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A Devil's Chaplain

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A Devil's Chaplain
First edition cover
AuthorRichard Dawkins
SubjectEvolutionary biology
Published2003 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin)
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint
Pages264 pp.
500 21
LC ClassQH366.2 .D373 2003
Preceded byUnweaving the Rainbow 
Followed byThe Ancestor's Tale 

A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love is a 2003 book of selected essays and other writings by Richard Dawkins. Published five years after Dawkins's previous book Unweaving the Rainbow, it contains 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, in a letter to J.D. Hooker dated 13 July 1856, made in reference to Darwin's lack of belief in how "a perfect world" was designed by God (and a reference to Reverend Robert Taylor): "What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!"[1][2][3]


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".[4]

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  1. ^ This was written in 1856 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, Charles (13 July 1856). "Letter to J D Hooker". Darwin Project, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Darwin's child", profile by Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, 10 February 2003.
  4. ^ McKie, Robin (9 March 2003). "Dawkins versus the priests and New Age shamans? No contest". The Observer.

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