MPs to get copies of The God Delusion
Every MP in the country is to receive a copy of Richard Dawkins’ latest book The God Delusion following a grassroots effort by humanists who want to challenge state privileges given to religious groups.
The campaign, organised through the community action website, Pledgebank, is an attempt to demonstrate how widespread secular and atheist views are in this country. It comes in response to Prof Dawkins’s rallying cry in the book for atheists to be more vocal.
Have to confess that Suffolk Humanists didn’t respond to the appeal from James Christie of Fife:
“I will arrange for my MP to receive a copy of Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, but only if 645 other people (one per UK constituency) will do the same for other MPs.”
However, it seems that others will send Suffolk MPs copies of Dawkins’ excellent book. We wondered if it would be as effective as sending something more concise, such as Jim Herrick’s “Humanism: an Introduction”. Perhaps we’ll send that instead. It’s normally available from the Rationalist Press Association, but their website doesn’t appear to be working properly at the moment. Try again later.
We couldn’t meet Mr Christie’s deadline but the reasons that some committee members agreed we’d be unlikely to recommend making the pledge were the same as those given by BHA supporter and philosopher Julian Baggini in the Philosophers’ Magazine blog:
Mature adults rarely change their fundamental commitments about religion. Even if all 650 MPs read the book, the odds of any of them thinking “Oh my God – religion is evil!” is almost zero.
The God Delusion has had plenty of coverage. Any MP who knows about it and wants to read it will have done so already. They’re not going to think, “I’d like to read that. £14.99 is a bit pricey though. But maybe someone will get it for me as a present! I’ll wait and see”.
MPs get tons of email. It will be opened by civil servants and they will probably be sent a standard reply. The book may not even get into the MPs’ hands.
Dawkins is notoriously hard-line and the person least likely to get people to think more kindly of atheism. Indeed, for many he has the effect of making people think atheists are a belligerent bunch of zealots.
So if reading the God Delusion does make a difference to parliamentary attitudes, I’ll humbly apologise, but I doubt very much it will.