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3/24/11

Defender of Belief and Atheist

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins rose to celebrity with the 1976 publication of his brilliant book, The Selfish Gene. Dawkins is an evangelist and publicist for atheism. He also believes that humanity has morally progressed and that the holocaust was merely a temporary set-back. He has stated that human progress is inevitable. (Scientifically speaking, this is a rather un-testable hypothesis.)

Terry Eagleton is a Marxist and highly regarded literary critic who finds in the agony of Christ on the cross a perpetual reminder of humankind's need to rise to its better, more compassionate, loving self. He finds Dawkins' moral progressivism rather shallow. Human history constantly reminds us of our failures to set the world to rights. Dawkins' view is a naive and easy humanism, according to Eagleton. As to Dawkins' evangelism for godlessness, Eagleton also finds that rather empty and easy.

Here is Terry Eagleton on Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion:

"Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be."

"As far as theology goes, Dawkins has an enormous amount in common with Ian Paisley and American TV evangelists. Both parties agree pretty much on what religion is; it’s just that Dawkins rejects it while Oral Roberts and his unctuous tribe grow fat on it.

A molehill of instances out of a mountain of them will have to suffice. Dawkins considers that all faith is blind faith, and that Christian and Muslim children are brought up to believe unquestioningly. Not even the dim-witted clerics who knocked me about at grammar school thought that. For mainstream Christianity, reason, argument and honest doubt have always played an integral role in belief." More

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