Richard Dawkins — The God Delusion

As E.O. Wil­son gives, Richard Dawk­in’s takes. Every­thing evens out.

Richard Dawkins is biol­o­gist of inter­na­tion­al stature, too. But while Wil­son is extend­ing olive branch­es, Dawkins is tak­ing no pris­on­ers.  Bent on “con­vinc­ing the lit­er­ate pub­lic that they must now take evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry seri­ous­ly,” Dawkins, a schol­ar of evo­lu­tion (who has brought us The Self­ish Gene and The Ances­tor’s Tale) has tak­en an offen­sive pos­ture in recent years against the evan­gel­i­cal con­tin­gent look­ing to replace evo­lu­tion the­o­ry with intel­li­gent design. Now, with The God Delu­sion, he is going direct­ly after reli­gion itself. In today’s polit­i­cal cul­ture, a com­plete dis­missal of reli­gion in the name of athe­ism and sci­ence is a hard thing to come by (unless you’re read­ing Sam Har­ris or Daniel Den­nett). But here you have it. Cur­rent­ly, the num­ber #2 best­seller on Amazon.com, The God Delu­sion has clear­ly tapped into some­thing. On one lev­el, the strong sales can be attrib­uted to Dawk­in’s book being the lat­est vol­ley in the ongo­ing cul­ture war that has pro­pelled many books — most of the them mediocre — to the top of charts. (Cur­rent­ly, Bill O’Reil­ly’s Cul­ture War­rior is #10 on the Ama­zon charts. So there you go.) But on anoth­er lev­el, it could have some­thing to do with the fact that reli­gion is nowa­days very au courant, and, the room to take an agnos­tic or athe­is­tic posi­tion has all but dis­ap­peared in the Amer­i­can pub­lic sphere. So, when a strong, unapolo­getic defense of athe­ism comes along, there may well be a pent up desire — at least, in some cor­ners of the coun­try — to embrace what Dawkins has to say.

Although some main­stream review­ers have ques­tioned whether he makes the best case for athe­ism, it nonethe­less remains true that Dawkins is one of our lead­ing pub­lic intel­lec­tu­als and can make his case with style and verve, some­thing that comes across in his 11/1 NPR inter­view and this BBC broad­cast, both well worth a lis­ten.

On a some­what less seri­ous note, it also seemed worth post­ing Richard Dawk­in’s inter­view with anoth­er char­ac­ter who has been mak­ing news this week — Ted Hag­gard, the evan­gel­i­cal min­is­ter who has been embroiled in a sex scan­dal and had to resign his posi­tion as pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Evan­gel­i­cals, an orga­ni­za­tion that boasts 30 mil­lion mem­bers.


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