A reading club with a view to the future

166 Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

The book is a critique of religion, arguing that belief in God is not only irrational but also harmful, and that a scientific understanding of the world offers a more coherent and fulfilling worldview.

Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion


Richard Dawkins presents a compelling argument against the belief in God, using scientific reasoning to challenge the traditional views of religion and faith. He advocates for the importance of reason and evidence in shaping our beliefs and our understanding of the world.


Title: "The God Delusion"

Author: Richard Dawkins

Publishing Year: 2008

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Length in Hours: 13 hours and 52 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The concept of God is a delusion that has been perpetuated throughout history.
  2. Religion is not necessary for morality and can even be harmful to society.
  3. Scientific knowledge offers a more coherent and compelling explanation of the world than religion.
  4. Faith is an unreliable method for understanding the world, and reason and evidence should be used instead.
  5. Atheism should be embraced as a positive and meaningful worldview.
Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

5 funny quotes

  1. "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it.”
  1. "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world."
  2. "The beauty of science is that it's always trying to disprove itself. That's how you know it's working."
  3. "You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe."
  4. "Is there anything more pathetic than a priest wrestling with his faith? It's like watching a clown trying to extinguish a fire with a seltzer bottle."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."
  2. "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."
  3. "Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end."
  4. "A universe with a God would look quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different."
  5. "By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out."

5 dilemmas

  1. How do you reconcile the desire for freedom of religion with the need to protect society from the harmful effects of religious extremism?
  2. How do you address the tension between religious beliefs and scientific discoveries, where some individuals may reject scientific evidence that conflicts with their beliefs?
  3. How do you address the psychological and emotional needs that religion fulfills for some individuals, while also advocating for a rational, evidence-based approach to understanding the world?
  4. How do you balance the importance of respecting diverse religious beliefs with the potential for those beliefs to cause harm to others or limit human progress?
  5. How do you promote a society that values reason, evidence, and critical thinking, while also respecting the rights of individuals to hold religious beliefs?

5 examples

  1. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials are all examples of the harm that can result from religious fervor.
  2. Mother Teresa's beliefs in the virtue of suffering and her lack of concern for the medical needs of her patients are examples of the harm that can result from religious ideology.
  3. The conflict between Israel and Palestine can be traced back to religious differences, demonstrating the divisive nature of religion.
  4. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a recent example of the violence and terror that can be justified by religious extremism.
  5. The opposition to teaching evolution in some American schools is an example of the harm that can result from religious dogma.

Referenced books

Other books quoted or referenced in "The God Delusion" (five books):

  1. "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason" by Sam Harris 
  2. "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" by Christopher Hitchens 
  3. "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon" by Daniel C. Dennett 
  4. "The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God" by Carl Sagan 
  5. "The Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine 

Share a quote

"The beauty of science is that it's always trying to disprove itself. That's how you know it's working."

Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene
Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.