Firstly, I greatly respect Richard Dawkins as an academic and I think his heart is in the right place, but as knowledgable as he is in many fields his understanding of the mind and spirituality is causing flaws in his work, or at least leading him to think proof that religion is harmful and causes war is reason to try to eradicate it. I can show with sound and simple logic why religion and war are correlated and why his camp is now as much to blame as anyone. We shouldn't be mis-using our intellects to remove a vital source of comfort and love to billions when the alternative is simpler, safer and kinder. I will also challenge some of the logic I recall from his God Delusion book, I read it twice, but not recently, so if I make any errors I am of course open to correction.
War and Religion
Our minds need a framework to work with, anyone who's had mental illness will know the devastating effects of what happens when your mental framework fails. Religion has a positive correlation with the recovery of mental health patients. News headlines and dialogue that insist that the only comfort they have found is bogus is a cruel thing to do. The reason war and religion are correlated is because each threatens the mental framework of the other, unless you marry the underlying concepts that unite the faiths, the practitioners have no option but to battle it out. The more shrill the verbal attack, the more shrill the response. This is also why religions tend to fragment, someone sees things a different way and they need that mental framework to be sane and so seek others to agree and a new splinter group forms. The more they need that framework the more violent the battles will be. Atheism simultaneously threatens every religion - and so I would predict, the more vocal they are the less stable the world will be. It is not for anyone to deny the faith of others but instead to seek where we are the same - find common ground to build from. If the atheists, the christians and the muslims all love Jesus let's start there,. Perhaps they all might like notions of grace and forgiveness, why not? Perhaps we could get along like adults instead of fighting? Perhaps we could learn that fighting the only thing that gives another person love and solace is a crappy thing to do.
The Common Elements of the Story of Jesus With Earlier Stories
Because people can't move quickly from one mental framework to another (to do so would cause mental illness and social unrest), you would expect elements of one story to be in another. The repetition of ideas is like social archeology, exciting to find, but does not invalidate other parts of the tale. So the echoes of other stories are just that, echoes. Sudden conversions are rare, slow adaptation to something new is more normal and overlapping stories is the kindest way to teach - that's why culturcide is such a brutal crime. That's why my country, Canada, should be even more ashamed than it is about what happened to the First Nations. And that's another place Dawkins is wrong, his entire platform is pushing for culturcide of religion worldwide and, I repeat, it is brutal and destabilizing.
I recall a quote that went like this, though likely he was quoting someone else: "If God is omnipotent He is malevolent, if he is not, He is not God." That's like saying "If my Dad isn't the biggest bastard in the playground he isn't my Dad." It isn't logic that stands up, I find it lazy. Spirit and matter are related and separate, I find it quite logical that for a God to work in our reality it would be through spiritual guidance, that we would be His hands and feet mending social injustice.
Complexity vs Intelligence
We, as a species, eternally confuse complexity with intelligence. They aren't the same thing. Sometimes intelligent things are simple, like love. Humans need very little to exist - food, water, good shelter and love. Now some might say, "You don't need love!" Do you know what happens to people who don't have love? They die. One way or another, they die. We can feel love like a sixth sense. It is not bound by time or space, you can't weigh it or measure it, but you know it's there. Love heals, love makes us well. So when we say God is love, we mean it. We can feel it. Why fight so hard against love? I just don't get it, how can that motivate a person?
We should love our partners with fire, intensity, compassion, forgiveness, grace, honesty, integrity and perseverance - love like a lion not a Hallmark card. But there is also divine love that heals too, some people are so abused and forsaken it's all they have and it's real. They hear spiritual music and they cry, or smile, or sing, or feel comfort. How can anyone say that isn't real? Real to who? Who gets to say what is real to another person? Should we discount the pain of others too because we can't feel it? That's psychopathic. Why is spiritual love different? Only I know what I feel, and I communicate it as honestly as I can. Personally I have both kinds of love plus love from true friends and I feel alive, creative and bursting with life.
So really, it's time we put our hands in the air. It's time we realise what it means to attack the mental frameworks of others. We need a more peaceful world, we need aid to go the hungry, not bury ourselves in meaningless trivia and consumer goods. Love doesn't come in a box, it's our birthright. Time to take it, soak it in in whatever way works best for you. We're all a little different and that's great. Communities are like natural meadows not wheat fields.
It's time to value everyone no matter what they bring to the table and stop the elitist crap. I value the beauty of different faiths. I value the genius of a dancer as much as the genius of a mathematician. If I need a home it's the builder who makes it, if I'm sick I need a doctor. We can't all be doctors, I can't live in a diagnosis. IQ tests are bogus and flawed, they only tell you what this society is bias toward.
Multicultural is Good
I want to surround myself with folks who understand what love really means - love is not bigoted or cruel, it is not boastful or jealous, it is beautiful, it is kind and strong, brave and noble. Getting a better world is a simple as dreaming common dreams, devising systems with virtuous cycles instead of deleterious ones and making sure nice guys finish first. Dare to dream. Dare to love. Don't give up.