THE TAKE AWAY
The God Virus
By Kersley Fitzgerald
Recently, I was tasked with writing an article for GotQuestions.org on The God Virus. After Virus of the Mind, I should have read The God Delusion by Dawkins. But the library was out, so I read the next best thing — a response to The God Delusion called Dawkins Delusion? by Alister and Joanna McGrath. The McGraths have the interesting distinction of being believers, academics, and friends of Dawkins. Their tone was not defensive or strident or fearful. They actually came across as sadly disappointed. They point out several instances in which Dawkins shows his ignorance of religion and spiritual people.
This speaks back to the nice atheist/angry atheist dichotomy. It is possible to think God is a fairy tale without being insulting to or even dismissive of those who say God is real. But, at the same time, believers have to watch their attitudes. It's one thing to gently explain what the Bible says (truth in love!). It's another to make sweeping generalizations that cause nothing but strife. And yet another to so misrepresent God and the gospel that you drive people away from the truth (Romans 2:17-24; James 3:1).
At the risk of making one of those sweeping generalizations, what I seemed to catch were three different atheistic attitudes toward faith in God. The first is the easy-going atheist. They disbelieve God perhaps because they want to figure things out for themselves. Maybe out of pride, but maybe because they just think the search is fun (See: Richard Brodie, Stephen Hawking). Another type is those who know a little, but they don't like what they hear. They consciously reject God because to acknowledge Him would be inconvenient to how they want to live and far too convicting. They try to use scientific proof in their arguments, but they often come across as defensive and angry (Dawkins).
The third category is the most tragic. These are the wounded atheists. They believed once. Many were raised in the church. Others lived on the fringes, but something about them made them hold back. But the people in the church so misrepresented the gospel, so "wounded their young," that they drove the seeking away from God. It is no sin to reject a god that bears no resemblance to the loving, forgiving God of the Bible. But it is terribly sad to run away from one lie and embrace another out of hurt and fear.
That's where Darrel Ray and his The God Virus come in. His view of religion and Christianity was so tainted by the wrong he saw growing up in the church that he fled from God altogether. And that view taints how he sees religion in history and religious people. He's blinded to the good.
He also recognizes similar wounds in many others* and that is why he wrote the book. He wanted to help the walking wounded, to validate their feelings and experiences. The concept of a mind virus or Christianity as a harmful infection is not scientific or logical, but it isn't meant to be. They are emotional words for emotionally and spiritually traumatized people.
The conclusions I drew — what believers should do about it — are in the articles, here and here. What I personally got out of the research was a greater (although by no means comprehensive) understanding of atheism, a reminder to be kind, and, strangely enough, validation of my faith. Maybe I'm infected by a mythical virus. Or maybe it is the God of the universe speaking to my heart.
*For examples, check out the blog No Longer Quivering.
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