Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Dawkins Delusion

A colleague at work tells me that I’m the kind of person Richard Dawkins likes the least. It gives you a warm fuzzy glow, a bit like being denounced by the Daily Mail – the feeling that you must be doing something right.

My crime is not being a fundie religious bigot – the kind (my colleague tells me; Professor Dawkins himself may of course differ) Dawkins can just dismiss as beyond any kind of reason. I commit the faux pas of believing the world to be billions of years old, based on all available evidence, and yet continuing to believe in God too. I cherrypick the best of all worlds and so fall squarely between them. Neither hot not cold, therefore will I spit thee out of my mouth. My colleague says Dawkins says.

The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker are books beyond compare – they should be on every bookshelf. They are two very good reasons I am not a young earth creationist. When I’ve tried to devise various alien species, I’ve always done it from a Dawkinsist point of view, creating creatures that are viable for the environment in which they live. On the other hand, I admit I’m unlikely to be reading his latest work, The God Delusion, unless possibly I get it for Christmas. Which is not impossible, as apparently it’s tipped (not without irony) to be a popular Christmas present. Maybe anyone given a copy to mark a religious festival should return it on principle.

The BBC site is having one of its discussion forums on “Should modern Britain be a more secular society?” (To which I reply, yes.) One of the respondents has said that The God Delusion should be taught in schools to help us all get over this religion thing once and for all. To which I reply, that’s the equivalent of teaching intelligent design. It’s one man’s opinion, it answers nothing and it blithely ignores astonishing amounts of evidence to the contrary.

Why do I believe in an old world? Because people told me so? Well, yes, at first, that was exactly it. Then I got older and looked afresh at the evidence, and drew my own conclusions based on what I saw. Which is that, regardless of the sophistical gymnastics performed by the intelligent design crowd and all that, I see OVERWHELMING evidence for Earth being billions of years old.

Why do I believe in God? Because people told me so? Well, yes, at first, that too was exactly it. And again I took a fresh look at the evidence as I grew up. First it was just the evidence of other people’s lives. God’s Smuggler was the first Christian book I read and it marked me for ever. Further evidence came with time and experience, from sources much closer to home. I just can’t ignore the evidence of testimonies from trusted individuals known to me, who are not fools. And finally there’s the accomplished healings and miracles and fulfilled prophecies – and that’s just the ones that have happened to me, never mind anyone else. So, my worldview has to accommodate both these facts, because both have been experienced by me.
  • The world is old
  • God is real.
Dawkins should title his next book Black is White: Why the Personal Experience of Millions of People, Not to Mention Books Like God’s Smuggler and Run Baby Run, and the Lives of People like Jackie Pullinger and Philip Illot, and Miracles Ben Himself has Experienced, is Wrong, and I, Who Have Experienced None of the Above, Am Right.

I’d read that.

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