Beliefnet
Conversations with God

In response to Richard Dawkins: You are right, Richard.
In response to Richard Dawkins: You are wrong, Richard.
Should any of us care? Yes, because Richard Dawkins is no ordinary person. He is an esteemed scientist/professor/writer from Oxford who has the ear of hundreds of thousands (actually, arguably, millions) and who earlier this year published a book that says, in essence, there is no God.
That is a sad point of view which brings no benefit whatsoever to the human race. And that is why we should care. Because if the whole of humanity should ever adopt Richard’s point of view, I believe we will have lost our greatest asset, our greatest tool, our greatest advantage as we step more deeply into Life in the 21st Century.
Dawkins has created quite a stir with his book, which he has titled The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin), and it is easy to understand why. He offers in his text virtually irrefutable arguments and clear-cut scientific evidence that the ancient God of organized religions simply does not exist.
I agree with him.
The God of which he speaks – and of which most organized religions speak – does not exist. And so, Richard is right. Yet the God of which he does not speak – and of which most organized religions do not speak, either – does exist. And so, Richard is wrong.
In The God Delusion Professor Dawkins spends 406 pages (including a 31-page Appendix) to argue that science and not religion, evolution and not intelligent design, holds the answer to the greatest mystery of the universe: life itself, how it came to be and how it functions, in all its physical forms.
Again, I believe he is right.
I observe that evolution does explain life in all its physical forms. (Well, most of them, anyway. It does not explain miracles, nor any other physical phenomena and metaphysical experience, of which there is ample evidence in our world.) So I have little quarrel with what Richard has to say here, in the main. What I raise issue with is what Richard does not say.
What he does not say is that…


…evolution also explains life in all its non-physical forms. And he does not say that evolution itself is God Godding – although he comes close to it in his first chapter, where he carefully and preemtively acknowledges that there is more than one way to look at God. Yet it is in this same chapter that he says, “…if the word God is not to become completely useless, it should be used in the way people have generally understood it: to denote a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’.”
I couldn’t disagree more. It is precisely because we have continued to use the word God in the way people have generally understood it that the word has become completely useless. Happily, Richard spends the rest of his book proving, absolutely, that point. Unhappily, while making it clear that the God of Our Fathers – or as I have put it, Yesterday’s God – is a myth, he does little to break new ground on the subject of Tomorrow’s God (which is the title, I must immodestly acknowledge, of a book of my own writing).
In short, Richard has brilliantly told us what God is not, but has told us nothing of what God is, assuming that since there is ample evidence of what God is not, God Itself is not. I don’t think the first position proves the second. Richard apparently does. And therein lies a disservice. I would have wished that a mind as brilliant as Richard’s would have gone about analyzing the extraordinary anecdotal evidence, available from any one of several hundred million people on the planet, of the existence of God…or of something, whatever name you want to give it, that even science cannot explain, but that shows up in the day-to-day experience of human beings as very real, very present, very reliable, and very useful.
The name that I give this “something” is Life. Richard in his text admits that humans do not understand all there is to understand about Life. I submit that the part that we do not understand is the part that we might not incorrectly call “God.” I further suggest that it would enormously benefit humankind to do so, for by so doing we acknowledge that there is something Greater Than Us in the universe, and once that acknowledgement is made (and only until it is) we are in a position to use that Something as a mechanism, as a device, as a tool in the creation of our most desired reality.
If we cannot acknowledge God, however, then we cannot use God (how can we utilize that which we believe is not there?) – and not being able to use God as an ever present help in times of need, much less as a powerful force in times of pure creation, is to deny our greatest resource.
I have had ample evidence of the existence of what I call “God.” I have seen from my own life that “God” is a power, an essence, an energy that can be used with consistent and predictable results. I agree with Richard Dawkins that God is not a SuperBeing in the Sky, angry, vindictive, and violent except with those He loves because they love Him – in the way He wants and needs them to love Him. Richard has pulled all the stops to debunk that particular notion, to which I say bravo.
I also agree with the wonderful professor that God is not some sort of Top-Down-Power Over-Highest Life From who spends his days and nights witnessing and judging our every thought, word, and deed, granting or failing to grant our requests (based on some wholly unknown criteria), and punishing or rewarding us at the end of our lives (based on equally incomprehensible measures).
But, again, I am disappointed that while making it abundantly clear what God could not possibly be, there is little attempt in this book to offer much food for thought about what God could possibly be.
This is not to say that The God Delusion is completely without value. I would like to think that most humans know that Richard is right when he says that Yesterday’s God, the God of our mythologies, does not exist. Yet the fact is that billons do not know this. So there is a plenty of room (and need, I’m sorry to say) for Dawkins in the literature of our time. Yet if you have already gone far beyond any belief in Yesterday’s God, you will have no need to read Dawkins, nor find doing so very stimulating.
Oh, if only Richard could have expanded his horizons to include an attempt to debunk the existence of Tomorrow’s God – then we could have a Socratesian discussion, a debate worthy of what Barbara Marx Hubbard calls our society’s Cultural Creatives.
While I may not be worthy of inclusion in that group, let me continue that debate, Richard, in this space tomorrow.