The Most Expensive Copy of The God Delusion in the Universe December 21, 2011

The Most Expensive Copy of The God Delusion in the Universe

Here’s a beautiful and inspiring story, told by Secular Coalition for America founder Herb Silverman about his now-deceased friend Bill Upshur:

Knowing in 2007 that he didn’t have long to live, Bill told me he wanted to donate $20,000 to the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry. He devised an unusual plan to make the donation. Typically books at our auction go for no more than $10. Bill and I engaged in a fake bidding war for Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. It started with incremental bids of a dollar or two, then soared to $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and ended with Bill’s winning bid of $20,000. I had informed nobody, including my wife Sharon, who became increasingly alarmed by my extravagant bids.

When I told Richard Dawkins, he wrote a wonderful note to Bill, which I read to him in the hospital a week before he died. Richard said, “I hope you will not think me impertinent if I say you are my kind of guy. You now possess the most expensive copy of “The God Delusion” in the known universe. Thank you for all you have done for secular causes.” My last memory of Bill was his broad smile after hearing Dawkins’ words.


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  • This is such an awesome story 🙂

  • Matthew Read

    My significant other would have clubbed me over the head before I got to a grand!  What an awesome way to make a donation.

  • That is a beautiful story. The joke of the way they did it is as delightful as the generosity.  Sounds like Mr. Upshur was a remarkable guy.

  • Anonymous

    There might be an even more expensive copy in the unknown universe

  • hman

    Guess everyone does need  their own “sacred texts”.  Your dogma..my dogma; let’s cll the whole thing off.

  • Yes, because suggesting that a belief lacks evidence and might be untrue is equally dogmatic to the unequivocal assertion that said belief is true. Let’s not call the whole thing off. The whole thing is most certainly on.

  • *cue Sliders intro music*

  • hman

    When writer’s and their respective books get so used, re-used, quoted, misquoted over and over again forward progress in supporting the argument ceases…completely.  What develops is a cannon, a list of texts, revered more than others and dogma…  Really, just donate the cash, don’t glorify the text.  His act reflects a veneration unbecoming.

  • Strangely enough, I’ve yet to see someone quote “The God Delusion” in an argument for atheism, while Christians quote the Bible to “prove” everything. Nice false equivalence.

  • hman

    I rest my case…we’ve been reduced to snarky comments.  So much for the intellectual superiority of reason and empiricism, if it can’t be reflected in the writings, speech or behavior of those who carry its cause.  

  • Pete084

    Whilst Dawning et al are prepared to admit to errors in their work, the bible is claimed to be infallible, and show me an instance where the death of anyone has been called for in the name of any atheist writings!

    P.S. Please don’t refer to the Catholic Hitler’s book.

  • hman

    What are you talking about?  I was writing directly about venerating certain people, specific texts ( in this case a four year old book that was largely panned by even its target audience) to the point that we create a hierarchy, a canon, a collected “gospel” of our own!  The argument of ideas is lost by which ever side STOPS generating new ideas and moving forward.  In this article said book  ( not even Dawkin’s best–but it has a fun snarky title)  has been imbued with supernatural importance ( and shall we call him St. Dawkins ).  You just have to mention it ( or the name of the Rev. D.) now.  You don’t have  to  support it; not analyse it; not re-evaluate its  contemporary significance.  Just mention it!…AND add a snarky comment.  In case you all have forgotten, the battle for the hearts and minds of the undecided continues.  Theists are constantly re-evaluating and re-working their  material.  They are re-evaluating and expanding their collective cannon-parsing all meaning out with linguists.  Archaeologists, paleontologists, biologists, historians, are all hand in hand Moving their debate and their ideas forward.  Over here?…oh, look “I can makes a funny!”  seems to suffice, because we have our saints and our gospel to keep us safe against our enemies.  A donation to a cause is functional.  Imbuing a book  or a man with preternatural importance is beneath us… at least me.  I won’t worship a secular god any faster than I would a “spiritual one.  I want to move forward.  Not mimic others behavior.   

  • Nice evasion, focusing on something you don’t like about my tone rather than the substance of the comment. Maybe that’s because you don’t have a way to dispute my assertion that atheists don’t use “The God Delusion” in the way you say they do.

  • hman

    substance?…you changed the topic.  If I “evaded”, it was because you were in the midst of  a mindless knee-jerk rote response.  It appeared , from your perspective that I zigged to your zag.  In actuality…I moved linearly…

  • I didn’t change the topic at all. Your original post in this thread asserted that “everyone does need their own sacred texts,” implying an equivalence between Christians’ use of the Bible and atheists’ use of “The God Delusion.” 

    Then, in response to someone else’s comment, you complained about books that are “used, reused, quoted, misquoted over and over again,” implying that these things have happened to “The God Delusion.” My natural response was to point out that I’ve seen no wave of atheists quoting “The God Delusion” ad nauseum to make points in arguments the way Christians quote the Bible. That statement goes directly to the heart of what  you’ve been asserting. 

    So as far as I can tell, I’ve been moving linearly with sensible responses to what you’ve been saying, while you’ve been zigging and zagging and moving the goalposts from one end of the field to the other.