Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wandering in the Forest of Thoughts

This morning’s Charlotte Observer contained a column in the Living (Religious) section of the Saturday paper. The columnist was reporting on an interview he had with Richard Dawkins, and the responses he had received from his readership on that interview. The responses were entirely predictable here in Charlotte, where the only thing that exceeds the number of Wal-Marts is the number of churches.
Most people were adamant that Dawkins is unworthy of any space in the newspaper, and a few were equally adamant that Dawkins is of course, correct in his assertions that there is no God. Having read Richard Dawkins, I concluded that he was at his silliest when he reached his “conclusive proof” that there is no God. It made me wonder, though, why we even bother to publish such material, either in book form, or in the columns of local newspapers. To be fair, I have read Dawkins, Hitchens and Sam Harris, to try to understand whether they had anything to share with me that might enlighten me on this troubling subject. Please note that I read such writers not because I imagine they can shed light on the fundamental issue of whether there is, or is not a God. I long ago concluded that, whether there is or is not a God, we will never understand the truth in any of our lifetimes. Instead, I read them to see whether they could shed light on the basic issues of religion, and why and how organized religion manages to hold onto the world’s population. Also, I always hope to understand why the world’s religions seem so firm in their conviction that science is their enemy (perhaps that is a Christian thing??). I assume that religion is always at risk when people become educated and begin entertaining doubt. But many people obtain education, while holding fast to this basic belief in an ultimate being. And that seems ok to me.
What is not ok is this notion that believers and non-believers should not occupy the same planet. That is why I keep hoping that some religious leaders will emerge somewhere, sometime in the future, who will be able to connect with the agnostics of the world in order to reach an accommodation that allows everyone to live in peace.
But maybe that is just another silly idea, like Republicans and Democrats sitting together at a table to work out solutions to the Nation’s many problems. Silly, I know . . ..
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