The God Delusion

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The God Delusion is a book by Richard Dawkins published in 2006.



A deeply religious non-believer

The God hypothesis

Arguments for God's existence

Dawkins lists the following arguments:

Why there almost certainly is no God

Dawkins begins this chapter by characterizing God as "the ultimate Boeing 747": any complex entity requires an explanation for its existence — as creationists are fond of pointing out, it would be absurd to think that a tornado could sweep through a junkyard and assemble a Boeing 747. But if any complex entity must have been designed and built by an even more complex entity, then God, who made the entire universe, must be even more complex, and we can therefore ask who created God?

Dawkins then reprises the central theme from his book, Climbing Mount Improbable and says that natural selection is the only known mechanism that can produce complexity from simplicity.

He corrects creationists' misunderstandings about evolution and demonstrates the flaws in the concept of irreducible complexity and the question, "what good is half an eye?" He criticizes irreducible complexity as a god of the gaps argument, and shows how creationists use it as an excuse to give up research instead of seeking for answers.

Dawkins then introduces two versions of the anthropic principle to explain life on earth: in the "planetary version", he argues that while it's true that Earth has many properties that make it suitable for life, the universe is vast enough that some such planets must exist solely by chance. Of course Earth is one of these, since otherwise life could not exist here; but if Earth had been unsuitable for life, life would have arisen elsewhere in the universe.

This statistical argument does not hold for the universe as a whole, since there is only one universe that we know of. Yet creationists also apply the fine tuning argument to the universe as a whole, arguing that the fundamental constants of the universe are set to precise values that make matter — stars, galaxies, humans — possible. Dawkins counters by suggesting that the fundamental constants of the universe may depend on each other, and are therefore not as free to vary as creationists suggest. He also suggests that there may be a multitude of universes (in which case the statistical argument applies), and that perhaps black holes create new universes with constants close to those in their parent universes. If this turns out to be the case, darwinian evolution applies, and our universe is the way it is because it comes from a lineage of universes that have evolved to produce black holes (and the existence of stars, planets, and life is a side effect of black hole production).

Finally, he recounts a conference he was invited to, in Cambridge, organized by the Templeton Foundation, and his disappointment in the quality of theologians' replies to his arguments.

The roots of religion

The roots of morality: why are we good?

The 'Good' Book and the changing moral "zeitgeist"

What's wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?

Childhood, abuse and the escape from religion

A much needed gap?

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