The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Dear Richard Dawkins,

I have just read Jim Holt’s review of your new book The God Delusion in The New York Times (October 22), and I have a few comments. First and foremost, I would like to apologize for what I am about to say, because my comments are based only on a review. Although I have not yet read the book, I would like to address some of the issues brought up by Holt while they are fresh in my mind.

First of all, it is beyond me why so many brilliant minds even bother to take on the task of ridiculing a “belief” in the existence of God – and by “God” I mean the JudeoChristian Deity known as God, when such a belief, given what we know today about the universe we inhabit is patently ludicrous on the face of it.

Holt mentions several stock arguments for the existence of God which you apparently take on in your book. I have never bought the ontological argument or the design argument, but I would like to discuss the cosmological argument briefly because it once seemed logical to me – and now it doesn’t. And the reasoning process I went through seems pertinent to this discussion.

I believed the cosmological argument because it seemed so simple and straightforward and logical. The existence of the universe argues for the existence of a creator of the universe. How can you argue against that? Well, although I didn’t for many years, in my forties, I woke up – became conscious – and realized the speciousness of this argument given the nature of the creator involved and the nature of the universe allegedly created.

The term Creator does not refer to just any abstract causative agent or agency, but to a very specific agent – specifically an agent who looks, acts, and thinks suspiciously like a human being – and not just any human being, but a powerful, white, male human being who wields enormous mental, physical, and economic power, who is answerable to no one, and who most closely resembles a despot of the ancient near east (or Washington, D.C.). Given the fact that the earth is the merest speck in the universe and humanity is a late comer (and possibly a brief, but very destructive visitor) to the earth, arguing that whatever causative agency (if any) which brought about the vast immensities of space and time can in any way be based on what may turn out to be a failed evolutionary experiment just won’t wash. Think about it: Christianity asks us to believe in a Creator of the Universe who looks and acts like a morally reprehensible specimen of a possibly failing species. Absurd on the face of it! Argument over. Discussion ended.
Which is not to say that the subject of God should be dropped. On the contrary. The most meaningful discussions about the JudeoChristian God should focus on God the Symbol, not God the Deity, and the role this symbol plays in the structure of Western human consciousness – especially if one is interested in raising consciousness.

Given recent events on the world stage, I think there can be no argument about the reality and power of God the Symbol. I also think there can be no argument about the perniciousness of this symbol and the values it represents. Therefore, to ridicule the existence of God the Deity (when God the Deity clearly is a delusion — a “wet dream” of a macho-crazed world) when the problem is God the Symbol, misses the point and merely serves as a diversion. Those of us deeply concerned about the negative effects of the values carried by God the Symbol need to stop focusing on the straw man (God the Deity), and address the problem of God the Symbol, which, unfortunately, is all too real.

I am posting this as an open letter to you on my website which is devoted to raising consciousness through the deconstruction of God the Symbol.

All the best.

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