The real surprise about “The God Delusion” (2006) is that, for such a serious subject, it’s an incredibly funny read. It’s not intentionally humorous, but uses humor in order to make excellent points about human nature and the non-existence of God. Richard Dawkins, one of the greatest biologists of our generation, dedicated this book to the late humor and science-fiction writer Douglas Adams. One chapter begins with a quote by George Carlin. Dawkins had good influences.
This is a very conversational book, as if Dawkins were sitting across the dining room table and chatting away to the reader. This style isn’t surprising since the idea for “The God Delusion” arose from a series of lectures. Dawkins usually takes questions from audience members after his lectures. Some may think that the conversational tone may undermine the seriousness of the topic, but Dawkins has published many strictly scientific books and articles in the past.
Not Just Another Angry Atheist
Some critics, including the respected author Karen Armstrong in The Case for God (2009), dismiss Hawkins’s views on religion as the snide remarks of a typical angry atheist. But this is not a valid criticism. Unlike Christopher Hitchens of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”(2007) fame, Dawkins is not catty. Although Hitchens is one of the most intelligent and eloquent non-fiction writers of modern times, his wit can become so razor-sharp that it can be purposefully antagonistic. In contrast, Dawkins’ sarcasm is far more subtle, cushioned by facts.
Dawkins is also well-qualified to make sarcastic remarks among how scientists behave because he is one of their peers. Dawkins isn’t just being sarcastic for sarcasm’s sake, but to make very critical points on how common sense is often compromised by religious beliefs. For example, he talks about a promising young geologist who threw away a respected career because he could not reconcile The Bible with science. This story isn’t just finger-pointing but a passionate plea to a suffering colleague.
There Is No God and This is Good
It won’t be giving anything away by revealing that Dawkins can prove God doesn’t exist. He can prove it through science, through human nature and through history. He doesn’t make any bones about it – his message is, “God ain’t there, folks.” He also states that his fellow scientists should be willing to speak up on the non-existence of God, but acknowledges that some scientists will not because they are afraid of losing their jobs.
Dawkins also makes an eloquent argument that organized religion is damaging to society as a whole. Religion, like science, should be open to criticism and not be given respect that it does not deserve. In 2005, Dawkins saw an attempt to raise an American Taliban in the United States – a country that supposedly cherishes the separation of church and state. This faction still exists. Dawkins gives us an alternative to Talibans of whatever religion — using reason and common sense. This is a very hopeful message.