In days of yore, before I settled into a gentle routine of belief, I worried a lot about things like ‘does god exist?’. I might not compare favorably with the sages who meditated in the Himalayas on one foot for thousands of years, but sufficient angst and suffering happened over the question and of course, I found no answer for myself and moved on to other questions such as “Is Vietnam better than Cambodia for a vacation?”
Recently, to open a chapter I had since thought closed, 2 very theist members of my family have lent me ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. I am still on page 168 of a 400 page book but the experience is proving interesting. Dawkins feels compelled to insult anyone who does not agree with him and defends himself against sundry creationists and intelligent design exponents who are going to insult him upon reading the book, in a most proactive fashion. In doing so he comes up with some brilliant invective – some his own but a lot of it is from others. In the process of setting up his definitions (what do I consider god etc.) Dawkins cannot content himself with saying “The God Hypothesis: There exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who created and designed everything in the universe including us. This covers all religions whether they be polytheistic or monotheistic”. He has to take pot shots at everything and everyone along the way when setting up this hypothesis. Example:
“What impresses me about Catholic mythology is partly its tasteless kitsch but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along. It is just shamelessly invented.
Pope John Paul II created more saints than all his predecessors of the past several centuries put together…his polytheistic hankerings were dramatically demonstrated in 1981 when he suffered an assassination attempt in Rome, and attributed his survival to intervention by Our Lady of Fatima: ‘A maternal hand guided the bullet.’ One cannot help wondering why she didn’t guide it to miss him altogether… … The relevant point is that it wasn’t just Our Lady who, in the Pope’s opinion, guided the bullet, but specifically Our Lady of Fatima. Presumably Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Medjugorje, Our Lady of Akita , Our Lady of Zeitoun, Our Lady of Garabandal and Our Lady of Knock were busy on other errands at the time.”
There is more where that came from and he is equal opportunity nasty to all religions other than Buddhism and Confuscianism. My absolute fave CYA point of his though is what’s below:
“I am also conscious that the Abrahamic God is (to put it mildly) aggressively male and this too I shall accept as a convention in my use of prononous. More sophisticated theologians proclaim the sexlessness of God, while some feminist theologians seek to redress historic injustices by designating her female. But what, after all, is the difference between a non-existent female and a non-existent male? I suppose that, in the ditzy unreal intersection of theology and feminism, existence might indeed be a less salient attribute than gender.”
And my current fave fantasy – a debate between Dear Richard and our very own President-in-waiting.