Dawkins' new book (Introduction)

by dhw, Sunday, September 15, 2019, 10:31 (87 days ago)

Richard Dawkins has written a new book entitled Outgrowing God. According to a review in The Times by Hugo Rifkind, it is mainly a rehash of past material, the first half consisting of “cantankerous anti-religious stuff” and the second (which Rifkind likes) dealing with the wonders of evolution. The review concludes: “Frankly, Dawkins is a far better advocate for atheism when he leaves God alone and contents himself with offering us the other, better story instead [= evolution]. It is as though he has become a literal God-botherer, a There’s-No-Jehovah Witness who feels compelled to bang on your door and rant about the way Jesus isn’t risen and you aren’t going to be saved. For plenty of his fans, I suppose, this is just what they will have wanted. For most readers, though, if anybody needs to outgrow God, it’s him.”

Of course one mustn’t judge a book through one critic’s views of it, but since this website grew out of my own agnostic dismay at the blinkered vision presented in The God Delusion, I thought this might be an appropriate moment to quote my introduction to the “brief guide” which preceded all our own discussions:

"The following essay begins with a direct response to atheism as it is represented in The God Delusion. I should like to stress, however, that although I am unable to embrace atheism mainly because I am not convinced that chance could simultaneously assemble the four factors listed in the section entitled "Evolution", the fact that someone cannot believe one thing does not mean that he believes the opposite. I simply do not know what to believe, and that is why I am an agnostic.

The essay goes on to examine gaps in both the atheist and the theist arguments, together with the implications of those gaps. It cannot of course offer answers to the deep questions, for the simple reason that the human brain has not reached a point where answers can be given - and perhaps it never will reach such a point. This does not mean that we should give up the search, but it most certainly does mean that we should give due respect to other people's beliefs. The world's "state o' chassis" will never be resolved so long as humans seek to impose their suspect truths on the no more and no less suspect truths of their fellows."


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