Richard, do you really understand Christianity? A response to Richard Dawkins

Introduction
Dawkins Tweet
I had a strange experience a couple of weeks ago.

On May 9, stuff.co.nz and several of the nation’s major daily newspapers published an opinion piece that I wrote about Richard Dawkins’ visit to New Zealand. It was a rare chance to provide a Christian voice in the secular press, attempting to show that Christians aren’t content to believe things in the absence of evidence. Rather, I argued, our beliefs are based on solid historical evidence to support the claim that Jesus Christ rose bodily from death – verifying his outlandish claims to be the Son of God, and assuring us that he offers unique knowledge of and access to our Creator.

But while it was a special opportunity, that wasn’t the strange part. The strange part was what happened next.

Apparently, Richard Dawkins himself read my article and saw fit to comment on it publicly.

That I did not expect.

I thought maybe someone would tell him that a critical article had appeared in the local media, but I didn’t think he’d take the time to read it.[i] And I’d never considered that nearly three million of his followers would read my name on Twitter, accompanied by various claims about how wrong I was.

I’m genuinely grateful that Richard chose to share my article, since one of the main aims of the whole exercise was to provoke public discussion. And he deserves some respect for being willing to share a piece of writing that criticised him in fairly strong terms. However, the content of his tweet deserves deeper exploration.

That’s what this article is about.

First, a quick disclaimer: what follows is long – probably too long. Sorry. Blog posts are usually best when they’re short and snappy. This is the opposite of short and snappy. But I just couldn’t see how to cover Richard’s key ideas in a meaningful way without going long, and I optimistically (naively?) hope there’s still a place online for extended discussion of important ideas. For some, it may help to think of this less as a regular blog post and more as a resource to skim, to share with interested friends, to read in a couple of sittings, or to email to yourself for some Sunday afternoon reading.

While I’ll leave Richard’s second claim (about not being vitriolic) alone for now, I’ll focus on his first claim: the claim that he understands Christianity “all too well”. Is that true?

But first, why does this even matter?

It matters because Richard Dawkins has a very large, very important microphone at his disposal. And how he uses that microphone matters a great deal – for at least two reasons. First, thought leaders in our society have a responsibility to understand opposing views well before they presume to speak about those views, to present the best (not the worst) version of their opponents’ ideas, and to help raise the level of public debate and discussion around important issues. I believe that, over many years, Richard has failed in these areas and has inspired others to do the same, to the great detriment of public discourse about God, religion and spirituality.

Second, if Richard is indeed wrong in his understanding of Christianity, then an enormous amount of his hatred of religion is unfounded. Indeed, his unfounded hatred will have misled literally millions of people on a topic of enormous (perhaps even eternal) importance.

So, with all that in mind, let’s analyse several areas that reveal Richard’s troubling lack of understanding about the true nature of Christianity.[ii]

No ‘Christian children’
Richard has a particular dislike – no, that’s too soft a word. Richard has a particular hatred for the idea that any child might be identified directly with a religion. Never refer to a child as a ‘Muslim child’ or a ‘Christian child’, he insists. Refer to them as ‘a child of Muslim parents’ or ‘a child of Christian parents’, but that’s it. He seems convinced that all religious people simply want to indoctrinate their children – to propagate their faith in a fact-free vacuum and to rob the child of any opportunity to think critically. It comes up again and again in his writing and speaking, and it was among the greatest hits cranked out during his Christchurch show.[iii]

Now, I have some sympathy with part of Richard’s point. I would join him in rejecting any system of belief that was forced down a child’s throat, and I believe passionately that all children should be encouraged to think for themselves. A child’s natural curiosity about the world is a delight to behold and it should be fostered, and most children are capable of deeper thought than we often give them credit for.

As with many of these points, the issue is not whether there’s anything of substance behind Richard’s invective. The issue is how far he pushes it all, his propensity to tar all religious people with the same brush, and his muddled application of these ideas to biblical Christianity.

I sort of wish Richard had been a fly on the wall at my place the night before his big event in Christchurch (and no, not so I could’ve squashed him). He would have overheard my wife and I talking to our 12-year-old daughter about his visit and reflecting with her on the clash between Atheism and Christianity. Here’s one of the things we told her, as close to word-for-word as I can recall: “You’re going to have to think long and hard about all this for yourself. The last thing we want is for you to go around saying, ‘I’m a Christian because Mummy and Daddy told me to be one’. You need to figure out what you believe and why you believe it. Read lots. Ask questions. Investigate all the evidence. Figure out whether what we’ve been telling you is true or not. Don’t just take our word for it.”

I don’t make that observation to boast or to claim that we’re something special. On the contrary, this is very normal. It’s the exact attitude I would expect and encourage any Christian parent to take.

Now, I’m also completely unashamed to say that we are raising all our children as Christians. We believe it’s true, so why wouldn’t we (just as a convinced atheist would raise their child within an atheistic framework and worldview)? We read the Bible with our children, we encourage them to read it on their own, we take them to church, and we pray together. We process everything through the lens of the gospel. Anything else would be intellectually dishonest and morally negligent on our part. But (and here’s the part Richard clearly doesn’t understand) there is no conflict between doing all this while still teaching and encouraging our children to think for themselves.

Richard makes quite a lot of this complaint; it’s part of his package deal that presents religious people as ignorant, paranoid buffoons. But it doesn’t match the biblical Christianity that I believe or that I’m passing on to my children, and it doesn’t match the biblical Christianity of any serious believer that I know. Where I come from, we do the opposite of bury our heads in the sand: we engage our brains, we think, we explore, we ask hard questions, we search unrelentingly for truth, and we teach our children to do the same.

Richard writes: “Let children learn about different faiths, let them notice their incompatibility, and let them draw their own conclusions about the consequences of that incompatibility.”[iv] To that I say a hearty ‘Amen’. We do precisely this with our kids, as do most other Christian parents that I know. So, Richard, if you really understand Christianity, why all the hand wringing and arm waving? Why the false assumption that Christians aren’t already teaching their children to think?

Attacking the ‘weakest link’
This is not so much an argument that Richard doesn’t get Christianity as an argument that he doesn’t get one of the basic principles of how to disagree in a civil society. But I’m throwing it in anyway, since there’s also a connection to his grasp of Christianity (as I’ll explain).

At his Christchurch event, Richard showed two videos: one of him confronting Ted Haggard, an American pastor (I assume), including some fairly dramatic footage of Richard and his entourage being removed from Haggard’s building (because Richard had called Haggard’s children ‘animals’ in the context of discussing evolution); and the ‘Ray Comfort banana video’ (which, it turns out, is another regular part of Richard’s schtick).

I’m not interested in defending those videos. I’d like to make a different point. Why would Richard and the team at Think Inc. have chosen the videos that were easiest to ridicule? If the desire had been for serious engagement with differing ideas, surely the right approach would have been to choose a short clip of a thoughtful, erudite, well-credentialed Christian giving a clear explanation of Christian thought on some important topic, for example:

Then have the moderator ask: “How should we respond?”

Surely a basic principle of debate and discussion is that you tackle the best form of the opposing position, not the worst form. But time and time again I have seen Richard take the low road. He latches on to examples that reinforce his pre-existing worldview, his pre-existing hatred of religion, and treats those examples as though they encapsulate an entire worldview. And, truth be told, people have been noticing for years: Richard’s approach receives more than a little criticism even from non-religious people (you can see just a few examples here, here, here and here).

And here’s my connection to the bigger point: in the case of Christianity, is that because Richard is simply too lazy to acquaint himself with the best and most articulate voices in the Christian world? Is he ignorant enough to think that he’s found them in those videos? Does he really see no difference between the banana video and, say, the brilliant John Lennox? Whatever the precise reason, Richard’s preference for cheap mockery and easy dismissal hardly inspires confidence that he understands the Christian worldview and wants to help others do the same.

Dismissing the Resurrection
If you haven’t already watched Richard’s debate with John Lennox, set aside an evening and soak it in. It’s great. But, as with all things Dawkins, it’s not without its frustrations for Christian viewers – nowhere more so than in his cavalier and highly revealing dismissal of Jesus’ resurrection.

Here’s how Richard responded after John Lennox spoke about Jesus’ resurrection: “All that stuff about science and physics and complications with physics and things. What it really comes down to is the resurrection of Jesus. And there’s a fundamental incompatibility between the sort of sophisticated scientist, which we hear part of the time from John Lennox – and it’s impressive and we are interested in the argument about multiverses and things. And then, having produced some sort of a case for a kind of deistic god, perhaps, some god – the great Physicist who adjusted the laws and constants of the Universe. That’s all very grand and wonderful. Then suddenly we come down to the resurrection of Jesus. It’s so petty. It’s so trivial. It’s so local. It’s so earth-bound. It’s so unworthy of the Universe.” [He then moves immediately to another topic.]

Talk about not getting it!

Anyone who understands the Christian system of thought will understand that the resurrection is everything. Whether or not you like it and whether or not you believe it happened are, for now, beside the point. When it comes to the question of whether God exists, the resurrection is at the very heart of Christianity’s answer. It is anything but petty, trivial, local, or earth-bound.

For if Jesus rose from the dead, then death is not the end – which means that materialism is wrong.

If Jesus rose from the dead, we can answer the question of God with more than a ‘leap of faith’ or speculation.

If Jesus rose from the dead, his claims to teach us the truth about God deserve our full attention, and he is more than just another failed wannabe messiah.

If Jesus rose from the dead, there must be a god – and we can know who that god is by looking at Jesus.

But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he is nobody and Christianity is nothing. It wouldn’t prove that there’s no god, but it would mean that Christianity has nothing of value to contribute to the discussion.

Here is Richard’s chance to explore a claim that goes right to the heart of whether or not there’s a god, yet he writes it off as being unworthy of even the slightest thought. How can such a man claim to truly understand Christianity?

Although, come to think of it, could there be any other reasons that Richard was so keen to move away from the topic of Jesus’ resurrection? Does it not fit the narrative about Christians and their disregard for ‘evidence’?

The Lewis Trilemma
In a response to my original article, I was accused of not having read any of Richard’s writing. That isn’t true (as I explained here), but I do have a confession. My attempt at reading through The God Delusion from cover to cover ended on page 117 (though I later went back and read most of it, one section at a time). I was already frustrated enough by the overt aggression, the frequent misunderstandings and the lack of care taken in more than a few of the arguments, but after a while I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Here’s what tipped me over the edge: Dawkins was interacting with C.S. Lewis, who advanced the famous “Lord, Liar or Lunatic” argument about Jesus. Lewis’ point is that Jesus doesn’t give us the option of accepting him as a ‘good moral teacher’, a ‘prophet’, or anything else in that ballpark. Instead, he is/was either:

  • God (Lord)
  • Evil enough to know the things he was saying were false but said them anyway (Liar), or
  • A crazy man for actually believing these untrue things about himself (Lunatic)

It’s a simple enough point, right? Well, here’s how Richard seeks to dismantle it (with a slightly extended quotation, lest I be charged again with taking him out of context!):

A common argument, attributed among others to C.S. Lewis (who should have known better), states that, since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he must have been either right or else insane or a liar: ‘Mad, Bad or God’. Or, with artless alliteration, ‘Lunatic, Liar or Lord’. The historical evidence that Jesus claimed any sort of divine status is minimal. But even if that evidence were good, the trilemma on offer would be ludicrously inadequate. A fourth possibility, almost too obvious to need mentioning, is that Jesus was honestly mistaken. Plenty of people are. In any case, as I said, there is no good historical evidence.

Leave aside the claim that there is ‘no good historical evidence’ (which is obviously nonsense).[v] If you didn’t see the problem with that paragraph the first time, re-read it and see if it jumps out at you as obviously as it should. Do you see it?

Richard thinks he’s found ‘a fourth possibility’: “Jesus was honestly mistaken.” But this supposed fourth option is simply one of Lewis’ three options. He’s merely restated the ‘Lunatic’ argument. “Jesus was honestly mistaken” is precisely what Lewis meant by the ‘Lunatic’ idea! Perhaps the reason it’s “almost too obvious to need mentioning” is that it’s already been mentioned.

Now, I admit this point is slightly tangential. Lewis’ argument, while powerful and effective, is not itself ‘Christianity’ per se, but rather an apologetic device in defence of Christianity. But it’s still a clear summary of something that goes to the heart of this belief system, and we should be troubled to see how easily Richard has missed the point.

Redefining ‘faith’
This, to me, is the heart of it all (as my original article showed). Richard doesn’t understand what Christians mean by ‘faith’ – and an enormous amount of his anti-religion stance seems to flow from this misconception. Time and again, Richard has written or spoken about his dislike for what he calls ‘faith’, which he defines as “belief that isn’t based on evidence”.[vi] Here are some other examples:

Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.[vii]

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.[viii]

More generally (and this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam), what is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.[ix]

Now, I admit that some other religions fit Richard’s descriptions, but that’s not the point. Remember, we’re exploring whether he understands Christianity “all too well”. So the point is that he lumps all religions together without distinction (“this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam”).

But this is most emphatically not what biblical Christianity is about. When the Bible uses the word ‘faith’, it never uses it in a way that fits any of Richard’s descriptions. The Bible’s use of the word ‘faith’ is synonymous with ‘trust’, ‘reliance’ or ‘dependence’. We trust the trustworthy. We rely on the reliable. We depend on the dependable. And God shows himself to be worthy of our trust, reliance and dependence by giving us historical evidence upon which we can build our trust (aka: faith). This happens in much the same way that one person builds trust in another: on the basis of the evidence.

At the heart of this claim is the historical evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are called to trust Jesus because these events show him to be worthy of our trust.

This claim moves Christianity out of the realm of opinion or preference – a ‘faith’ that we can accept if we happen to like its moral and ethical outlook, but which we can equally well reject if we prefer, say, Islam, Buddhism or Atheism – and into the realm of being either true or false. Unlike almost any other religion, Christianity is ‘falsifiable’; that is, it could theoretically be disproven if Jesus’ death and resurrection were shown not to have happened. On the other side of the coin, the compelling and far-reaching historical evidence around Jesus is worthy of anyone’s time and attention. If these events happened as described in the Bible, then Jesus deserves the trust and worship of all people everywhere.

And while these events can never be ‘proven’ or ‘disproven’ in the strict sense (words that only truly apply to the realm of mathematics), we can certainly reach reasoned, logical, careful conclusions – based on the evidence – as to whether or not they happened.

For now, the point is not to share this evidence or to argue that it’s persuasive.[x] I’m simply trying to show that Richard’s categories of understanding are fundamentally flawed. Every sensible Christian I know (and every sensible Christian I know of from history) has no interest in ‘faith’ that ‘isn’t based on evidence’, or ‘lacks evidence’, or that keeps us from ‘the need to think and evaluate evidence’, or that ‘requires no justification’, or that ‘brooks no argument’. On the contrary, Christians love evidence, need evidence, demand evidence, and stand ready and willing to provide others with evidence to support their beliefs.

Ergo, Richard is wrong to repeatedly assert that Christianity advocates or relies on the kind of ‘faith’ that he describes.

Now, I’ve built a lot on Richard’s misapprehension of one little word. So before moving on, a word about words: they’re slippery little suckers. Sometimes, the accepted meaning of a word changes over time. That’s okay; it’s a legitimate part of how language works. Take the word ‘literally’. I recently heard a football commentator, wanting to emphasise how well a player was performing, say, “he is literally on fire”. And when I asked my friend how her new teaching job was going, she replied, “they literally threw me in at the deep end”. Well, no – that player was metaphorically on fire, and they metaphorically threw you in at the deep end (I hope…). But, somehow, we live in a time where it’s become acceptable and meaningful to use ‘literally’ in this way. These are the quirks of language in the real world.

However, none of this excuses Richard’s deep misunderstanding around the word ‘faith’. People are, of course, free to use ‘faith’ to mean ‘belief that isn’t based on evidence’ if they want to. But what you may not do is say to someone else, “here’s how I define ‘faith’, so I’m going to force that definition on all your usage of ‘faith’, too”.

Responding to all this by saying, “But Richard’s definition matches what’s in my dictionary” is irrelevant. What matters is not whether Richard’s definition matches the dictionary’s, but whether Richard has properly apprehended the Christian belief system.

Imagine me saying to Richard, “Let me tell you what you mean by ‘evolution’,” then proceeding to critique him based on my definition of his word. He’d rightly object. So why, then, does Richard give himself permission to look Christians in the eye and boldly declare, “let me tell you what you mean by ‘faith’,” before critiquing his definition of our word? It’s the height of either arrogance or ignorance, or possibly both.

‘Doubting Thomas’: a spectacular own goal
Let me drive home the point with a case study: Richard’s total misunderstanding of ‘Doubting Thomas’.

In the essay ‘Is Science a Religion?’, found in Science in the Soul, Richard takes religion to task based on his definition of ‘faith’. In that context, Richard opines on ‘Doubting Thomas’:

[S]cience is not just religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of Doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, required evidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists.

The story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ appears in chapter 20 of John’s biography of Jesus.[xi] Now, please don’t take my word for it on any of this. Read this text for yourself, and see whether it fits with Richard’s retelling of the story.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

What do we learn from some simple exegesis of this text?

First, it’s one hundred percent clear that the other disciples are NOT commended for believing something in the absence of evidence (as Richard would have you believe). On the contrary; they believe because they have seen the evidence! Verse 20 makes this crystal clear: “he showed them his hands and side”. Their hearts and minds are won over by the evidence.

Richard wants us to believe that “the apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them”.[xii] But, as you’ve seen for yourself, this is incorrect. They believe precisely because of the evidence. The difference between Thomas and the other disciples is NOT that Thomas demands evidence while the others are content with evidence-free ‘faith’. The difference is that they have seen the evidence, while Thomas has not (verse 24).

But that all changes in verse 27, when Thomas sees the same evidence that the disciples saw in verse 20. Based on this evidence, Thomas concludes that Jesus is trustworthy; he stops doubting, and believes (i.e. he has ‘faith’).

Did Jesus cast Thomas away – perhaps with a dismissive, “How dare you demand evidence, Thomas! Where is your faith?” Not at all. Rather, Jesus provides Thomas with the evidence that he seeks (the first part of verse 27). Then, and only then, does Jesus call on Thomas to ‘believe’ (to have faith, in the second part of verse 27).

Now, in one sense it would have been convenient to end my quotation at verse 28, because verse 29 is sometimes taken to provide mild support for Richard’s view. Is Jesus advocating belief in the absence of evidence after all?

First of all, verse 29 does nothing to overturn what we’ve seen so far. Second, note again that Jesus never demeans or criticises Thomas for demanding evidence.

But, more importantly, note the context – for this actually ends up supporting the Christian view and refuting Richard’s. What comes after verse 29? Yep, verses 30-31. So what are Jesus (verse 29) and John (verses 30-31) saying together? They’re combining to say that we, the readers of John’s historical, eyewitness account, are the blessed ones!

Even though we didn’t see the evidence for ourselves, we can still believe (just as Thomas and the others did) based on reading John’s eyewitness testimony – which is a completely legitimate form of evidence. John, who saw the whole thing, took the time to write an account of all that Jesus did so that you and I could have (real) faith in Jesus.

Dismiss John’s eyewitness testimony as being unreliable if you must (a point which I would vigorously argue on another occasion, and which I even wrote a book about just to make sure), but if that’s your first reaction then you’ve missed the point. Actually, you’ve conceded the point. Whether or not it’s true, this is how Christianity understands itself and how our belief system works. It is most definitely NOT about believing something in the absence of evidence. It is about believing that Jesus is the Christ because we are persuaded by the historical, eyewitness testimony of those who walked with him, talked with him, watched him in action, saw him crucified, saw and touched him after he had risen bodily from death, and had their lives changed by him.

I’ve walked slowly, deliberately and maybe even a bit boringly through this text to make a simple but vital point: Richard assures me and his Twitter followers that he understands Christianity “all too well”. But when trying to show that apparent understanding – to demonstrate that Christianity is about “belief that isn’t based on evidence” – he takes his readers to this incident. But anyone who takes the time to actually read about ‘Doubting Thomas’ will see the truth. Richard has scored a spectacular own goal.

Conclusion
It’s said that we move through four levels of competence in learning various skills: Unconscious Incompetence (you don’t know how to do something, but you don’t even recognise the problem); Conscious Incompetence (you lack the understanding or skill, but at least you’re aware of the lack); Conscious Competence (you’re starting to get it, but it still takes concentration and work); and Unconscious Competence (you’ve had so much practice that the skill becomes second nature).

If even part of my analysis is right, where does Richard sit with regard to his grasp of Christianity? To be sure, he is a good Scientist and a highly gifted communicator. But he clearly lacks the gift of understanding biblical Christianity. Not only does he lack a proper understanding of Christianity; he doesn’t even know that he lacks a proper understanding.

He is unconsciously incompetent.

Yet he is the most dangerous kind of unconsciously incompetent – holding forth with great confidence and aggression, seeking and finding a willing audience with itching ears, and leading them badly astray.

I don’t write this with any hope that Richard will actually read it – and with even less hope that he would be persuaded to change his stance if he did happen to read it. Instead, I write for two audiences:

To my Christian friends who’ve followed this debate so far and/or have paid attention to Richard over the years: don’t be taken in by the distorted, straw man version of Christianity that he and his followers think you believe. Our belief system is not merely intellectual, but it is never less than intellectual. Acquaint yourself with the evidence for the Bible’s reliability. Remind yourself that standing with Jesus means you are standing on solid ground in every way, including intellectually. God wants you to use your brain! So boldly proclaim Jesus to anyone and everyone who will listen. Prayerfully seek out those around you who are ready and willing to have a respectful, reasoned, careful discussion about what they believe, and why they believe it. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

And to those who aren’t Christians but are willing to think and engage (i.e. you’re not just an Angry Atheist looking for a fight).[xiii] First, well done on making it this far into a long-winded article. I wish it were otherwise, but the war of ideas sometimes needs to be waged slowly and carefully. But if you think this is long, it’s just the beginning! Christianity is a profound, interwoven system of thought that touches on every area of life and would never be exhausted with a lifetime of study.

But maybe, just maybe, this has given you something to chew on. Maybe up until now you’ve believed Dawkins’ distorted version of Christianity, or something like it. Maybe the best and most important thing you could do – today, or ever – would be to take the time to figure out: Is there anything to this Christianity thing? Is this Jesus guy really worth my time? Is there any good reason to believe that he is who Christians claim he is? If Dawkins is confused, how can I make sure I don’t join him?


 

[i] It’s possible that Richard never actually read my article, but that an exuberant aide saw the article and suggested something like, “This could make a good tweet to help sell a few more tickets”. This is pure speculation on my part.

[ii] There is obviously much, much more than could have been said. If you’re up for reading a book about all this, try The Dawkins Delusion by Alister McGrath or Gunning for God by John Lennox. If you’re an atheist who loves Dawkins, this editorial from New Humanist, the quarterly magazine of the Rationalistic Association, is instructive (Dawkins is called “a case study in how not to do it”). This is but one example of the huge catalogue of thoughtful atheists who long for better public debate and want to distance themselves from Dawkins and his methodology.

[iii] See, for example, The God Delusion, page 25 and pages 381-2.

[iv] The God Delusion, pages 382-3.

[v] A brief account of this evidence can be found in my The Book of Books: A short guide to reading the Bible (Matthias Media, 2016). An even briefer account, together with other recommended resources, will follow in an upcoming blog post.

[vi] ‘Is Science a Religion?’, essay from Science in the Soul (Transworld Digital, 2017), location 3585.

[vii] ibid.

[viii] http://www.citizenjoe.org/files/docs/atheistsvsgod.doc

[ix] The God Delusion (10th anniversary edition; Random House, 2016), p. 347.

[x] A brief account of this evidence can be found in my The Book of Books: A short guide to reading the Bible (Matthias Media, 2016). An even shorter account, together with other recommended resources, will follow in an upcoming blog post.

[xi] Bear in mind that, at this point, we’re not debating the historical reliability of this text or any similar issues; we’re simply taking the text on its own terms to understand what Christianity as a system of thought says about ‘Doubting Thomas’.

[xii] Note that Richard uses the word ‘apostles’ where the text uses the word ‘disciples’. Does he understand the difference? Wait, of course he does; he understands Christianity “all too well”.

[xiii] If you’re an Angry Atheist, I’ve given you plenty of fodder to go blog about why I’m an idiot and why Atheists are smarter than Christians. Grab as many quotes as you want and go for it. Be sure to ignore all the evidence I mentioned above. And close the door on your way out so the rest of us can think and talk together respectfully. Thanks.

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