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The Dawkins Delusion

John on February 6, 2007 at 12:06 pm

That’s the title of a new book by fellow Oxford professor (of theology) Alister McGrath. McGrath is a former atheist who, prior to pursuing theology, received a Phd in molecular biophysics. Here’s what he has to say about Dawkins:

I have known Dawkins for more than 20 years; we are both Oxford professors. I believe if anyone is “immune to argument” it is him. He comes across as a dogmatic, aggressive propagandist.


Our paths do cross on the television networks and we even managed to spar briefly across a BBC sofa a few months back. We were also filmed having a debate for Dawkins’s recent Channel 4 programme, The Root Of All Evil? Dawkins outlined his main criticisms of God, and I offered answers to what were clearly exaggerations and misunderstandings. It was hardly rocket science.


But when I debated these points with him, Dawkins seemed uncomfortable. I was not surprised to be told that my contribution was to be cut. The Root Of All Evil? was subsequently panned for its blatant unfairness. Where, the critics asked, was a responsible, informed Christian response to Dawkins? The answer: on the cutting-room floor.

That sounds about right. McGrath concludes that Dawkin’s legacy may be a backlash:

Aware of the moral obligation of a critic of religion to deal with this phenomenon at its best and most persuasive, many atheists have been disturbed by Dawkins’s crude stereotypes and seemingly pathological hostility towards religion. In fact, The God Delusion might turn out to be a monumental own goal – persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant as the worst that religion can offer.

I’ve learned (from speaking to atheists) that there are a significant and growing number who do not find Dawkin’s approach at all appealing and who find his seeming compunction for self-aggrandizement even less appealing. In the end, Dawkins may be a jerk, but he’s their jerk. I can appreciate that.

till, I predicted that celebrity atheism would lead to the same sort of problems and embarrassments associated with Christian televangelists. The first big scandal is probably still a few years away, but it’s coming. Dawkins has a lot more in common with Pat Robertson than he realizes.

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