Sunday, June 13, 2010

Delusion Confusion 2

(Original) Preface

There are two themes in Dawkins Preface that I'd like to react to:
1. Dawkins seems to think atheists are a persecuted minority
2. Dawkins thinks a world without religion would be a better place

The first theme made me wonder if Dawkins was not just from another country, but a whole other planet. Dawkins uses the Preface to paint a picture that atheists are some sort of mistreated minority. He believes that the "status of atheists in America today is on a par with that of homosexuals fifty years ago" (26). This theme is carried throughout the book.

I find this same syndrome quite often in Christian circles. There is something attractive about thinking of your own group as a persecuted minority. We see this in sports all the time, but we also see it in theism and, apparently, atheism as well. But from a street level I just don't see what he claims to be seeing. Practical atheism is the NORM in America, not a minority. And, in this culture, it is usually religious belief that is treated with contempt rather than the lack thereof. But more often people are indifferent and tolerant to a fault!

The second theme is the classic John Lennon thought of imagining a world with no religion. But Dawkins also makes the classic mistake of taking out all the bad fruit of religion while not raising the issue of whether religion has produced much of the good fruit that we enjoy. I thought this was a pretty immature and un-thoughtful opening argument.

Dawkins preface states clearly some of his goals in writing this book.

1. He wants atheists to realize they can 'come out.' I would guess that most atheists, by the very nature of atheism (a positive belief that there is no god or gods), do not struggle with confidence issues.

2. He wants religion to be judged by the evidence. I was/am quite willing to grant this request, though I'd certainly critique Dawkins' epistemology.

3. He wants to bring an end to the practice of labeling children as 'Christian' or 'Muslim' (or whatever) since they have not yet made a decision of what to believe. He states at the bottom of page 25 that "There is no such thing as a Christian child." As an Anabaptist at heart, I'm hard pressed to critique Dawkins on this point.

4. He wants religious readers to be atheists by the time they finish reading his book. I can only say with complete honesty that my faith in Christ was actually strengthened by reading this book because I found Dawkins' arguments to be weak in the areas he addresses and his book very weak in terms of what was neglected. But we'll get into the particulars later on...

Questions for discussions (to keep things focused):
1. Do you think atheism is a persecuted minority in America?
2. Do you think Dawkins was fair in his imaginations of a world without religion?
3. What do you think of Dawkins' goals?


regan said...

My thoughts:
1. Atheism persecuted? No. But I do think they're whiney.

2. Don't know exactly what he's imagining, but I see as people get farther and farther away from religious values, the world becomes a scarier and scarier place. True Christianity makes for good citizens.

3. Goals: 1) Don't see why atheists can't come out if they want to. 2) I don't have a problem with judging religion by evidence, although a person can't be saved by evidence because they are saved by faith in what they can't see. 3) Children definitely need to make a choice at some point, but bringing them up areligious is bringing them up to be easy pickings for the Devil. 4) I haven't read the book, but I doubt it could turn me now...

matthew said...

I think your word 'true' is a key. False religion certainly causes a lot of problems in the world. But a true follower of Jesus will be salt and light.

I agree about evidence, it can help us to get to the point of faith, but people don't get saved by argumentation.

As for children, I wouldn't bring up a child a-religiously, no. But I do think it's important to recognize that they are not a follower of Christ until they begin... well... following Christ.

Thanks for your feedback, it's been a while! How are you doing? I haven't noticed many blog updates on your part :)

Miss W said...

I know it's been a while. School teaching leaves me with less free time, and I tend to spend more of it on facebook. I also canceled my home internet service in preparation for a move; that's why I haven't been keeping up with my blog. Maybe in a couple of months when my life gets settled down a bit I will be more regular. I do still enjoy reading about different philosophies and am currently studying the differences in beliefs among the Christian denominations. I will try to keep up with your review of Dawkins' book, and maybe I will read it some day.