Sunday, 24 October 2010

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins



There’s a tendency in polite society to be so respectful of a person’s religion that it begins to border on the type of indulgent sympathy one might give to the mad. ‘I don’t have religion myself, but I do think a person’s faith ought to be beyond reproach …’ What this actually does is stifle debate about how much a person’s faith ought to have to do with the rest of us at all; and why shouldn’t the individual be able to answer for the institution? These are ‘organised’ religions after all. When people discover that I’m vegetarian they don’t hesitate to ask why, often aggressively ridiculing my viewpoint. I seldom bring it up unless asked, for that reason, but it’s a fair point to debate (though they could be nicer, and I know I’m right). Where religious choice is concerned, people tread much more carefully, as if religion were comparable to race or sexual identity. It isn’t. It’s comparable to vegetarianism, to politics. It constitutes, or should, an informed and conscious choice by a mature, thinking person. A person’s politics can be tested daily, with no afterlife promised for the durability of such beliefs. That sounds much more like genuine faith to me.



If you’ve ever (guiltily) thought any or all of these things you’d do well to read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Contrary to what you may have heard, this isn’t a book designed to promote hate, though for atheists subject to religious indoctrination you might find hate exists anyway. It rather serves as an overdue rallying cry, dispelling the notion that atheism constitutes a lack of viewpoint, but actually is itself a considered opinion on the provenance of life, the universe and everything. In a world where religious influence in public, political and family life demonstrably damages individuals and communities there’s no bigotry in bringing such powers to task (and make no mistake that religion is powerful, and not an institution cowering beneath the unforgiving glare of SCIENCE). Dawkins has passionately argued that we have a right to intervene, protect communities and keep religion in all its forms out of our lives if we choose. This really is a book about liberation. Oh, and if you think you can bow out of the debate by pleading agnosticism, forget it. There is a particular place in dialectical hell just for you …



3 comments:

Paul said...

I picked this up a couple of years ago and regrettably never finished it but it was a good read all the same. I totally agree that religion is a lifestyle choice and should be treated as such. I'm lucky to have a forward thinking mother and depsite my dad's (lapsed) catholicism, was never christened. She realised that it was up to me and my siblings to make our own choices when we were old enough to. I never have and never will become christened or indoctrinated into any other religion. (I use lower case letters on purpose.)

Gregling said...

My Mum is also a lapsed Catholic and she more or less spared us any religion, though we went to a C of E school which meant prayers but not much else. A lot of my family history, as Irish catholics, was enormously coloured by how cruel individuals from the church were to them. And of course nobody to answer for it now. Thanks for reading!

France said...

I grew up in a Christian family. In my adolescence, I doubted the existance of God for a while until one day I glanced at the horizon in the afternoon and witnessed the brilliance of the world. I thought in my mind, 'How can something so beautiful be made by nothing.' From there on, I considered the possibility of there being a God. I trashed the belief of Atheism because once I grew a mind I decided that the world couldn't have made itself without a maker. It's like a bomb thrown in a building filled with papers blew up and out came a dictionary. I believe there is a supernatural force with us. I believe in God very well, and rarely doubt anymore. I can see why the world is so evil because of the disgusting things people do.