Two Reviews of Richard Dawkins’s new book “The Greatest Show on Earth”

The Telegraph gives an overwhelmingly positive review, and the reviewer is happy with how Dawkins

gives the fact-rejecters their just deserts. He sets out to polish off their flummery. Dawkins compares creationists to Holocaust deniers and spoons, with relish, an acid sauce of mockery onto that absurd confection of half-baked ideas.

Interestingly, the review by New Scientist is mostly negative, and for the same reasons.

Another “argument for evolution” book could only be justified by a great new angle on how to reach the unconverted masses.

Implying that your audience is stupid does not qualify as a great new angle. Yet this is precisely what Dawkins does. He opens the book by mentioning his two previous books about evolution, and then, with a nearly audible scoff, adds that back when he wrote those books (when people, apparently, were smarter?) he didn’t have to argue that evolution actually happened. “That didn’t seem to be necessary,” he says.

By the first chapter he is comparing his predicament to a history professor forced to teach “a baying pack of ignoramuses” and dealing with a “rearguard defence”. Today, he proclaims, “all but the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution”.

It’s really kind of comical. If “spot the condescensions” is a new drinking game, then bottoms up! There’s one in just about every chapter. Though Dawkins says from the outset, “This is not an anti-religious book”, he can’t help but knock religion throughout, For instance, he writes: “God, to repeat this point, which ought to be obvious, but isn’t, never made a tiny wing in his eternal life.” Young Earth creationists are, he writes, “deluded to the point of perversity”. You get the sense that Dawkins just can’t control it. It’s as if he suffers from an anti-religious form of Tourette’s syndrome.

Any thoughts or observations on this new book?

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7 thoughts on “Two Reviews of Richard Dawkins’s new book “The Greatest Show on Earth”

  1. If I happen to die and stand before Darwin one day and he says, “why didn’t you believe in my theory?” I will say, “not enough evidence, Darwin. Not enough evidence!”

    This is disturbing.

    How old do you guys think the world is?

    Regards,

    Psi

  2. I like it so far, although I’m only on the second chapter. I can see why some people don’t like Dawkins’ tone (although the New Scientist review seems to be a bit overly critical on that point), but I thought his explanation of why he felt his book is needed was spot-on. His other books were different from this one, and another book on the evidence for evolution is clearly needed by the fact that Creationism continues to be so common.

    I also thought Dawkins was pretty spot-on with ‘all but the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution’. Well, yes, that is what almost everybody who accepts evolution keeps saying. The problem is so depressingly tragic because it shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

    • Thanks for weighing in! At the end of the day, I’m afraid I have to agree with my friend Brian’s comment above:

      “If I happen to die and stand before Darwin one day and he says, ‘why didn’t you believe in my theory?’ I will say, ‘not enough evidence, Darwin. Not enough evidence!'”

      That’s a thinly veiled allusion to Bertrand Russell, who as you may know said the same thing about standing before God.

      Let me know what you think again after you finish it.

      Chris

      • Unfortunately I don’t have my own copy of this book yet, hopefully that will change soon.

        It’s only been a week, I’m keen to know, has your view of ‘not enough evidence’ changed after reading the book, considering that is exactly what the book addresses? If not, why not? If so, why so? Is there anything new or noteworthy, fact wise, that you found inside?

        I do agree with the New Scientist criticism, Dawkins’ tone only serves to divide people.

  3. I got the book and have only had the chance for an initial scan. I got the same impression from the intro and the epilogue as well… anyone who doesn’t belief evolution couldn’t be stupider.

    If I happen to die and stand before Darwin one day and he says, “why didn’t you believe in my theory?” I will say, “not enough evidence, Darwin. Not enough evidence!”

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