As promised earlier, this is the first in a series of rebuttals to the so-called “New Atheists.” I will try to keep them short and sweet, citing a quote or argument from their book(s), complete with a page number for reference. I will then attempt a response. Your comments are welcome …
Assertion: (The God Delusion, p. 4) “…delusion [is] ‘a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric disorder’. The first part [of this definition] captures faith perfectly. As to whether it is a symptom of a psychiatric disorder, I am inclined to follow Robert M. Pirsig … when he said, ‘When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.’ … Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument.”
Response: On what basis does Mr. Dawkins separate himself from the possibility of being likewise deluded? Yes, there are people for whom faith is a blindly accepted belief devoid of the need for evidence. Likewise, there are atheists, apparently like Mr. Dawkins, who fully admit that they could never be convinced of the existence of God, regardless of evidence produced to the contrary. Is it too much to ask that, instead of mischaracterizing the position of his opponents, Mr. Dawkins would instead engage the arguments of those who do not accept their faith blindly? Can Mr. Dawkins offer an example of what amount of evidence it would take to convince him to change his belief? Some like him claim that no amount of evidence would convince them — proving that their atheism is not intellectually based, but rather volitionally or emotionally based.
I would also offer that many who profess atheism could likewise be accused of suffering from a psychological disorder stemming from the absence or abuse of the father figure in their lives (see: Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless). If it is acceptable to see religion as a compensatory psychological disorder, fair play would demand that atheism should also be subjected to the same test.