Having read The God Delusion this second time, I have come to appreciate much of what he says. While there is no doubt that much of the content is intellectual drivel, most of his criticisms of the church hit the nail on the head.
The God Delusion to me seemed to act as a very efficient ‘Occam’s’ razor to various religions, and various practices within religions. I really think that if the Christian church implemented this razor to their theology and to their general practices, they would come out much stronger and fitter as a result. Though this is certainly not Dawkins intention!
The thing that shocked me the most was that this particular work by Dawkins is surprisingly short scientific evidence while being long on grand speculation. Page and page went by where Dawkins indulged in fantastic speculation as to the origin and possible Darwinian reason for religion, yet he never substantiated any of his arguments with anything remotely resembling empirical data. It is for this reason alone that religious people can simply ignore this book and it’s claims, because they are nothing more than spectacular speculation.
Most people seem to think that this book is an argument against the existence of a god, specifically the Christian God. This is certainly how it is portrayed. Yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. The basic arguments that Dawkins uses against the existence of God falls in to the trap of the Genetic Fallacy, that is to say that denigrating the origin of an idea or the people who believe it, does not address it’s actual existence. Dawkins quite rightly bemoans the ill that religious people cause, but wrongly assumes that just because some religious people do bad things, that God mustn’t exist. The second argument that falls into this fallacy is Dawkins’ attempt to explain the belief in God as being just a delusion in the human’s brain. But yet again, speculating as to the workings of the human mind doesn’t even begin to address the actual existence of God Himself.
The main bone that I have to pick with Dawkins is his extreme intolerance towards those who disagree with him. He seems to be a hardcore anti-pluralist. He seems totally unwilling to even consider the idea of just living with people who disagree with his own worldview. In critiquing religion his chosen method is to throw the baby out with the bath water. He isn’t interested in letting those religions who shun all forms of violence to live beside him. No, instead he tarnishes all religions with the dirtiest brush that he could find, and proclaims that even the most benignly pacifist religions must be eliminated. This type of dogmatic intolerance sadly reminds me of the oppression techniques of communist China and Russia where everybody who disagreed with the rulership was systematically eradicated. Dawkins rhetoric is shockingly similar to this horrible time in history.
It is disconcerting that this book is in the hands of the pleb. While I recommend it to those properly educated in religion (specifically Protestants), ‘The God Delusion’ is a dangerous propaganda tool in the hands of those people whose only real knowledge of religion is from these types of biased books. These people are totally unable to critically evaluate Dawkins claims, and balance them against what the Bible really teaches.
As a Protestant young earth creationist, I found that virtually nothing in this book that Dawkins criticised was applicable to my worldview. I could almost feel the bullets rapidly bounding off of me! Virtually all of his attack was directed against the various Catholic beliefs and practices which clearly don’t apply to Protestants. His other major point of attack was against the various inconsistencies that arise by trying to marry ones belief in God to the theory of evolution, and again, none of this applies to the YEC worldview. For me, I came out the other end of this book smiling. Dawkins razor was only ever directed at the dross that holds Christianity down as a credible alternative to atheism. If you eliminate all that Dawkins recommends, you get YEC; a worldview tempered in the crucible of Dawkins vociferous attacks; a worldview, by virtue of Dawkins tempering, that is immune to all weapons that he has in his arsenal.