Does God Exist?
This is a question that has been plaguing intelligent human minds since the dawn of modernity. Our own American forefathers wrestled with the likelihood of a singular omnipotent /omnipresent Christian god, likely the basis for America’s creation as a secular state. But this is a question that transcends simple revolutionary politics; it is one engrained in the collective psyche of modern (or post modern or post-post modern) society.
It is this ideal that Richard Dawkins takes to task in his book “The God Delusion”. A longstanding and acclaimed career spent deep in the world of evolutionary biology has led Dawkins to take a lucid and rational approach at: showcasing the origins of religious thought, the impact of religion on human society, the evolutionary proofs that undoubtedly disprove creationism (so-called intelligent design) and the likelihood that god is a fallacy. The methods and evidences utilized by Dawkins are not ideological as are the ones espoused by his counterparts, instead he uses facts (how insane!). He targets in the book what he believes to be a large part of the supposedly religious masses, those internally skeptical but unwilling to be ostracized by their religious communities in addition to borderline agnostics.
A slight deviation…
At this point I can hear the bellicose fundamental masses flaming their collective rancor , supposedly self-evident truths at the ready, immeasurable outrage begging to be unleashed at the least bit of skepticism. The tension is palpable. A bit of hyperbole to soothe a sore temper.
Following this line of reasoning he realm of faith is clearly off limits for scientific rationale. It transcends mere human knowledge and can only be fully understood by the one true god (be it Yahweh or Allah or Flying Spaghetti Monster) and is therefore unprovable utilizing hah “science”. This evidentiary pathway is most certainly then proof of god’s existence; the heretic cannot prove that god is there, but he cannot prove that he is not there either. Therefore god exists. This circular logic would certainly impress even Glenn Beck, actually that’s probably where he stole it from. In concluding this horrific bastardization of everything I respect about knowledge and reason, religion is the answer to everything we do not know, therefore we should not even try.
These are the basic tenets of adherence to faith and why the pious constitute (in their own eyes) the paradigm of human existence and thought. If humanity had simply adhered strictly to this most gracious example then we would find ourselves occupying a wholly different existence. Five hundred years ago the world as a whole believed in a geocentric solar system (and therefore universe) as opposed to the heliocentric model of today (geocentric simply means earth at the center heliocentric means the sun is at the center). Faith dictated that this was true as did simple observation (god clearly cared about humans most and made them the center of attention as well as looking up seeing the sun rotate) had it ended there we would be painfully ignorant to the truth, which is a recurrent theme as we shall see. Copernicus, a Catholic cleric during his lifetime mind you, was not satisfied with that explanation and instead sought out and proved through the genius of his mind and manmade technology the heliocentric model of the universe.
Perhaps a more modern example that has real world visceral aesthetic is necessary to illustrate Dawkins’s point. Outbreaks of Influenza, Black Plague and Polio have over time decimated world populations. The plague killed over 100 million people in the 14th century alone, this was most certainly the work of a god angry over the impiety of his people not a deadly infection that could be readily vaccinated against. Instead of a miracle cure from the gods, which I’m sure each one of these was attributed to, each was solved through human ingenuity and the advancement of science.
It is the culture of ignorance dogmatism breeds (hahahaha) that Dawkins is so vehemently against, in addition to the evils taken in its name. He is no so quick to cast aside religion, however, as completely devoid of purpose and benefit. Breathtaking works of art as well as comfort to the tormented and fearful cannot be ignored. In this Dawkins is not seeking a religious witch hunt, but rather illuminating the antiquated necessity for religion and its beneficial consequences. Our modern world is one that has moved beyond the need for religion. This post religious society provides all the benefits that religion can; i.e. secular endowments for the arts and psychological / social support structures without all the negative connotations. Religious zealotry and fanaticism often culminate in overt displays of xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny and political and intellectual suppression, often with violent consequences. Granted, a post-religious society would be far from perfect and would still cater to ignorance, crime and hatred, but it certainly would be less so than one adherent to religious ideals, especially when in combination with a declivity of nationalist and class based biases.
Overall Dawkins really just wants the truth. And the truth is this book is amazing.