Richard Dawkins & Other Atheists

Before I start I feel that in the interests of fairness I am writing this as a Christian, from a Christian perspective. The views reflected are my own and may not necessarily reflect those of the church at large.

Atheism has been making waves in the news recently, especially with the Popes state visit to the UK. This has lead to (what feels like) a really large wave of anti-Christian sentiment on sites like Twitter (I don’t know if I just follow the wrong people or what?!). Then the other day I had the mis-fortune to stumble across this link: http://richarddawkins.net/letters/ugly.

I only read the first couple of letters on here but it really made me feel sad to see what people felt was excusable to send. I commented on this on Twitter and got a few responses suggesting different articles for me to read, and they also inspired me to write this post, just to outline exactly what my position on Dawkins is and why I feel the way I do.

To be very blunt Dawkins annoys me. But not due to his beliefs (or lack of beliefs, or however you want to phrase it. For ease I’m going to stick to using beliefs). The biggest thing that annoys me about Richard Dawkins is that he appears to think I am an idiot for believing in a higher power. I believe that no matter how much you may disagree with someone, you should always at least give them the respect that they have come to their own decision of what they believe, and what is important to them. By working on this basis of mutual respect, you can move into the territory of debate/discussion, challenging to think in new and different ways. But with Richard Dawkins I don’t get that. I just get the impression that he thinks I’m an idiot for what I believe, and this doesn’t strike me as a well thought out or sensible argument.

Before I started writing this I did a bit of reading around, and too my surprise I discovered that Dawkins was a practising Christian, up till his mid-teens where he felt that the questions he had could be answered better by science rather than faith. Haven’t we all been there? Those times when you get faced with something so impossible you can’t get your head around it – but at the same time through faith you can take it as a truth. To be completely honest Richard Dawkins has never made me angry, it’s more a feeling of pity. Something has happened to him and his relationship with God that has angered and hurt him so much he now feels the urge to find whatever fault he can with the church.

And this is where letters such as the ones in the article I linked to earlier, really wind me up. One of the most lessons that Jesus gives in the Bible is “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8v7 NIV Translation (Full passage John 8v1-11). This message was really emphasised for me in the following passage which I encountered as part of my Daily readings:

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Luke 6v27-42

By sending the emails that have been re-published on that page, have we behaved in the way that we are called to? Have we turned the other cheek? The world we live in is fallen, with strife and hardships surrounding us at every turn. Articles such as the one above only gives ammunition against Christianity. I want to close this post on a challenge – the next time someone attacks you and your faith then turn the other cheek, but not only turn the other cheek, go home, and pray for the person(s) who attacked you, for healing and for them to find their way to the Lord – you don’t know their story or why they reacted that way towards you, and to God, no-ones a lost cause.

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6 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins & Other Atheists

  1. Two quotes for your consideration that I think go with this are:
    “I disagree with you opinion, but I fight for your right to have it”
    “To the believer no proof is necessary, to the disbeliever no proof is enough”

    • Two very good quotes – though I’m not sure I like the 2nd as much as the first – Faith is belief without proof and that is what we are called to have, a trust. For faith you shouldn’t need proof but I think thats one of the curses of Science… 😦

  2. May I comment that ‘proof’ does not exist outside of mathematics? 😉

    It’s a serious point – atheists sometimes make the claim there is no ‘proof’ for Christianity, when in fact there is no proof of anything (not even our own existence). They also sometimes claim there is no ‘evidence’ for Christianity, which I disagree with – there is some evidence, which (like Michael said) for Christians will be enough but for atheists will never be enough.

    As for your original post, Alex, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: the thing that really annoys me about Richard Dawkins, and these other so-called “new atheists”, is that they think everyone who has any religious belief is basically a moron. At least, you could be forgiven for getting that impression what with books like “The God Delusion”.

    The other thing that annoys me is that he doesn’t do his research. For example, Tom Wright has written a 750 page book on the resurrection of Christ (as in, the historical resurrection, how the event actually happened). Does Dawkins engage with any of this, or the many other historical and academic defences of Jesus’ life? No. He just dismisses it with a bit of hand waving “there is no good evidence Jesus ever thought he was divine”, and the moves on.

    Anyway, I definitely agree with you on the hate emails he receives: like I said on Twitter the other day, I think that’s enough to make anyone an atheist! Seeing Christians write those kind of messages is frankly worrying.

  3. I remember watching an interview with Dawkins on the BBC website. He comes across as way more reasonable than his public persona suggests. Which makes me wonder how much of his public persona, including his books, are an act.

    • That would be quite interesting to see – to be honest, he’s someone I’d quick like to just bump into in the pub and have a proper conversation away from all the media/hype etc. Think it could be an interesting chat – then again it may be the complete opposite! 😉

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