Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The God Delusion

I've been traveling a lot lately.  That means spending a great deal of time in airports, planes, and restaurants.  Being in these public places gives one the opportunity to engage in conversation with people that one would otherwise never have the privilege of talking to.

During the course of my travels, I've met a lot of people who have read (or are reading) The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.  In the wake of those conversations, I went out and purchased a copy.  Admittedly, I have not yet read the book, but I have heard a lot about it; and before I dig in, I would like to know what you think.

Have you read the book?  What did you think of what Dawkins had to say?


Aaron Bonham said...

I may be in the minority, but I enjoyed the book. It is a scathing attack on faith of all sorts and persuasions, including those who hold more moderate/inclusive religious views. While a number of authors have addressed his over generalizations about 'faith' by suggesting he does not engage with real theology, I think he does address the type of faith that many lay people actually live and believe in.

The book is no profound treatise on deep philosophical ideas and theological thinking, but I would suggest it's a book all Christians ought to read. I think it offers a challenge to those with supernatural beliefs to consider the value added by their beliefs, but also it points out the dangers of religion run amok via fundamentalist thinking and dominance of dialogue.

James said...

While I have not read "The God Delusion" I am familiar with Dawkins and his work. I have read part of Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great."

I really like this quote from Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz:"

"My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don't really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don't believe in God and they can prove He doesn't exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it's about who is smarter, and honestly I don't care."

I grew up in a very conservative home, in a very coservative church, in a very conservative small town. A book by Dawkins would have been simply dismissed as being "of the Devil!" Everything that wasn't fundamentalist Christian was "of the Devil." To this day I can still hear my church elders and my father saying "garbage in, garbage out" and blasting everything that is "worldly." I didn't have the internet at my fingertips when I was a child. Because of all of this, I really grew up in a sphere of ignorance. And because of it, I hate ignorance more than anything in the world.

I'm recently married, and someday when we have children we really want to make sure they are not ignorant. I want them to learn and read a much as possible. Sure, I'll instruct them in what we believe and why, but I would also encourage them to read Dawkins or Hitchens. I want them to learn the facts about the world, people, other countries and civilizations and cultures and not succumb to blind jingoism. I want them to learn the facts about other faiths, beliefs, and religions and not just the strawmen the church loves to create and then tear down.

I would tell them this quote attributed to Buddha: "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

By the way, I'd recommend Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz"