A Devil's Chaplain

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For the 19th century freethinker, see Robert Taylor, and for the 1929 Boris Karloff film, see The Devil's Chaplain.
A Devil's Chaplain
A Devil's Chaplain.jpg
First edition cover
Author Richard Dawkins
Country United States
Language English
Subject Evolutionary biology
Published 2003 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin)
Media type Print, e-book
Pages 264 pp.
ISBN 0-618-33540-4
OCLC 52269209
500 21
LC Class QH366.2 .D373 2003
Preceded by Unweaving the Rainbow
Followed by The Ancestor's Tale

A Devil's Chaplain, subtitled Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love is a 2003 book of selected essays and other writings by Richard Dawkins. Published five years after his previous book Unweaving the Rainbow, it contains 32 essays covering subjects including pseudoscience, genetic determinism, memetics, terrorism, religion and creationism. A section of the book is devoted to Dawkins' late adversary Stephen Jay Gould.

The book's title is a reference to a quotation of Charles Darwin, made in reference to Darwin's lack of belief in how "a perfect world" was designed by God: "What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!"[1][2]


The book is divided into seven sections as follows:

1 Science and Sensibility– essays largely concerning science and the scientific method.

1.1 A Devil's Chaplain
1.2 What is True?
1.3 Gaps in the Mind[3]
1.4 Science, Genetics and Ethics: Memo for Tony Blair
1.5 Trial By Jury[4]
1.6 Crystalline Truth and Crystal Balls
1.7 Postmodernism Disrobed[5]
1.8 The Joy of Living Dangerously; Sanderson of Oundle[6]

2 Light Will Be Thrown– essays on Darwinian topics.

2.1 Light Will Be Thrown (an edited version of the essay, which is an introduction to a recent edition of Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man)[7]
2.2 Darwin Triumphant
2.3 The 'Information Challenge'[8]
2.4 Genes Aren't Us
2.5 Son of Moore's Law

3 The Infected Mind– a selection of anti-religious writings.

3.1 Chinese Junk and Chinese Whispers
3.2 Viruses of the Mind[9]
3.3 The Great Convergence[10]
3.4 Dolly and the Cloth Heads[11]
3.5 Time to Stand Up[12]

4 They Told Me, Heraclitus– some eulogies for late friends.

4.1 Lament for Douglas[13]
4.2 Eulogy for Douglas Adams
4.3 Eulogy for W. D. Hamilton
4.4 Snake Oil

5 Even the Ranks of Tuscany– a section devoted to the late Stephen Jay Gould.

5.1 Rejoicing in Multifarious Nature
5.2 The Art of the Developable
5.3 Hallucigenia, Wiwaxia and Friends[14] (A review of Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life)
5.4 Human Chauvinism and Evolutionary Progress[15]
5.5 Unfinished Correspondence with a Darwinian Heavyweight

6 There is All Africa and her Prodigies in Us– essays connected with Africa.

6.1 Ecology of Genes
6.2 Out of the Soul of Africa
6.3 I Speak of Africa and Golden Joys
6.4 Heroes and Ancestors

7 A Prayer for My Daughter– an open letter to Dawkins' daughter Juliet (to whom the book is dedicated), concerning the importance of evaluating evidence.

7.1 Good and Bad Reasons for Believing[16]


Robin McKie reviewed the book for The Observer and stated that the book contained a mixture of touching essays and "the good, old knockabout stuff at which Dawkins excels".[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This was written in 1857 as Darwin worked towards the publication of his theory, and has been related to his memories of his time at university when an "Infidel home missionary tour" by the Reverend Robert Taylor warned Darwin of the dangers of dissent from church doctrine. While Taylor was subsequently nicknamed "the devil's chaplain," the term goes back further, and Geoffrey Chaucer has his Parson say "Flatereres been the develes chapelleyns, that syngen evere placebo" in a reference to Placebo (at funeral)."
  2. ^ "Darwin's child", profile by Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, 10 February 2003.
  3. ^ Article in World of Dawkins Web Site
  4. ^ Trial by Jury – Richard Dawkins
  5. ^ Postmodernism Disrobed A review of Intellectual Impostures by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont
  6. ^ The Joy of Living Dangerously
  7. ^ http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/2003-02-08darwin-wallace.shtml
  8. ^ The Information Challenge (from Australian Skeptics, regarding an interview with creationists)
  9. ^ Article in World of Dawkins Web Site
  10. ^ Snake Oil and Holy Water
  11. ^ Dolly and the cloth-heads
  12. ^ Article in World of Dawkins Web Site
  13. ^ Article in World of Dawkins Web Site
  14. ^ Wonderful Life Review
  15. ^ Human Chauvinism
  16. ^ Good and Bad Reasons for Believing
  17. ^ McKie, Robin (9 March 2003). "Dawkins versus the priests and New Age shamans? No contest". The Observer. 

External links[edit]