“Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:22 RSV-CE)
Richard Dawkins is in the vanguard of the rejection, not only of the God of the bible, but of all religion. To our shame, many Christians have given him and other infidels much cause to reject and deride Christians, Christianity, the Church, God, and the bible. He can and does point to inconsistency and hypocrisy in the Christian Church. He can rightly point to rampant sexual abuse committed both by Catholic priests and Protestant ministers and/or authorities, particularly against children; to spiritual abuse committed by various Protestant cults and cult-like churches against their members; to the deceptions by televangelists who use every artifice and lie to get their gullible followers to hand over their hard-earned money to them; to the fake healings and arrogance of Pentecostal pastors, healers, and evangelists; and to the general chaos and disarray that is Christianity at this time, particularly within Protestantism.
But true Christians grieve over these sins and crimes and hate them just as much as does Professor Dawkins, and we join with him in condemning such wickedness. We, too, know that religion in this sense is a great evil and blight on humanity. There will always be those who seek power, those who use the Church to gain their own ends. There is always an empire builder somewhere, whether it be the deacons seeking to control the pastor, or someone trying to divide the congregation so that he can displace the pastor and, settling for half or whatever remains of the congregation, is happy to be a big fish in a small pond. These empire builders are ruthless and totally self-centred and care nothing for the gospel and for all that Jesus is and stands for. They give him lip service and some of them even think they are serving God; but their actions belie their profession, and they bring themselves under the just condemnation of God whom they have blasphemed.
But this does not mean God doesn’t exist; it does not mean that Christianity is a hoax; it does not mean that all Christians are hypocrites and liars. God has made his will clear in the bible, and if we who call ourselves Christians disobey him, then it is we who are wrong, and we have departed from his will.
Richard Dawkins Mocks Us with “Probably”
But what does Professor Dawkins offer? Instead of suggesting Christians fix their attitudes and their behaviours, he would have us abandon God altogether. He would have us discard as worthless the comfort and strength of our relationship with the living and true God, and our hope of eternal security and blessedness. And the best comfort or assurance he and the atheists can give in taking away our faith is a trite saying, “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” plastered on the sides of London buses. That’s it. That’s it? Is that what this denier of God gives us in place of a Christianity that has been the blessing of millions of people for two thousand years? He wants me to give up the delight of my life, my strength, my security – my Jesus – and chuck it all in because there probably isn’t a god? He wants me to go back to the cess pool and aimlessness of my life before I met with Jesus Christ and had my life turned around because there probably isn’t a god? Probably? What is that?
In fact, he has even admitted that he doesn’t know for sure that God doesn’t exist, so he prefers to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.
And he mocks Christians for living by faith? Well, what is he doing? Isn’t his slogan the greatest example of blind faith you’ve ever seen? He wants the whole world to follow him like an enlightened Pied Piper, dancing all the way to hell. He gives no guarantee, yet with all the brazenness you like, he urges us all to hop on his bus and ride with him to he knows not where.
With these words, Professor Dawkins not only blasphemes Christ but belittles and negates the suffering inflicted on Christians in the atheist world of communism. For example, Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Christian, was imprisoned and tortured for his faith in a communist prison along with hundreds of other Christians suffering in the same way for the same reason. What did these suffering Christians do during this time? They remained faithful to Jesus Christ and they submitted to their captors and to their suffering. And, as Jesus required of them, they loved their enemies. Because of their persistent love, many of their captors also became Christians. And this scenario has happened all through history – persecuted Christians loving their enemies with the result that their enemies commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
For all Professor Dawkins’ brilliant intellect, he seems pretty dumb to me. He’s gambling eternity on something that is only probable. I wouldn’t trade places with him for worlds.
I compare the Dawkins delusion to the comfort and certainty that the bible offers me:
- For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)
- He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him (John 3:36)
- Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (Jn 5:24)
Professor Dawkins won’t serve God and he attempts to dissuade others from serving God on the basis of probability. That might be OK in the field of science, because when looking for an answer to something, there is necessarily speculation and conjecture to see how a thing works. Thus, science consists of theories which must be proved or disproved, and they are constantly changing as more light comes, and then another theory is postulated, until eventually (hopefully) a law or a principle or a reality can be determined.
God Assures Us with Certainty
But it doesn’t work that way with Christianity. The Christian Faith is a revealed religion – revealed by God himself. Jesus Christ came to tell us about the things we can’t see. He said “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (Jn 3:11-13). He also said “I speak of what I have seen with my Father: .….but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” (Jn 8:38, 40).
Science can neither prove nor disprove God, the spirit realm, eternity, heaven, or hell; as a Christian I believe in all of these. But it is not in blind faith that I believe them. I believe because, initially, God came to me in an invisible way when a business colleague was telling me the gospel. At that time, as I was hearing what God had done for me in Jesus Christ, I believed and accepted everything I heard. The sense of the presence of God was so powerful that the only way I could describe it was that he had spoken to me. But my faith doesn’t rest in subjective experience. From then on, I began reading the bible and being involved with a local church, and I’ve been doing so ever since. The bible isn’t just a “religious text” like, say, the Hindu religious books, but is the revelation of God given to Man. God doesn’t ask us to believe in him against or in spite of reason; he asks us to believe the truth because it is the truth. The Gospels and Acts aren’t just texts that have been spin doctored, as one person I know claims; they were written because their authors walked with Jesus Christ for three years. They saw his life, his miracles, his love for a lost world separated from God; they heard his claims to deity; they saw him crucified, dead and buried. If it had stopped there, nothing more would have happened because after he died, the disciples returned to their previous occupations.
But it didn’t stop there – that was just the start! On the third day after he died, Jesus rose from death and appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days. These disciples were so changed after this that they wrote down what they knew and had witnessed. The gospels are the records of men to whom God had revealed himself. The writers recorded what they saw accurately and objectively.
The apostle John wrote “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us” (1 Jn 1:1-4).
The apostle Peter testifies “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’, we heard this voice borne from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Pet 1:16-18).
Of the resurrection, Peter and the other apostles said, when the Jewish religious leaders tried to silence them: “The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:30-32). “And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33).
The apostle Paul assures us that everything Jesus said is true and reliable because his resurrection from the dead proves his claims. Jesus was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). It’s one thing to claim to be a god, as fools like Shirley Maclaine do – but where is her proof? It is quite another to claim deity and prophesy one’s death with all its details, and then to rise from death in demonstration of the proof of one’s claims, as Jesus Christ did.
After his resurrection, Paul tells us, Jesus “appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep (i.e. have died). Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1 Cor 15:5-8). Paul didn’t just “spin doctor” the resurrection of Jesus; he told of over five hundred people, most of whom were still alive and who could corroborate what the gospel writers, and Paul himself, said; and Paul knew these witnesses and could refer any enquirers who didn’t know these witnesses to them.
Paul even makes it clear that the resurrection of Christ is central to Christianity: “….if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God..…If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15, 17-19).
Richard Dawkins Will Not Believe Because He Cannot Believe
Why is it that we accept the writings of any ancient author as true and yet we relegate the writings of the apostles to myth, spin doctoring, religious text or whatever? The authors of the New Testament documents wrote what they saw; that’s why they wrote them. Even though Jesus was a great religious teacher and did mighty miracles, even raising people from death, we may never have heard of him because until Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he rose from death, they had given up the whole “Jesus thing” and gone back to their professions. But when they saw the resurrected Jesus Christ, they knew that Jesus is the Word of God from the beginning, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….” (Jn 1:1, 14).
Paul gives us the answer to the above question: “the unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). He also declares: “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed, it cannot; and those who are in the flesh (unbelievers) cannot please God” (Rom 8:7-8).
And Jesus said to the unbelieving Pharisees, “He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (Jn 8:47).
So we see that Richard Dawkins and other atheists/agnostics don’t believe in God because they are already predisposed to unbelief. Their reasons for rejecting God at first were not because they couldn’t prove his existence; they didn’t reject him because of the sins of Christians; they rejected him from the beginning because they were already, by nature, hostile to him, as are all human beings in their unregenerate state, and who do not believe in or serve him. The apostle John puts it this way: “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God” (John 3:19-21). Their hostility is so great that they would rather gamble that there probably isn’t a God than make sure of their eternal security by humbling themselves and serving the God who made them. God’s testimony against them is, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 53:1; 14:1).
Even though Professor Dawkins and his associates choose not to believe, there have been many millions of people down through the centuries who have believed. So many people recognised the truth that Jesus spoke and the message of salvation and peace with God that he brought, that within four hundred years the Roman world was turned upside down, and the Empire became officially Christian. It was not by force of arms or military conquest as later happened under Islam; it was through belief in the Gospel, the message of salvation; through the demonstration of love and practical kindness to those around them, even their enemies; it was through Christians obeying the commands of their Lord, thus demonstrating the power and love of Christ for those he came to save; it was through lives being changed and purified through faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16).
So instead of giving heed to the words of a man who encourages people to ignore God even though he admits that he himself is not 100% sure that there isn’t a God, isn’t it better to trust the words of the One who came to earth from heaven, and who therefore knows what it is like, and proved it by rising from the dead? Isn’t it better and infinitely more sensible to trust ourselves to the One who gave his own life for us to save us from the horror of what he knows lies before us if we don’t trust him, than to jump on Professor Dawkins’ joyride in the hope that there probably isn’t a God?
Revised Standard Version Bible, Ignatius Edition, Copyright 2006, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America