Nothing To See
One cannot help but feel a little sorry for Richard Dawkins. He has spent much of his life attempting to elucidate some of the principles of rational atheism, and this has led him to spend many fruitless hours conversing with religious people — always with the same outcome. There is something intrinsic in such conversations that leads perpetually to incomprehension on the part of the religious person. As this same phenomenon repeats itself wherever and whenever a thoughtful rational person attempts to converse with a religious person, it is worth exploring why the impasse exists and is hardly ever circumvented.
For the thoughtful person it is immediately obvious that the thousands (or perhaps millions) of gods, ghouls, and goblins we humans have invented over the years are all fundamentally the same and all fundamentally the results of an imaginative projection of our own characteristics. There has never been a god, ghoul, or goblin that is not fundamentally human and it’s a cliché to note that we always invent gods in our own image. That’s why religious beliefs are always banal, predictable, and most often squalid. Yet religious people are cut off from this basic observation. For them, their particular god, ghoul, or goblin is the only possible one and despite perhaps knowing abstractly that (a) their particular deity is a relatively recent invention, and (b) most of the human race has worshipped other invisible magical creatures instead, the religious person is trapped within a narrow worldview in which their arbitrary belief is the One True Truth and all other beliefs are necessarily false.
This narrow worldview depends entirely on a failure of intellect or, at best, on a series of mental contortions that attempt to reconcile the existence of thousands of other invisible magical creatures by claiming that “really” they are all manifestations of the particular deity the speaker happens to favor. What’s curious about this latter position is that the believer will nevertheless regard all the other deities as somehow inferior to the preferred deity. Whatever the various dogmas attached to these other deities, they likewise will be spurned in favor of the dogma that has accreted around the believer’s preferred god, ghoul, or goblin. Going further, when religious…