‘A God Delusion’ is what Richard Dawkins should have titled his book, which (in a dead giveaway of his rather pompous approach) he called ‘The God Delusion’. I haven’t finished reading it yet but every page so far is reinforcing the fact that all of us at different times in our lives—whether we are believers or atheists—harbour various ‘God Delusions’. These tend to be expressed most boldly when we are rich and healthy or angry and in pain.
And this is not all bad, we find much of this in the psalms and other writings in scripture. Putting these kind of thoughts out of there is, not uncommonly, one way of processing them and sometimes realising how silly they are, and that they are delusional. In the light of that, it may well be that Dawkins’ book will help both Christians and atheists to be rid of one particular delusion* about God.
The difference of course with Dawkins’ book is the relentless rage—even hatred—that comes through. This guy is not going to listen to reason and his outbursts read more like those of someone in stage three of faith development** where everything is either ‘black or white’, ‘this or that’. A hallmark of this stage is the inability to see inconsistency in your reasoning and the inability to hear valid criticism.
Sometimes though, it turns out that the expression of our hurts and disappointments about God is not merely delusional, not silly and is in fact quite profound. Dawkins does allude to some of this but in a manner that suggests he’s not actually serious, he just wants to hate—like a propagandist—and that is that. On the other hand, when CS Lewis said the awful pain of having a wife die of cancer made him wonder if we were just ‘rats in a cosmic experiment’, he did it in a way that spoke on behalf of millions and enabled them to go somewhere with it. Interestingly—despite what some Christians thought—he hadn’t lost his faith, he was simply expressing it honestly.
* a delusion is a false impression that’s held onto despite the contradictory evidence of reality
** James Fowler, Faith Development