three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
26-Jan-Feb-2007
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A-The God DelusionRichard Dawkins’s latest book brings to the forefront an argument that has lingered prominently in the margins of all of his work: that belief in God, whatever its basis, is a delusion. A staunch Darwinist, Dawkins, a biologist at Oxford, confronts a litany of philosophical rationales in favor of belief, from Aquinas to intelligent design, and rallies aggressively against them with equal measures of scientific precision, humor, and outright scorn.
Houghton Mifflin. 416 pages. $27. ISBN: 0618680004

San Francisco Chronicle 4.5 of 5 Stars
"[A]fine and significant book … largely due to Dawkins’ willingness to employ the sharp edges of his intellect to cut through a paralyzing propriety whose main effect is to stifle conversation." Troy Jollimore

Boston Globe 3 of 5 Stars
"Once the spasms of outrage over its caustic tone pass, sophisticated folks will find much of its critique rigorously argued. It probably won’t persuade them, but if it pushes them to shed complacency and ask questions of their faith, good." Rich Barlow

Rocky Mountain News 3 of 5 Stars
"Delusion is Dawkins’ manifesto, a field manual for atheists, full of answers to the questions they confront every day in the hostile world of the faithful. … Because it’s so intolerant and downright nasty toward religion, Dawkins misses a chance to do for atheists what C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity did for Christians." Steve Ruskin

Miami Herald 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Dawkins’ arguments make scattered sense, and The God Delusion will grab readers who can forgive his tone. But a bit more humility would become him." Alexandra Alter

NY Times Book Review 2 of 5 Stars
"Reading it can feel a little like watching a Michael Moore movie. There is lots of good, hard-hitting stuff about the imbecilities of religious fanatics and frauds of all stripes, but the tone is smug and the logic occasionally sloppy." Jim Holt

Critical Summary

Richard Dawkins’s latest book raises the question of style over substance. As in his well-known books The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and River Out of Eden, the renowned evolutionary biologist has done his homework, and argues with precision and a fair glaze of wit. But Dawkins can’t restrain his vitriol for those that have put their faith in religion, to the point that he comes off as rabid as those believers whose eyes he yearns to open. This fatal flaw knocks his book down a rung or two for critics, many of whom seem inclined to believe in Dawkins, if only he weren’t so preachy.