As a young Christian the man we had to contend with was AN Wilson. He just seemed to have it in for us Christians. He wrote a biography of CS Lewis in which in page after page he worked hard to erode my confidence in the man, his faith and his reasoned defense of Christianity. But Wilson wasn’t satisfied to rob me of CS Lewis. He followed it up with a booklet entitled ‘Against Religion: Why we should live without it’ and then he wrote a book on Jesus himself denying his deity and reducing him to the place of a merely misguided end-time ‘prophet’ of liberal Christianity. Perhaps my biggest problem was not Wilson but the media’s delight in him and his books. Time and again his views were splashed across the papers and Christians were once again in retreat.
Here is how AN Wilson describes his own conversion to atheism:
I can remember almost yelling that reading C S Lewis’s Mere Christianity made me a non-believer – not just in Lewis’s version of Christianity, but in Christianity itself. On that occasion, I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me – the sense of God’s presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world. As for Jesus having been the founder of Christianity, this idea seemed perfectly preposterous. In so far as we can discern anything about Jesus from the existing documents, he believed that the world was about to end, as did all the first Christians. So, how could he possibly have intended to start a new religion for Gentiles, let alone established a Church or instituted the Sacraments? It was a nonsense, together with the idea of a personal God, or a loving God in a suffering universe. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.
As a hesitant, doubting, religious man I’d never known how they felt. But, as a born-again atheist, I now knew exactly what Continue reading »
People are embarrassed to believe in God so confesses Victoria Coren in an article in the Guardian over the weekend. And so as a believer in God herself she bemoans the lack of quick-witted, thinking, believers able to stand up to the growing assault of radical atheism.
She writes: ‘Lord Carey (previous Archbishop of Canterbury) complained last week that Britain is ashamed to celebrate Christmas as a religious festival. It’s bigger than that: people are embarrassed to believe in God at all. They feel silly.
There is a new, false distinction between “believers” and “rationalists”. The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position’
Coren wants Christians to pick up the gauntlet and respond! It’s time for Christians to expose the illogicality of atheism (after all you simply can’t prove a negative and Dawkins when pushed on the matter in debate with Professor John Lennox admits that he is an agnostic rather than an atheist). We need to reveal the intellectual poverty of atheism in its answers to questions of morality and to demonstrate the falsity of the claim that religion is to blame for everything by showing how the course of human history and the Continue reading »
Sawing off the branch you’re sitting on
Charles Darwin once wrote in a letter to a friend:
The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.
What Darwin is recognising here is that if our minds are nothing more than products of evolution from lesser animals there really has to be a doubt as to whether we should believe that they are an accurate guide to life the universe and everything.
Maybe ignorance is bliss
Aldous Huxley died on the same day as JFK and CS Lewis, 22nd November 1963. He was also the grandson of TH Huxley or ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ who was outspoken in his support of Darwinian evolution and in attacking the church.
Aldous Huxley was not a believer in God but he did recognise in himself that the reasons for unbelief are often not as rational as we would like to believe.
He once wrote:
‘I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know . . Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless . ..For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.’
Maybe unbelief is, as Huxley concedes, a most convenient ‘truth’ and a most liberating one.
Paul in Romans chapter 1v18 makes exactly this point. ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.’
Those of us who are now Christians were exactly the same. We too closed our eyes to the very evidence of God’s existence. We too preferred to operate under the cover of darkness. It is amazing grace that John Newton discovered opens our eyes so that we too say ‘I once was blind but now I see.’
And on Advent Sunday we remember ‘The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.’ John 1:9
A tangle of wires
Not every statement a scientist makes is a scientific one just as not every statement from a theologian is a theological one. The God Delusion works by mixing up scientific statements with mere assertion and then leaving it to the reader to separate the two.
We saw in the last post that Dawkins at times misrepresents, distorts or skews the facts when it suits which isn’t the best commendation for scientific inquiry.
Today we look at a different example of how some of Dawkins’ statements are anything but scientific. Rather than look at distortion this time we’ll look at omission. What happens when all of the evidence is not considered but instead significant evidence is disregarded, ignored or omitted. We’ll see that it inevitably leads to a bad argument and for bad science.
Remember what he is seeking to do which is to demonstrate the absurdity of religious belief and so in a section of The God Delusion entitled ‘The Argument From Admired Religious Scientists‘ he seeks to respond to the charge that there are many able scientests who believe.
Scientists who believe
Dawkins begins by conceding that there were great men of science who believed in God before Darwin (eg. Newton) but of course Continue reading »
Maybe you’ve avoided reading The God Delusion because you just fear there might be something in it. Joan Bakewell in her Guardian review writes ‘Dawkins comes roaring forth in the full vigour of his powerful arguments.’ Claire Tomalin is persuaded too. ‘There is not a dull page…a book that makes me want to cheer its clarity, intelligence and truth-telling‘
Well can I urge you not to lose too much sleep. I quite like sections of the book and it’s an entertaining read. The problem is that I kept stumbling across mistakes and I mean really basic mistakes. You know, the kind of stuff you’d expect an undergrad. to get right let alone a distinguished Professor.I guess that’s the problem with claiming more than you know.
This is the first of a series of posts that highlight from Dawkins own words why we have nothing much to fear from his book. Each time we’ll look at a basic claim in the book and then dig a little deeper. And each time we can’t help but draw the conclusion ‘well if he got something as basic as wrong as that why should I trust him with the rest?’
How many gospels?
According to Dawkins then, p.121 Continue reading »
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