Sunday, May 27, 2007

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

I absolutely adored this critique of religion by Richard Dawkins. He is a preeminent scholar who backed up his arguments against the existence of God, or rather the probability of the existence of God, beautifully. Dawkins also made a compelling argument for the fact that religion is not simply a benign preference that one adopts; it can be and is indeed frequently used to justify sexism, homophobia, territorial disputes and futile, bloody wars.

It seems politically correct nowadays to separate fundamentalist religions from the mainstream, in particular when we are talking about Muslims; however, Dawkins argues that all religion is a form of fanaticism because it's based on myth and compulsion. He talks about how frequently we overlook the fact that suicide bombers truly believe that they will be rewarded in the hereafter for their heinous deeds.

The only complaint that I, as an agnostic, would have about The God Delusion is that it offers no solace. Dawkins seems to find comfort in science and the evolutionary theory but I don't and I don't imagine that a terminal cancer patient would either. That's not to say that fear of mortality justifies a belief in a higher being whose presence we can't confirm -- it is to say that I understand why people embrace the concept even if it runs contrary to what we know scientifically.

Sigrid Macdonald, Ottawa, Ontario


Monique said...

Hi Sigrid,
Hope you are well! :) I've never read Dawkins, but I've heard of him over the years.

I always feel torn between spirituality and science: I believe in a Supreme Being, although as a pantheist, I believe that the universe itself is the Supreme Being, but I also don't want to ignore science in order to hold on to a sense of meaning and purpose.

I definately agree that organized religion often justifies the "isms" in our society, but I've always tried to find a middle road between believing in a higher power and paying attention to scientific fact.

Sigrid Macdonald said...

Monique, I just left you a long message but the blogger ate it! I just hate that.

Anyway, great to hear from you and I do know what you're saying. Even as an atheist I can understand how you would perceive the universe itself as a Supreme Being. I sort of view it that way myself but I see it as being *neutral* -- neither good nor bad, both malevolent and benevolent.

Yep, organized religion can be so damaging with its view that same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia are sins. Also, I've never liked the biblical view of women!

Hope you're doing well. Sigrid

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Dawkins is spot on about religion, I don't think it can be seen as the cause of all human problems - that's way too short sighted. Also I think he's too harsh on those he disagrees with, never asking WHY people have views that are 'irrational.' There may be scientific reasons behind them.

Also I dont' think abortion is a religious issue, I'm anti-religion but I'm also anti-abortion on the basis that I think killing babies is wrong.