Dawkins’ Faith

24 08 2009

Richard Dawkins is about to launch his latest shot in his crusade against God – The Greatest Show on Earth – not, he says, intended as an anti-religious book, yet still part of his anti-religious campaign. Today The Times Supplement printed an extract from this new book which comes out soon.

It appears to be a book founded on science and inference: “Given that, in most cases, we don’t live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes, we shall revisit the metaphor of the detective coming upon the scene of a crime after the event and making inferences. The aids to inference that lead scientists to the fact of evolution are far more numerous, more convincing, more incontrovertible, than any eyewitness reports that have ever been used, in any court of law, in any century, to establish guilt in any crime. Proof beyond reasonable doubt? Reasonable doubt? That is the understatement of all time.”

Now that language I find most interesting because it is exactly the same language that I would use to describe why we can be confident in our acceptance of the Bible and its veracity as a revealer of God. The only difference, I suspect, is that when I look back on the evidence for the Bible and use ‘inference’, I look at all possibilities before I arrive at a conclusion and Richard Dawkins considers only one possibility and ignores all others – well actually he doesn’t ignore, he denigrates!

Whatever he may try to convince us about evolution – and I am not anti-evolution (but wait before you rush to comment) – he comes at the subject, it appears from his past writings,  loaded with emotional, historical prejudices that are tantamount to a form of blind faith.  He believes on the basis of partial facts viewed, it seems, through the skewed eyes of atheistic emotional prejudice – and is utterly convinced he is right – just like the flat-earth extremist is.

Now if you think that is an unkind, unjust and unfair comparison, I can only say that that is how it appears to some of us watching from a slightly less emotionally charged position. In fact what I have just done is the same as he does when he denigrates those who wish to have open minds to other alternatives to atheistic, mechanical evolution, by equating them with holocaust deniers, which is what he does in the book.

Rather like some of Job’s comforters, he appeals now to questionable traditional figures such as some Church of England Bishops, who aren’t always known for their traditional beliefs. But let’s start from the opposite end of the scale, from the Biblical perspective, about which neither Dawkins nor his followers appear to have much knowledge. The Biblical picture of God is that He is both Creator and Sustainer of the world and interacts with it as He deems fit – both with people, animals and what we might call inanimate creation. (This is a tremendous subject, but it will have to wait for another time).

If we accept for a moment the general concept of evolution – and I have to say that although I am quite open to the concept of evolution, there appear to be a considerable number of question marks which throw doubt on the idea of ‘fact’ that Dawkins espouses – what is impossible to determine is WHY things happened (if they did) as the evolutionary scientist maintains.

If there is no God, then anything that happens is chance and given sufficiently long periods of time, anything can happen. Whether it is behavioural or genetic change it has to be purposeless. To speak of survival ‘instincts’ makes a major leap of faith, a questionable leap, I suggest. It prejudges. Why should ‘life’ want to ‘survive’? Chemicals don’t have that instinct.

Now if there is a God as revealed in the Bible then there is nothing to say that changes that have been observed have not been God-directed changes, i.e. it is simply the way He worked to bring about the present end result – IF those changes did happen.  Whichever way it is, it is a faith issue, and the starting point is whether you believe from the outset in God or that there is no God. Your end result follows from there. Thus I would suggest that Dawkins’ latest trend of trumpeting how wonderful this world is, is simply what the Bible has done for centuries before him – except it declares that it is not a mechanical accident, but the purpose of a benign and loving God.

Our applause, or otherwise, of Dawkins’ latest “controversial book” will depend entirely, I suggest, on our starting point, but it will be left to others commenting upon it to add light for those who want light.

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