So in the meantime, I have a book to quickly review before the little one wakes from her morning nap.
The first, I discovered after reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris. Richard Dawkins is apparently a pretty big name in the atheists, evolution, scientific circles. He was named one of the worlds top intellectuals aside Chomsky and some some guy named Umberto Eco, I didn’t know who he was, but I was intrigued to read his book The God Delusion.
At times I found the book a bit meandering and pedantic, other times I found it childish and immature, but overall I think it is an important book for people to read, unfortunately I do not think the people who would get the most form this book will ever read it. The people I am referring to are people who refuse to examine evidence, test their values, or challenge their beliefs. Yes, I am talking about the religious faithful, both fundamentalist and moderates.
I wish I had time to fully express my thoughts upon reading this book, but now is not the time. I simply want to write a quick overview of the book and recommend it to my readers. I guess if I had to sum up Dawkins’ thesis in one sentence it would look like this: There are many things that science cannot explain, but there is no reason to fill these gaps with the concept of a creationist god who spends his time watching us from atop his perch. Dawkins urges us to remain patient and allow for human knowledge to grow and realize that we will eventually uncover more and more of the universe’s secrets.
As mentioned earlier, this book is preaching to the choir, because people who believe in science, reason, evidence, and open-mindedness already understanding and practice much of what Dawkins is saying. The people who accept dogma on faith alone, people who simply refuse to look at evidence and stick tight to the faith they were taught as children are the one who will never read this book, although I would love to hear what they have to say if they do.
I hope this posts does not sound like an attack, although I am aware of the tone in which I am writing. If you are religious, I am curious what your thoughts are on books like this. So please read it and let me know. I also hope that this topic/thread can be explored further in later posts.
I feel that there is a growing atheists movement worldwide, well maybe not in the states or the Muslim world, but we are getting closer to a more secular world. I think that like all things in the universe we are evolving and that perhaps sometime, not in my lifetime, we can outgrow our need to be under god’s watchful eye. Maybe we will realize that we have enough, we are enough, that this is the universe in which we live and it is perfect. We can abandon these ideas of sin and guilt and domination of the earth, and we can focus on the task at hand-living our lives in peace!
The question many people may ask is why not just live and let live? What do I care what people choose to believe. The problem as Dawkins explains it, and I agree with him, is that most religious people are not satisfied with believing their bizarre beliefs on their own, they choose to make the rest of us live under their ideas of fear and guilt and redemption. They feel the need to save us, from a hell we refuse to believe in. As an Iranian-American I have seen both by country of birth and my second home ruined by religion. I wish I could take my daughter to Iran and show her the beauty of the land and her ancestors can offer her, but because of obscure thirteenth century laws, the country of my birth is shroud in fear and misogyny. And for Americans out there shaking your heads at the backwardness of my Iranian brethren, I urge you to look into your own religious mirror and see that the rest of the world is casually throwing around terms like the American Taliban to describe America’s disproportionatality when it comes to matters faith. I try and believe in a world where neither Iran nor America is weighed down by religion.
But back to Dawkins’ book. I recommend it to any one who wants to take a closer look at reasons that will help you reconsider your belief in an omniscient God and the affects this type of faith can have on the rest of the world. The problem with faith is that people tend to think that "It is better to persist in an irrational belief than to vacillate, even if new evidence or rationality favours change."
I could go on forever about this topic, but I feel that my daughter could wake up at any moment, and we have a slew of errands to run. I will end with this post with a random list of new commandments that Dawkins claims to have found on the Internet that may be useful to a non-religious world. Contrary to what many people of faith believe, morality is not solely under their jurisdiction. That is one of Dawkins’ main points- Morality is a natural human trait and we do not need to fear of a vengeful overpowering god, nor do we need the love of a savior. We can be “good” and moral simply because that is what human beings are meant to be. Here are the commandments:
- Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.
- In all things, strive to cause no harm
- Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness, and respect
- Live life with a sense of joy and wonder
- Always seek to be learning something new
- Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them
- Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you
- Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others
- Question everything