Richard Dawkins (4 stars)

The God Delusion (Bantam)

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SCIENCE ESSAY

Like a latter day John Thomas Scopes (the Tennessee biology teacher who was the inspiration for the play and film Inherit the Wind) Richard Dawkins has long been vocal about his belief that all children should be taught the Darwinian Theory of Evolution over that of creationism. Now he takes things a step further and, like Nietzsche, Jonathan Miller and biblical prose deconstructivist Donald Morgan before him, he expounds his philosophy of the one true faith: atheism.

This fluid, well-structured, mildly academic but, for the most part, fairly accessible book is an extension of the research he did for the two-part Channel 4 documentary Root of All Evil in which he tried to imagine ‘a world with no religion . . . no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no crusades, no witch hunt, no gunpowder plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestine wars . . .’ and so on. Dawkins is, however, anything but a writer of rhetoric, and from this fairly tabloidy premise he builds an astounding theological and philosophical argument against the existence of God, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or whatever.

Utilising an eclectic array of indexed and annotated atheistic sources (Carl Sagan, Philip Pullman, Bertrand Russell, Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky among them), Dawkins slowly but surely thins the fog that so often clings to arguments for the existence of God to reveal that all religions are about little more than power, control, prejudice and the subversion of science.

Another cosmic achievement from a writer of heroic sanity in an age that seems, at times, to lack the tools of reason and deliberation.

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