So I just finished watching a half hour interview with Richard Dawkins by Jonathan Miller. YouTube is amazing.
Here’s the stuff:
I started out being a convinced atheist. I realized early on that religion is a human construct and therefore a mass of arbitrary choices and stories. Religious institutions were and are constantly playing with what is Good and Bad, constantly changing the rules and ‘adapting to contemporary society’ and circumstance, constantly (re-)interpreting their truth. Religion to me was pretty clearly just a socio-political tool, something that contradicted itself constantly and therefore very likely completely bogus. I felt that God was Santa Claus for adults, i.e. the need to believe in something + the need to be rewarded and judged. Add to that all the harm it caused and causes, and I confidently moved away from it.
But as the years passed, I got milder. I heard things like “all religions are essentially one.” “Jesus was a historical figure.” “There has to be something more.” “Science and Religion are not mutually exclusive”. “Something must have started the Big Bang, if there was one” “There is a genetical urge to believe in the supernatural”. Seeds of doubt were planted by all kinds of inexplicable things shown on TV. (like those supernatural things). And so many people in the world believed… I started to entertain the possibility of Something Greater, not necessarily a God or something obviously silly like a religious system, but more an invisible yet unknowable force. At the same time I learned about all the failures of science. The silliness of the Enlightenment. The extreme amounts of deaths caused by people believing in some fucked up science or another (Stalin; 20 million dead; Mao; 20 million dead (starvation); Hitler; ? million dead (probably 20ish as well).
I came to a conclusion that neither Religion nor Science could deliver what it preaches. Both became sort of equally wretched in my mind. I still think this, but thanks to watching Dawkins the past few days I at least sort of regained some measure of trust in science. Sure, it’s not an answer but at least it offers a starting point superior to religion. Science is something you can work with. Something you can work on. Religion isn’t something that you can keep changing to suit your needs, because when you do that you lose the ability to claim validity of whatever founding book or philosophy you started out with. In law, we make amendments to constitutions. In science, theories and modes of thought get discarded, replaced and so on. We add stuff, modify stuff, delete stuff. You can’t add/modify/delete things in the Bible without undermining the very idea that the Bible is a God-inspired book that will always be valid.
So now I’m now firmly entrenched in the belief that science, imperfect as it may be, is still fundamentally superior to and preferable over any kind of religion. Proof trumps faith. Faith is not a virtue. A scientific theory, regardless of how silly it may be, is superior over religion or faith provided it has good arguments going for it.
On another note, I usually read all or most of the comments under the YouTube videos, and haven’t seen any theist argument yet that had not been adequately refuted. I get this sense that by reading these comments and watching these videos it becomes virtually untenable to continue to adhere to any faithbased doctrine. For anyone who enjoys arguing with religious people, I strongly recommend scavenging YouTube for whatever it has to offer on Richard Dawkins.