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Kenan Malik
Guardian Unlimited

Richard Dawkins

A Devils Chaplain

Richard Dawkins is well known for his outspoken views, particularly on the subject of religion. A Devil's Chaplain is a collection essays he has written, about this and many other subjects. Now collections of essays such as this usually suffer from repetitiveness. It is a measure of Dawkin's skill as a writer (I guess the book's editor should take some credit too) that this doesn't happen - each of the essays brings something new. Some of the essays begin to take the form of a rant, but whether you agree or disagree with what he's saying, the book is well worth reading.

Postmodernism, new-age ideas, creationism and religion in general are all attacked in the essays. The one problem with collecting such essays together in this way is that it makes Dawkins seem to have a much more negative personality than is really the case. But there are plenty of essays which show his positive side - for instance his speculations of the stage genome sequencing will have reached in 2050, and his interest in the 'Out of Africa hypothesis, mirroring his own early life in Kenya. One also gets an idea of the real Dawkins from his eulogies for Douglas Adams and W. D. Hamilton.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews