May 15, 2014

Blood!

Someone said every good blogpost starts with blood. And that guy's blog is insanely popular for good reasons.
In contrast, Richard Dawkin's blog is popular for god reasons (yeah, that was cheap).
While scrolling through my twitter timeline I am getting a bit tired of the religiously fervent atheism of @RichardDawkins whom I admittedly pity as he just completed his transformation from an interesting thinker to a t-shirt salesman. Glittery, silver double helix neclaces, bold atheist-'A' bumper stickers. Boring stuff. He must have fired his best ghostwriters after the n-th remake of his smart bestsellers (you do remember them, don't you?).
Fortunately, before wasting too much thought on why elderly men tend to get so narrow-minded, self-pitying, and self-centered (and while laboriously calculating my own age) I was getting aware of a conversation at a nearby table in the run-down coffee shop that serves the most intense espresso in town - 'so strong, they barely add water'.
I heard the one guy had just met a woman whose daughter had passed away unexpectedly, age 16 - beautiful (as he emphasized), smart, kind and the light to everybody she met. 'How,' he asked, 'how can people be religious and believe in a loving god while at the same time we see dictators celebrate their 80th birthday and 64th year in power - with a track-record in cruelty that would make Hieronymus Bosch sob?'. The lamenting went on and on, touching about every stereotype you could expect; the heartless god, the god-less world, the world-less stochastics of being human. All seemed to defy any purpose, a blip in the time-line, completely unimportant in the face of the infinite universe - it sounded so grown-up, so wonderfully materialistic, so enlightened, so Darwinian and even Dawkins-esque.
But, thinking about it, it was heartwarmingly romantic. His proof was that if all this suffering, love, heartwrenching tragedy was ignored by god then he must be absent. But being a hardened materialist, shouldn't he denounce that soft and bubbly heart-stuff altogether in the first place? Looks like the god he wished to argue away is way more materialistic than he - casting dice to determine the fate of the universe instead of accurate bookkeeeping, calculating, weighing, rewarding. And why not? Isn't the statistics of fate more fair and just than an accumulation of brownie-points of  'goodness' to trade in for a long and healthy life? Wouldn't it be entirely unfair to have a homeless alcoholic compete with a millionaire's daughter for being a better person? So, the beautiful and kind 16 year old would go on to live a long and healthy life while the misled thug gets run over by a freight-train? Come on.
But more annoying than the logical flaw in that chatter was the evangelistic tone of the anti-evangelist. One problem with atheist zealots - as with any - lies in the extremist position combined with the infinite urge to be right. It is this self-righteous indignation that seems to allow anybody to vent her anger, to rage on and ultimately kill. No matter what -ism is pulled up for justification.
And as Dawkins and friends so breathlessly argue the case for science and knowing - against believing - they seem to forget that doubt is at the core of good science. If you want to be right, no matter what, if you need it - keep out of science. If you need the 'I told you!'-effect, leave science, close the door from the outside, lock it, nail it shut and throw the key away. Because it is this desire to have an infallible guide through our wonderfully complex and at times messy world that is at the core of the extremism of any relgion.
The lack of missionary zeal, the relaxed tolerance, and sheer infinite curiosity are among the many incredible strengths of science.
Sometimes you can simply shut up and enjoy.

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