In my early teens we studied Greek and Roman mythology in school. I vividly remember the point when I first thought, “so why are these stories ‘myths,’ and the Bible is ‘truth’?” That was my first step on a path of theological inquiry, which sounds more advanced than it was. For most of my adult life, I’ve been involved in some form of “organized religion,” but have not blindly followed the doctrine laid before me. Instead I’ve gravitated toward faith communities that appreciate and encourage continuous revelation and discovery.
And so I found myself reading The God Delusion, which takes the “Bible as myth” argument one step further, seeking to prove that there is, in fact, no God. If we have labelled ancient Greek & Roman stories as mythology, and discarded those gods, why do so many of us believe in God?
Dawkins also used scientific arguments to uphold Darwin’s theory of evolution and refute intelligent design and the concept of a “designer.” I had no trouble with this; I tend to come out in favor of science in most situations. Then how is it that I have professed belief in God, when there is no scientific basis for this belief?
Dawkins then discussed how religion has been used in ways that harm others:
Even if religion did no other harm in itself, its wanton and carefully nurtured divisiveness — its deliberate and cultivated pandering to humanity’s natural tendency to favour in-groups and shun out-groups — would be enough to make it a significant force for evil in the world.
It’s in the history books, and it’s happening today: Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Christians, some Christians against other types of Christians, you name it. In what way is this good for society? And why does religion play such a super-ordinate role in so many people’s lives?
Dawkins articulated his points well and his analysis was quite thorough. He made sense to me in many places and was a bit “out there” in others. And he completely lost me in the last chapter when he discussed quantum mechanics. Early in this book, Dawkins described a spectrum of belief from 1 (“strong theist”) to 7 (“strong atheist”). Your place on this continuum will greatly influence what you take away from this book. In my case, I found it very thought-provoking and enjoyed the mental and spiritual challenges presented by Dawkins’ ideas.