Atheists often snicker about the “God delusion”. However, a delusion we Atheists have is the belief that Richard Dawkins is an effective communicator and a quality promoter of Atheism.
It drives me nuts. Nothing could be further from the truth. With his irritating manner, smug smirk and his message that if you believe you must be inherently unstable and possibly evil (as he suggested in his TV documentary “The Root of All Evil?”) he could lay claim to be the least effective proponent of Atheism there is.
It is obvious that religion isn’t evil. Flawed, yes. Mistaken about the existence of God, absolutely. But evil? No. I attended my nephew’s baptism – a community gathering together to wish the best for a child – hardly an evil event. Religion or the lack of it is a poor guarantee of goodness.
For Atheism, I see the great setback of the last fifteen years was the death of Carl Sagan. Sagan did mystery. Sagan did awe. Wonder was his key element. His 1980s TV show Cosmos inspired a generation of scientists. He was also no pushover. I can say without a doubt that my old Atheist hero would smash the current Atheist hero. He knew fights were coming. In the 1996 book “The Demon-Haunted World” he predicted the re-rise of creationism a decade before a medically-trained Australian Minister of Education suggested that science is iffy and creationism is what Australian children should learn at school.
Richard Dawkins has won over no one. He’s probably even pushed those ready to make the leap back into the fold of their church. Richard doesn’t do amazing. Or awe. Richard does cold. The church loves Richard Dawkins the same way Al Qaeda loved George W Bush. Sure, they were sworn to destroy each other, but really all that happened in each was cemented into their power structure while doing little damage to the other.
When Richard Dawkins attempts to win over questioning Christians he puts his hand on their shoulder and says “You are a stupid, stupid person, maybe even evil”. A complete fail.
Carl Sagan would put his hand on their shoulder and tell them that the warm glow of awe the feel inside their heart is safe. He’d hand them an apple pie and say “you know, if you wanted to make an apple pie from scratch…” and begin to talk for a while. By the end, the awe of God would be replaced with the awe of the natural universe. Ethical guidelines replace a Bible and (named in classically polite Carl fashion) a bullshit “baloney” detector replaces faith. The great mysteries of the universe are exposed while shallow ones fall away. The person would stare at the beauty of the apple pie and the wonder of world around us.
Sagan’s message was: The world is awesome. You don’t need God to make it so, you just need to look.
It is time to discard the New Atheists and their aggressive counterproductive methods. Embrace your inner Carl Sagan. Don’t be a dick Richard, be an Apple-pie Atheist. You’ll make more friends. And have a lovely meal.