75% down the page, para above Point 7: Again, philosophy and theology aren’t even in Dawkins’s book. Gray’s captious remarks simply reflect his irritation at his having a hair up his fundament about Dawkins and atheism. Yes, religion is a supernatural belief that is irrational, and Dawkins, in his other writings, makes a good case that we’d be better off without it. That case goes far beyond the mere assertion that religion is irrational and dangerous. As for the “crudity” of The God Delusion, had Dawkins written a dry tome contesting the arcane claims of people like David Bentley Hart, Alvin Plantinga, and Karen Armstrong, it would have been neither successful nor effective.

The writer, Prof Jerry Coyne, is defending Richard Dawkins, yet how do you determine/deduce if Coyne writes that Dawkin's case improves or worsens the mere assertion...? Beyond implies either direction?

3 Answers 3


In his other writings he "makes a good case....that case goes far beyond the mere assertion....".

Making a case is a much more extensive undertaking than making a "mere assertion". So he neither improves nor worsens the assertion. Rather, he explains why he thinks we would be better off without religion.



Beyond means "further than". It does not inherently mean "improve" or "worsen".

If the reader thinks that "making an even more extreme anti-religion argument" is good, the reader might think that "going beyond" is an "improvement".

If the reader thinks that "making an even more extreme anti-religion argument" is bad, the reader might think that "going beyond" is a "worsening".

So the word "beyond" is uni-directional. The moral implications (if any) of the word "beyond" are up to the reader, based on how the reader interprets the morality of the ideas being talked about.


The sentence means that Dawkins doesn't only assert that religion is irrational and dangerous, he gives reasoning to justify that assertion.

Case here means an argument, that is, reasoning.

Goes beyond here means "includes, and has more". That is, Dawkins makes the assertion and gives reasoning for it.

Mere here means that an assertion alone, without reasoning to justify it, would indeed be so little as to be nearly worthless.

The preceding paragraph quotes a passage from John Gray, in which he says that Dawkins' argument is only this: "Religion is a type of supernatural belief, which is irrational, and we will all be better off without it." In other words, Gray says (approximately) that Dawkins takes "Religion is irrational and dangerous" as a premise without justifying it, and Gray thinks that premise needs justification. Coyne says that Gray's summary misrepresents Dawkins, since Dawkins has provided such justification in his other writings—"made a good case".

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