I heard good things about Dawkins’ talk at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, so I let my computer crank away at downloading the video overnight—it’s 113 megabytes! Then this morning Norm of onegoodmove lets me know that there are some shorter clips available from the Q&A: a reaction to the abuse of Quantum Theory,
a disparagment of blind faith, and best of all, his reaction to hearing that
Liberty University labels their dinosaur fossils as being a few thousand years old. The discussion with the audience is always the best thing about these talks, and this was a case where the audience had a number of mind abuse cases from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in attendance.
One thing not in the shorter clips that I thought was interesting was the young woman who asked Dawkins if he thought it was normal that deconversion was accompanied by anger, and he didn’t know…so he asked the audience. And they roar back that yes, it is.
I think Dawkins was being slightly disingenuous. I can believe his own loss of faith was easy and unaccompanied by stress, because my own was, as well. In my own case, my childhood belief was fairly shallow, so when I realized that I didn’t believe any of that baloney in adolescence, it wasn’t at all traumatic. But Dawkins knows as do I that that anger can come later, and you can sense it in Dawkins in the question about dinosaur fossils. I feel that, too. We’re both people whose lives are heavily invested in a university and in teaching and in science, and when you see the kinds of vile fraud institutions of bunkum like Liberty University commit against those three values, I can’t help but feel disgust and anger.
Many people, I suspect, are hit harder with those sensations. If you start with a deeper commitment to a religion, if you’ve been compelled by family to invest heavily in that belief (another horror I was spared), if your deconversion is prompted by learning that you’ve been betrayed and lied to—then I can understand how anger is an early and strong part of the process.
All I can say is that yes, you should be damned angry. I am glad that many people are beginning to feel that fury.