What if You’re Wrong?”
Richard Dawkins is one of my favorite authors and he also happens to be one of the most intelligent men on the planet. Two of my favorite books written by him include, “The Selfish Gene,” a treatise dealing with human behavior and the reasons we act the way we do. And the second book is “The Blind Watchmaker,” the most definitive and complete work on the subject of evolution since the writings of Darwin.
Dawkins also happens to be a very well known atheist who often engages in rather high-profile debates with various well-known theists in the world. At one of his recent lectures, he was asked by a member of the audience, “What if you’re wrong?” His rather profound answer is captured in a South Park like cartoon – I have included it at the end of this piece. If more people understood and heeded his message, this would be a more tolerant, peaceful, safer world in which to live.
The crux of the message is that our beliefs are basically based on the environment into which we were born. The ascetic Buddhist monk who spends his working life in a children’s burn center in Tokyo, had he been born in a different place, might well be the terrorist who straps explosives to himself with the goal of blowing up you and yours. As an aside, you certainly must appreciate that one willing to sacrifice their life for their belief system certainly believes at least as strongly in his system as you do in yours – perhaps even a bit stronger!
Understand that there have been 2870 Gods recorded in human history and the believer in each of those was convinced that he was correct in his belief. I am not trying to start a religious debate – usually those debates leave the debaters simply convinced that their opponent is a heathen idiot – I am simply stating that if we take a moment to understand why our neighbor might have beliefs different than our own, and be tolerant of said beliefs, this would in fact be a safer, more peaceful world. Although your neighbor might have religious beliefs different than yours, he might in fact be just as wonderful a person as you.
Here is the video that I alluded to at the beginning of this blog: