Andrew Brown reads Richard Dawkins’s new book, The God Delusion, so we don’t have to:

“In his broad thesis, Dawkins is right. Religions are potentially dangerous, and in their popular forms profoundly irrational. The agnostics must be right and the atheists very well may be. There is no purpose to the universe. Nothing inconsistent with the laws of physics has been reliably reported. To demand a designer to explain the complexity of the world begs the question, ‘Who designed the designer?’ It has been clear since Darwin that we have no need to hypothesize a designer to explain the complexity of living things. The results of intercessory prayer are indistinguishable from those of chance.”

Brown still finds the book pretty worthless–in part because all this was old news in the 19th century, yet as we advance with trepidation through the 21st, religious belief and practice continue and, if anything, appear to intensify. Dawkins is in the same leaky boat as Sam Harris (The End of Faith, reviewed in the Reader Nov. 12, 2004). Neither can explain the persistence of supernaturalism. Their only response is to pound harder on the same old Victorian table.

Daniel Dennett took some interesting pokes at this mystery recently in Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Nice try, but MRN (more research needed).