Today, I was planning my Confirmation class about faith and belief. As I was planning at the simplest level, What is faith?, I wondered, “What does Richard Dawkins think about this?” I wanted a quote from this popular atheist to help guide my planning. I found a video on YouTube in which he answers a university student’s question about God as the first cause. In it, he says,
However difficult and apparently inadequate the theory of the physicists is, the theory of the theologians – that the first cause was a complicated intelligence – is even more difficult to accept. […] God, if He exists, would have to be a very, very, very complicated thing indeed.
But this struck me as very wrong. Besides the fact that Mr. Dawkins makes reason his god, he says that God is complicated. Honestly, I had never heard that before. Growing up in a family that was strong in faith and belief, I had always heard that God is simple.
Certainly, God as Creator seems to have necessarily been a complicated intelligence – an intelligence far beyond our human intelligence. But that’s pretty much as far as we can understand when it comes to reason. What about experience? Belief can be based on experience, can’t it? Unfortunately, Mr. Dawkins has never claimed to have experienced God. What about the mystics – those who claim to have experienced this God whose nature and existence is beyond our rational capacity?
I have yet to read a mystic who does not liken their experience of God to a marital union. (If you have, please show me.) Their experiences are chiefly characterized by one word: love. Deep, intimate love.
It seems to me that God is love. And love, truly, is beyond reason. Can you ‘prove’ to me that someone loves me? Can you explain what it means to love? Not attraction, not intercourse, but love.
“How convenient!” Mr. Dawkins might say. “God just declares Himself to be something ‘beyond reason!'” (Or perhaps he would supply a scientific explanation for the phenomenon ‘we call’ “love.”)
But you know what? It’s not just doctrine that “God is love.” It’s not just something God told us about Himself. It’s also our human experience. It is a conviction that arises from the core of each person who has been touched by God. This belief, this faith, this confidence that God is simply Love, is a gift. I pray that Mr. Dawkins and every other person in this world would allow themselves to receive that gift.