My mind is open to the most wonderful range of future possibilities, which I cannot even dream about, nor can you, nor can anybody else… I don’t see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial. If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed. –Richard Dawkins
The quotation is from a debate between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins in Time magazine (titled “God vs. Science”) a few years ago. I first heard the quotation from Francis Collins himself, who mentioned it in a lecture I attended around that time. He used it as part of an argument for God, but I saw it as the opposite. Dawkins’ words expressed my feelings about religion perfectly. I wanted something more than Jesus, something more than salvation, more than a God with a plan for the universe. I could imagine something more. I knew then, with those closing words of Dr. Collins’ lecture, that I wasn’t the only one. Richard Dawkins could imagine it too. That was the first time atheism entered my mind, and the universe suddenly seemed a hundred times bigger and scarier.
I’ve met both Collins and Dawkins in person, and I have to say that Dr. Collins is the pleasanter of the two. He’s warm and genial, with a twinkle in his eye and a welcoming handshake for everybody. When he talks about Jesus, when he says the name of Christ, it’s clear that he’s in love. He’s one of the handful of Christians I know who radiates their love for God, whose voice bespeaks an intimacy that makes me jealous.
I used to be in love with God in that way. But it was no longer enough for me; the very fact that I could imagine something bigger and better than Christianity had been a clue to me for some time. When I realized that I wasn’t alone, that others had imagined it before me, I decided to leap into the unknown. I dared to dream.