Label Cloud

donderdag 30 april 2009

The God Delusion

The first time I saw Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion I was a bit reluctant to pick it up. Not so long before I had read Michel Onfray's Traité sur l'Athéologie (in a Dutch translation), which bored me to death. The man basically bitches for 200 pages how bad the world, and more importantly, himself, has been treated by organized religion, while making a few shortcuts in his historic analysis. The book actually got on my nerves after about page 50. His rantings did not support my atheism in any way. In fact, the history of ideas within the great religions as depicted by Karen Armstrong in The Great Transformation has given my atheism a much better basis (although arguably this was not the author's intention). I saw Dawkins' book in several bookstores, and each time I was bit tempted, but the memory of Onfray's bitching steered my away from the counter. I finally decided that I did want to read it after seeing one of Dawkins' speeches (video). The man was not boring, he wasn't ranting. He was very scientific, witty, and entertaining. I've recently been on a holiday overseas. While we were waiting to board our plane, my girlfriend and I were wandering a bit throught the duty-free shops. On an impulse I bought The God Delusion.

The book's object is to analyse the god hypothesis as explanation for life, the universe, and everything from an evolutionary, scientific standpoint. Dawkins takes all the arguments believers generally make for religion and/or against the evolution theory, and deconstructs them one by one. All the things you kind of sense that are wrong with the religious myths are duly thought out and spelled out for you. If you ever needed some sources to back you up when you're trying to get a christian/muslim/whatever of your back, they're all there. Especially the part about morality was interesting. He argues that all our moral choices stem from a universal, human approach to morality (a sort of blueprint in your mind if you will) coupled with the current zeitgeist. This is also true for religious people, who justify the "right" morals for their time by picking and choosing the appropiate parts of their scriptures (instead of it being the other way around). This book is a perfect support for my atheism. The only part where it falls short on is the explanation about the "beginning" of it all. Science does not cover that aspect to date. Maybe one day it will. At least adherents of science dare to say that they don't have all the answers. Attributing this lack of knowledge to some god(s) however is just plain intellectual laziness.

As a conclusion, I'd like to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. It is to the point, well written (save the abuse of the sentence "have your consciousness lifted by Darwin" in the middle chapter), and build upon solid science. In general I don't discuss religion too much with people who are not interested in an intellectual discussion. And when I do I don't really try to prove religious people wrong. Since reading this book, I probably keep the same attitude, apart from one thing: I have lost a part of my cultural relativism. When parts of a culture/religion is wrong, people should be called out on that. Gay people are not the scum of the earth, hitting your wife is wrong in all circumstances, ...

Geen opmerkingen: