Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Should churches criticize best-selling atheists?

Recently, some Britons have been criticizing the Anglican and the Catholic Churches for not saying more about Richard Dawkins's anti-God campaigns. For example, "Femail" of The Daily Mail wrote, last July,
I am astounded that in the face of so much aggressive atheist attack no one in the ranks of believers or in the Church has stood up to reply.

Why has no one joined in the battle against these warriors for atheism? Where are the Defenders of the Faith that they ridicule?

Are our bishops and cardinals, our preachers, imams or rabbis too supine, too complacent or too scared to argue back? Have they no arguments?

In the past there have been eloquent fighters for Christian belief: churchmen such as Cardinal Newman and Archbishop Temple, writers like G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis, of Narnia fame. Where are their successors?

I know of only one: Oxford professor of theology Alister McGrath - who is also a bio-physicist - who has made a substantial refutation.

I am not sure this is quite fair. Most of the time, Dawkins sounds hysterical and mostly wrong. He doesn't seem to know much about religion and it's been a long time since he has done normal science, so far as I can see. So neither the church nor the science lab really wants to get into it with him. Is that so hard to understand?

That said, Oxford mathematician John Lennox did take him on. Lennox's book, God's Undertaker, is highly recommended here.

I entirely agree with Femail about Alister McGrath, and would also strongly recommend his his Dawkins Delusion (an answer to Dawkins' God Delusion) to anyone who wants to know why Dawkins' "selfish gene" and "meme" theories of how human psychology works are simply bunk.

Mario Beauregard and I discuss biophysicist McGrath's excellent expose of that stuff in The Spiritual Brain. For the anti-God campaign in general, go here and here.