Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Interrogating The God Delusion By Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkin's obnoxiously shiny book The God Delusion became a kind of bible for atheists and secularist in the in the post 9/11 world. The title sharply called attention to a deeply held global belief in deities. As a traveling speaker and debates Dawkin's stood on a milk crate on campuses and conference rooms promoting evolution and attempting to 'raise consciousness."

Upon my second reading of The God Delusion I was struck by the awkward way in which Dawkins spoke about consciousness raising. To Dawkin's the path to a raised consciousness sought to be a pursuit of learning/critical thinking, adoption of evolution, and a personal capacity to come out of the atheist closet. On the surface this form of consciousness may not seem particularly difficult to digest. Yet, the subtext is individualistic in nature. Learning is great, but of what use is it in a wholly personal context.

Let's think back to the great Paulo Freire and oppose raised consciousness to critical consciousness. The primary difference is the inclusion of the social in the latter. Critical consciousness is created cultural dynamic which seeks to bring people together in order to take a real look at the world, learn from it, and change it. Dawkin's 'raised consciousness' on the other hand is a kind of cultural capital leveling. The idea being to conform to a set of accepted ideas in order raise yourself to the level of a atheist-evolutionist. Freire argued
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Paulo Freire Quotes (Author Of Pedagogy Of The Oppressed)'. N. p., 1970. Web. 14 May. 2014.
The problem here, of course, is that while Dawkin's promoting a secularist and evolutionary perspective he is pushing the same path to consciousness as his enemy; conformity.

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