Thursday, 5 November 2015

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - Book Review

Publisher's write-up:

'The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types.

His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind.

Dawkins attacks God in all his forms. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children.

The God Delusion is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.'

The God Delusion is a non-fiction work by the British evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins. This book is often termed as a book which every atheist should read, and by that, I was 'bound by my duty' to read it. I have listened to a lot of speeches delivered by Dawkins in the past, when I was maturing as an atheist and I had never read a book of his and the prospect of reading one, made me really excited.

In this book, Dawkins nearly covers every aspect, to make his case against god and religion starting from explaining the hypothesis of god, validating the arguments for existence, then moving on to arguments against god based on science, the undue respect given by the society to religion, etc. Throughout this book, I found a lot of his thoughts very interesting and the pencil in my hand had a lot of work while reading this book, making notes.

For starters, I believe the book was very well structured, making a very elaborate case as to why god is a delusion, starting with explaining the hypothesis of god, root of religion, how it is harming the society and the children, among various others. It followed a proper structure, always, starting with the hypothesis and then moving on to the argument against the same. Moreover, this not being a literary work, the writing was in very simple English, which is ideal considering he is trying to appeal to the masses than literature enthusiasts and I would considering it very well written, considering the target and the content. The book was filled with witty quotes supporting his case, across various eminent thinkers among various others, to quote one of them from George Bernard Shaw  - 'the fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.'

Moreover, some of the concepts he brought out in defence of his case was very interesting, such as how the concept of god is a worship of gaps, wherein it is merely used as a gap to the answers which science is yet to find an answer which we tend to worship. However, the most interesting concept he brought out, in my opinion was that of moral zeitgeist (intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time) wherein, he brings out how what was considered liberal back then maybe considered cruel by today's standards (based on what I read in the book, Lincoln would've passed off as a hardcore racist in today's world) and how people overlook the zeitgeist for the sake of religion. For elaborating this, he brings out the story from a religious book where characters were replaced with a Chinese setting, a majority who approved of the actions of the one in the religious book, rejected those of the Chinese General (the alternate for Joshua in the survey) thereby bringing out the harm of religion, where people are willing to overlook what they'd otherwise reject if it has the backing of a religion. I'd stop my spoilers here, if I reveal any further, I'd take the essence of reading off the reader defeating the purpose of the review.

But there is one particular idea of Dawkins that I reject, where he states that atheist should proudly state that they're atheists and congregate; well, in my opinion, that is downright absurd as it just ends up forming another cult in a name other than that of religion, which otherwise isn't different from what you're making a case against. Personally, I have no hesitation in admitting my atheism but I am not a big fan of forming clubs for this and buying key chains to show my allegiance as, if I do that, I am just becoming a part of another cult. For instance, there is no congregation of people who dislike golf and similarly, there is no reason for there to be a congregation of people who reject god or religion or both. Moreover, I am not a person with a science background and yes, I can understand Darwin's theory and the theory of the selfish gene in a nutshell but there were segments where he went too deep into it, which is where I found it difficult to understand.

That apart, I'd however reject other criticism I normally find about this book that he ignores various other religions and focuses mainly on Christianity as, the reason for him quitting religion was because he couldn't agree with Christianity and at the same time, it is absurd to expect someone to read books of a hundred odd religions to reject the hypothesis.

On the whole, I would say that it was a very worthy read, worth the time, worth the length of the book, this book could be recommended to everyone even though I guess, nobody is going to change their belief because of reading a book; it is only a conscious decision that comes from within out of convictions, at the most, an atheist can get her / his conviction stronger and a religious person would be thinking of more ways to hit out at this book.

Coming to the issue of rating the book, I'd give the book a rating of eight on ten, upon consideration of whatever I have stated, weighing the way the author has brilliantly put forth the scientific and logical arguments he has put forth towards his case, making it a worthy read.

Rating - 8/10

Have a nice day,

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Book Review

Publisher's write-up:

'Hamlet, one of the great tragedies of William Shakespeare, is woven around a simple plot of murder and revenge. It tells the story of Prince Hamlet's vengeance against his uncle Claudius, who had not only murdered his father, the previous king, but also had succeeded his throne and married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude.

Set in Denmark, the play captures the mixed feelings of grief and sense of rage in Hamlet as he goes about his mission. What really forms the centre of the plot is the real and feigned madness that Hamlet exhibits when he's overwhelmed by a dilemma whether to kill or not to kill his uncle'

Hamlet, a book that I had always wanted to read, since a lot of movies and books that I love claim to draw its inspiration from Hamlet and I had always wanted to read the original work. Hamlet is a story featuring the Prince of Denmark, whose father has been killed by his own uncle to take the throne and to make matters worse, has married the widowed queen, his mother. Hamlet comes to know from the ghost of his father that the murder was carried out by his uncle and the prince is desperate to get his revenge.

I felt that Shakespeare had a very deep story, running along multiple lines, a prince in dilemma, a romantic sub plot, a kingdom under threat, a family feud among others, the story had several aspects to it and I liked the diversity to it. And I have this to say that Shakespeare had a very good story for a play to be enacted and considering the various stories that have come subsequent to the play that have drawn inspiration have been so pleasurable to watch / read.

With that said, I felt that the script is worthy of being a play but certainly not being read and in my opinion, the unabridged version that I read had very poor delivery of content (judge me a philistine, I don't care). I am not going to get into the intelligibility part of it, the author is hardly to be blamed for having lived in the sixteenth century but what I had a problem was the fact that all I had with me was a dump of dialogues with no description as to how they were delivering them, what was the setting or the background on which they were doing, which makes me come back to the point that I was making, that it was a script made brilliant by the actors and the director of the play and not by Shakespeare himself.

Moreover, when you're just given a bunch of dialogues with nothing to fill in between, it also becomes a little difficult to comprehend for the reader and what really helped me understand it was only because of my exposure to stories that came subsequently inspired by this play. Another problem I faced as a reader by just having a dump of dialogues was that I was attached to no character in particular and could barely connect with any of them, except for Hamlet to an extent; while a tragic play such as this is meant to trigger the emotions of the reader, this script to the play did nothing of that sort to me.

To conclude, I would say that it was a brilliant story, but it is not meant to be read as a book, at least in the totally unabridged form that I read it in. I'd sit on the fence when it comes to rating this book, with a five on ten, only because of the good story, but for which I would have given only a three.

Rating - 5/10

Have a nice day,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...