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The God Delusion

The Science behind Atheism

By Richard Dawkins
19-minute read
Audio available
The God Delusion: The Science behind Atheism by Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion (2006) deconstructs the most popular arguments and reasoning for the existence of God to show the statistical and logical improbability of a higher being’s actual existence. These blinks explain why religion shouldn’t be the foundation for society’s morals and how it can actually be harmful to our ethical standards.

  • Anyone interested in religion or philosophy
  • Agnostics and atheists who want solid arguments to back up their beliefs

Born in Kenya in 1941, Richard Dawkins is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and writer. In addition to being a fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature, he has received numerous awards and honors, including the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society.

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The God Delusion

The Science behind Atheism

By Richard Dawkins
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
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The God Delusion: The Science behind Atheism by Richard Dawkins
Synopsis

The God Delusion (2006) deconstructs the most popular arguments and reasoning for the existence of God to show the statistical and logical improbability of a higher being’s actual existence. These blinks explain why religion shouldn’t be the foundation for society’s morals and how it can actually be harmful to our ethical standards.

Key idea 1 of 12

The most widely known and accepted arguments for God’s existence are simply not persuasive.

It’s a task that humanity has struggled with throughout the ages: proving the existence of God. In the past, people have tried to do so through logical reasoning and cosmological proofs, which assume that God was the First Cause – the force that made everything else.

But what does this kind of proof look like?

Well, cosmological proofs of God start by saying that an external force must have produced the universe. The most famous one was postulated by the medieval theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas, who took First Cause as the fundamental premise of all his proofs.

In what the author calls the Cosmological Argument, Aquinas says that there must have once been a time when nothing physical existed. The fact that physical things now exist proves the existence of God – the Unmoved Mover who created them.

So, cosmological proofs assume that everything, the existence of humans and the universe included, must have a cause, and that this cause must be God.

What they don’t say is how God, the so-called First Cause, could have come into existence without a cause himself.

Another common argument for God’s existence are ontological proofs, but these justifications are mere wordplay.

Unlike cosmological arguments, ontological proofs construct reason with words. The first and most famous proof comes from Anselm of Canterbury in 1078. He argued that we can imagine a perfect being, but that this being could then only exist in our minds. To be truly perfect it would need to exist in the physical world.

However, he says that since we can picture this perfect being, it must also exist; if it didn’t, there would be a logical error. He uses this assertion to prove that God exists as a perfect being.

But there are some problems with his proof: first, it doesn’t prove the existence of God; and second, it’s logically flawed. Anselm assumes that existing is more perfect than not existing. But according to philosophers like David Hume and Immanuel Kant, existence isn’t a quality. Therefore, a perfect being doesn’t necessarily need to exist.

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