Fundamentalist Atheism’s Dualism.


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.

6 responses to “Fundamentalist Atheism’s Dualism.

  1. There’s an enormous flaw in this whole article. It condemns the conclusions of Dawkins because “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”.

    If and when, Christianity (or any theistic religion) EVER provides convincing objective evidence for the existence of their god, science will embrace that evidence. One doesn’t need to understand the theology to reject Christianity, any more than the Christian must understand the theology of every one of the thousands of worldwide religions (to reject them). Show us a compelling body of objective evidence. Once you provide that, THEN we can talk about your theology. Until then, your “theology” is nothing more than mythology.

    Interestingly, the last paragraph notes that “Nonsense remains nonsense…”. Adherents of every religion (correctly) view all or nearly all other religions as nonsense. They are all correct in that assessment.

    • Belief in a religion is entirely unnecessary in order to believe in God, in fact for most people it merely clouds the issue. Modern science, along with a helping of common sense, proves that God exists – at least for those who are prepared to accept it.

      • Curious, if not completely untenable to somehow use the word science (as indifferent to common sense) as the basis of evidence for the existence of god. Perhaps it’s unclear just what science is. Perhaps it’s forgotten that without religion you simply have unexplained curiosities with no consensus. It takes religion to drive the political and social policies of a society (a violation of Universal Rights). To that, it’s likely most forget that religion — by definition — is a social construct, and all that implies.

  2. Pingback: Fundamentalist Atheism’s Dualism. — James Bishop’s Theology & Apologetics. – Pickering Post·

  3. Very true. I can understand an atheist, but an atheist has a limitation preventing him from attainting a complete understanding religious theology and its people. Theres more to religion than a book, yet Dawkins thinks that quoting verses debunks its practice completely.

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