NOTE: Thanks to my friend Lonnie Welch for the title for this post.
Richard Dawkins is the most well-known and outspoken evangelist for atheism today. His God Delusion sold quite well and he has now made many disciples. I won’t go into the problems with the God Delusion. I feel the book has been reviewed enough (also see here) and there has been plenty of criticism leveled against it. I just want to point out some signs that you will help you know for sure when you are dealing with a ‘little Richard’ or a disciple of Dawkins. I will by no means stereotype everyone and I am not going for the straw man fallacy. I am speaking from experience here. So for myself and others, we continue to hear this rant over and over. How about you?
#1: “The God of the Old Testament is an egostatistical, monstrous, genocidal god that should never be worshiped! He kills people and approves of rape and slavery. How in God’s name could anyone serve a god like this?”
Now when I hear this, I try to do some hermeneutics with these people. In other words, it might be a good idea to back up and try to learn how to interpret these passages correctly. But of course, the next charge from them is that I am trying to weasel my way out of the objection or appealing to some lofty theological discipline called hermeneutics! How dare us to do such a thing! With this issue I could summarize their arguments with the following: “It doesn’t matter how much evidence you present for this issue or for your God because I hate him!” Never mind that Paul talks about God haters (see Rom 1:30). So this is nothing new. If interested, here are some resources:
Paul Copan: “Are Old Testament Laws Evil?” from God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, eds. William Lane Craig and Chad V. Meister. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.
#2: What caused God or who designed the Designer?
Yes, this question carries on. Despite the fact that it is category mistake and many people were not asking this until the cosmological evidence came in (the universe has a beginning), people just can’t help but keep asking this one. I suppose if I found a field with 500 arrowheads and inferred Indians left them there, I would then ask “Where did these darn Indians come from? After all, don’t all explanations need an explanation?” See more here: If God Made the Universe, Who Made God? By Paul Copan
#3: “Science is the only way of knowing reality and it is the no doubt the best way of arriving to knowledge.”
In this case scientific reductionism strikes again. Therefore, strong scientism ends up committing the reductive fallacy by taking one area of study and reduces all reality to this one area alone. Furthermore, for those that assert that all truth claims must be scientifically verifiable end up making a philosophical assumption rather than a scientific statement. It might be helpful to remember that naturalism (as currently discussed and advocated by Richard Dawkins, some atheists, etc) is not a discovery of science. It must always be viewed as a presupposition of science as presently practiced. Both Dawkins and Francis Crick both admit that while the world shows every indication it is designed and have purpose, they add one qualification; it only looks that way. It won’t matter how much evidence there is for a designer in nature because they will just cry “God of the Gaps.” To read more on this subject:
#4: “Christianity and religion in general is just terrible for the world so let’s get rid of it.”
In this case, I find that many of these people don’t have any understanding of the history of Christianity or know the contributions it has made to Western Civilization. So it is so one sided it is not even worth discussing. And even if you can show plenty of cases where Christianity has made or makes valuable contributions to the culture, it probably won’t matter. To read on, click here:
#5: “ Evolution is a fact and it means God probably does not exist!”
In this case, the person never defines what evolution is. After all, there are many different definitions of evolution. So once we work our way through trying to define it correctly, we can then ask whether there is no God. See more here: Why Is Evolution So Widely Believed? by William Lane Craig
I don’t want to make it sound as if The God Delusion has only led people to atheism. I know there are people that have left atheism by digging deeper and then came to faith after reading this book. But I suspect that the little Richards are not going away anytime in the near future.