TGD – What I’m expecting

(Note: As mentioned in my It’s Alive!?! post I’ll be reading and reviewing The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (TGD). Click on the Catholicism – The God Delusion category to see all of these posts, including this one.)

Here’s a quick overview of what I’m expecting based on what I’ve heard from others, before I’ve ever picked up the book:

I’m expecting a lot on all the evils done by religion and I’m expecting it to be highly Christianity focused, although I’m sure the recent evils of Islamic Jihadism will get some play as well. I thought of reading the book after a discussion online, ironically on a sports blog, where TGD was repeatedly referenced by numerous people for how convincing it was that religion wasn’t just benign but actually makes the world a worse place.

So I’m expecting lots of examples of the bad things done in the name of religion. I’m quite confident there will be no statistical analysis of how this compares to the evils done when no religion was involved (what a scientist would call a “control group”). I’m also quite confident there will be no attempt made to determine whether the evil was truly done as a result of religious conviction or whether it just happened to be done by people who are religious (what a scientist would call “causation”). I also expect that there will be no attempt to discover in cases where it was done “in the name of religion” if what was done was actually in line with the dogmas and doctrines of their religion or whether the individuals were mistaken as to what their religion teaches (another aspect of “causation”). Finally, for those cases where in fact the religion can actually be blamed, I suspect there will be no attempt to differentiate between religions, as if one religions theological errors are the fault of all religions (another example of lacking an appropriate “control group”), and further there will be no attempt to understand the rationale behind the move, that it will be analyzed through secular eyes as if that’s the only way to view the world.

In short, I’m expecting it, despite the authors claims, to be very short on logic and scientific analysis. Lots of assumptions will be made. Possibility sets will be artificially small (often because the author lacks the imagination to see additional possibilities). Generally speaking, there will be claims of scientific rigor, when in fact it will be completely lacking.

For the critical reader, they might be thinking that I’m starting the book making a lot of assumptions, which is quite true. This bias comes both from what I’ve heard about the book from all sides and how it leads me to believe that Dawkins fits a stereotype I have of the “arrogant scientific atheist”. I’ve talked with many people who more or less fit the stereotype, so it comes from personal experience, not 3rd party accusations. But more than that, it comes from from within me as I once could be properly labeled similarly. I personally know what it is to feel that God doesn’t exist and thinking that all religions and religious were barking made. I’ve been there. His arguments in principle won’t be foreign to me as I’ve likely made most of them, or at least a similarly minded one, in the past.

But thanks be to God he revealed Himself to me and I’ve been a fervent Catholic ever since.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mitigate that I go into this book with a bias and I won’t deny it. For those who would snicker at the thought, I’ll only justify it with this: I’m reading the book. Generally the charge leveled at those with a bias is that they refuse to consider other points of view. That would be justified if I stuck to my bias and refused to read it (note that there are other reasons besides bias not to read it such as time limitations, etc, so I don’t hold anything against those who don’t). But that is not the case. I am reading it. Frankly I hope that I’m surprised, that he gives religion its full due while defending atheists. There are those atheists out there who both think there is no God but also are fair enough in their mind to recognize the intellectually sound arguments for the other side and I’ve yet to find a book that communicates that.

That book would one everyone should read because it would help everyone understand exactly what is at stake, not what each side claims is at stake, which is generally artificially skewed favorably in their direction, at least as far as the public perception goes. It would help people understand what is indeed fact and what must be filled in with belief, whether that be belief in a single God, multiple competing spirits, perhaps an after life or reincarnation, or whether one would believe that none of that exists.

And so I’ll open the book and give Dawkins his opportunity to prove me wrong, that my bias was unjustified.

Comments are closed.