Ugh! Woke this morning at 4 am, heard noises downstairs. Went to investigate – nothing. Must have been next door. Then failed to get back to sleep.
It’s strange that on the day I get a comment about Richard Dawkins, the library should email me to say the copy of “The God Delusion” I reserved has arrived! I got it yesterday and spent the morning dipping into it for my short story, “The God Illusion”. I disagree with just about everything Dawkins says – but what struck me was how like a fundamentalist Christian he was – albeit on the other side of the fence.
He refuses to countenance agnosticism (too wishy-washy) or pantheism – a broader, more tolerant notion of God is, in his view, a nonsense (“you might as well say you can see God in a lump of coal.”) Er – well, yes, I thought, you can.
“To see a world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wild flower
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour”
– that’s Blake.
Blake is one of my favourite poets, as you will know if you’ve been paying attention.
He (Dawkins) also says that a sense of wonder – and wondering – about life, which many scientists experience, has “nothing to do” with God or religion. I definitely don’t agree with that, although again, I was struck by how similar this was to what some fundamentalists might say. Dawkins says that God “must be” a creator God, who is worshipped by people – again, very like a fundamentalist Christian.
Methinks he doth protest too much… which is basically the point of my story.
But where I think he is demonstrably wrong is when he maintains that Jesus saying “love your neighbour” only meant “love other Jews”. Jesus went out of his way to demonstrate that “your neighbour” also means “your enemy” – and that, nearly everyone agrees, is the meaning of the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Not to mention the Samaritan woman at the well.)
He bangs on about sin a lot (fundamentalist) but hardly mentions love at all. When he does, it’s only sexual love. I’ll save my thoughts on this for another post, else we’ll never get done here – I will just add that there was no reference to compassion at all.*
I rest my case. Well, actually there’s a lot more work to do before that can happen, but Mary Midgeley says something useful here:
Nope – I can’t find it, but she wrote an article called “A Plague on Both your Houses” which said that Dawkins was taking science into realms which science does not and cannot cover – ie the metaphysical.
Mark says that Dawkins is philosophically naive – and doesn’t know it. I think he’s right.
PS Just realised that I mentioned Dawkins in my own post – so, Duh! – not so much of a coincidence, after all.
* Actually, though compassion is not in the index, he does define it as a “misfiring” of the instinct to defend the tribe – I have blogged about this later.