The Atheist Doth Protest Too Much

I’ve come to realize that atheism sure ain’t that sexy.

When you compare all the trappings and incentives that other belief systems have, we come up pretty short. You don’t hear of teens packing an arena to hear the latest atheist rock band.

“Here’s our next song – How entropy will bring about heat death to the universe in a few million years – Yeah!”

Plus we’re pretty short on mascots and, in the game where marketing is key, this is pretty important.

These thoughts popped into my head (perhaps stroke-like) as I read Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. Dawkins is about as close to a poster child for atheism as we’re going to get. We likely should have done more canvassing.

Dawkins, a British ethologist and evolutionary biologist, has been writing on the subjects of evolution, creationism and religion for over 30 years.

He also happens to be the guy who coined the term “meme” to describe how Darwinian principles might be extended to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena on which I blathered about in a previous article.

The God Delusion is one of his more direct works, dealing principally with explaining the non-existence of a supernatural creator and a bit of a rah-rah rallying cry for atheists to allow themselves to come out of their non-spiritual closets.

Interestingly enough, a good Christian friend of mine (he’s a member of the local United Church) passed me the book — knowing I would find it interesting.

See? We can all get along.

As an atheistic rallying call, the book is sobering and effective. But as a non-believer already, Dawkins was preaching to the choir. Going in, I was ready to agree with all of the arguments presented in the book, which effectually detailed how natural selection and similar theories are superior to a “God hypothesis” or “intelligent design”.

Where the book slides toward my distaste, is the other main theme of the book: religion creates evil, ignorant fundamentalist stereotypes. Dawkins tends to spout about as much vitriol as he claims is heaped upon him by the “other side”.

After some research, and taking a step outside the book, I can see where he is coming from; but his choice of wording, I think, is poor and unnecessary, considering the solid scientific evidence he presents.

In effect, The God Delusion seems a lot like a strong defensive reaction to his detractors.

Dawkins has often been called a fundamental atheist because of his books. He certainly believes that religion has a net negative effect on society and comes to this conclusion not by ignoring people from the other side, but by taking an objective look at the world.

The only problem is, I can easily look at the book objectively as I won’t be offended by the insulting tone he reserves for religion. Any non-atheist, however, will likely be insulted. Which makes this book, just plain and simple, an atheist affirmation manual.

The God Delusion might have been an interesting piece that deists could have used to ask some interesting questions about their faith and beliefs. While Dawkins is certainly a great logician and biologist, he isn’t much of a mediator.

It’s a good book and it’s a true book. But it’s a mean and furious book at times and leaves me wondering what its point is, other than to polarize and incite.

I can easily make the separation between religion and religious people. Case in point, the good friend who passed me the book.

The God Delusion tries to tell you that atheists can be happy, balanced, moral and intellectually fulfilled without religion. But if all of humanity lived truly to those standards, than it really shouldn’t matter what vehicle gets us there.

Anthony Trombetta is the host of Coaster’s Comedy every other Wednesday at 9 p.m. The next show is March 26. There will also be a show at The Guild March 28 at 9 p.m., Kvetch-A-Sketch 2. If you want to recommend a “Good Book” to Anthony, contact him at [email protected]

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