Richard Dawkins has become internationally famous for his caustic criticism of religion. He is an atheist, and he wishes everyone else would join his “enlightened” cadre of fellow non-believers. In The God Delusion, Dawkins declared the purpose of his book: “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented” (2006, p. 36).
Dawkins attempts to make atheism appealing by claiming that atheists are devoted to the truth, wherever it may lead. He stated: “We believe in evolution because the evidence supports it, and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to disprove it. No real fundamentalist would ever say anything like that” (2006, p. 282). [NOTE: His statement is patently false, because the alleged evidence in support of evolution has been definitively disproved by many (Jackson, et al., 2007; Thompson, 2004.] Notice Dawkins’ rhetorical tactic, implying that atheists are unbiased, completely objective observers of facts.
In dealing with religious people, he suggests that their beliefs are tainted by what they desire to think or feel, and not by objective reasoning and observation. In his chapter titled “The Roots of Religion,” Dawkins attempted to discover the reason why people believe in an afterlife. He stated: “The idea of immortality itself survives and spreads because it caters to wishful thinking. And wishful thinking counts, because human psychology has a near-universal tendency to let belief be coloured by desire (‘Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought’, as Henry IV Part II said to his son)” (2006, p. 190, emp. added).
A critical look at Dawkins’ reasoning reveals the pitfall into which he has plunged himself. Dawkins discounts belief in the afterlife because he claims that it is only held because people want to believe it. So why does Dawkins hold the belief that there is no god? Could it be the near-universal tendency to let his belief be colored by his desire? One can think of a host of reasons why an atheist would not want to believe in God. With God out of the picture, a person can behave how he wants, without feeling that he will ultimately be accountable for his actions. Without God, no regulations on sexual activity hinder a person’s unbridled lust. Furthermore, Dawkins’ atheistic writings and teachings have made him a very rich man. If there really is a God, and Dawkins wrote about His reality, what would separate Dawkins from so many other religious writers? Make no mistake, the concept of atheism is a very appealing, lucrative belief for Dawkins.
In some sense, Dawkins is right: most people let what they want to be true dictate what they believe. Many people hold false religious views because they desire to think or act in a certain way. But in at least one aspect of his thinking, Dawkins is tragically wrong. His atheistic belief is certainly not immune from this “near-universal” tendency. In fact, the Bible warned that atheism would survive only because of false belief based on a desire for godlessness. The apostle Peter wrote about scoffers who would deny God’s existence. Concerning these atheistic thinkers, Peter wrote: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old” (2 Peter 3:5, emp. added).
Dawkins is an atheist—but not because he adheres to a dogged determination to follow the evidence where it leads. Dawkins is an atheist because he wants atheism to be true. His desire for godlessness has produced his “willful” ignorance of the evidence of God’s existence.
It should be the goal of every individual to jettison personal desires and strive for absolute truth. If a person truly does that, he or she will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that there is a God. The realization of and obedient adherence to this fact is the only thing that can truly make a person free (John 8:32).
Copyright © 2008 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Sensible Science" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the authors name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.
For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558