Monday, October 02, 2006

The God Delusion

The new book by Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion has caught my eye and it is getting significant play from a number of reputable sources. This weekend The Guardian (Joan Blackwell) reviewed the book. It was also reviewed in last weeks Economist here.

It was The Economist where I first came across the book; the sub-head as follows: "Richard Dawkins has long trumpeted the rationale of science. Now, at 65, he has finally marshalled a lifetime's arguments against believing in God." The reviewer goes on to characterize the book as irreverent - which I think is somewhat the point. Real believers are not going to read this book; however, look for a raft of bible bashers on thier soap boxes denouncing the book nevertheless. If this happens of course it will indeed lead to more attention paid to the book and a higher Amazon sales rank. My best part of the review is the reference in the book to his contention that fervent religious indoctrination given to children amounts to child abuse.

In the Guardian, Blackwell touches on some of his social commentary regarding the encrochment of religion into social policy (in the UK and US) such that "many of us who might want to stay outside theological debate can't afford to when it is influencing social policy." In the US of course this is seen increasingly in many areas and are too numerous to mention. In our publishing world this is seen in text books that must present 'intelligent design' as though it is a scientific option while at the same time describing evolution as a mere 'therory.' Blackwell writes that Dawson reserves his best arguments for why religion has persisted.
He cites his own concept, the meme, the social equivalent of the gene, as the way ideas are spread and handed down. As a Darwinian he is keen to understand what is so beneficial about religion that makes it eligible for survival. He has an interesting theory - exemplified by the moth being attracted to the flame and thus to its death - that an arcane survival mechanism is operating in grossly distorted circumstances
Regretably, our world is increasingly becoming defined by religion and over the next 100 years our biggest conflicts will be oriented around religion. The question is whether secularism will rise as a force strong enough to counter this train wreak - I have my doubts.

Here is the book on The initial reviews are all positive but in the forum section at the bottom things are starting to hot up. At the moment it is number five on the sellers list.

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