Darwin definitively put divine creation into doubt. Naïve, hard-headed, blind believers like the Polish Pope, who had to admit not only that Galileo had not been wrong, but that Darwin’s doctrine could no longer be considered a mere theory, seem to be confortable with both creation and evolution : God created a world which He empowered to . . . evolve. Q.E.D.
There is room for reasonable doubt here. The origin of faith may well be in what William James called “The Will to Believe” : the sheer willingness to believe can lead some to a credulity best incarnated in the Queen in Alice’s Wonderland, “The Other Side of the Mirror” :
“You can’t believe things which are impossible”, said Alice (a precursor of our Hermione Granger ?).
“ I suppose you lack training”, said the Queen. “It has happened to me sometimes to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast“.
Quite late in my professional religious career, I began to question the certitudes of my early religious education. Doubts developed into convictions that I had been a gullible believer in myths and miracles, a faithful follower of ancient traditions that were their own justification (see the previous post, “A Blind but Brave Bishop”, on Bishop Robinson’s reasons for believing in the Assumption). But can atheists succeed in convincing the believer that s/he is mistaken ? Some atheist authors say they would not even try, not because of the difficulty but because of their “tolerance” and “deep respect” for holders of opinions which contradict their own.
I think I have made it clear that unlike these authors, I, like Dawkins (what pretension !), do want believers to doubt, to question, and wif a l’il bi’ o’ luck, to arrive at the conclusion that they have been lost in a blind alley, seduced into believing nonsense, tales told by idiots, signifying nothing.
“A sower went out to sow his seed”. Mine is the seed of doubt, destined for “Believers on the Brink”. If it takes root in even one of my readers, my efforts will not have been wasted.