Atheists not only attempt to monopolize science but they also often try to portray science and faith as enemies and in conflict. The influential atheist (and former evolutionary biologist) Richard Dawkins sees the world divided into opposing camps: one of reason (science) and the other of superstition (religious faith). Dawkins and his fellow atheists will routinely content that real scientists must be atheists.
However, this view has its critics, one of whom is Alister McGrath. One imahes that McGrath would cause a person such as Dawkins a great deal of confusions for McGrath is not only a brilliant scientist but is also an influential theologian and priest who has authored numerous textbooks on these topics. McGrath is critical of Dawkins, seeing his view as expressive of an underlying atheistic fundamentalism,
“Dawkins is clearly entrenched in his own peculiar version of a fundamentalist dualism. Yet many will feel that a reality check is appropriate, if not long overdue, here. Dawkins seems to view things from within a highly polarized worldview that is no less apocalyptic and warped than that of the religious fundamentalisms he wishes to eradicate. Is the solution to religious fundamentalism really for atheists to replicate its vices?” (1)
However, not only does McGrath rightly note the contradiction in Dawkins’ approach, but others too have seen through some of his ideas. Allen Orr, for example, has stated that when it comes to the history of science, Dawkins doesn’t prove to be very convincing,
“you will find no serious examination of Christian or Jewish theology, no effort to appreciate the complex history of interaction between the Church and science, and no attempt to understand even the simplest of religious attitudes” (2).
Church historian Stephen Tomkins is of a same mind, penning that Dawkins,
“is only willing to see the dark side, and writes off the whole thing, dismissing evidence that makes a monochrome worldview uncomfortable” (3).
For many, Dawkins espouses a sort of naive atheistic dualism by posing religion and reason as antithetical categories. Not only is it contradictory but it is also arrogant in its pitch, perhaps so much so that Dawkins and others come across as intellectually dishonest. In fact, rather than productively solving the problem of religious fundamentalism, Dawkins, notes McGrath, embraces a fundamentalism himself,
“We are offered an atheist fundamentalism that is as deeply flawed and skewed as its religious counterparts. There are better ways to deal with religious fundamentalism. Dawkins is part of the problem here, not its solution” (4).
1. McGrath, A. 2007. The Dawkins Delusion. p. 48.
2. Orr, H. 2007. A Mission to Convert. Available.
3. Tomkins, S. 1 ½ Cheers for Richard Dawkins. Available.