Get this from a library! The God delusion. [Richard Dawkins] -- Argues that belief in God is irrational, and describes examples of religion's negative influences on. Let us face the fact that The God Delusion is a great book. This was supposed to be Richard Dawkins' magnum opus which he said would cause people to. Richard Dawkins' God Delusion is not only a fascinating battle with the book written by the famous British atheist. It is a clash of two epochs - the old atheistic.
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A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format. Download The God Delusion free ebook (pdf, epub, mobi) by Richard Dawkins. Book details Author: Richard Dawkins Pages: pages.
Some of my books, all of which you can find discounted via this link:. Social networks: Norm Geisler references TrueFreethinker. It is a great book if you want to witness the utter bankruptcy of Atheist apologetics. It is great for a window into how very, very popular one can get even whilst basing arguments on poor history, poor logic, poor science and poor biblical hermeneutics. It is actually a great heuristic device as you can learn a lot by correcting its very, very, very, very many fallacies as you go see here , here and here for examples.
Dawkins finds the idea of intelligent design in nature as a last desperate attempt to prove the reality of an all-powerful God. The odds of any complex living structure having appeared strictly by chance are vanishingly small. Dawkins cites Fred Hoyle as the father of the metaphor that life forms being the product of random processes are as likely as the notion that a hurricane might tumble and connect enough elements to yield a Boeing That metaphor will be familiar to those who have read The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins, : Chance cannot be the agent responsible for the excellent fit of life forms to their particular environment.
Because every animal and plant species has whatever it takes to live in its environment, each must have been designed to fit. A design requires a designer, and the designer is God. Therefore, God exists. Dawkins agrees that the idea of the living world being the product of sheer randomness is ridiculous. The multitude of highly organized living systems could not possibly have appeared by chance alone.
What he does next is turn the creationists' argument from improbability back against them. When people assert that God must exist as the intelligent designer of complex living systems, they have done no more than offer another total improbability as their explanation of both simple and complex life forms.
God-as-designer rivals pure chance as an implausible explanation of the fit between every species and its environment. The appearance of striking patterns in nature does not require a higher being as designer. Saying that life forms require an all-powerful Creator is an argument from ignorance. So how did the properties of living systems come about? Richard Dawkins, the expert evolutionary biologist and theorist, now sheds the mask of polemical atheist and starts talking about the only truly believable, nonmystical explanation of life forms.
Darwinian natural selection is the answer. Natural selection, operating totally without a goal, has crafted organized complexity step-by-step from earlier forms purely from adaptations to local environmental demands.
These genetically encoded changes are expressed as characteristics that enabled their owners to be more reproductively successful than were those individuals who did not have them. Natural selection is plausible because it is a cumulative process that works step by step over many generations. Whereas design or blind chance imply that complex structures like the human eye or brain could have occurred all at once, gradual accumulation of small adaptive changes requires no miraculous leaps.
To my knowledge no one—including Dawkins—has raised the question of whether more should be expected of an omnipotent designer than from natural selection. Writers of comic strips and science fiction have created characters with abilities far exceeding those possessed by people in the real world.
A partial list of the abilities granted to fictional individuals includes the ability to fly, to see through and around objects, to be able to burst into flame, to have unlimited intelligence, to extend their limbs at will, and the like.
Because of such powers, these storybook characters cope far better with the world than do ordinary people. An all-powerful deity with the ability to violate the laws of nature at will and to generate perfection all at once could have done at least as well when creating life forms.
How does a believer in an all-mighty designer explain deviations from ideals without reference to the impossibility of truly understanding the mind of an all-knowing deity? Maybe our proper challenge is to use our limited intelligence to try to figure out what the divine power had in mind. Dawkins mentions an Oxford theologian who claimed that the Holocaust was a gift from God because it allowed its victims the chance to display courage and nobility.
Is that the proper model for understanding what looks like bad design? Limitations in biological systems actually are not hard to understand. Natural selection implies nothing about ideals. The necessary variation may never have been present to be selected.
If it did appear, it may have had disadvantages that outweighed its pluses. It might not have been heritable if it had ever occurred. It might have interfered with the solution of other problems in survival. An eye like a periscope would allow seeing all around, but it also might be easily damaged or destroyed. Would such a structure have interfered with finding food, surviving weather changes, and mating?
Natural selection does not mean perfection in a given organ; it means being good enough to make a living in a demanding competitive environment. Possible reasons for imperfection at least have the potential for being investigated. Natural selection generates evolutionary change or stability without any preconceived notion of what the species will become or whether it will continue to exist.
An element of randomness exists in the variations generated by genetic processes and in the nature of the current environment, that is, in the raw materials governing selection. In sum, natural selection generates complexity without any plan, goal, or design.
Furthermore, ample data from both naturalistic observation and laboratory research show clearly that natural selection works. Can the same be said for the notions of creationism or intelligent design? What could possibly convince the proponents of those notions that they are wrong?
No one believes that we now know everything about evolution. Evolutionary biology is science, not dogma. Arguments or disagreements are not weaknesses, because they lead to further research. We learn if our ideas are wrong and then we adjust them to fit the hard data. The supporting data have led to revised assumptions about the pace of evolution, but they cast no doubt on the validity of natural selection as the agent of both change and stability.
It also may be true that natural selection often operates by screening variants that do not work rather than always by picking ones that do, but that really changes nothing. The Universality of God Theory Belief in divinities appears in all known human cultures, though the specifics vary from one society to the next. However, even if everyone who ever lived believed in divinities, such would not prove that divine powers exist.
After all, many once believed that the Earth was the center of creation or in a law that all bodies fall at a rate proportional to their weight. For evolutionists, though, any commonly found trait in a species is a candidate for having developed through natural selection. So, when humans show a characteristic a phenotype in evolutionary terminology as common as belief in divinity, Dawkins must take seriously the possibility that such beliefs are adaptive.
He points out that religious activity consumes time and energy, can endanger the life of the individual, consumes enormous resources, can lead to death, and can result in celibacy. What, then, could make the theistic phenotype sufficiently adaptive to balance out or overwhelm its negative aspects? If divinity theory did not offer some tangible advantage in coping with the challenges of life, it should have gone extinct long ago. As Dawkins says, even if neuroscientists find a part of the brain that causes belief in God, they still would not know why that center was advantageous in having grandchildren.
The big question, then, is why genes that lead to religious belief would have spread. Dawkins considers various lines of evidence.
No convincing data support the claim that belief in a divinity protects people from contracting diseases, contributes to their cure, or reduces stress. Such data are not beyond the ability of scientists to obtain, but most efforts to date do not qualify as good science whether the results were positive or negative. The fact that Dawkins—a theorist who has often been thought of as the arch adaptationist—is dubious about an adaptive reason for a genetically coded belief in divinities, has not prevented others from inventing adaptive scenarios.
Gould and Lewontin referred to the idea that every characteristic must be adaptive as the Panglossian paradigm, and the notion of universal adaptiveness finally seemed to have faded from sight. I would have thought that the kind of adaptationist storytelling that prevailed during the heyday of fanciful sociobiology would no longer be taken seriously. The excellent article by Robin Henig reviewing the various supposedly adaptive reasons for believing in divinities reveals that I am wrong.
Perhaps the renaissance of human sociobiology in the guise of evolutionary psychology is the culprit. Dawkins also rejects group selection—the idea that religion aids the species even if it may harm the individual—as a good explanation. Group selection is plausible in theory, but it has a major liability. Selfish individuals will benefit at the expense of the group and then their genes will replace those leading to group welfare.
For example, individuals who avoid fighting for their country can profit from their lack of patriotism, especially if they fool others into thinking that they are dedicated patriots. The genes of these successful cheaters would be passed on to their descendants while those of the people killed in action would not be so well favored.
Because group selection is so sensitive to corruption, few evolutionary theorists believe in it. We are left with the conclusion that a commitment to divinities was not the direct product of natural selection but instead a byproduct of something else. This phenomenon was termed a spandrel by Gould and Lewontin , and it was further elaborated in Gould's last book.
An example of a spandrel is the orange color of carrots. The color probably itself is neither adaptive nor maladaptive; it is a byproduct of chemical factors that are important. A moth flying into a light bulb and burning up surely is not displaying adaptive behavior. More likely is that the moth's self-immolation is the byproduct of a visual system developed for using the moon and stars as means of localization at night. This compass is useful, but it has fatal results in an environment replete with nearby hot electric lights.
Dawkins thinks that the best way to understand the spread of God theory is to recognize that children evolved to learn from others. Obedience was selected because of its great utility in avoiding predators, developing proper eating habits, and, usually, trusting what your parents and other adults tell or show you.
This strategy works very well, but it also leads to the development of odd beliefs. In an essay published in , Dawkins described a 6-year-old girl who wanted to grow up to be a tooth fairy. Many children write letters to Santa Claus. Because young children take literally what adults tell them or what they see on TV or in the movies, they wholeheartedly accept the reality of imaginary creatures.
Gullibility has definite virtues for the still untutored young, but unquestioned obedience brings useless or even nonadaptive mental infections with it as well. Such thinking makes it easy to see why there are so many different religious beliefs depending upon the society in which one develops. A gene for Catholicism or Judaism or for being Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, polytheist, or atheist, or for believing in Santa Claus or tooth fairies is not necessary. Given the appropriate environment, all that genetic expression needs is the possibility of a strong tendency during development to learn from others.
Everything else follows. Moving Beyond Dawkins Where did the idea of a deity begin? How did the first God idea appear? To say that it was implanted by God is obviously completely circular. As is so often true, origins are difficult to figure out, much less to prove. Was it the gift of a fortunate mutation? Evolutionary biologists could believe that but only if the mutant with the resulting phenotype had adaptive advantages not shared by others missing the relevant gene. As described previously, Dawkins' discussion casts serious doubt on that idea.
In any event, the notion is not testable by any scientific method known to me. Daniel Dennett hypothesized that the initial cause for belief in a deity is an inherited tendency to attribute agency to other people, and to inanimate objects as well.
He calls this the intentional stance. That, perhaps, leads readily to a starting point for mystical and other religious beliefs. Henig describes several other hypotheses offered to explain the sources of belief in divinities.
Among these are what seem to be universal tendencies to believe in causality and to indulge in magical thinking. In his insightful review of Dennett's book, Breaking the Spell, Howard Rachlin raises compelling questions about the intentionality hypothesis.
His convincing to me argument is that genetically based intentionality is a nonscientific idea that ignores the role of complex behavioral patterns influenced by the individual's environment and lifetime history. Rachlin describes Dennett's hypothesis as creationism moved from biological evolution to individual behavior.
That same comment would apply to causal and magical beliefs and all of the other Jungian archetypes as well. The essential point is that we simply do not know how God theory originated. I suggest that a place to start may be to recognize that all people encounter the same fundamental problems.
A partial list includes how to understand birth and death, why accidents occur, why people become sick and why some recover whereas others do not, why crops sometimes succeed and sometimes fail, why we don't always win, why the weather sometimes accords with our plans and sometimes does not, why tools that usually help us sometimes inflict damage. Other universal experiences include the feeling of awe encountered in considering the wonders of nature or the challenge of contemplating the mystery of what we do not understand.
Inability to answer these questions causes some to hypothesize mystical forces and then to pass that hypothesis on to others. That is an economical way of understanding why all religions deal with the same issues but differ in their particulars without reference to any process other than a powerful tendency to learn from others. Even today we are often taught to ascribe human qualities to other animals and inanimate objects by our fairy tales, legends, movies, and TV shows.
This could be a nongenetic explanation of how Dennett's intentional stance, or the attribution of causality, or a belief in magic is established in some people. Those familiar with operant conditioning have long known that accidental contiguity between a response and a reinforcer can result in irrational behavior.
However, I agree with Rachlin that what we know about superstition in laboratory experiments probably is not the answer to understanding the prevalence of religious belief. My reasons for questioning the role of adventitious reinforcement are different from his, because I believe that Skinner's demonstration and many others as well really have shown that accidental contiguities with reinforcers can strengthen arbitrary responses.
The control of unusual and pointless responses by either fixed- or variable-time schedules of reinforcement has been a robust finding with humans of all ages and with other species as well cf.
Zeiler, The problem is that superstitious behavior is a transitory phenomenon: It occurs in the initial acquisition of behavior, but is rarely maintained in the steady state. Instead, the behavior drifts from one kind of response to the next, and finally tends to either dissipate or become the kind of species-specific activity that Staddon and Simmelhag observed.
Cognitive dissonance might account for why an irrational behavior is maintained even if the individual has experienced many failures of faith to produce desired outcomes. Still more likely is the possibility of devoutness coming to be explicitly reinforced in both young children and adults. Some may learn that a particular religious identification can confer political, economic, and social advantages.
In some situations skilled medical care is available only to those expressing certain religious beliefs. Winning a job or an election can be influenced by a candidate's avowed religion. Under some circumstances acting religious can be beneficial; in others it can be detrimental. The outcome may depend on the beliefs of the potential supplier of benefits. The possibilities are sufficiently varied as to either support existing belief systems or to result in their abandonment.
Child training being as variable as it is, we do not all share the same way of looking at things. Some people are educated to be religious and others not to believe in higher powers. Some are taught to think about the intentions of other people, animals, and inanimate objects.
Others have not been taught that, for example, vegetables or clouds or animals are conscious entities showing self-directed motivated behavior.
Some learn that not everyone is reasonable and so may have a cynical view of other people; some do or do not trust or even like animals. Learning produces both individual differences and similarities in ways of dealing with the world. What differs among individuals is what is learned. The Bigger Picture The task of evolutionary theory is to explain biological change, whether in the adaptation of one species to its environment, or in the appearance or disappearance of an entire species.
Evolution refers to change, and biological evolution means changes in the genetic makeup of the population. Natural selection is based on the success or failure of phenotypes in coping with environmental demands. However, the science of genetics shows that phenotypes are not passed on to the next generation. What are passed on are the parents' genes that may control the expression of phenotypes, given an appropriate environment. Saying that selection is for phenotypes but of genes would be correct.
Evolutionary biologists recognize that phenotypes do not depend on genes alone, but bias in that direction favors attributing altered phenotypes to changes in underlying genes. Environmental influences on phenotypes tend to be acknowledged and then ignored. Religion is not the only case where learning from others solves a problem dealt with in a less than satisfying manner by hypothetical genes. The following discussion—which does not appear in The God Delusion—explores another issue in evolutionary biology that may best be explained by genes promoting general learning strategies rather than by genes for specific responses or behavior patterns.
Consider the phenomenon of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Such altruistic activity has been documented in species ranging from insects to humans. The evolution of sterile worker castes among insects is altruistic because the workers sacrifice their ability to reproduce; the evolution of humans helping others at considerable expense or even death to themselves is well known.
More examples are found in other species. Explaining altruism in any species raises the question of why it is adaptive to sacrifice one's own life and reproductive ability for the benefit of others. This phenomenon seems to cry out for an explanation about working for the good of the group rather than for oneself.
However, group selection again confronts the success of cheaters. Selfish individuals can do very well in a system in which most others are dedicated to the welfare of the community. The faker's genes would be passed on at the expense of the genes for being altruistic, and these selfish genes eventually would come to predominate in the species.
Altruism was seen as a crucial problem for Darwinian theory and consequently generated intense scrutiny. The solution was to deny that true altruism ever occurs. Seeing how altruism has been handled requires a brief foray into modern evolutionary theory. Reproducing individuals contribute their share to the population gene pool, but the same endowment is made by other individuals who have the same genes. The representation of particular genes is independent of which individuals contributed them.
William Hamilton a , b called this inclusive fitness. The importance of a gene in evolution depends not on one individual but on the total number of individuals that possess it. Inclusive fitness has been used to explain altruism.
If self-sacrifice produces more instances of a particular gene appearing in the population than would individual reproduction, natural selection is operating to enhance altruism in the population.
What this means then is that altruistic behavior should be confined to those with whom one shares genes — in short, to close relatives.
If more of your genes are passed on to the next generation by behavior that allows many of your relatives to reproduce than by being a parent yourself, then such behavior will prevail. This account works well to explain the evolution of sterile insect castes and other forms of altruism that do not seem to stem from choices made by individuals.
More voluntary forms of self-sacrifice require additional premises. One is the idea that altruism must be confined to relatives based on their familial closeness. Because parents, siblings, and children on average contain more of the same genes than do grandchildren and cousins, altruism is more likely directed at the first group than the second. Move further down the scale of genetic relatedness—self-sacrifice would be more likely to occur for grandchildren than for cousins, and for cousins than for strangers.
Very few would sacrifice themselves for a member of an unrelated family. Those familiar with popular culture might see this as a genetically framed version of what might be called the Godfather Principle of self-sacrifice. Nothing so far explains the many observations of altruism to nonrelatives. To fill this gap, theorists say that altruism to unrelated others might occur given some reason to expect that self-sacrifice would be reciprocated.
That would help explain why altruism might be directed at a spouse or a spouse's family or perhaps even to another genetically unrelated individual. From the gene's point of view, altruism is always selfish! The strength of this account is that it solves the problem of how natural selection theory can explain self-sacrifice in terms of genetics without adding such ideas as group selection.
But the account does not fit the available data. Inherent in the explanation is that one can discriminate relatives from nonrelatives and can tell those who are likely to reciprocate from those not likely to return the favor in the future.
Little evidence supports the idea that genetic relatedness is discriminated in and of itself. The positive data are confounded with the recognition of close relatives when the related individuals lived together during development.
Nevertheless, this is the prevalent view of altruism among those evolutionary theorists who write and talk about it. There is an alternative explanation of self-sacrifice. Norm Geisler references TrueFreethinker. It is a great book if you want to witness the utter bankruptcy of Atheist apologetics. It is great for a window into how very, very popular one can get even whilst basing arguments on poor history, poor logic, poor science and poor biblical hermeneutics.
It is actually a great heuristic device as you can learn a lot by correcting its very, very, very, very many fallacies as you go see here , here and here for examples. You can find the free e-book online at this link.
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