Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Re-reading The God Delusion

Not sure why I picked it up again -- not much in there I don't already know and haven't thought about myself, really. But there is one chapter I don't find satisfactory.

That's chapter 5, where Dawkins tries to explain why religion is so pervasive. His main theory is that a) children are indoctrinated early and his evolutionary psychology hypothesis is that we're wired to believe what our elders tell us with great solemnity. E.g., don't swim in the crocodile infested river, do say the correct mumbo jumbo on Sunday; and b) he invokes his beloved meme theory and notices that religion is full of memes that are well tailored to insure their own survival, such as you will be tortured for all eternity if you so much as doubt this out loud.

Well, yeah, but I was indoctrinated as a child. My uncle by marriage was the pastor of a fancy High Episcopal church in an affluent Connecticut shoreline town, which we attended until I was 7 or 8 years old when we moved to another town and started going to a Congregational church, where I participated in all the youth activities and the choir. My mother was a Sunday school teacher. When I got to be 13, I started talking with my uncle about confirmation.

I attended Phillips Academy Andover, where they made us go to church three days a week with of course a big whomping service on Sunday. One day I was sitting there next to my roommate, and we looked at each other, and I said, "This is completely fucking ridiculous." He said, "Yep." From then on we didn't stand up for the hymns or kneel for the prayers, we just sat there and endured it.

Is there anything super special about us? Dave, my roommate, grew up in a Catholic orphanage, and no, he probably didn't tell me everything about that, but he told me enough that I can guess it might have led him to see through the fraud. But for me, it was perfectly simple. I was old enough to think for myself, and it was immediately obvious that the whole thing was transparent nonsense. I had the advantage of having actually read the Bible, unlike most Christians, just because I was a reading fool as a kid.

But I mean, come on. There were only two people in the world and God told them not to eat a piece of fruit but a talking snake persuaded the woman to do it anyway, therefore all of humanity was cursed throughout the generations until God got a woman pregnant with himself, and then had himself tortured to death, but nothing actually changed, life was still a bitch only now we were forgiven? I mean, I don't really give a shit if God forgives me for having a remote ancestor who ate a piece of fruit, but if he wanted to do it, he didn't have to get himself tortured to death. I could go on, but the point is made, I hope. This is batshit insane, all of it.

How anyone can exist who doesn't see that is baffling.

No comments: