I firmly believe that both sides of the New Atheism-New Christianity debate are untenable. As Exhibit A I submit The God Delusion
. Dawkins whines about a misogynistic, uncaring God, conveniently ignoring the fact that this non-issue has been satisfactorily addressed in any intro theology course. (Dawkins' easy way out? Declaring theology to be a sham. But of course if God does not exist then he certainly cannot have any negative qualities, so I really don't see what all the fuss is about.) He raves about memetics, despite the fact that the meme is a dull and unscientific idea that ought not to have a place in any reasonable discussion about God and science. He can't bring himself to finish a chapter without name-dropping evolution and natural selection; in fact, he's so proud of these two that you'd think he'd come up with the damn things himself.
Of course, Dawkins' opponents are by and large stupid too, and he takes great pleasure in pointing out some of these flaws. The rants contained in The God Delusion
ensure that it is an entertaining polemic if not an instructive one. I hardly think that Dawkins has deliberately cultivated the image of a humorist, but that might have been a more apt career choice.
To be fair, Dawkins is right about a good many things. Planet Earth's system of organized religion is almost surely not what was intended back in the first century. I have noticed that many of my Christian friends will avoid that label, instead preferring to style themselves "Jesus-followers" or "deeply spiritual people". It's convenient because most people don't hate Jesus or Eastern religion as fervently as they do the Old Testament God (essentially, they're saving face), but it also adds to the body of evidence supporting Dawkins' point. However, I would contend that while organized religion may be a problem, Dawkins has focused on too small a subset of the human population. A great many humans are unintelligent, uncaring or downright cruel, and so it does not surprise me that many of these negative traits can also be found within the subset of religious humans. Call me crazy, but it's not God or religion that's deluding humanity; I think it's humans themselves. Whether that means the collective we
made up God to delude ourselves is up for debate, but either way the force of Dawkins' argument is lessened when one considers the sheer stupidity of so many human beings.
The real reason The God Delusion
is worth reading? It might force some readers to stop and reconsider their thoughts on the issues dealt with therein. Dawkins isn't going to convince diehard Christians to curse God; nor will his numerous detractors succeed in making disciples of atheists. This book is primarily of value to those perched on the fence. Dawkins just might have succeeded in raising their consciousness, although perhaps not in the way he expected.