Dale McGowan on reality

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Dale McGowan on reality

Post by Lausten » Tue May 25, 2010 8:29 pm

Dale McGowan has published his essay from “50 Voices of Disbelief” on his blog. When I started reading the book, I thought this would be the best essay in the book, and now that I’m through I still think so. There are a few that are technically better, discussing new research in evolutionary biology and possible political compromises, but this one is the most enjoyable to read and covers the full range of cultural and personal reflection. He is very clearly atheist and expresses the anger he felt when he realized “how thin the veneer” of religion is, but throughout the essay he maintains a healthy respect for the culture he left behind. He starts off with, “It’s all too easy to get one’s own narrative wrong.” His narrative revolves around the death of his father, his wonderment for nature and desire for truth. On the question of God’s existence, he says, “I took the question seriously.” After tracing his story, you want to take his conclusions seriously.

While trying to find those answers, when he seemed to have covered all the bases he, “continued the inquiry anyway, dogged by the nagging suspicion that I had to have missed something.“ His querying was pre-internet, so there were fewer voices to confirm what he figured out, more or less on his own. His doubts about his atheism were complicated by statements about the faith of America’s Founding Fathers, Darwin and Einstein. Refutations of all of these are just a click away now, although refutations of the refutations are just as close.

He claims, "a systematic cultural suppression of the rich heritage of religious doubt keeps that heritage out of view.“ In my blog, I said this sounds a little like a conspiracy theory, but gave him the benefit of the doubt that it was not. He made the comment back to me that, "I don't see the suppression of the history of disbelief as conspiratorial, nor even conscious -- but it manifests itself reliably enough to have the same effect.”

It comes through clearly that he has no remaining questions about the supernatural and it is very clear that getting to that point was not easy. Even though he "got the answer right very early on“, he still, "took thirty years checking my work.“ By doing so, and by having the gift of expressing himself in writing, he can not only explain what he found, but he can let us in on how hard it was and how it felt to get over each hurdle. He can look back and understand the process and appreciate why many are still back where he once was.

He ends with words as beautiful as any hymn,
"But I know that all the comforts and assurances I need, all we’ve ever really had, are those we get from those around us who have inherited the same strange, scary, wonderful conscious life that each of us has. We are cosmically insignificant, a speck in space and a blink in time, inconceivably unimportant – except to each other, to whom we should therefore be unspeakably precious.“
A sermon helper that doesn't tell you what to believe: http://www.milepost100.com