Fade to Gray: Dawkins obsession
If you read this column “religiously” then you know I believe in God.
I don’t make that a major theme of my writing but like a guy who eats linguine with lots of garlic on top if you hang around me you certainly get the whiff of faith. I don’t wear it on my sleeve or preach at anyone but it’s hard not to have the moral teachings I was given by the nuns of St. Joseph’s in South Troy and the Christian Brothers at LaSalle Institute show up in what I write.
I’m a huge fan of the freedom of religion. And by that I mean that people can practice any religion they choose and worship how they like. I also believe that if you think God is, as some atheists have described, a big spaghetti monster in the sky, that’s certainly fine for you. What doesn’t make sense to me are people trying to jam their beliefs on others and conversely atheists going out of their way to mock people who believe in God.
I bring this up this week because I came across a new book written by one of the most famous atheists alive, Richard Dawkins, called “Outgrowing God: A Beginners Guide.” I looked at the description of the book on Amazon and it says this is a book to give to children to teach them that there is no God and it gives them tools on how to knock down any arguments their classmates may have just in case they go to church and believe differently.
My first reaction was, “Wow, Richard, not again.” Dawkins is an extremely bright man who seems to spend his every waking hour obsessing over the belief that there is nothing to believe of a supernatural realm. No God. No heaven. You die and it’s lights out. Again, I have no issue with Dawkins or anyone else believes that but I wonder aloud sometimes why it is so important for them to take this hope away from others?
I’ve watched Dawkins debate some pretty notable opponents (YouTube has tons of these great debates) and he certainly makes some solid arguments about why God can’t be real and isn’t needed in this world but he’s never been able to sway me to his side. And contrary to what he would likely say about me (that I was raised Catholic so that’s the only reason I believe in this stuff) the truth is I’ve read quite a bit and lived life and made my own grown-up choices about faith.
For me the existence of Jesus as the divine works and his teachings are the foundation for my life. If I’m wrong and there’s no heaven at least I’ll know I tried to make the world a better, kinder place. Again, something those nuns and teachers at LaSalle instilled in me.
Getting back to one of those debates, I remember an opponent of Dawkins wondering why a man who doesn’t’ believe in anything spends so much time trying to disprove it? He quipped, “I don’t believe in unicorns but you don’t see me lecturing about the non-existence of unicorns or writing a book called The Unicorn Delusion.” He kind of makes a point.
I’m not here to argue that all religion is good and just because someone goes to church makes them a good person. There are plenty of people who go through the motions at church and aren’t three feet out of the building on Sunday morning before they start gossiping and doing things that are against what they just learned. It has been my experience though that people who attend church tend to be kind people who go through life happier.
Maybe it’s the sense of community or the fact that believing there is more to life than work, retirement and death, gives them hope.
In reading the description of Dawkins book on Amazon they offer a quick review from an author named Janna Levin who says her son came home from sixth grade one day and asked his parents who Jesus was? Janna said she and the hubby burst out laughing. Apparently her son hearing from a classmate about this “mythical man” was hilarious. Janna goes on to say Dawkins new book will help kids like her son because they can tell the other children at school how there is no God.
I’m sure telling the other 12-year-olds their parents are stupid for bringing them to church will get them lots of invites to their classmate’s birthday parties. Good luck with that.
So is there a God and heaven and all that good stuff coming to those who live giving, moral lives? Gosh I sure hope so but I guess none of us can know for sure until we die. That’s why they call it faith, taking that step in the dark believing your foot will land on something solid.
I prayed for Richard Dawkins today wishing him a good night’s sleep because for a guy who doesn’t believe in God, he sure does lay awake endlessly thinking about him.