It had to happen, this blog post. I did try putting it off but in the back of my mind, I knew it was coming. Repressing it any longer is not going to be very helpful, so here we go....I absolutely adore Richard Dawkins.
Like any self respecting 'believer', I used to hate him. That hate was irrational but in my mind, justified completely by the fact that he seemed smug, all knowing, self righteous and a bit pompous. And he was an atheist. A militant atheist is what I heard somewhere.
Such was my utter dislike for this man, that when my son bought The God Delusion, I decided to read it (because I love books), but I also decided to hate it before I finished it. The outcome of that, was that I read the first chapter and gave up in a sort of childish tantrummy way, proclaiming that it was crap and that Dawkins had an agenda and that I was not going to be a part of it.
Then something happened. An epiphany of sorts. I can't even remember why I first decided to actually watch one of his debates, because it was 2 weeks ago and that's a long time. But one quiet weekend, when the kids were away at their father's house, and I was working on the site, I opened YouTube and tentatively typed "Richard Dawkins" in the search box.
I was scared.
What would happen? Would I become apoplectic with rage, and ruin my peaceful Saturday? Would I suddenly not believe in the whatever it was that I believe in? Would my world come crashing down around me?
I took the chance and started playing a random video. I was only listening to it in the background, although occasionally, I would switch tabs and watch him. And when that video had finished, I played another one. Then another one. And so on.
At this point in time, 2 weekends later, I only have to type "Ri" into the YouTube search box until it asks me in its YouTubey manner..."Richard Dawkins by any chance?"
It's fair to say that I have made a complete 180 regarding my feelings for this man. He is super intelligent (he has now replaced Will Self as the person I would least like to have a conversation with, for fear that I would come off as enormously inadequate and thick), polite, humble, indulgent beyond belief, and let's face it, a little bit sexy too. In fact, I am writing this in Richard Dawkins' accent. And it sounds magnificent.
I believe in evolution. I've learnt alot about evolution since listening/watching his debates, but I don't think I was ever one of those "fossils are fake" people. I was close to one, maybe, as a Muslim, but it's been a long journey since then. As of this moment, thanks to Professor Dawkins, I have come to know that what I am is probably a Pantheist.
Apart from allowing me to label myself finally (Agnostic, no....I waver too much on one side...Gnostic, sounds quite presumptious really....Deist, can't possibly call myself that even if I was one, because everytime someone asked me what I was, I would have to reply "I'm a deist", and you can't say that without then going on to sing it in a Falco "Amadeus" way), where was I?...ok, apart from allowing me to label myself, I have just learnt SO much from this man. I enjoy listening to him give lectures, but I really enjoy watching him debate with people of faith, because, obviously, both sides are given.
And I find myself silently cheering him, even when I don't necessarily agree with him. Because, to be honest, I don't agree with him on everything. I still believe in something. I believe that God is everywhere, in everything, and not just in the poetic way that he talks of alot when he mentions Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein. But I'm not religious. I don't follow religion, I have left that behind a long time ago, and so on that point, I can totally get behind him when he talks of how stupid religion is. It really is. Unbelievably so.
And he is so patient, it's amazing to observe. Yesterday, I watched him debate with a woman who was a staunch creationist, and honestly, after about the 3rd time she stated "but we see no evidence of evolution", and he replied that there was evidence if she would just go to museums and look at it, and she would completely ignore him, talk about something else and then ask it again.....I began to actually marvel at how patient he was. I would have smacked her upside the head by this time. I would be grabbing her face and ramming it into a science book. But Richard Dawkins? He let her speak, listened to her, and like a parent explaining something to a child, he would gently repeat his point over and over.
All the knowledge this man has, all the intelligence, the wisdom, the science, the education, is nothing compared to his humility. He lets people voice their opinion, even though you just know he must be thinking "what a fucking eejit". I was incredibly wrong about him. He is not arrogant and self righteous. He simply knows what he knows and wants everyone else to know it too.
This blog post was never going to be a deeper discussion of what I personally believe in, it was simply meant to be me, admitting that I was wrong in a public way (but also in way that no-one really cares about...it's not like I wrote this, thinking Richard Dawkins would read it and think...thank fuck for that, because Aisha's opinion of me was the one thing that was really getting to me). That's nothing new. I'm wrong on many things. But I love learning, so, you know, learning I was wrong about something is good for me too.
My son is bemused to say the least at my new found love and adoration for someone who I had started to use as a mere adjective (as in "those Dawkins-type-atheists"). And I'm going to read The God Delusion properly now. And then quite possibly order all of his other books from Amazon.
And read them all in his voice.