BLAME IT ON RELIGION: Dawkins’ “Missile” a Dud
Richard Dawkins is advertised as a professor of “animal behavior” at Oxford University. He is one of the world’s most vocal advocates of the theory of evolution. As a result of his ingestion of the dogmatic, yet unproved, assumptions of Darwin, somewhere along the way in his intellectual and emotional development, Dawkins became an atheist. In one of his books he boasts that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist” (The Blind Watchmaker, New York: W.W. Norton, 1986, p. 6). He may claim “fulfillment,” but he most assuredly is not “filled full” — at least with genuine knowledge and skillful reasoning ability.
Professor Dawkins is not just an atheist. He is a swaggering atheist. He hates religion with a passion and never misses an opportunity to level a blast at those who profess devotion to the Supreme Being.
A case in point is illustrated by an article authored by Dawkins which appeared in Britain’s newspaper, Guardian, four days after the horrible terrorist attack on September 11th last year. The title of the “misguided” essay was: ""Religion’s misguided missiles"." This propaganda diatribe was published under the “mislabel” of a “Special report: terrorism in the US.” The article actually was an attempt to capitalize upon a national tragedy with an atheistic agenda. It was an opportunity for this specialist in “animal behavior” to demonstrate how little he knows about appropriate human behavior.
After a brief excursion into the history of “guided missile” systems, Dawkins gets down to business. In a satirical format, the distinguished anti-God antagonist opines that the best of all possible “guided missile” systems is that of the stupid “faith-head,” that is, the person who has been convinced that after he dies he can live again, and so is willing to sacrifice himself for a cause.
First, Dawkins goes after Islam. He speaks of “testosterone-sodden young men too unattractive to get a woman [seemingly, a stereotypical slur] in this world” who are so desperate they are willing to execute a suicide mission for the promise of “72 private virgins” in the next life. He does throw the spotlight on some of the dramatic flaws in the Islamic credo.
But the professor goes further. From the specific, he generalizes. Religion at large becomes the target for his own erratic “literary missile.” He describes “religion” as the “elephant in the room” which most everyone is loath to mention. He carps on the “devaluing effect that religion has on human life.” He charges: “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.” There are several points worthy of analysis in Dawkins’ article.
- Islam deserves criticism on account of the logical consequences of its dogma, namely, that the murder of fellow human beings is to be rewarded with sensual pleasure in a hedonistic “Paradise” — a concept born in the fantasies of an Arab rebel some fourteen centuries ago. The religion of Mohammed is a dangerous system when the teachings and example of the “prophet” are believed and followed.
- Dawkins’ major fallacy is that of generalization. He proceeds from an aberrant, humanly-devised, specific religion, to the condemnation of religion per se (except, of course, the “religion” of atheism). A religious system should be held accountable for the specific tenants of its dogma; it should not be condemned, in shotgun-like fashion, simply because it is “religion.”
- True Christianity does not teach that a person may kill his enemies and be rewarded with eternal life. Christ and his inspired apostles taught that one must love his enemy, and do him good (Mt. 5:43ff; Rom. 12:20). We may engage an ideological foe in intellectual combat — as indeed we are doing with Dawkins at this very moment — but no genuine Christian promotes the religion of Jesus Christ by carnal conflict (2 Cor. 10:3ff).
- Since we are talking about the consequences of one’s belief system, what shall be said of the atheistic notion, argued by Jean Paul Sartre: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.” This atheist philosopher contended that if there is no God, there are no “values or commands” to “legitimize” [or to declare illegitimate] human behavior (Leonard Marsak, Ed., French Philosophers from Decartes to Sartre, Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Co., 1961, p. 485).
In view of this premise, perhaps Dawkins could enlighten his fellows as to why the vicious September 11th attack was morally wrong. The professor is outraged at what he calls “an unspeakable evil,” an “atrocity.” Why is it “evil”? How is an act to be so defined?
Dawkins hasn’t the remotest idea. We are obliged, one must suppose, to leave such matters to an elitist few, like the popular professor/author, who will make those determinations for us.
- Finally, if the concept of life after death is mere “nonsense,” then the vast majority of the human family, since the dawn of recorded history, has been irrational. Dawkins and his materialistic kin appear to have exclusive knowledge as to the destiny of humanity. “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you” (Job 12:2).
The truth is, one whose area of expertise is “animal behavior” is hardly an authority on such an elevated theme as the nature of the human spirit. Evidence for life-after-death is to be found in history, not in “animal psychology.”
If Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and his instruction regarding human destiny is true (and the evidence for that historical reality is irrefutable), then one may have every confidence in an eternal existence for all made in the image of God. Moreover, added to that fact is the proposition that a correct religious/moral life now (i.e., submission to the plan of God), determines the quality of that future existence (Mt. 25:46). Atheism’s philosophy is this: no matter how you live, your destiny ultimately is nothing but oblivion.
Now there’s a “consequential” doctrine for you!
Professor Dawkins’ disoriented rantings are but a further reminder that the atheist is like the proverbial blind dog, in a dark “smoke house,” looking for a haunch of meat — that isn’t even there!
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.