A mail from a friend this morning directed me to Bill Maher’s film, ‘Religulous’ and I will watch it if and when it arrives here in Europe and one thing is for certain, with me thinking of going to Saudi, wll, I am most certainly not going to see it there. More importantly, however, the tip led me to look for information on Maher and that led to me watching Maher interviewing Richard Dawkins and that in turn reminded me that I have Richard Dawkins’s book ‘The GOD Delusion’ and so I have spent this morning and the first two hours of this afternoon reading Dawkins’s book and watching a two hour video called ‘The Four Horsemen’. In the video, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, all to “varying degrees” atheists, discuss why they don’t believe in God and their arguments are, to varying degrees, interesting but not always that relevant or important. Of course, it is a two hour discussion and it is still, in my opinion, worth watching.(1)
Nevertheless, for me it is, more or less, enough that, like Dawkins, I am inclined to agree with Robert M. Pirsig, the author of ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ when saying, “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.”(2) On May the 18th I wrote, “Sitting on the train to Munich …… there was this guy diagonally opposite me, he had his eyes closed and he was nodding his head, while chanting some gibberish. On the seat facing him he had opened a folder with a picture of the German “pop” idol, Dieter Bohlen on the left hand page and a picture of Jesus on the right hand page. Now the guy was obviously a bit of a nutter. As I too would be if I were to tell you all that I am waiting for the gobbly-gook in the sky to come down and take us all off to the chocolate and “Weissbier” paradise. Now, that very same day, on arriving in Munich I took myself off to the “Theatinerkirche” – big fan of Baroque and Roccoco despite my Northern European roots – and low and behold there was a wee lady under a big wooden cross with a guy stuck to it, she was playing with a set of beads and mumbling to herself. She, however, is sane, unlike the guy on the train, for hers is a collective madness …… “(3).
Of course, we could discuss the evils of religion and the intolerance it nurtures, however, for now let us put aside both of those distinct but interrelated aspects of the great “gobbly gook” and look at another aspect, namely, the question of “truth”, that is that “truth” that comes about because of scientific inquiry, as the result of a thesis, hypothesis and synthesis, and let us please come to the conclusion that the “gobbly gook”is an affront to our reason and to our common sense. This is enough to reject it and if we don’t and blind faith is the order of the day, the guy worshiping Dieter Bohlen or the old lady with her rosary beeds will be the least of our problems. Indeed, they already are the least of our problems and that is why we should start to look at those other two interrelated aspects of the great “gobbly gook”, the intolerance and evil, because at the end of the day that is what it is all about, blind faith, intolerance, evil.
2 ‘The God Delusion’, Richard Dawkins, p28
The picture needs no explanation. Sam Harris’s book I have read; it is entertaining but, in my case, preaching to the converted. Dawkins’s book I have started and it too seems entertainingly written.
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