Last night in Lynchburg, Virginia, home of the infamous Jerry Falwell, was memorable. The large hall at Randolph Macon Woman’s College was packed. I gave a fairly short program of readings from The God Delusion, and then the bulk of the evening was given over to much more than an hour of Q & A. The first questioner announced himself as coming from Liberty (Falwell’s 'University'), and he began by saying he had never been so insulted, yet simultaneously so amused, by any lecture. Many of the questioners announced themselves as either students or faculty from Liberty, rather than from Randolph Macon which was my host institution. One by one they tried to trip me up, and one by one their failure to do so was applauded by the audience. Finally, I said that my advice to all Liberty students was to resign immediately and apply to a proper university instead. That received thunderous applause, so that I almost began to feel slightly sorry for the Liberty people. Only almost and only slightly, however.
The most interesting question was from a young woman not from Liberty but from Randolph Macon itself, and it really startled me. She wanted to know whether people who deconverted from a religious upbringing felt ‘anger’. In my naivety, I went blank. Why should one feel anger? Anger towards what, or whom? I asked the audience whether they understood what she meant, and there was a great chorus of “Yes”. I asked them again, why anger, anger towards whom? Then they started shouting from all around the hall. It was anger towards their parents for bringing them up religious, anger towards teachers and pastors for indoctrinating them as children.
As for me I can't say that I'm that angry at those Jesuits who drummed the belief in a sky daddy. While intelligent, those old men (some of them already deceased) were just adept in compartmentalizing their minds. They were well rooted in reality about certain things. But they were all utterly stupid when it came to religion. Well, adios padres. I left you behind ages ago. And those of you who're still around, geez, are you still talking to your imaginary friend in the clouds?