Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The God Delusion

I have heard a lot of talk and read a lot of reviews about this book recently so I thought I'd better buy myself a copy. I got it at Waterstones and discovered in doing so that they now issue loyalty points and quite generously too - I think 4p per pound spent which will mount up. You can, as ever, buy it cheaper from Amazon. Click here if you want to.

I think it might help to record my thoughts chapter by chapter. I don't want to read the book too quickly but to stop and think as I work through it.

Dealing with the philosophy of the day has always been essential work for followers of Jesus. The beginning of John's Gospel, 'In the beginning was the logos and the logos became flesh' moves on from Judaism to tackle Greek ways of thinking. Paul in Athens in Acts 17 does likewise, admiring idols and tributes to unknown Gods in the company of people who like talking about the latest thing and saying 'I see that in every way you are very religious.' It has always been the duty of Christian apologists everywhere to get to grips with the latest thing.

Dawkin's aim is unashamedly anti-evangelistic. He wants people who read it to let go of religion, whatever style they have chosen or had inflicted upon them, and come out as atheists. He writes well and has a lively style that is easy to read and follow.

In the opening chapter Dawkins argues that people should not get exceptions from the law by appealing to their religion. He says that if hate can prove it is religious it no longer counts as hate and religion is disproportionately priviliged. He has some sympathy for an appeal to freedom of speech if you want to wear an 'All abortionists must die' T-shirt but not an appeal to religious exceptions from the due process of law. He chastises journalists for moral cowardice in being more willing to tackle dodgy Christianity than dodgy Islam, accusing them of wanting to save their windows more than further the truth. Told you it was lively. I'm with him so far.

Opening sentence of chapter 2 announces, 'The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.' Ignoring the obvious truth that there is at least some history in the Old Testament does him no favours. I'm about to read on.


Sam said...

Hi Steve,

I'm also on the trail of Dawkins - just haven't yet bought the book yet. Meanwhile I've blogged about Alister McGrath's book-length Dawkins critique and shown an example of really bad un-Christian apologetics in an interview with Dawkins.

Dave Neal said...

There is a review of the book on ship of fools which is quite interesting.