Thursday, February 20, 2014

The God Delusion - Preface

I mentioned here that I have just started reading The God Delusion

Before I go into detail about the preface, I just want to pick up on his first few paragraphs and also relate it to some of my early experiences.

He starts the book with a story about how a child hated her school when growing up, and only made it known as an adult. Her mother, aghast, said, "Why didn't you tell us". The now adult child said, "I didn't know I could". She didn't know she could complain or do anything about it, or even change schools (as an illustration of changing religions/beliefs).
Dawkins admits that that was him. He didn't know either that he could change his mind, change his "religion".
I sympathise with him. Not so much from my own experience, but what could have happened. If I had been in a different situation, in a different country, culture, with an upbringing and religion that I wanted to reject - then yes.
But I don't think I was in the same sort of situation. I think I had an awareness that you could change. I remember that I was aware at some stage before aged ten that people had different beliefs, not all were Christians, and that you could be one or not. I was also aware at least in late primary school that all of my school friends were not Christians, or might have only been nominal Christians. I'm not sure the exact categories I had at that age, but my friends were definitely different from me and my family.
At age 10 I saw the need to be serious about Jesus, that there was a need to me to make a change of sorts. Being a follower of Jesus wasn't a matter of going to church, doing good etc, but was a personal commitment, to turn away from sin, and to trust in him to save me by his death on the cross. I was aware that this life was not all there was, and that eternity was spent either in heaven or hell. And this was something I could talk to my parents about.
Well, I became a Christian in my mind at that point. Possibly in Dawkins terms, I have already been indoctrinated, but I think we will come to this later - there seems to be a chapter on it.

Getting back to Dawkins: his point, after saying he didn't know he could change, is that this could be you. You didn't know you could change, or don't know there are very good reasons to doubt Christianity (in his thinking), or religion in general. Maybe I haven't considered enough the opposite view, that Christianity is wrong, or bad, or both. Maybe I have a lot to learn, that there is a whole other way of thinking.
Or on the other-hand, maybe Dawkins hasn't really understood Christianity at all, and he has only rejected his misconception of it, and that he has merely multiplied clever arguments in his favour.
We shall see.

The next post looking at the preface is here.

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