Richard Dawkins is a professor of zoology at Oxford University who has described himself as “a fairly militant atheist, with a fair degree of active hostility toward religion” (Bass, 1990, p. 86). According to Dawkins, “religion is very largely an enemy of truth” (Bass, p. 87). He characterizes the idea that man was created by God as a “blasphemy” that “we [atheists—WJ] have to fight against” (Watson, 1987, p. 11). In fact, it is he who is the enemy of truth.
Dawkins has achieved a degree of fame from several books he has written. In 1976 he authored The Selfish Gene, in which he set forth his theory of genetic determinism (although he would deny that appellation). Akin to E.O. Wilson’s concept of “sociobiology,” it attempts to explain animal and/or human behavior on a genetic basis. Genes, Dawkins contends, are the key to understanding animal behavior. But aren’t men animals according to evolutionary theory? Yes, but in order to escape the logical consequence of the argument (that man is not responsible for his behavior), it is claimed that humans, in their evolutionary progress, can break free from the genes that program them.
Dawkins has boasted that his book brings home the reality of the ruthless, mechanistic explanation of human existence. “You are for nothing. You are here to propagate your selfish genes. There is no higher purpose to life” (Bass, p. 60). He is gratified also that in reading his book, people are “losing religious faith” (Bass, p. 60).
In 1986, Dawkins authored The Blind Watchmaker. In this treatise he attempted to negate the influence of William Paley’s classic work, Natural Theology (1802), in which the English theologian eloquently argued that the design suggested in the Universe is evidence of a grand Designer (God). To Dawkins, the blind force of natural selection is the basis for the “apparent design” around us that appears to cry out “for an explanation” (1988, p. ix; see also Jackson, 1992).
Christians must not let these challenges go unanswered. Enemies of the truth must be opposed in a kind, but firm and rational way.
Bass, Thomas (1990), “Interview with Richard Dawkins,” Omni, 12:58-60,84,86-89, January.
Dawkins, Richard (1988), The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton).
Jackson, Wayne (1992), “The Blind Bookwriter,” Reasoning from Revelation, 4:11, June.
Watson, David C.C. (1987), “A Reply to Richard Dawkins,” Origins, pp. 10-11, May.
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