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Outgrowing God

A Beginner’s Guide

By Richard Dawkins
15-minute read
Audio available
Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide by Richard Dawkins

Outgrowing God (2019) shows us why we should all be atheists. Revealing how holy books such as the Bible are full of untruths and historical inaccuracies, Richard Dawkins argues that we can’t take these books seriously, nor should we rely on them for moral guidance. To explain all the awesome complexity and improbability of living things, we should look to science, and specifically to the process of evolution. It is evolution, by way of natural selection, that gave rise to us and other living creatures from the bottom up. 

  • Agnostics who are uncertain whether to believe in God or not
  • Religious people who want to understand atheism
  • Atheists seeking a better grasp on arguments against believing in God

Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was previously the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. An ethologist and evolutionary biologist by training, he is the best-selling author of many books, including The Selfish Gene (1976), The God Delusion (2006), and The Magic of Reality (2011). 

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Outgrowing God

A Beginner’s Guide

By Richard Dawkins
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide by Richard Dawkins
Synopsis

Outgrowing God (2019) shows us why we should all be atheists. Revealing how holy books such as the Bible are full of untruths and historical inaccuracies, Richard Dawkins argues that we can’t take these books seriously, nor should we rely on them for moral guidance. To explain all the awesome complexity and improbability of living things, we should look to science, and specifically to the process of evolution. It is evolution, by way of natural selection, that gave rise to us and other living creatures from the bottom up. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Faith is an accident of birth, not a valid reason to believe in God. 

God is a pretty awesome being. He’s all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful. He’s the superhero of superheroes. Nothing and no one rivals his incredible capacities. 

This omnipotent, omniscient being is the God of the three main monotheistic religions of today – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But there’s a problem. If this God is so awesome, so powerful, and so unique, how come he’s just one among many? In fact, only one among thousands

That’s right. There are many gods other than the God of the main monotheistic religions. Thousands of gods have been worshipped throughout history and into the present day. The Vikings, for instance, were polytheists – they believed in multiple gods. Wotan was their primary god, but they had others, such as Thor, the thunder god who carried a hammer, and Snotra, the goddess of wisdom. The Greek gods and goddesses included Zeus, the king of the gods, Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Poseidon, god of the sea. 

Even so, if we put together all the Greek and Viking gods along with the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian God, they’d still add up to just a tiny fraction of the gods that humans and all their religions have worshipped throughout history. Even the number of gods solely dedicated to the sun is huge: Many indigenous African religions have sun gods such as Anywanwu, Mawu, and Ngai. Australian aboriginal sun gods include Bila, Wala, and Karruar. 

But despite the variety of gods available, the ones that people worship and the religions that they follow depend more on the time and place they were born than anything else. Why is this significant? Because this means that your own faith is most likely a consequence of the time and place you were born. If you’d been born during Viking times, you would have believed in Wotan and Thor. If you’d been born into an aboriginal family in Australia, you would probably have believed in sun gods such as Bila or Wala.  

If there are so many religions and so many gods, how can you be sure that your religion or god is the one true one? Obviously, you can’t. If all the other religions are wrong, what makes you think your own religion and scripture isn’t wrong, too? 

The fact of the matter is, the holy books of the most dominant monotheistic religions of today are wrong. Indeed, the origins of these books raise plenty of doubt about the truth of their contents. 

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