Dr. Richard Dawkins: A Legend in His Own Mind
Nothing shocks the sensibilities of most people, other than those who are infected with a grandiose sense of self, more than the elitist pontifications of that most obnoxious of all human species, the ‘know-it-all.’
There is one particular ‘know it all’ that has enjoyed some success in recent years. He is the unelected, self appointed, guru of modern atheism and all things natural, Dr. Richard Dawkins. Dawkins has had an illustrious career as an educator who studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned his D. Phil. degree in 1966. He began his teaching career at the University of California at Berkley and later became a fellow at New College, Oxford from 1970 until his retirement in 2008.
Dr. Dawkins is a very talented writer and lecturer whose life’s work is to challenge religion and creationism, while defending Darwinian evolution. He has written several books using his scientific and naturalistic worldview as the basis for his atheism. Dawkins takes the philosophical position that faith is the root of all evil. He has gone so far as proposing that religious faith is analogous to smallpox, though he contends that it is more difficult to eradicate.
You can find Dr. Dawkins on U-Tube likening the God of the Bible to a “flying spaghetti monster” and his more recent clips have him patting himself on the back for selling 1.5 million copies of The God Delusion since its publication in 2006. What Dr. Dawkins will not tell you is that selling books, even as successful as he has been, is not necessarily a sign of intellectual honesty or achievement. If prestigious sales is evidence of success, than Sarah Palin’s first book, Going Rogue, should place her at the front of the line. Palin sold as many books as Dawkin’s did since 2006 in less than 30 days! She sold three hundred thousand of them on the first day alone. Of course, there are other examples of other publishing successes par excellence.
No one would attempt to equate the veracity of any one publication based upon the statistic of book sales, but I thought you should at least know the following facts. The Bible has been the number one best-seller of all time topping the list with 6.7 billion copies sold. Yes, that is billions with a ‘b’. The next closest with only a measly 900 million documented as sold (the rest may very well have been distributed and received under the threat of imprisonment and/or death) is the Quotations of Chairman Mao Zedong, It is evidently a ‘must read or else’ in the communist People’s Republic of China. Next in line would be the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, with 800 million sold (English 2007).
There are even books that defy numbers when talking about circulated copies such as John Bunyan’s 1678 classic Pilgrim’s Progress. This book is regarded as one of the most significant books of English literature ever published. It has been translated into over 200 languages and it has never been out of print! Similar statements can be made for John Foxe’s 1563 publication of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Wikipedia 2010). But should we play this same numbers game? I think not. Popularity does not necessarily equate with truth and science has never been decided by majority rule.
Still, no one with the exception of Dawkins has this inflated opinion of himself and his atheistic worldview. For someone who is almost certain there is no God, he is incredibly angry with this (as far as he can tell) nonexistent, non-deity. This is evidenced by his diatribe against God in the opening paragraph of the second chapter of his book The God Delusion.
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction; jealous and proud of it; a petty unjust, unforgiving, control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully (Dawkins 2006).
One can easily see that Dr. Dawkins has set himself up as prosecutor, judge and jury where the God of the Bible is concerned. I know he takes great delight in portraying himself in these roles, because he quotes this paragraph of his book verbatim when being interviewed by Ben Stein in for the documentary film Expelled. The glee with which Dr. Dawkins verbally abuses the God of Israel is overshadowed only by his grandiose view of himself. But Dawkins also frames the debate e.g. Science and therefore Evolution are good, while Theology and therefore religion are bad.
It becomes clear that for Dawkins, only the religion of naturalism is valid. He lumps all religion into the same category, as if Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were all branches of the same evil tree. He gives special attention to the concept of the Trinity and quotes Thomas Jefferson’s letter to John Adams concerning his (Jefferson’s) own dim view of the mystery of the Trinity, e.g. “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” That Thomas Jefferson could not understand with his finite mind the Godhead, the Tri-unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, only serves to show us that man, left to his own resources, will always fall short.
But Dawkins is not satisfied to vilify the God of the Old Testament; he has the unmitigated chutzpah to hold the Messiah up as an example of morality apart from the Hebrew Scripture. Here is a sample of Dawkin’s treatment of Jesus Christ.
Well, there’s no denying that, from a moral point of view, Jesus is a huge improvement over the cruel ogre of the Old Testament. Indeed Jesus, if he existed (or whoever wrote his script if he didn’t) was surely one of the great ethical innovators of history (Dawkins 2006).
It is here that Dawkins makes the case that Jesus was not content to derive his ethics from the Scriptures of His upbringing. A completely false statement that belies the fact that Dawkin’s is even a poorer theologian than he is a philosopher. Taking my lead from Professor Alvin Plantinga, who serves as the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, from his review of the Dawkin’s best-seller, The God Delusion, we can see that Dr. Dawkins is not quite the philosopher he thinks himself to be.
Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou tone of the book, can be annoying. I shall put irritation aside, however and do my best to take Dawkins' main argument seriously (Plantinga 2007).
Proving the Word of God is accurate in all things; Dawkins shows that the unregenerate thinking of a natural man, no matter how well educated that person might be, is completely devoid of spiritual understanding and cannot, therefore, rightly divide the Word of truth. The statement of the Apostle Paul speaks to this very issue in his letter to the body of believers at Corinth. Paul imparts the following truth to these Corinthian believers. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one, I Cor. 2:13-15.
Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement -- one that now includes much of the scientific community. “The attack on traditional religious thought,” writes David Berlinski in The Devil's Delusion, “marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion.” A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community's cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions (Perault 2008).
- Has anyone provided a proof of God's nonexistence? Not even close.
- Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close.
- Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.
- Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough.
- Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough.
- Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good? Not even close to being close.
- Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences? Close enough.
- Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even (in the) ballpark.
- Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on (Berlinski 2008).
Not only does Dawkin’s not understand the theme of the Bible e.g. God’s faithfulness to His creation and His creatures, he completely misses the point of the God’s redeeming love actualized in the Person and ministry of the Messiah. It is because Jesus came to fulfill the Torah e.g. Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them, Matt. 5:17, that He could offer Himself as the righteous sacrifice for the sins of man, Isaiah 53. The fact that the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people in the days of Jesus had misunderstood the reason and depth of the Law, became the central theme of the Sermon on the Mount e.g. Obedience to the letter of the Law, the outward superficial compliance of God’s Law, was not a sufficient source of righteousness. Indeed, all self-righteous efforts to be good enough, to become acceptable through our own human efforts, would fall short of the righteousness that can only be obtained by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8.
Dawkins, and all those of his atheistic ilk, see the life and sacrifice of Jesus as worthless. This less than favorable view of Jesus can be traced to their own self-righteous vision of themselves. They see no need for a Savior in a world where only naturalism is real. Humans, by the atheist’s definition, are born with animal instincts intact, but morally neutral. Only later to be corrupted by their ill-educated and even worse, religiously oriented parents. The doctrine of Original Sin draws Dawkin’s ire. He takes particular offense at any instruction even resembling love your neighbor as yourself.
Dawkin’s takes the opportunity to castigate the God of Israel by dedicating much attention to the instruction that God gave to the newly liberated Israelite nation. These instructions included a harsh order to utterly destroy the Canaanites. Nothing is said of the demonically inspired religion of the Canaanites, who were partial to child sacrifice. No comment from Dawkins concerning the fact that the children of Israel disobeyed God’s instruction and several generations later, the Israelites were sacrificing their own sons and daughters to the Canaanite deities Baal and Molech, Jer. 32:32-35.
It is easy to showcase the puerile rants of Dawkins, but let me illustrate yet another technique that Dawkin’s employs. He cherry picks the writings of those he agrees with and he quotes them in order to support his erroneous theological thinking. He uses Harvard trained anthropologist John Hartung’s thesis to make the following point.
It was Paul who invented the idea of taking the Jewish God to the Gentiles. Hartung puts it more bluntly than I dare: ‘Jesus would have turned over in his grave if he had known that Paul would be taking his plan to the pigs,’ (Dawkins 2006).
To set the record straight for those who, like Dawkins, are willfully ignorant of the facts, it was part of Saul/Paul’s call to ministry that he would be God’s chosen messenger to the Gentiles e.g. But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel, Acts 9:15. It is painful to me that anyone should have to point out to allegedly intelligent men such as Dawkins and Hartung that the Law and the Prophets long ago revealed that the Messiah would come, Deut. 18:18, John 6:14, 7:40 and that He would be a light to the Gentiles and a glory to His people Israel, Is. 42:6, 49:6; Luke 2:32; John 8:12. At the institution of the Abrahamic Covenant, Gen. 12:3b, God promised that the Messiah would be a blessing to all the nations e.g. ‘goyim’ in Hebrew means Gentiles. And more importantly, that Jesus understood that His ministry would extend beyond the borders and people of Israel, that the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-37, would extent to ‘all who are laboring and are heavy laden’ Matt. 11:28; And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Rev. 22:17.
In one of the most beloved sections of the New Testament, we find the Messiah speaking to His disciples and explaining to them that He is the good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd,”
John 10:14-16. So from the lips of the Savior, we clearly read that Jesus knew the plan was to bring the Gentiles, e.g. sheep not of this pen, to the light of God’s salvation.
The reason that atheist’s disregard the very words of Jesus is due to the fact that they refuse believe that God exists, therefore, the Bible cannot possibly be the God’s inspired Word. That is why they relegate the Hebrew Scriptures to the mere musings of men and only quote those who agree with their narrow secular view.
When reading the works of Dawkins or any of the more vocal atheists, it is incumbent upon the reader to remember that atheists see all religions as the same. Dawkin’s really believes that militant Islam is the same as evangelical Christianity. Dawkins lumps all religious extremism together with Christianity. He even castigates the political correctness that has done everything in its power to avoid framing our war on terrorism as a religious conflict, e.g. Christianity against Islam. Dawkin’s wholeheartedly believes this is true and he expresses this point eloquently in his book.
Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don’t have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or of none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to ‘respect’ it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings Dawkins 2006).
Once again, Dawkins demonstrates his theological naivety. He presumes that those who are religious ascribe to a faith of the blind variety. He wrongly assumes that biblical faith must also be blind. He is using the common dictionary definition of the word ‘faith’ and not the biblical definition of the word. This error in thinking, e.g. applying worldly definitions to biblical words and concepts, is a common source of confusion for many people. Evidently Dr. Dawkin’s is included in this group.
The faith associated with the Judeo-Christian God is not of the blind variety at all. In point of fact, we have placed our faith, not in men, or the philosophies of men, or in secular or religious institutions built by men, but rather our faith is in the risen Savior, the living Word of God. We have many infallible proofs, not the least of which is the proof of prophecy, concerning the life, death, burial and resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth, e.g. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he as alive, Acts 1:3. The Apostle Peter was an eye witness of the Messiah’s resurrection and in a letter written over thirty years after Pentecost he writes, Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. I Peter 1:17-21.
Let me make myself perfectly clear. The Apostles and early disciples of Jesus may have died for something they thought was true, but in fact was not. People can be sincere in their beliefs, but they may also be sincerely wrong. However, people never give up their lives willingly for what they know is a lie. The fact that most of the Apostles died a martyr’s death, the fact that the Apostle John, after being sentenced to death, but miraculously surviving, was exiled to the prison colony on Patmos, the fact that hundreds of people saw the Messiah alive after His crucifixion, all point to the veracity of the biblical account and this testimony has stood the test of time.
It seems that I should not have to do this, but seeing that Dr. Dawkins has so completely misunderstood biblical faith, it is important to set the record straight. First of all, biblical faith is not blind at all, it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Heb. 1:1.
The word used in the Greek of the New Testament is pisteuo. It is derived from the root word, pistis, which means to trust, to trust the testimony of God’s Word, to trust in Jesus, specifically the gospel and the logos or written word of God. The Hebrew counterpart is emunah, from which we get the root word for amen or ‘so be it’ in the English. It literally means to build up, to support and is associated with firm action, where the Greek term is associated with firm belief. Both of these definitions speak to the reality that God’s promises are always completely trustworthy, they are always considered to be ‘yes’ by Him. Because God is faithful to His word, these same promises should be amen or ‘so be it’ by those who have placed their faith in God.
This cursory examination of the epistemological implications of biblical faith explains why Dawkins and his fellow atheists can make such sophomoric and completely erroneous statements concerning the Bible, the Messiah, and those who place their faith in the risen Savior. Most Christians may not be skilled in the apologetics of the Judeo-Christian faith; however, they are placing their full confidence in God and His Word. This is in contrast to atheists who place their full confidence in unsubstantiated metaphysical hypotheses of how the universe began or how life could come from non-life or the myriad ‘just so’ stories of Darwinian evolution. Those who have placed their faith in the risen Savior, lean not to their own understanding when it comes to questions that science has no real answers for. We should always defer to the Word of God and the firm foundation of the Chief Cornerstone. The stone the builders (the leaders of Judaism) rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone (the Messiah); The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes, Psalm 118:22.
While we are standing firm in our faith, we should also study God’s Word diligently so that we too can obey the instructions, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed, I Peter 3:15-16.
I can assure everyone that all the atheist elite, including their chief spokesperson Richard Dawkins, will continue to pontificate and characterize all who dare to disagree with them as being ignorant boobs. They will persist in making statements that cannot be supported by the empirical evidence, and when push actually does come to shove, they will simply not answer or they will play the alien card. That’s right, the alien card e.g. the ‘just so’ story that is used to explain away what is clearly not possible. This fairytale for grownups tells us that ‘once upon a time, long, long ago,’ molecules came to life and formed themselves into every living organism on planet Earth using the secret ingredient of billions of years and the magical incantations of natural selection and beneficial mutation. Like all of the completely ridiculous ‘just so’ stories of the naturalism/evolution paradigm, they give this a very scientific sounding name in the hope that the rest of us ignorant boobs will automatically believe it. The name for this imaginative sci-fi story is Directed Panspermia (Crick & Orgel 1973). It alleges that aliens seeded the universe, and planet Earth, with the building blocks of life e.g. DNA. If asked who created these super intelligent and incredibly creative aliens? Don’t hold your breath for an answer. It will not be forthcoming.
A growing number of well-credentialed scientists (Discovery Institute 1994) are joining the Bible believers who are skeptical of these self appointed know-it-all’s and their imaginative naturalistic sci-fi machinations. The Creation Studies Institute will continue to challenge the atheists and evolutionists of this world. We will diligently present the evidence for special creation and confront the lies, deception and brainwashing of evolution. We will continue to promote the truth concerning the Creator of the universe, Jesus Christ. Only He can transform and renew the minds of these atheistic evolutionists. Only He can give them eyes that see and ears that hear. Only then they will be able to see the truth of our Creator who became our Savior. Only then will they to embrace the truth and be set free.
Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D. (c)
Chief Technical Advisor
Creation Studies Institute
Berlinski, David (2008). The Devil’s Delusion. Crown Publishing Group. New York, NY.
Accessed 13:40 1/14/10 at http://larryperrault.blogspot.com/2008/04/dr-david-berlinski-and-dennis-prager.html.
Crick, Francis, Orgel, Leslie (1973). Francis Crick was a co-discoverer of the double helical structure of the DNA molecule, Crick found it impossible that the complexity of DNA could have evolved naturally so he and British chemist Leslie Orgel proposed that small grains containing DNA, or the building blocks of life, could be loaded on a brace of rockets and fired randomly in all directions. Crick and Orgel estimated that a payload of one metric ton could contain 1017 micro-organisms organized in ten or a hundred separate samples. This would be the best, most cost effective strategy for seeding life on a compatible planet at some time in the future.
Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. The God hypothesis. Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York. p. 31.
Dawkins, Richard (2006). Ibid. Is the New Testament any better? p. 250.
Dawkins, Richard (2006). Ibid. The good book and the moral zeitgeist. p. 257.
Dawkins, Richard (2006). Ibid. What’s wrong with religion? p. 306.
Discovery Institute (1994). Discovery Institute's mission is to make a positive vision of the future practical. The Institute discovers and promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty. Our mission is promoted through books, reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus media coverage and the Institute's own publications and Internet website at http://www.discovery.org.
English, Jason (2007). The all-time best selling books. Accessed 11:05 1/14/10 at http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/5886.
Perault, Larry (2008). Stranger in a foreign land. The Dr. David Berlinski and Dennis Prager
Interview. Accessed 13:30 1/14/10 at http://larryperrault.blogspot.com/2008/04/dr-david-berlinski-and-dennis-prager.html.
Plantinga, Alvin (2007). The Dawkin’s confusion: Naturalism 'ad absurdum'. Accessed 13:10
1/14/10 at http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2007/marapr/1.21.html.
Wikipedia (2010). List of best selling books. Accesses 10:35 1/7/10 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books.