vendredi 19 mars 2010

In defence of Richard Dawkins

I've read Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion", and many comments about the book and its author. Quite often Dawkins is labelled an extremist, a kind of an militant atheist preacher, and in this way, several authors explicitly distance themselves from him as from a bad-mannered youngster. In good company you don't spit on floor, don't use slang words and speak reverently about God and religion.

I don't wholly agree. I think there should be some parity between religious discourse and discourse critical of religion. If we compare Dawkins with most priests, pastors, preachers, ayatollahs, imams, mullahs etc, he seems extremely mild and polite. He doesn't incite people to burn churches, to kill believers, he doesn't want to prohibit religion, he doesn't say religions are work of Satan and must be fought against with all available means, he doesn't want to ostracize religious people, doesn't want to punish church-goers, doesn't think celibacy, homosexuality, heterosexuality, abortion, contraception, test-tube babies and cartoons depicting Jesus or Muhammad are crimes. What he wants is abolition of various privileges churches and other religious organizations still possess. He wants atheists and agnostics to have similar chances to speak about their views and to propagate them. He doesn't do what so many religious people do every day. He doesn't think that he can speak with divine authority, that he cannot be mistaken, as so many preachers, pastors and imams who have no respect for people who have different beliefs or non-beliefs. I cannot but remember a phrase from a finnish orthodox journal where it was stated that the Mari (Cheremis) native religion had "absolutely no value" and, accordingly, the Maris should be converted to Christianity, preferably to the best variety of it, i.e. to Orthodoxy.

My own views are somehow different. I would like to see the deep psychological knowledge, the age-old wisdom about human life, suffering, joy and freedom to be liberated from the supervision of all breeds of ayatollahs and theologians, and to be translated into a different language that is not a language of belief, where there must not be a God as supreme arbiter and authority. I want us human beings to accept the fact that we live in a world where there is no absolute certainty. I believe it is perfectly possible and even unavoidable, if we want to survive on this planet (or maybe somewhere else). My God plays dice, and I think we can well enjoy playing dice with him. Or without him. No difference.

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