|Forgive them, for they know not what they do|
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Atheism: The God Delusion or the Acerbic Derision of a Fool
Modern atheism has become more aggressive in recent years, partly due to high profile academics, who place more faith in mankind's exploration of knowledge beyond its limitations. Although, academics are so often consumed with incredible arrogance in their quest that they are dangerously neglectful, failing to take into account that before we go looking for intelligent life beyond our own world, we should first begin our search closer to home. Some prominent atheists are so radical that they hurl abuse at the divine being most cultures believe in and worship, blaming him for all the worlds woes. Dawkins describes religion as, "Two evils at war!" Yet, it begs the question, how can the target of their vitriolic attacks be so deranged, if they don't believe in him? If evil is a concept of religion, how can they even entertain the notion that evil exists? Yes, it's true that religion is used as a tool to beat us all with. and to maintain order. Both atheism and religion are loaded with contradictions. Surely, it is unreasonable to assume that either one holds all the answers? Therefore, a crucial distinction needs to be made somewhere. Faith in mankind, or faith in God? Mankind has to accept responsibility for its own destiny. All men are corruptible, including priests, rabbis, Imams and spiritual/religious leaders. Therefore, either way, like it or not, it all boils down to a question of faith, whether you acknowledge it or not.
However, Christians and other religious doctrines can always be condemned for being hypocrites. For example, take the case of an adolescent Indian girl named Twinkle. Twinkle was no ordinary 12 year old school girl. She was a tomboy, who liked to play soccer with her friends in a small Indian village. Apart from that, she was the subject of what seemed to be stigmata. She bled from almost every external part of her body. Naturally, her worried mother had taken her to all the local doctors, spiritual leaders and clerics in the village and beyond, but none were able to diagnose her problem. Blood would run from her head, hands, eyes, nose, without their being any sign of a wound anywhere. In her despair, Twinkles mother took her to see experts in the city. When they studied her and could not come up with an answer, they referred her to the most senior medical and religious figures in India. When a senior physician in the US heard the story, he flew to India to study both Twinkle and her mother closely for several days, conducting various tests. When he ran out of options, he resorted to the typical academic position, and upset them both, by laying the blame on the mother, by implying that she was a fraud, somehow inducing the bleeding of Twinkle. However, when he saw how he'd upset Twinkle, he apologised, neglecting to notice that the distraught child was perhaps more upset because she had faith in him resolving her condition. He flew back to the US without any hint of admitting that he didn't have an answer or didn't know. Again, the standard, typical academic position. Having exhausted all her efforts and traveled around India, Twinkles mother was forced to look beyond her own religion and brought her to see a Roman Catholic priest. Since Christianity is not particularly common in India, this was their final hope, as non-Christians. The priest examined Twinkle and upon referring to records on what would normally classify the case as a stigmata, the priest announced his conclusion that since Twinkle did not worship Christ, he could not declare her as a stigmata, exhibiting the wounds of Christ and therefore could not help them. By this time, they were emotionally and physically drained. Twinkles mother was at her wits end, and this announcement from a Catholic priest broke her heart. Her last word on the matter was that, she couldn't understand why the priest wouldn't help them, as she thought that Jesus loved everyone. As a Catholic myself, I was absolutely disgusted and furious at this priests decision. Of course, Twinkles mother was right, and I felt her disappointment and despair. The ironic thing is, that they are probably much closer to Christ than that shameful priest was. In another case, as I was becoming more intrigued by the atheist argument, I trawled through YouTube and came across another very distressing case. This time it was in the US. A family of atheists were living a relatively normal life. However, when the daughter decided to take her usual decision not to participate in the daily prayer before a netball game, it gradually began to build resentment towards her. I felt sorry for her, as the lonely figure standing outside the circle of teammates, as they engaged in their daily ritual. Soon, the resentment began to escalate, to the point of the poor child being ruthlessly bullied, ostracized, and accused of all manner of offense. And, this was not only from her schoolmates. The school refused to offer her protection, as even teachers laid into the child, and the authorities turned a blind eye. I found this case harrowing to watch. In the end, the helpless parents had to withdraw their daughter from the school for home tutoring instead. At this point it's too simplistic just to say, "What kind of examples are these? or, don't they just give atheists the upper hand and justify everything they believe??" As my dad was a committed atheist and antisemitic, I'd heard it all before, and I grew defensive of Jews, since I'd lost faith in humanity, once I knew that we'd learned nothing from the horror of the holocaust. So, it is as equally frightening to me today to hear some denounce the holocaust, as it was to hear audiences fanatically applaud as Richard Dawkins let loose his bitter and bigoted tirade against a God he doesn't even believe in. He refers to The God of the Old Testament, and yet he is ignorant of the fact that this just makes him another man, with his own interpretation. He expresses no concept or understanding of "Faith," yet he persistently applies the word, reason to his argument. If Mr Dawkins were an honest man, then his target would be our divided understanding of God, but he avoids any critical analysis of mankind. He doesn't even acknowledge that "religion is used as a tool", because, again that would make him a critic of that which he entrusts our destiny to, mankind. He expresses his loathing of God with such forceful derision, yet he does not seem to possess the capacity to understand where his contempt emanates from or acknowledge how utterly divisive it is. If I'm wrong and he does, then surely it is then a question of ego, a philosophy of an esteemed member of the community to which he so aspires to, Freud. Freud, a scientist whose nephew , Edward Bernays continued his legacy to the extent of making a career of deceiving and manipulating the masses. Bernays, who became known as the Father of Propaganda and Public Relations. This is the doctrine to which Richard Dawkins aspires. If Dawkins acknowledges ego, then how can he possibly justify his denunciation of faith. Like it or not, he places a lot of "faith" in science.
Christians and other so-called benevolent religions have historically misinterpreted, reinterpreted, and reinvented the word of God to suit their own particular tribe and to justify their persecution and oppression of others. They weave and adapt religion into their own social fabric and culture, sometimes to the point where it becomes unrecognisable. This is partially one of the reasons why the likes of Dawkins and other Darwinists will always justify their argument by their familiar chant, "They can't all be right!" It was when I heard David Attenborough quote this rhetoric on a late night talk show that I'd lost any respect I had for him, as I'd thought him to be more intelligent than that. It was almost as if he'd been too familiar with that statement.
It seems that Richard Dawkins' particular acerbic brand of atheism and the religious zealots who denounce and persecute all who don't obey their particular interpretation of Gods word, have much more in common than they realise. I watched the documentary based on his book, "The God Delusion". Prior to this I didn't know very much about Richard Dawkins. It was only his increasingly publicised acrimonious fundamentalist fustian that drew my attention to him. He was becoming hard to avoid. My initial reaction was that this guy had some serious issues and had built up a lot of bitter resentment that perhaps had some Freudian origin. Although, due to his passion for his subject, I can't help wondering where the roots of it really lie for him personally. However, he is an intelligent guy, albeit bound by the limits of academia. And, therein lies the basis of my whole argument. In his film Dawkins approached an evangelical church in the Bible belt of the US deep south. When he challenged the pastor, Dawkins was approached off camera afterwards by the pastor and angrily told to get off the church grounds and apparently threatened. So much for Christian compassion, I thought. At this point it sounded like both were cast from the same turf as one another, remembering Dawkins' caustic description of religion as being, "Two evils at war!" I might also add that its worth remembering the historical strategic method of war, "Divide & Conquer". Perhaps Mr Dawkins would do well to remember this too. So, in his tirade of carefully selected word of condemnation, who is he referring to? Well, who does it sound like?
What should be noted is the angle at which atheists approach "religion", and the basis of their reasoning against it. Therefore, the fundamental question is, "Is their conflict with Christians, Jews, Muslims etc. or is it with God??" The simple answer to that is, that it is their "relationship with God", since the focus of their rather vitriolic attacks are those who are religious. An atheist will always cite the same old arguments, blaming religion for all the worlds conflicts, for all the death and destruction and hatred in the world. Yet, they fall short of blaming mankind. This is because they hold great faith in man instead. They will not accept that science is responsible for finding new ways to destroy one another, or pushing the boundries of our capabilities and sod the consequences. They are happy for mankind to be the instigator of his own fate. This is truly frightening. Is it not a more logical argument to say that throughout time, rulers, dictators and conquerors of nations have all claimed that, "God was on their side?" If the likes of Dawkins presents this argument, then of course, you have to agree. However, that is hardly Gods fault, since men have chosen to corrupt and poison his word to suit themselves and even to justify evil. Therefore, this being the case, then it is reasonably understandable why God may have seemed to abandon his children in times of tragedy. Because, if he did intervene, then another man made ideology would want to claim credit for it and demand a debt. As a child I would always ponder why God didn't help the starving of Ethiopia? My dad was an atheist, so I couldn't ask him, and you'd always get the same answer from a teacher. So, in my innocence I was left to come to my own conclusions, in as I would pray for the worlds hungry - If God had intervened and sent rain to grow the crops and feed livestock on parched lands, then almost two things would be a certainty. Lucifer would have succeeded in tormenting that which God loves the most and forced his hand. Secondly, wealthy prospectors would come along and take the land and sell all its produce to make huge profits. They would have stolen all the credit for Gods work and corrupted it, just as they have always done throughout time. When men get too greedy for wealth and knowledge to the point where they can go no further, they take out their frustration on us.
One day, I had a chance encounter with a guy while I was going about my chores. We somehow got into this intriguing conversation about religion. I had assumed he was Hindu, but it became apparent that my new friend was Muslim. I'll never forget his wise words, "There are many paths that lead to God!" As an extension to that, I would like to add my own words, "If you truly love God, then this is something to be shared and celebrated between us all, with great joy!" However, our encounter reminded me of some other wise words, from a Hindu, "I admire your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. They are not like him!" - Gandhi.
In conclusion, there are worldly things that we will never understand. The questions are limitless. God did not bestow us with knowledge. It is knowledge that forces us to ask questions none of can possibly ever know the answer to, so we arrogantly hypothesize. The earth is a very small planet, a grain of sand in a thousand deserts. How can we possibly even hope to have the answers? If ever a physical manifestation of the whole truth were to even tantalize us, it would be too big for us to handle. There are things that are way beyond mans imagination or contemplation and our time on this planet has only been for 5 minutes among infinity.
It is not for God to be judged. It is for mankind to be judged! For mankind must accept responsibility for its own destiny. In being conditionally apathetic, we increasingly make excuses for our distractions from the big picture.
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." - J. Robert Oppenheimer