This review is of the preface in particular, and as such I would like to make an introductory comment of my own before launching into some thoughts prompted by Dawkins preface.
There is a school of thought among some Christian theologians, evangelists, and apologists, that a man’s atheism in nearly all cases reflects some emotional undercurrent, some real anger with God, etc. I do not have that opinion. I think that there are perfectly understandable intellectual objections that a person can have, and I think that even if there are emotional objections, they are not necessarily invalid.
In the case of Mr. Dawkins, however, I think we need to make an exception. He himself admits to being sexually abused as a child. Here is a quote from one of his own essays:
“Being fondled by the Latin master in the Squash Court was a disagreeable sensation for a nine-year-old, a mixture of embarrassment and skin-crawling revulsion, but it was certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire. As soon as I could wriggle off his knee, I ran to tell my friends and we had a good laugh, our fellowship enhanced by the shared experience of the same sad pedophile. I do not believe that I, or they, suffered lasting, or even temporary damage from this disagreeable physical abuse of power.”Â http://richarddawkins.net/article,118,Religions-Real-Child-Abuse,Richard-Dawkins
You know what, I don’t believe him. Let’s leave aside the issue as to whether or not being molested is far out of the league as being led to believe in hell. Let’s consider the possibility that it was much more of an embarrassment then this lets on, that they didn’t have a good laugh together, that there was no ‘wriggling’ off the knee. Let’s apply a little skepticism here, shall we, and wonder if in fact the real truth is not that Dawkins and his friends had the singular experience of having the only benign example of child molesting in the course of human history, but that in fact this event was far more traumatic then he lets on. Let’s even wonder if perhaps it wasn’t an ‘event,’ but rather a pattern of events- long lasting, and devastating one, can certainly understand why a person would come to be angry with God and with anyone affiliated with God.
It may be that Richard Dawkins is exactly the premier example of an atheist at war with a God whom he insists does not exist, and yet hates anyway. If this is the case, I have deep compassion and sympathy for him. The problem of evil is not grappled with only by atheists. Let me submit to the reader that in the case of Dawkins, his arguments may not be informed by logic, evidence, and reason, but much so from being sexually abused.
That said, I’m going to take him at his word for the course of these reviews. That means assuming that this molestation had little to no impact on him, as he implies. Unfortunately, that means we are going to have to pretend that he really thinks he has logically sound reasons for his views. At least with the sympathy card in play we could understand the phenomena. Without that, we’ll have to stick to his arguments.
If Mr. Dawkins had an experience far deeper than he has let on then I understand and sympathize with his anger. If he hasn’t, my position remains [ad hominem snipped] that he is not much more than a bully. With this behind us, let us proceed.