Author Topic: Is Dawkins shooting at the wrong target?


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It is difficult for one person to construct, all by themselves, a philosophical edifice within which they can be safe and comfortable, and which is a match for a creed that has developed over millennia, fashioned by the best minds of each generation. Any thinking person is going to have doubts. After all, you can't know everything.

Reading widely helps, both non-religious and religious works. Knowing of other people's experiences in similar situations helps. Having a sense of the ridiculous helps enormously.

To someone like me art and religion are seamless. Warhol was a modernist (among other things) but attended mass every Sunday. If we take away one, how can we acknowledge the other. Does it leave us in a pit of monumentalist representional art or - to cite another pop artist - a ruralist knot of Gordian stems a la Peter Blake, a kind of middle class paganism without all the disagreeable wicker men?

I'm pro belief, all sorts of belief for their transcendent possibilities in the same way I'm pro all sorts of art. On the whole atheists don't hold with transcendence, or claim it's the light you get through certain crystals when you dip them in liquid of a slightly different refractive index or something wishy washy like that. They're not the same thing at all. The great thing about religion is you don't have to prove it to people like Professor Dawkins. For the same reasons you feel he wouldn't get neo-romanticism or dada but probably would get abstract expressionism and surrealism he might not get Thomas a Kempis but have a sneaking regard for Saint Paul; the reasons are true but beyond words. In one world his stuff hold no sway unless you're a gimlet eyed Creationist who sees dragons in fossils - of which I found some splendid examples at the weekend, ammonites that is, nor gryphons.

Basically I think he's a fashion that'll come and go over and over in the big picture but he doesn't do poetry as much as he claims equivalence. And there'll always be a market for poetry - and I don't mean the stuff at the end of bleedin' Blade Runner either.

What I am driven by is a need to know what actually is not to be told fanciful stories that  give a false comfort.

It's interesting because that is the way I was brought up - that I should seek to know what actually is, and that I should recognise that the "fanciful stories" others might believe to be literally true are possibly fanciful, but might still give comfort, and might still contain elements of truth even as they are fanciful.

And I know that is what religions and priests do, and it lies at the heart of 'faith' and 'belief'.

And that upbringing was in a family which was deeply religious, and with an ordained minister at its head. As a result I have now been able to discard without rancour the religious belief in which I was brought up, but also without discarding a recognition that faith, belief, a sense of the numinous, spirituality, aesthetic feeling, transcendence, call it what you will, is a very important component of humanity.

I could go on...