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Apologetics Essay: Responding to Richard Dawkins

Apologetics Essay: Responding to Richard Dawkins

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Published by Simon East
By Simon East
By Simon East

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Published by: Simon East on Apr 03, 2011
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06/09/2013

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1
Simon East (Student HBC060094)TH-302 Apologetics (Sept 2010 CD Mode)Essay Word Limit: 3000Actual Words: 3275 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................. 2
 
RICHARD DAWKINS BACKGROUND ................................................................... 2
 
KEY ARGUMENT ................................................................................................ 3
 
RESPONDING TO DAWKINS ............................................................................... 4
 
Religion discourages independent thought ................................................. 4
 
Religion is divisive ....................................................................................... 7
 
Religion is dangerous.................................................................................. 7
 
HOW TO APPROACH PEOPLE WITH THESE VIEWS .......................................... 11
 
CONCLUSION ................................................................................................... 12
 
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................ 13
 
 
2
 
I
NTRODUCT
I
ON
There appear to be two types of atheists: the quietly-independent non-religious types whomay be passive, indifferent, or who place God in the same category as Santa Claus; and thezealous variety who are passionate about their cause, believing strongly in the harmfulnessof God-belief. This second-type of New Atheists are aggressive advocates of atheism,they maintain that religious belief is not only false but also held in an irrational way byadherents and is morally pernicious. They feel no obligation to respect the religious beliefsof others; rather, their stated goal is to usher in the end of religious belief, especially belief in the existence of God. (Copan & Craig
2009
:
26)
 Richard Dawkins is possibly the best-known preacher for New Atheism. He maintains thatreligious belief is not only irrational, but that it has been the bane o f history. Is there anycredibility to this claim? What impact or legacy has Christianity left on our world, and wouldsociety be better off without it? And how should we respond to people with this mindset?
R
I
CHARD DAWK 
I
NS BACKGROUND
Dawkins was born in Kenya to British parents, his dad an agriculturalist. Although hisparents were heavily into natural sciences, he has what he calls a normal Anglicanupbringing (Pollard 1
995)
but decided in his teens that evolution was a better explanationfor the complexity of life. Moving to England he earned his Masters and Doctorate, andresided for thirteen years as a Professor for Public Understanding of Science at the world -renowned Oxford University.Dawkins arguments hail predominantly from modernism  a logic and reason orientedworldview that developed out of the scientific and industrial revolutions of the 1
900
s.Modernism was superseded by post-modernism (and later, some suggest, by post-post-modernism
)
and yet his rational-sounding approach is still persuading many. DiscoverMagazine called him Darwins Rottweiler (Hall
2005)
, yet he has a way of making hisaggressive anti-God sentiments seem fair and sensible (perhaps its the British tendency toavoid the ardent hyperbole of the Americans
)
. With the broadcast of his lectures anddebates, several best-selling books and television documentaries, Dawkins influence is nowinternational.
 
3
 
KEY ARGUMENT
In the PBS documentary
The Root of All Evil 
, Dawkins basically outlines everything hebelieves is wrong with religion. One statement in particular caught my attention. Religiousfaith discourages independent thought, its divisive, and its dangerous. ( The Root of All Evil
2006
:
2
m
3
0
s
)
. His three-pronged stab attacks religions
legacy 
more than its
truthfulness
.Perhaps he attempted to engage with post-modern audiences who care less about what is
true
than about what
works
. But he also stepped onto moral ground (foreign territory foran atheist
)
as soon as he charged that Christianity is worse than irrational  it is evil(DSouza
200
7:
20
3
)
. Is he right?Religion does have a lot to answer for. Sadly, there are clear documented cases wherereligion has been each of these three things. Cults are often accused of psychologicalmanipulation and indoctrination of their followers. The division and animosity betweenSuni and Shiite muslims is perhaps more flammable than skin colour and race. And Dawkinsis not alone in accusing God of being at the centre of wars and violent disputes .In
The End of Faith,
Sam Harris calls religion the most potent source of human conflict, pastand present (quoted in DSouza
200
7: Ch 18
)
. Steven Pinker writes that religions havegiven us stonings, witch-burnings, crusades, inquisitions, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers,and abortion clinic gunmen (quoted in DSouza
200
7: Ch 18
)
. Humans have believed thatGod commanded them to massacre Midianites, stone prostitutes, execute homosexuals,slay heretics and infidels, throw Protestants out of windows, withhold medic ine from dyingchildren, and crash airplanes into skyscrapers (DSouza
200
7: Ch 18
)
. Martin Buber saidthat Nothing so tends to mask the face of God as religion. It can be a substitute for Godhimself. (quoted in Blanchard
2000
:
2
11
)
. Even Eugene Peterson, respected Christiantheologian and author of 
The Message
writes this in his introduction to the book of Amos:More people are exploited and abused in the cause of religion than in any otherway. Sex, money, and power all take a back seat to religion as the source of evil.Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind. The moment aperson (or government or religion or organization
)
is convinced that God is either

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