Last modified on 13 September 2019, at 18:34

The Translations Project

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins declared "Christianity may actually be our best defence against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world".[1][2] See also: Richard Dawkins and Islam

The Guardian reported about Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion and The Translations Project:

Richard Dawkins is responding to what he called the “stirring towards atheism” in some Islamic countries with a programme to make free downloads of his books available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Indonesian.

The scientist and atheist said he was “greatly encouraged” to learn that the unofficial Arabic pdf of the book had been downloaded 13m times. Dawkins writes in The God Delusion about his wish that the “open-minded people” who read it will “break free of the vice of religion altogether”. It has sold 3.3m copies worldwide since it was published in 2006 – far fewer than the number of Arabic copies that Dawkins believes to have been downloaded illegally.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science recently merged with the Washington DC-based Center for Inquiry. Dawkins said the CFI decided on “a more systematic programme” of translating his work in ebook form following “stirrings toward atheism in Iran and other Islamic countries”. It will be the first time his work has been made available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and other languages of Islamic countries.[3]

The Center for Inquiry indicates on its website:

Announcing The Translations Project, a program of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, part of the Center for Inquiry.

The books of Richard Dawkins—including River Out of Eden, The Magic of Reality, The Blind Watchmaker, and The God Delusion—are being professionally translated into languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and Indonesian and made available to download free of charge.[4]

The Washington Post reported about The Translation Project:

Now, a group of translators wants to get Dawkins’s books in front of a new group of religious readers: Muslim readers, in Muslim-majority countries where atheism is rare.

“If you get enough people to talk about these ideas, if you convince people it’s okay to think about religion, to criticize religion — if you get a critical mass of people, you can probably change something, change the situation in these countries. … It’s a bit ambitious, but maybe not impossible,” said Jana Lenzova, director of the translation project. “I don’t mind what other people are, but I think they should have access to all the information so they can make up their own minds.”...

The translation project was Dawkins’s idea, inspired, he said, by two conversations he had — with a man who had translated “The God Delusion” into Arabic and claimed his illicit work was downloaded even more times than the number of copies the English bestseller sold and with a woman in Saudi Arabia who left her faith, her family and her country after reading the book...

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, an arm of the pro-secularism organization Center for Inquiry that is funding this project, has a team of IT professionals on hand, prepared to respond when possible if the translation project’s website is blocked in countries such as Iran, Lenzova said.

Dawkins castigates all religions and all religious believers in his writing, but some critics have charged that he reserves special bitterness for Islam and for Muslim practitioners.[5]

The atheist Hemant Mehta wrote about The Translations Project:

In addition to making it easier for people who speak those languages to read his books, this is also a way to bypass translators in those nations who put their lives at risk by working on these projects. In case you’re curious, there are no legally published translations of these particular versions of the books, which is why Dawkins is allowed to offer these for free.

For any author to just give away copies of his most famous books is virtually unheard of. This isn’t just a publicity stunt, though. As Dawkins said very clearly in The God Delusion‘s preface, “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” He immediately followed that sentence with, “What presumptuous optimism!” — suggesting that it was (wait for it) delusional to think that would actually happen. But he’s now doing something quite remarkable to facilitate the goal of getting people interested in science and turning them away from religion.

In countries where being openly godless could very well be a death sentence, it’s next to impossible to sell copies of a book promoting atheism. What if someone finds it? By making his books free to download in those particular languages, there’s a much better chance people in those countries can explore these ideas without fear of getting caught.[6]

See also

External links


  1. Richard Dawkins says Christianity is world's best defence against radical Islam, Christianity Today, January 2016
  2. Professional Atheist Dawkins Says Christianity ‘Bulwark Against Something Worse’, by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D, Breitbart News Network, Jan 12, 2016
  3. Richard Dawkins to give away copies of The God Delusion in Islamic countries, The Guardian
  4. The Books of Richard Dawkins, Professionally Translated for Free Access in the Muslim World, Center for Inquiry website
  5. Translators aim to bring Richard Dawkins’s books on atheism and evolution to a Muslim audience, The Washington Post
  6. Richard Dawkins is Giving Away Free Translations of His Books in Islamic Nations by Hemant Mehta