (or ‘period’ for my American readers) on the subject. It’s another voice giving another reason for realising that the only reason people believe in God is that they want answers to questions they can’t answer, and they want God to be real and provide those very answers.
Whether you agree with that or with Mr Dawkins is for you to find out, so please go and enjoy the journey 🙂
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
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Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
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Farewell For Now – When Belief Dies
- Farewell For Now
- When Belief Dies #100 – 'Psychedelics, Philosophy & God' with Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes
- When Belief Dies #99 – 'Open and Relational Theology' with Thomas Jay Oord
- When Belief Dies #98 – 'The Take Over' with Daniel Kelly & Roger Bretherton
- When Belief Dies #97 – 'The End?' with Daniel Kelly