Quotes from ‘The God Delusion’

“Far from pointing to a designer, the illusion of design in the living world is explained with far greater economy and with devastating elegance by Darwinian natural selection.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

It’s the age-old (well, not that old) argument between theists and atheists. Natural selection is the atheists’ Trojan horse, while intelligent design is the ultimate defense line of the believers. Evolutionists vs. Creationists…scientists vs. clergymen? Dawkins wants it to seem like that. In his book, he criticizes the very idea of belief, regardless of its religious label:
“False beliefs can be every bit as consoling as true ones, right up until the moment of disillusionment.”

He also explains a very important point about Darwinism that so many people miss: natural selection is not equivalent to ‘chance’, it is actually the very opposite! He draws a picture of atheists leading a stress-free life:
“The atheist view is life-affirming and life-enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel life owes them something.”

He also explains that, if some scientists refer to God, it’s because:
“The metaphorical God of the physicists is light years away from the interventionist, miracle-wreaking, thought-reading, sin-punishing, prayer-answering God of the Bible, of the priests, mullahs and rabbis, and of ordinary language.”

The book is a great read; it is an eye-opener and a manifesto that breaks many of the stereotypes that we have about believers and atheists alike. Dawkins also quotes other people in his book. Below is a selection of quotes:

“Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
–Thomas Jefferson

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.” – Robert Pirsig

“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“God and Country are an unbeatable team; they break all records for oppression and bloodshed.” – Luis Buñuel

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” – Blaise Pascal

“If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” – Lenny Bruce

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

Saint John the Baptist - Da Vinci

The God Delusion: Between Atheists and Humanists

I daresay that the word ‘humanist’ is one of the most abused words on earth. For one thing, many people label themselves humanists just because it sounds elegant and has become fashionable (like the word cultured). For another, many people tend to use the word as equivalent to other terms, one of which is…‘atheist’! Sounds strange? Not at all. For some reason, some atheists –specially scientists- tend to think of themselves as the coessential humanists that sympathize with –and revolt against- a specific human condition: the condition of intellectual slavery under the myth of religion, or as Richard Dawkins put it, under the ‘God Delusion’. Dawkins himself, an atheist evolution biologist whose religion is Darwinism, is the Vice President of the British Humanist Association, which represents “people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.” Again, atheists lurking behind the term ‘humanists.’

There is absolutely no contradiction between the two terms. They are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, Dawkins –and many other atheist intellectuals- think they have a monopoly of the title ‘humanist.’ These are not my words, but rather quotes from Dawkins’s bestseller titled ‘The God Delusion’ that ended in my hands a few days ago. In this very interesting book, Dawkins says: “Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of (…), for atheism almost always indicates a healthy independence of the mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.”

Why is disbelief a sign of a good mind? Some may be tempted to think that an atheist is someone who worked his mind, reflected, refused to accept ideas lacking empirical evidence, and ended up rejecting the notion of God. However, one can also be tempted to think that an atheist is someone who took the easy way out, rejected the presence of God and freed himself from the duties and limits set by religion, including the central concept of a ‘last judgment.’ At this point, it would be necessary to stress that I am only toying with the idea and with both sides (and there are more sides) of the argument without necessarily adopting any.

But I would like to share with you more quotes from ‘The God Delusion’ because, even though it is intensely provocative, it remains to be highly entertaining. That will be another message.