You’ve retreated into the solitude of your hotel room after a tiring day of travel and business. More pensive than usual on this occasion, the weightier matters of life come to mind. Instead of reaching for the remote, using your cell phone, or going online, you open the top drawer of the bedside nightstand.
If atheism is the antidote for all the world’s religiously borne ills, why not place a book of cures in the hands of as many people as possible? And the privacy of a hotel room away from home might be just-right for reflection on the heavy stuff.
The Gideons International has distributed free Bibles for over 100 years. According to their website, they have placed or distributed more than 1.3 billion copies of the Scriptures in over 180 countries, and “Nowhere is the impact of sharing God’s Word more clearly illustrated than in the testimonies of changed lives that we receive almost daily.” Videos on the site speak of newfound hope, freedom from drug addiction, and even averted suicides.
What would result from an—admittedly monumental—effort to emulate the Gideons’ output? Maybe The God Delusion is not the best text for promoting the preeminence of atheism, but assuming there is such a tome, how would it impact readers? Can it be measured over time? Can it be tested by placing only Bibles in some hotels and a Dawkins/Dennett/Harris/Hitchens/Stenger book in others, and then switching off?
The larger question of Is-atheism-or-Christianity-better-for-the-world? looms, but for purposes of this post, let’s assume we can pull off the Gideons/Dawkins test. What do you think the results would show?