Atheist Richard Dawkins calls himself a “cultural Christian”

Atheist Richard Dawkins calls himself a “cultural Christian” April 4, 2024

Richard Dawkins is one of the most visible atheists in the world. He has not changed his mind in this regard, telling an interviewer recently, “I do not believe a single word of the Christian faith.”

Here’s the part of the story that is making headlines: he also says he identifies as a “cultural Christian.” He stated, “I would not be happy if, for example, we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches.” In his view, the UK owes much of its history and heritage to the Christian faith, a fact that should still be valued in our post-Christian day.

However, as T. S. Eliot asked in his Choruses From The Rock, “Do you need to be told that even such modest attainments as you can boast in the way of polite society will hardly survive the Faith to which they owe their significance?” The writer Niall Gooch adds that the great cultural contributions Dawkins appreciates “were not, and could not have been, created by half-believers who found Christianity merely soothing and comforting.”

Esmé Partridge, an MPhil candidate at the University of Cambridge, is right: “Like any organism, Christianity must recover its roots, or it will die—a fact of life which, as an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins ought to appreciate.”

The airstrike that killed aid workers in Gaza

In other global news, reaction continues to the recent Israeli airstrike in Gaza that killed seven aid workers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged his country’s responsibility for the attack. The Israeli military chief of staff also said, “It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night during the war in a very complex condition. It shouldn’t have happened.” (For much more, please see my new website article, “In its war with Hamas, what should Israel do now?”)

While the escalating Palestinian casualty totals in the Israel-Gaza war are grievous, David Brooks notes in the New York Times that the IDF is seeking to defeat an enemy hiding inside as many as five hundred miles of tunnels built under hospitals, schools, and other civic centers. Hamas spent as much as a billion dollars constructing these tunnels, money that could have gone to building schools and other crucial infrastructure for the people.

As Brooks reports, their strategy is to maximize the number of Palestinians who die and in this way build pressure for Israel to end the war before Hamas is wiped out. For its part, the IDF has done far more to protect civilians than the US did in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to John Spencer, chair of urban warfare at the Modern War Institute at West Point.

If Hamas survives this war, Brooks warns, “it would be a long-term disaster for the region.” The terrorist group would rebuild its military to continue efforts to exterminate the Jewish state, as it promised after its October 7 invasion. This would make it much harder for the global community to invest in rebuilding Gaza.

And, as I have previously noted, Hamas’s survival could convince Israelis that their families are no longer safe in their country. In that case, many are likely to leave, fulfilling the goals of Hamas and Iran to destroy the nation. This is why an Israeli commander said after October 7, “If we do not defeat Hamas, we cannot survive here.”

“Hate cannot drive out hate”

These two stories illustrate my focus this week on the need and opportunity for Christians to manifest the reality of Easter Sunday by our changed lives every other day of every other week of every other year.

When the risen Christ transforms us, the change will be obvious even to atheists and other skeptics. The darker the room, the more apparent the light. And when we love others as Christ loves us, we point them to our only hope for ending war and experiencing genuine peace.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on this day in 1968, was right:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

Such love is a “fruit” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). But we can experience this fruit only when we make Christ our Lord and his Spirit comes to live in us (1 Corinthians 3:16), and when we then submit to the Spirit each day (Ephesians 5:18).

Why philosophers and saints are the “real revolutionists”

Author and pastor Paul Powell’s daily devotional recently quoted historian Will Durant: “The only real revolution is the revolution of the individual. The only real revolutionists are the philosophers and the saints.”

Dr. Powell explained:

A person’s basic problem is his heart. It is out of the heart (the moral, spiritual, and intellectual center) that evil comes. To measurably change society, you must seek to change a person’s heart and not just his economics, social habits, and environment.

Changing people is the work of the philosopher and the saint! They deal with ideals, values, and truth. They seek to change others one by one. Changing men and women will ultimately lead to a change in everything these changed people touch.

He added: “This is why Jesus Christ is the greatest revolutionary of all time. His basic concern is with individuals—one by one. As he changes and empowers others he thus can change the world.”

Dr. Powell concluded:

Do you long to see society changed? Do you desire to make America a better place to live? Let Christ change your life by his love and grace, and then give yourself to the work of introducing him to others. You will do more lasting good than all the radicals alive.

Will you do such “lasting good” today?

Thursday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“Men would sooner believe that the gospel is from heaven, if they saw more such effects of it upon the hearts and lives of those who profess it. The world is better able to read the nature of religion in a man’s life than in the Bible.” —Richard Baxter

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