Gene Edward Veith, at his Cranach blog, has a link to an intriguing review of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ new book The God Delusion. Dawkins has long been an evangelist for atheism, and is most famous for his books The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene.
The review, written by atheist Shannon Love, is found here, and is a fascinating read. Love dissects the typical historical arguments against religion that Dawkins uses, such as the inhumanity of the Crusades or the Inquisition. Love then points out the great evils that atheism thrust on the world in the 20th century: communism, nazism, and even the sexual revolution; as well as the great good done by contemporary religious people.
Here are some quotes from Love’s review:
Imagine my shock and even horror to discover that Dawkins’ book is trite, facile and just plain, well, dumb.
The entire scope of the facileness of the book will take several posts to address, but the most immediate flaw in the book is Dawkins’ uncritical acceptance of the idea that religion causes people to systematically make worse, i.e., less-humane or -accurate, decisions than does an atheistic worldview. I’ll tackle this argument first because it has long annoyed me, because empirically it isn’t true, and anyone with even a passing knowledge of history can discern the real pattern.
Atheists reflexively repeat the mantra that religion causes oppression, war and general cruelty of all kinds, while asserting or implying that atheism does not. Dawkins falls right into this mindless argument in the opening paragraphs of the book and never lets up.
Dawkins simply repeats the shallow and ahistorical version of history that any hip 19-year-old college freshman can regurgitate on cue. If Dawkins had approached the question from an empirical point of view, he would have readily determined that evidence for the degree to which religion does or does not promote inhumane decisions can only be found in the history of the last 300 years or so. Only during that time frame have atheistic ideologies gained any significant power to actually make good or bad decisions. Unfortunately for atheists, recent history shows that the more atheistic a political ideology, the more destruction it wreaks when it acquires power.
Moreover, Dawkins doesn’t appear to spend any time considering the positive role that religion has played in the last two-hundred years. I checked the index under “slavery” and found only three references, all of them complaining that religious people had not, throughout the history of mankind, always opposed slavery. Well, duh! Strangely, missing from Dawkins’ analysis is any mention of the role that Christian fervor played in virtually wiping out slavery worldwide. Indeed, slavery went from being a human universal to virtual extinction due to the efforts of individuals whom many people today regard as the trifecta of evil: Christian, capitalistic, white males.
Grace and Peace