I purchased a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion* the other day. I teach an apologetics class at my church and wanted to actually read what one of the so-called “Four Horseman of New Atheism” had to say on the matter. My wife was horrified when I opened the package and held the tome aloft—she accused me of enriching a godless heretic who seems content to remain on a path leading inevitably to the fires of hell. I supposed she had a point, so I retreated to pragmaticism—how can I know what the man says unless I buy the book? My wife reluctantly agreed but was still suspicious, and ordered me to banish the text to a distant bookshelf, far from the reaches of our children.
Reading the first few chapters, I stumbled across a disturbing passage written by a well-meaning but ill-informed Christian to Albert Einstein. The missive was a response to a paper Einstein wrote in 1940 about why he did not believe in God. Dawkins evidenced contempt and scorn for this little letter, and I must agree he is justified in doing so. Here it is:
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We respect your learning, Dr Einstein; but there is one thing you do not seem to have learned: that God is a spirit and cannot be found through the telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be found by analyzing the brain. As everyone knows, religion is based on Faith, not knowledge. Every thinking person, perhaps, is assailed at times with religious doubt. My own faith has wavered many a time. But I never told anyone of my spiritual aberrations for two reasons: (1) I feared that I might, by mere suggestion, disturb and damage the life and hopes of some fellow being; (2) because I agree with the writer who said, “There is a mean streak in anyone who will destroy another’s faith.”…I hope, Dr Einstein, that you were misquoted and that you will yet say something more pleasing to the vast number of the American people who delight to do you honor. (38)