No Respect

Richard Dawkins, an Oxford science philosopher, once stated, "If you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." For that and other similar comments, Dawkins has earned the nickname "Darwin's pit bull." Dawkins's latest book, A Devil's Chaplain, touches on themes dear to his heart, especially his belief in evolution and his contempt for religion. In his eyes, people of faith are simply trying to avoid the facts that science teaches -- namely, that there is no God and no life after death. Dawkins sees himself, on the other hand, as someone who has taken a stand for absolute truth and will brook no opposition. He won't even debate creationists or intelligent design theorists, since that might "lend . . . respectability" to what he calls their "nonsense." To give Dawkins his due, he's a witty, engaging, and intelligent writer and lecturer -- so much so that I wonder how many of his readers and listeners realize how dangerous his ideas are. For instance, he writes, "Society, for no reason that I can discern, accepts that parents have an automatic right to bring their children up with particular religious opinions." To Dawkins's mind, that's a completely unreasonable thing to believe. For him, if the scientific facts back up his atheistic worldview, then to teach religion to children is deceitful, and it's wrong to lie to children. Now, I won't get into the intelligent design debate and proofs for God's existence. I've discussed these many times on this program, and you can read about them on our BreakPoint website ( The point that really interests me is how Dawkins's dislike of religious freedom and lack of respect for religious people are related to his worldview of scientific absolutism. Because he can see religion only as a source of lies, Dawkins complains, "Why do we have to respect [religious opinions], simply because they are religious?" Dissenters from Darwinism don't even deserve mention. Parents should not have the right to raise their children with religion. Religious opinions need not be respected. This, you see, is the totalitarian impulse in Dawkins' scientific secularism and the great danger of the movement he represents. If there really is no source of truth higher than human beings (or, as Dawkins would put it, higher than human beings and their fellow animals), then it makes sense to see Dawkins and his scientific colleagues as guardians of all the truth that we can know about the universe. Religion, then, is a silly superstition, and it makes perfect sense to put down religious people who try to hide and distort absolute truth. Christians also believe in absolute truth. All truth -- even the truth we discover through science -- comes from God. The difference is that, unlike Dawkins, we also believe that God gives humans the dignity of freedom, even if they would use that freedom to deny His very existence. We are told to speak the truth to unbelievers lovingly, not coerce or deride them. Christian absolute truth, you see, includes a universal respect for others. Darwin's pit bull gets points for tenacity, but his view of the world and the way he would implement that view are tragically flawed and dangerous. For further reading and information: Richard Dawkins, "The future looks bright," Guardian, 21 June 2003. (More of Dawkins's dubious insights into religion and atheism.) Robin McKie, "Dawkins versus the priests and New Age shamans? No contest," Observer, 9 March 2003. Gregg Easterbrook, "'Bullied and Brainwashed,', January 2004. Laura Sheahen, "Religion: For Dummies" (interview with Dawkins),, 9 December 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 040308, "Science in the Light of Faith: A Valuable Perspective." BreakPoint Commentary No. 040301, "Charles Darwin Knew: Science and Freedom." Albert Mohler, "The Devil's Chaplain: Richard Dawkins on Christianity,", 25 February 2004. Charles W. Colson, "The Devil in the DNA," Christianity Today, 10 August 1998 (reprinted at BreakPoint Online). Al Dobras, "It's All about Luck," BreakPoint Online, 7 April 2003. Learn more about intelligent design at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. See BreakPoint's "Worldview for Parents" pages: "Is What We See All We Get?"; "Micro- and Macroevolution: Is There a Difference?"; and "Did Life Evolve?" "Dispelling the Myth of Darwinism" -- Learn more about the June 24-26 Intelligent Design Conference that the Wilberforce Forum and Community Bible Church in Highlands, North Carolina, are cohosting. (Register by April 30 to take advantage of the early bird rate.)


Chuck Colson


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