Leuven, March 10, 2008
Dear Richard Dawkins,
I am a Belgian Historian, with a deep love for animals & nature since childhood, and I love your visions!
I finished reading "The God Delusion God als Misvatting" last week, and I felt refreshed. I agree that there is so much obscurantism left in the belief and worldview of many a church denomination. Take the resurrection of the messiah-prophet Jeshua "in the Flesh"; take the Virgin Birth As nowadays people we know that a human brain dies irreversibly from lack of oxygen after four minutes The challenge the Biologic Sciences offer to Christian "Great Stories" has not at all adequately be answered by theologians yet.
I have witnessed a two days meeting between theologians and scientists in my hometown Leuven, home to the famous Catholic University last year; it was a very fruitful meeting. I have written a report for the Christian Opinion Weekly TERTIO titled "Science can purify our image of God". There have been no negative reactions. Most professional theologians have accepted evolution theory in Belgium. But it is deplorable that they do not have a DEEP understanding of the Evolution Theory and of the challenges it holds for the nowadays view on the world, on nature, on Man and on God.
My wife being in the process of becoming a priest in the Church of England, I have never started the reading of a book with so much apprehension as I did with "The God Delusion"; but after 10 or 20 pages my attitude had shifted completely, and I daresay never a read has seen me burst out in laughter so much! (Smile!) And it was genuine laughter, being the physical expression of "taking distance of something in a freeing way" Richard, You have this boyish way of going for the truth, of combating silly opinions, of using loads of humor in doing so it was a gorgeous read indeed!
I recognize the same passion for finding deep truth in you as it was present in Charles Darwin. (I have studied Darwin for years and recently enjoyed the biography by Janet Browne). And I daresay I have that same attitude towards discovering Deep Truth and using it to build myself and my fellow humans a good "home of ideas" in which to live in the new century.
So I can report to you that my view on religion has been purified and set free more than before by reading the aforementioned essay; I am still gaining peace and concentration out of exercises of prayer (my favorite prayer in moments of stress is psalm 23 that mentions nice nature scenery). I believe and know out of experience that," If prayer does not change God, it surely changes the one who prays". And I am pleased to read that you appreciate Jesus and his contributions to make this a better world (you mentioned in the book the joy of receiving a T-shirt which connects you to that fine prophet, bible & church critic and compassionate Healer).
I have published several articles that point out the qualities of both world-views, the (decent!) religious one and the scientific one; Both Great Stories can help (young) people to gain freedom and inner peace and enable them to live their lives to the fullest. I can admit that there are not yet enough "decent religious people" that feel embarrassed with certain obscure attitudes, practices and ideas that are still alive in some groups of Christians: on the other hand the group of rational, wise believers, that have no problem with neo-Darwinist views is definitely increasing in my Country. As you know philosophy professor Johan Braeckman of the Universiteit Gent is planning a campaign including a website and Readings to spread in depth knowledge on Evolution Theory in the "Darwin year 2009". I will work together with him; and on the other hand, I will continue to enjoy our International University Parish Community UPIC, and steer those people in a healthy direction of thinking, one that will enable them to embrace Darwin and his deeply rooted views in the future. To end, I can assure you that there are nowadays theologians that have elaborated a view on God, man, healing and suffering starting from good bible passages, a view that is consistent when keeping Evolution Theory and Science in mind. I think of the pastor and professor Lytta Basset, writing and working in Switzerland and the late Jesuit pastor Loed Loosen. In this respect, I have found the recent essay by Bean prof. emeritus Ian Barbour, active in the US, "Nature, human nature and God" balanced and wise too. I feel the implementation of the principles of Quantum Science on human behavior will bring new progress in understanding how Zeitgeist and Providence actually do their work. I think ultimately, you, me just as people like A. Einstein and E.O. Wilson, will agree that the depths of Nature are Mysterious and Wonderful. Christians everywhere would do well to remember the theological view that God is "the One that is always different from what we think He is". The Force = "The Other". He is 'unpredictable like an electron’ in that sense LOL !
I feel very close to you, as a thinker. I hope to meet you soon.
All the best,
Stefaan C. Hublou
3010 Leuven, Belgium