Atheists often try to portray science and faith as enemies, although many have shown that science requires faith to even operate, as I have here. For example, Richard Dawkins sees the whole world divided into opposing camps of reason (science) and superstition (religious faith). Dawkins routinely suggests that real scientists must be atheists, however priest and practicing scientist Alister McGrath would disagree; in fact, he sees this as yet another example of Dawkins’s 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, Allen Orr rightly notes that when it comes to the history of science, Dawkins doesn’t prove to be very convincing as in the God Delusion “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). The church historian Stephen Tomkins is of the 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). It would seem that Dawkins is either ignorant about the rich (both good and bad) history of religion, specifically Christianity, and science or he is intellectually dishonest. I’d say that it would be a mixture of the two, as what Dawkins does know about the subject (at least the content that does not sit well with his atheism) he sweeps under the carpet. Alternatively, he skews the data. In fact, McGrath even says that Dawkins is part of the problem of fundamentalism:
“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).
It’s problematic that Richard Dawkins makes this argument as a world-recognized scientist because it only serves to confuse the public at large. But for those who know or who are at least informed about the religious-atheism debate won’t so easily fall for such dogmatism. At least John Lennox doesn’t: “Nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists” (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.
4. John Lennox quoted by Evolution News & Views in “Nonsense Remains Nonsense”: Oxford’s John Lennox to Confront Hawking’s Atheism in Seattle This Friday. Available.