You've seen, maybe read, The New York Times bestsellers -- Christopher Hitchens', Richard Dawkins', Sam Harris' -- and their often-sulfurous contempt for religion spilling over from every page. There's even the children's fiction of the God-denying Englishman Philip Pullman. God? Oh, puh-leeze, spare us! Science, my friend, science, numbers, formulas, microscopes -- it's all there is, all that's real.
Yes. Well. One thing I'd been wondering about, nevertheless: Do you get a sharper poke in the direction of faith, hope and love from Dawkins, say, than from Dick? A more convincing nudge from Harris than from the Sermon on the Mount, or the Law and the Prophets, where you tend to find what it's all for -- indeed what everything is for?
No one would deny, I trust, the good works that have flowed from particular agents and carriers of non-belief. Not many, I hope, forget that whereas non-belief scribbles hypotheses and postulates (things not at all bad, in and of themselves), belief marshals the power of the mind and the spirit, building hospitals and orphanages and schools, caring for the dying and the imprisoned, showing mercy and pity in the name of that belief for which non-belief feels such high-minded disdain.
The Age of Dawkins? No way. It's the Age of Dick. It's always indeed the Age of Dick -- and of believers who, from that first instinct to believe in something greater than themselves, go forth to strive and to do.