Why Richard Dawkins is wrong about Christianity

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Richard Dawkins, the world’s best known atheist-for-hire, was recently in New Zealand, preaching at events in Auckland and Christchurch and hoping to rally the troops and win new converts.

As a Bible-loving Christian who believes in God, angels, heaven and hell, I guess people would assume I’m angry or nervous about having the High Priest of Unbelief in town. Actually, I’m cautiously glad that he’s here.

But my thankfulness for his visit goes beyond the obvious belief in freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

It goes to the heart of who we are as a country.

New Zealand has quietly become one of the most spiritually apathetic nations on earth.

In our relative comfort and prosperity, many of us have become immune to even considering the deeper meaning of life.

We’ve convinced ourselves that “the question of God” doesn’t matter much anymore.

Where Dawkins and I agree is that this question matters a great deal.

So maybe he can rattle a few cages.

Maybe he can save us from drifting into a half-baked non-answer and drive us to examine the evidence, carefully look at ourselves, and search for the truth.

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s not like I’m doing cartwheels that Dawkins will be spreading his vitriolic and ill-informed ideas.

Almost every Christian I know finds listening to the man to be an intensely frustrating experience – not because he threatens our beliefs, but because he simply doesn’t understand them.

He may be a good scientist, but when he strays beyond his field he’s a pseudo-intellectual, spewing far more heat than light, preaching a distorted and anger-fueled message against religious straw men.

Sloppy thinking and contradictions mark his speaking and writing.

He presents himself as a man of science interested purely in evidence – even if he believes that the evidence leads to bleak conclusions of a godless universe filled with “blind, pitiless indifference”.

But in the next breath, he rails against religion based on ideas that, while important, contribute nothing to the question of whether or not God actually exists: things like evil done in the name of religion (some of which is true) and his distorted version of God’s supposed character (most of which is based on a simplistic, context-free misreading of the bible).

The argument is emotive: “God isn’t real because I hate him”.

Dawkins presents himself as a radical sceptic, yet when it comes to seeing and confronting his own cherished assumptions he isn’t nearly sceptical enough. Continue reading

  • Geoff Robson is a Christchurch-based church pastor and university chaplain, and the author of The Book of Books: A short guide to reading the Bible.
  • Image: Geoff Robson

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