Letting in the Light. Dawkins debunks various attempts by religions, or, more accurately, by religious persons, to claim famous and highly respected scientists, such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking, as believers in God. But of course, this is ultimately of no significance. If Einstein believed in God, is that conclusive evidence that God exists?, hardly. Alternatively, if Einstein did not believe in God, do we all have to accept that; of course not.
It is understandable, from a human perspective, that believers would want to claim respected people, such as Einstein, as believers too; we all want the best players on our team, we all want to be identified with a celebrity. But, of course, such desires ultimately demonstrate our lack of faith in our beliefs. If we were truly confident in our beliefs we would be happy to have a team full of the worst players, secure in the knowledge that we were right. Jesus didn’t seek out the celebrities of Israel, didn’t seek to have the authorities and the respected people on his side. He was happy to mingle with the poor and outcast of society as well as the ordinary people. He had full confidence in his message, he didn’t need affirmation by powerful people, by stars.
Dawkins also provides detailed evidence of the lengths religions go to to avoid being questioned, to avoid being examined. This has significance in any question about the validity of religions and their particular beliefs but has no relevance to the question, ‘Does God Exist’. Again, it serves to highlight the doubts that these religions have in their own veracity.
Dawkins does make fair comment when he observes, “The other thing I cannot help remarking upon is the overweening confidence with which the religious assert minute details for which they neither have, nor could have, any evidence”. This skepticism is especially understandable in scientists who have been trained to validate all claims and seek evidence to support all hypotheses. Again, though, the validity, or otherwise, of relics and beliefs, great or small has no real bearing on whether God exists or not; although this may be difficult for both sides of the argument to accept. Sometimes accepting that the claims of religions have no bearing on the existence of God, or not, is harder for atheists to accept than it is for followers of those religions.
Dawkins, quite fairly, describes the God of the Old Testament as “one of the most unpleasant characters…….”, and describes in detail those unpleasant characteristics which are attributed to Him. Dawkins knows, I’m sure, as we all do, that those characteristics, unpleasant as they are, represent the characteristics of society as it existed then, and not necessarily what God is like, or was like.
One of the principal values of such books as ‘The God Delusion’ is that they shine a light on our beliefs. If we are honest, they make us assess much of what we have been taught, they encourage us to seek the truth.
Keep seeking the truth, keep asking the awkward questions.