Recently, a book about atheism has topped the best-seller lists: The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. In it he comes up with reason after reason why one does not have to believe in God.
In his case, he thinks science has the answers as to how we got here, why we human beings are sometimes so awful and sometimes so wonderful. And those scientific answers, he figures, should be enough, both to satisfy any spiritual desire we might have and to debunk religion entirely.
But as a reviewer of his work notes, Dawkins doesn't understand the impulse to faith at all. Faith comes not from a search for answers of process, but answers of meaning. “How?” is not the most important question to religion; science is very good at answering that one. The most important question to religion is “why?” and science hardly touches on that one.
“Faith in the modern era...comes from...the need to see the world and our place in it as substantive, as meaningful, from the point of view of the universe.” (George Steiner; Walrus review, April '07)
Atheism generally fails to provide answers as to our purpose in the world. Atheists don’t believe in God, but what do they believe in?
If Dawkins really wants to displace religion, he needs to provide the purpose, the rituals, the character formation that faith does. He needs to provide hope for a hurting world, and comfort for anxious souls. Without that, he’s just shouting into the wind.
Where Dawkins has it right is...(the rest here)