Richard Dawkins’ Affect (Naturalism)


Above:  Professor A.C. Grayling who writes a tyrade against faith in The Guardian’s Comment is Free section.

In my class at Moody I assign groups different worldviews to research.  I have a naturalist group which includes Richard Dawkins.  One of the students in class must research Dawkins and tell us what he thinks about life.

When we were in Oxford last year there was a large Dawkins display.  He offers comfort to atheists who want to be sure that when they die it is all over.  The metaphysical presuppositions that he builds on are assumed absolutes with weak philosophical bases.  The article that Bill, a student of mine, sent to me highlights the seriousness of modern Darwinism and the threat that is still very real from Naturalists in a post-modern world.  It is written by A.C. Grayling (above), but reflects views of those like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

Please read the article and leave a comment.

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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3 Responses to Richard Dawkins’ Affect (Naturalism)

  1. this guy definetely has an ax to grind.  As far as his argument that religious people don’t deserve any more respect, he’s right on, though if i were ever to wear any religious ensignia in public i would expect more disdain or ridicule than i would respect, at least here in the North.  He writes, “the point to make in opposition to the predictable response of religious believers is that human individuals merit respect first and foremost as human individuals.”  and to that i totally agree, though he is never clear as to what he means specifically by the word “respect.” Perhaps none of us “merit” respect.
    in regards to religious beliefs being totally against reason, irresponsible, and ignorant, i obviously disagree for reasons we have discussed in class.  There is nothing in Christianity that goes against reason any more than atheism or non-religious beliefs do.  His definition of faith as “a commitment to belief contrary to evidence and reason” is abhorrable, or at least so far from the biblical definition of “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1).  The difference lies in Grayling’s assumption that the reason for our faith has been certainly disproven.
    on his last point, that no person should force their beliefs on others i whole-heartedly agree, for any belief or moral standard forced on another is never truly received (see the writings of Roger Williams and William Penn).  Though i am far from endorsing sin, we cannot expect non-Christians to act like Christians.  Our lives are to be examples that make others want to live like us (and have reason for living like us, namely the love of Christ).  i could say alot more about everything and feel that there’s alot more to say, but must return to real life homework.  very interesting article.

  2. Yes, Grayling does have a n axe to grind.  He comes from a camp that includes many other of his naturalist friends.  Luella and Jack Kolesar were doing some research that explained the change of heart among naturalists.  It said something to the effect that the world had changed on September 11th and that Naturalists had dismissed people of faith as bungling idiots, but that now we are seen as very dangerous.
    Of course, postmodernity has no platform of truth from which to posit any reform of the Muslim, Naturalist, or Christian, but they do have their opinions.

  3. Here is a comment from Mark McCreary, a doctoral student at Loyola.
    And as for that little article…
    I truly wonder if this person has ever met a Christian, and if so, I wonder how many he has actually engaged in honest discussion (i.e., something other than immediately unloading questions for the purpose of putting the Christian on the defensive).
    If he merely says: “to believe something in the face of evidence and against reason is ignoble, irresponsible and ignorant, and merits the opposite of respect,” I would be inclined to agree with him. If any Christian, Muslim, or atheist were to believe something that is only against reason and against all available evidence, then that would in fact be irresponsible and such a person should not be respected merely for his or her irrational belief.
    The problem, obviously, comes in when he defines faith as believing in X, where X is against reason and evidence, etc. Moreover, the implication (indeed, the author leaves many assumptions unstated) is that *Christian* faith is believing in God when all evidence and all rational thought is to the contrary.
    This is such a “straw man” that I hardly feel it is worth time and effort to engage. Two things are completely repugnant to me in this scenario: (1) that this author is so “narrow-minded” (to use a term many throw in Christians’
    faces) and “one-sided” that it is beyond intellectual dishonesty, and (2) that there are in fact some “Christians” who describe faith in this manner.
    I find faith most adequately defined in terms of trust. Christian faith is trusting in God and in Jesus Christ, to be and to do what is recorded in Scripture. Trust is (at least it ought to be) built upon reasons. Again, to trust some X with no reason to think X even exists is in fact irrational and irresponsible. However, Christian faith is a trust that ought to be – and can – be based upon reasons and evidence. Just as one comes to trust (or mistrust!) a particular car or a certain light switch based upon evidence, reasons, and past experiences, so also can one come to trust not only that Jesus Christ exists but also that he saves and redeems from sin all who believe in him and place their trust in him as Lord.
    (Another thing the author completely leaves out: the difference between “belief that” and “belief in.”)
    There are obvious differences between deductive and inductive arguments.
    However, anyone with any understanding, any knowledge, and any common sense will agree that both kinds of arguments lead to “rational” and “reasonable”
    conclusions that are supported by reasons. Although Christianity cannot be deductively proven, to say that it therefore cannot be rational betrays a mind completely blinded by prejudices.
    As for what the author says about Kierkegaard:
    It is said that “for Kierkegaard its [faith’s] virtue precisely lies in its irrationality.”
    This is exactly the view that has been so common and that has been propagated by those who have either (1) never read Kierkegaard or (2) never read more than 2 works by Kierkegaard and who completely misunderstood the 2 works that were read.
    Let me know if you would like a list of references to the works and page numbers where top Kierkegaard scholars dismiss this way of thinking as the myth that it is, not to mention some of the many places in Kierkegaard where it is clear he is not an irrationalist or an advocate of blind faith.
    I have never personally heard any believer say that he or she needs to be respected or given some manner of deference based merely upon their faith.
    Maybe some idiots do, but it is intellectually dishonest to represent an exception as the rule and then attack the exception, while arguing that you have dealt a blow to “religion” as a whole. It probably would have taken all of 10 minutes of research on the web to find people of all kinds of religious faiths who attack the very position that this author does.

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