Coming from an eclectic background where religious beliefs are concerned (extended family who attend Mass without ever having read the Bible vs. Mom and Dad who found more sense & meaning in Eastern philosophies), I have always believed in some kind of higher force.
To this day, I still question what that force might be and if it actually exists – or if the feeling of being part of some Great Cosmic Togetherness (you have to say it in capital letters) isn’t just due to the way my brain is hardwired or, quite simply, because it is true from a biological perspective.
However, as a naturally inquisitive person, I have always felt strangely inclined towards atheist and agnostic thinkers who don’t romanticize existence and will tell you straight like it is (to the best of everyone’s knowledge).
Which brings us to Mr. Richard Dawkins, who has made headlines today with another pleasing and compassionate message on Twitter (I would not like to be his PR agent).
When I first heard of him, a few years back, I thought the work he was doing was incredibly relevant:
I agree you shouldn’t live solely with the possibility of an Afterlife in mind. Life is in the here and now and that’s where you should be as well.
I agree you shouldn’t impose a religion or a belief on anyone – be it individuals or institutions.
I agree that religion shouldn’t interfere with or manipulate education and knowledge and the understanding of the world.
I even agree with the premise that the notion of there being nothing more than what we can see and touch and calculate is very, very daunting. Perhaps even very brave.
But then I noticed what seemed a wretchedly patronizing tone towards everyone else.
So, as soon as I felt I was becoming biased without ever actually having read his work, I decided to go for a substantiated opinion, and took a plunge into The God Delusion. (How strange that someone who is prone to magical thinking can also try to think for themselves.)
I left the book at page 64. Not because I was offended (there were a lot of valid points), but because,
a) I wasn’t aware the book was also a wailing wall for the constant persecution to atheists (in my Catholic country, going to Church is the uncool thing to do), and
b) yes, he is condescending and we’re all simpletons.
I shouldn’t have to point this out, but believing in something does not mean we stop asking questions.
Believing in something does not mean we don’t accept science or the scientific method.
Believing in something does not turn everyone into narrow-minded creatures.
I am not arguing against atheism – not even against the decision to terminate a pregnancy when you and your child would face greater difficulties otherwise.
What I will always argue against is the arrogance of believing your truth to be The Truth Of The Universe (again, the capitals) and that anyone who thinks differently is a proven fool incapable of rational thought.
And it’s a shame, Mr Dawkins – you could accomplish great things if only you used your powers for good.