What a relief it was to become an atheist.
I had become worn out and frustrated by my fruitless search for God.
I had studied holy writings from three different continents. No God there.
I had tried prayer and “positive thinking” as if they were the same thing.
I had wrestled with the problems of theodicy without even knowing that the word existed.
I felt that I had sought God everywhere – in the cosmos, in my neurones, in my bank account.
Everywhere. Or so I thought.
Then I read The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. What an immense relief it was to discover that my search for God and Meaning was bound to be frustrating and disappointing; it could only lead me up blind alleys, because God simply didn’t exist.
Evolution explained everything.
The notion of God (the supreme alpha-male) was a side-effect of the evolution of the human brain. Attributing “agency” was an effective survival strategy.
The God that you attributed agency to was uniquely dependent on the culture into which you had been born.
Religion was an exercise in social manipulation and power.
Believing information received from non-verifiable sources (revelation) opened the door to all kinds of horrendous excesses, from Inquisitions and witch-burning to flying planes into towers and fathers committing “honour killings” and a president lying in order to bomb and massacre innocent
people in Iraq.
Man had invented God in his own image.
God was the ultimate comfort blanket.
Science was leaving no space for the “God of the gaps”.
Talk of Eternal Life was in fact just a morbid obsession with death.
Even monkeys had invented The Golden Rule.
Science and Reason alone revealed Truth.
An “Omnipotent God” was an impossible notion anyway.
Religion was “the opium of the people.”
Love, self-sacrifice and charity were just the misfiring of evolutionarily selected survival mechanisms.
Everything could be explained.
There was just simply no need for the God delusion anymore.
Then, Richard Morgan says, he discovered Richard Dawkins’ website. There he interracted with like-minded atheists and joined in the sport of mocking Christian writers who attempted to refute Dawkins’ book The God Delusion.
One of those Christian writers was David Robertson, author of The Dawkins Letters. In spite of the abuse he received Robertson to post replies to his criticis. ‘Standard orthodoxy’ among the RDnetters was that he was a deluded fruitcake. Many even accused him of being dishonest. Robertson politely asked if someone could point out precisely where and how he had lied. Morgan, though afraid of being labelled a ‘troll’ by his fellow-atheists, plucked up the courage to post, “Whatever else we may think about DR, I’m sure he does not wilfully and knowingly tell lies.” He was shot down in flames.
Then the site adminstrator posted an article about some deluded Russian prophet who had tried to commit suicide in a particularly clownish way when his prediction for the date of the end of the world failed to come true.
The reaction amongst many of the RDnetters was as predictable as it was unfortunate: not only mockery and jeering, but a couple even regretting that the falled prophet had failed in his attempt to end his own life.
This was too much for Richard Morgan. He signed his own RDnet ‘death sentence’ by posting:-
Don’t you guys realise that you are giving David Robertson and his ilk stuff to use against us as
atheists? Already they accuse us of being soulless and unfeeling! I am sure that David Robertson would never, ever laugh and gloat over a suicide attempt by an atheist. Can you imagine him saying “Serve him right, dumb atheist! That’s where rejecting Jesus gets you! He deserves nothing better. Psychotic, godless fruitcake!”
A few RDnetters offered some support for Morgan. But others mocked.
So there he was, alone: no God, and rejected by atheists.
He re-read the comments that David Robertson had been patiently posting on RDNet.
As I was reading, my thoughts turned to the honeybee.
And the invisible, ultra-violet landing pads on the petals of certain fl owers that guide the bee to the pollen and the delicious nectar that awaits the happy apidae.
The fact that I can’t see these landing pads doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Just as the fact that the bee can’t see the colour red doesn’t mean that he can fl y through a tomato.
I have my five senses and a brain that works in a particular way to process what my five senses pick up. But that doesn’t prove that anything that can’t be captured by my five senses doesn’t exist. If ever, in a science fi ction journey, I came across a universe where living beings had ten senses, well, I could only have half as much fun as they did.
The wonderful philosophical explanations and arguments that I read on RDNet had fascinated me, fi lled me with awe and admiration, and I even understood some of them.
But they always left me with the uneasy feeling of, “Well, yes, that’s what brains do. Ducks quack; the French complain; and the human brain processes information. However sophisticated my reasoning processes, they will still be limited to the capacity of my brain. But does that mean that anything that cannot be perceived by my senses and processed by my brain doesn’t exist?”
I started ruminating about all this during that fateful weekend.
And ruminating was not all he did. He started posting on the forum of David Robertson’s church – the Free Church of Scotland. And the FCoS’s ‘resident fruitcake’ responded by asking two questions: “Why don’t you believe in God?” and “What could make you believe in God?”
In a moment, the words that had always provoked a terrible sensation of longing in me came into my mind: “We can love Him, because He loved us first.”
And my universe exploded.
Lights came on, prison doors opened, and scales fell off my eyes, the whole “Amazing Grace” thing.
As I considered my perception of life, the universe and everything, it was literally as if I had been looking at a two-dimensional image in black and white, and in an instant everything became three-dimensional and Technicolor!
A short time later, I went back to my DR documents and was amazed to discover that the words that almost leapt out at me from the pages were the Biblical references that had so embarrassed me before.
Richard Morgan adds:-
“For the Word of God is living and full of power.” (Hebrews 4:12)
It is so good to be loved without having done anything to deserve it.
It is so good to raise my eyes from the science laboratories and the books of philosophy and start to behold the glory of God.
Science and philosophy are wonderful manifestations of the enormous capacities of the human mind.
But the Word of God is Truth, and truth is what it took to set me free.
My journey in faith begins.
Watch this space.
Adapted from The Monthly Record, September 2008