Saturday, October 25, 2008

“Thinking is anathema to religion.”

This of course is by now an old quote from Richard Dawkins, but I’d like to explore it just a bit.

The comparison that I want to make to Richard’s comment is to two rather interesting clients that I had a few years ago. The first man I’ll call Ron. I used to run Therapy Groups and Ron was a member of one such group. When Ron first joined the group, his schizophrenia was not being properly managed. As a result, or more correctly one of the results was that he was certain that there were secret service agents just outside the office window. Ron believed that the agents had been sent by the government and that they followed him everywhere. Ron could describe how they looked, what they were wearing and so on. Of course neither I nor any of the other people in the group could see that which was solely Ron’s hallucination. Until his medications kicked in properly, Ron could concentrate on what was being talked about in groups relatively well if the blinds were drawn and he sat with his back to the window so as not to notice their shadows. Because Ron was so convinced of his beliefs, he thought that the rest of us were nuts.

The second person that bears a striking similarity to Mr. Dawkins is someone I’ll call James. James believed, he truly believed that he was invisible. I met James while working at an inpatient treatment centre. Whenever I “saw” James in the lineup at the cafeteria, I’d say “Hello James. How are you today?” The look on his face was one of total surprise. The psychic disconnect he experienced when I could see the invisible rendered James speechless for a few seconds every time I greeted him. One day I was doing some teaching on our senses and I asked a group of which James was a part, "How do we know that we're here?" In a most earnest tone of voice James immediately said, "That's a REALLY good question!!" It was very frustrating for James to know that I didn't comprehend the true nature of his invisible status. In fact, he thought there was something wrong with me.

Richard Dawkins’ delusions of grandeur (something that to the outsider seems present in virtually all atheists) cause him to make such silly statements as, “thinking is anathema to religion.” The absurdities upon which Dawkins bases his whole life (eg. At this very moment there are literally billions of planets in our universe upon which life is evolving) are believed by Dawkins to such a depth that for someone to not completely agree with him causes, at least in his mind, the only possible conclusion. Anyone who disagrees with Richard Dawkins must not be capable of rational thought. In fact, that person must purposely avoid thinking.

I hope that someday Richard gets the kind of help he needs.


Volker The Fiddler said...

I would argue that you are correct, Dawkins was a a bit presumptuous in declaring religion anathema to thought. If asked to clarify his position, I would guess that he would argue (as would I) that it is in fact possible to think logically even within (and here is where we will likely disagree) an illogical construct: religion, for example. I mean no offense when I say this, but it is as if one disallows himself the full use of his mental abilities by thinking within such strict confines. Of course, you would likely argue the same concerning the atheist's constructs.

Makarios said...

I'm not so sure fiddler. I think Dawkins meant exactly what he said. Or rather he certainly meant to say it exactly that way.

It is amazing though how each of us can examine virtually identical bits of evidence and come to opposite conclusions; each of us thinking the other is missing something vital in the thinking process. It's sad that you always get it so wrong :-)

Volker The Fiddler said...

Indeed. Such is the lamentable truth. :)

bob said...

Dawkins' point is if religious people were able to think, they would be able to figure out a magic god fairy is as childish as a tooth fairy.

Makarios said...

If atheists were able to think they would know that matter cannot create itself nor can it exist from eternity past - infinite regress of cause etc.

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