Is Richard Dawkins on the Way to Belief?

On Easter Monday, the Telegraph published a Letter to the Editor from around 50 leading atheists, predictably including such names as Philip Pullman, Peter Tatchell, Polly Toynbee, Anthony Grayling, Evan Harris, and on and on: from my own point of view, a list of many of my least favorite bien pensant Lefties.

It began as follows:

Sir—We respect the Prime Minister’s right to his religious beliefs and the fact that they necessarily affect his own life as a politician. However, we object to his characterization of Britain as a “Christian country” and the negative consequences for politics and society that this engenders…. Britain is not a “Christian country.” Repeated surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.

One name, however, among those listed beneath this absurd farrago was conspicuous by its absence: that of the most famous atheist of them all: Richard Dawkins. How come?

Well, a few days ago, we got the answer, in the form of a declaration (reported by the Telegraph under the headline “Richard Dawkins: I am a secular Christian”) made at the launch of the first volume of his memoirs, An Appetite For Wonder. In response to an American Protestant minister in the audience who claimed that he no longer believed in miracles or that Jesus was resurrected, but still considered himself a Christian and preached the teachings of Christ, he made this reply: “I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies.” He then made the perceptive comment to the liberal Protestant who had questioned him: “But if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.” In other words, why you consider yourself a Christian at all.

Of his own atheism, Dawkins explained that he had an “Anglican upbringing” but chose atheism in his early teens after learning about Darwin’s theory of evolution.

This reminded me forcibly of my own early history: for I, too, in my early teens decided I was an atheist, and on joining the British Humanist Association at the age of 17, sent off for a small pile of books from its catalogue, including Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian, and C. M. Beadnell’s A Picture Book of Evolution, which would, I was led to believe, explain to me why atheism was inevitable.

Well, here I am today, safely gathered in as a reliable Catholic bigot: partly because I realized that atheism didn’t work, and had brought disaster to every society in which it had become prevalent. What interests me is Professor Dawkins’s “nostalgia,” a word signifying a wistful affection for the past. That could mean (I hope it does) that he is searching, perhaps unconsciously, for lost Christian certainties.

Back to evolution. One reason I came to the conclusion that the theory of evolution, even if true, implied no reason to reject the existence of a God was that very few people within the Church who really counted had ever seen any dissonance between evolution and belief. In my own study of the nineteenth century (which as a PhD student became my period of particular interest), I discovered that although it was certainly the case that some nineteenth-century intellectuals lost their faith as a result of reading On the Origin of Species, by no means all of them did, nor was the theory of evolution rejected by most Christian theologians as I had supposed (and as most people still think today). It was rejected by literalist fundamentalists, maybe: but they were in a minority then as they still are (they have always been an essentially protestant phenomenon).

An interesting example was the conservative Anglo-Catholic theologian Henry Liddon, a Canon of St Paul’s, and an admirer of Dr Pusey, who was prepared seriously to consider Darwin’s theory as far as it went, but simply observed that it didn’t address the real question of our ultimate origins: he, like many, continued to believe that man was created by God: but that evolution may well have been part of the creator’s modus operandi. From the pulpit of St Paul’s he addressed the question of Darwin’s conclusions about the beginnings of human life, by saying that “…We cannot forget what our faith teaches us about its origin, its present purpose, and its coming destiny… For our part, as we contemplate the human body, we cannot forget its author. Even if evolution should win for itself a permanent place in our conceptions of the past history of man, it would still leave untouched the great question of man’s origin….”

There was no automatic rejection by mainstream Christian thought of Darwinian evolution. Early contributions to the development of evolutionary theory were made by Catholic scientists such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Augustinian canon Gregor Mendel.

For nearly a century, the Holy See came to no publicly enunciated conclusion about Darwin’s theory. In the encyclical Humani Generis (1950), Pius XII declared that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces.

I think that Professor Dawkins ought now seriously to consider the uncertainties of his own great hero, Charles Darwin: in particular he might ponder on the absurdity of concluding that there is no God, having merely read On the Origin of Species, when that was very far from being Darwin’s own conclusion from the process of having written it.

Darwin himself said that when he wrote On the Origin of Species he was still convinced of the existence of God as a First Cause and that he was a theist. In 1879 he declared that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally “an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.” He went as far as saying that “Science has nothing to do with Christ, except insofar as the habit of scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence…. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting … probabilities.”

How close Professor Dawkins is to discovering that the supernatural is a reality, I cannot say; but he may without realizing it be very close. What he needs now is a small dose of his hero’s own uncertainty; he sounds to me as though already he may be quite close to his agnosticism. From there it’s just a very small leap: and he will be home. Catholics should all pray for that.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared May 30, 2014 in the Catholic Herald of London and is reprinted with permission.

Dr. William Oddie

By

Dr. William Oddie is a leading English Catholic writer and broadcaster. He edited The Catholic Herald from 1998 to 2004 and is the author of The Roman Option and Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Bl John Henry Newman addressed the question of apparent conflicts between science and religion rather more obliquely, but more profoundly than most 19th century theologians.

    In his 1832 masterpiece, Arians of the Fourth Century, he had asked, “What are the phenomena of the external world, but a divine mode of conveying to the mind the realities of existence, individuality, and the influence of being on being, the best possible, though beguiling the imagination of most men with a harmless but unfounded belief in matter as distinct from the impressions on their senses? This at least is the opinion of some philosophers…”

    Again, in Tract 90 (1841), discussing Transubstantiation, he observes, “Why should any conventional measure of ours—why should the perception of our eyes or our ears, be the standard of presence or distance? CHRIST may really be close to us, though in heaven, and His presence in the Sacrament may be but a realizing to the worshipper of that nearness, not a change of place, which may be unnecessary.”

    Likewise, in his 1843 University Sermon, The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine he argues that “it should be considered whether our senses can be proved to suggest any real idea of matter. All that we know, strictly speaking, is the existence of the impressions our senses make on us; and yet we scruple not to speak as if they conveyed to us the knowledge of material substances”

    In short, he disarmed the Victorian materialists with a scepticism more radical than their own.

    • michael susce

      St. Paul said, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been CLEARLY seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”. Rom 1:20. No skepticism here. Paul destroys the skepticism of Bl. Henry Newman and all non believers. Now we have the unfathomable mathematical calculations that exist in order for creation to come into being and occur presently. To be fair to Newman(and Bishop Berkeley), he was submerged with Hume’s irrationality and may not have been exposed to Thomas Reid’s refutation of Hume. Also, it is CLEAR, that the mathematical probabilities that have been calculated and discovered during the last fifty years, leave no doubt that evolution is a superficial and wholly inadequate explanation of reality in light of mathematical probabilities ALONE. Roger Penrose’s theory that the probability of the necessary entropy needed for our universe to exist is ten to the tenth power to 123rd power; a double exponent!! And add to this all the impossible outcomes of innumerable mechanisms on mathematical probabilities beyond human comprehension (at Mass, we come to celebrate the sacred mysteries!!!!) that occur in the vast universe glimpsed by particle physics and astrophysics: all evidence points to the necessity of an intelligent, eternal, divine and perfectly good Creator. After two thousand years, and more specifically the las fifty, the scientific evidence is overwhelming. In addition, based on mathematical probabilities alone, the resurrection that we did not observe is much easier to accept as fact than the universe that we can observe!!
      “Science has nothing to do with Christ”. Argument destroyed by Paul, Thomas Aquinas and science.
      “conflicting probabilities”. To be fair to Darwin, he was under the impression, like so many others of his day that the mechanisms of nature were not that complex. But now we know that the complexity of the universe based on mathematical probabilities and sight ALONE are beyond comprehension (Hubble Ultra Deep Field photographs) and any explanation that is naturalistic can be excluded permanently. I remind myself of the analogy of a scientist who said that accepting evolution as an explanation for reality is like accepting the probability that a tornado would sweep through a junk yard and create a 747!!
      This is why I think that the atheists like the secularists are so aggressive in suppressing debate because of the accumulated facts.
      In conclusion, to accept Evolution in the macro and now micro sense is really not a position that a Christian or scientist should accept; based on the scientific evidence alone.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        But all this depends on a rather curious belief – that there is a world going on “out there” and an image of reflection of that world in consciousness. This leads to an unbridgeable gap between between me and the object of thought, and worse, creates a second gap between the representation and the thing.

        Bl John Henry Newman points to an obvious solution; there is no need to duplicate the world – the world “out there” and the world in consciousness, eliminating the “harmless but unfounded belief in matter as distinct from the impressions on their senses?”

        “God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been CLEARLY seen…” Of course. As Newman points out, “It is instinct which impels the child to recognize in the smiles or the frowns of a countenance which meets his eyes, not only a being external to himself, but one whose looks elicit in him confidence or fear. And, as he instinctively interprets these physical phenomena, as tokens of things beyond themselves, so from the sensations attendant upon certain classes of his thoughts and actions he gains a perception of an external being, who reads his mind, to whom he is responsible, who praises and blames, who promises and threatens.”

  • Arriero

    Richard Dawkins is an idiot (in a Dostoyevskyan sense). Intellectually he does not deserve any attention. His level of understanding, discussion and comprehension is low, very low. His arguments are empty, superficial and meaningless (as a matter of fact, what atheists should discuss is not the existence of God, but the existence of the Idea of God. Intelligent atheists – if that is possible – deny the existence of the Idea of God, not God himself).

    Richard Dawkins is a product of the anglo-saxon protestant – ergo anti-Catholic – world. We all know that in Rome, in Salamanca or in all those places where people still study Thomas Aquinas, the Scholastics, the Fathers of the Church and the real sources of the Catholic Church and Faith his arguments and ideas would be easily gutted and destroyed. He can also discuss with fideists. He has never discuss with Catholic Rationalists, because he knows he is unable to win such debate (how many rounds do you think he would last in an intellectual combat with Joseph Ratzinger? Less than a minute probably).

    The problem is that in the anglo protestant world there are some harmful doubts mixed with misunderstood concepts that still do not seem to have been completely solved. This gives space and strenght to some atheist to feel a somewhat intellectual superiority. Certainly, this in some way explains why nodoby in millenarian Catholic nations even know the name of Dawkins, because any Catholic with a deep study of the Church’s tradition does not take such nonsense seriously.

    Dawkins is discussing things that Catholics discussed and solved at least 1000 years ago. That’s why he likes to discuss with protestants. Few times I’ve read more emptiness than in Dawkins. Yet he seems to feel himself very important because he speaks in British english and he has studied in some very important UK universities.

    Maybe Dawkins should read more about Gustavo Bueno (a self-considered «Catholic atheist»; i.e. an atheist that admires Catholicism and the Church tradition and who by tradition, culture and education feels himself profoundly Catholic. Of course, unlike Dawkins, he is an expert in Aquinas, Scholastic theology, Greek philosophy and Church history. Probably the greatest philosopher in Spanish language in the XX century. Unluckily, he does not speak in British english and he has not studied in Oxford, so nobody in the anglo protestant world cares about him). He has a video discussing the debate between Dawkins and Rowan Williams in Oxford. He clearly states that «Dawkins is an idiot, he does not know what he says». And he has reasons (lots of reasons) to argue why (he also argues that within Catholic circles there has always been, historically, more discussion and debate that in protestant circles. Thinking otherwise is the product of anti-Catholic protestant historians, of course).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV2GsEXAXi8

    • fredx2

      I was also struck with what seemed to be a sort of mild anti-semitism in his video work. They would talk about how terrible religion was and then show video of Hassidic Jews, with their distinctive black garb. The subtext was “Look at these religious weirdos”. No room for tolerance in his world.

  • Bro- Rob

    I think that is WONDERFUL news if Richard Dawkins’ soul is seeking God after all… His conversion will be a MOST profound witness to an unbelieving world!! So I say: Go Lord go! Do your wonderful work of conversion in his heart and soul! And then his mind will gradually catch up as well… As for me I always found myself somewhere in the “literalist fundamentalist” camp in general…even though I don’t agree with every detail they say…and even though I’m now Catholic not Protestant. But with regard to the plain scientific of evolutionism and also the LITERAL truth of Genesis in general….to me it’s a clearcut stonewall case, no-brainer…period. The more I studied it, the more conclusive it gets, point by point. I lamented that so many Christians, even Popes, never saw through the lies and spurious claims of Darwinism…it’s as if all mankind were HYPNOTISED by it! But No problem… No problem for me, that is – but LOTS of grief from EVERY side from those deluded by Darwinist pseudoscience…including from plenty of my fellow Christians. (Bless ’em). How craftily the devil has sown the seeds of doubt lies and confusion in human minds! (The Protestants lost a lot of the true christian spirituality, but they sure have compensated by being better intellectuals than their Catholic peers! At least in relation to Darwinist heresies, that is!) But anyway, no matter – it is the SOUL which matters much more deeply than the rational mind in the person. It is the soul that most needs God and needs salvation. Therefore, Halleluyah for Richard Dawkins!! Come Lord Jesus, come! Holy Spirit, have your way with him! And let many stand in awe when he “comes out” as a believer! (I always have hoped and prayed for his conversion myself).

  • elarga

    You quit being an atheist because it doesn’t “work?” I don’t know whether it “works.” I thought that if we reject atheism, it’s because it’s not true.

    • fredx2

      I think the point is that if you view the evidence dispassionately, the fact that every time atheism has raised its head (French Revolution, Soviet Union) thousands or millions died gives one pause, on a practical level. It just does not work.

  • elarga

    I do not understand the point of this column. Dawkins didn’t deny being an atheist, and as far as I know, he has never in his life claimed that he doesn’t have certain values, whose congruence with Christian values should not surprise us, since he is a product of Christian culture. What’s the big deal? I don’t see an iota of evidence that Dawkins might be thinking about renouncing atheism.

  • john

    Should Dawkins become Christian, that would be fine and I’d say “congratulations” to him, and so forth. His terror, I’m guessing, is that if he DOES become Christian, nobody would care and nobody would listen to his reasons why. Nobody who currently employs Dawkins’ sad arguments for atheism would turn with him and adopt his arguments for faith, no matter how clearly he presents them. This is the saddest part of atheism–most atheists are unwilling to consider the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have come to believe in God (and Christ)–even ones they formerly considered brilliant beacons of reason.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “Nobody who currently employs Dawkins’ sad arguments for atheism would turn with him and adopt his arguments for faith, no matter how clearly he presents them”

      Of course not. As Bl John Henry Newman says, “Deductions have no power of persuasion. The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion. A conclusion is but an opinion; it is not a thing which is, but which we are ‘quite sure about;’ and it has often been observed, that we never say we are sure and certain without implying that we doubt. To say that a thing must be, is to admit that it may not be.

    • fredx2

      I suspect that Dawkins is tiring of being the grand pooh-bah of atheism. As a result of his position, I assume he has to constantly deal with a great number of rather vicious people whose driving force comes from their hatred and dismissiveness. It’s hard to live your whole life like that. So he may be realizing thet he got off on the wrong foot, and if he is the scientist he says he is, he will self correct, as they say.

  • RufusChoate

    The Atheism of others has never been a major concern for me as a private issue because of an insight that I arrived at from interaction with very vocal self described atheists.

    In the distinct majority cases, it is largely a defense mechanism adopted to allay their consciences about their brokenness and justify their actions. There is also a strong component of the will to power, hubris and a basic loathing of humanity. In short the same inspiration of Satan: Pride.

    I pray for their conversion and rejoice if and when they return but I have never found their arguments compelling, their behavior laudable or the societies they create good.

    • Arriero

      – «In the distinct majority of cases, it is largely a defense mechanism adopted to allay their consciences about their brokenness and justify their actions.»

      Just after the 2008 Financial Crisis outbreak there were, all of a sudden, many conversions to Catholicism among financiers, bankers and investors who were working in the City, in London.

      When talking about the issue, there was something that was very clear. After all, there was a lot of guilt (anxiety) and anguish (restlessness) [to use some Kierkegaardian terms]. And hence the absolute need and unavoidable search of sin atonement.

      Catholicism has things that Protestantism (or its little son, atheism) would never deliver. The problem, however, is when protestantism tries to change Catholicism*.

      * There was a case of a financier that although having been raised Catholic, he converted to Calvinism (or one similar from all those strange sects that exist in America) in the midst of the boom. When the bust came, he decided it was time to return to the True Faith again, to Catholicism. The soul is safer in Catholicism when you’ve just lost everything.

      • DE-173

        Calvinism (or one similar from all those strange sects that exist in America)

        Right, Calvin didn’t live and in Europe.

        • Arriero

          On a pure intellectual level, I could even believe in an Union of Catholic Nations, maybe the same Union that the english so much hated and despised.

          On a pure practical level, I believe that the EU, especially the euro, is a problem, a very big problem; it’s dysfunctional and damaging, and a negation of the most essential concepts from any Economics 1 course.

          Obviously, a Union and a currency lead by an ex-commie dauguer of a protestant pastor who regards the poor and dirty Catholics from the South as the cancer of the Union would have never arrived to work properly (there is religious racism in Europe. That’s absolutely clear.)

          You should also remeber that if you’re Catholic if because someone from Europe decided to bring this Faith to North-America *.

          * And a big important group were the Spaniards.

          PS- Having said that, the US state is a hundred times more powerful than the EU or any of its member states. This is something you still have to internalize. That you have more “economic liberalism” than Venezuela does not mean that the US is weaker than the Venezuelan State.

          PSS- The EU is a Union made for corporations (as the greeks very well know). The EU is as socialist as Obama…

          PSSS- Don’t worry, the french, who are Catholics after all, are not going to be ruled by Protestant neo-Empires. We all vote Le Pen, don’t we?

          https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRmEMZ1Wia8iufxqB-7kiYXOsVT5d_Er5K8yZ5eEFWxM-wqlIryxQ

          • DE-173

            “You should also remeber that if you’re Catholic if because someone from Europe decided to bring this Faith to North-America *.”

            Yes, my great grandparents, who decided that working with long days under ground, with the constant fear of being buried or trapped alive in an Anthracite coal mine, under the supervision of Welsh Protestants and their successors the Irish “Catholics” who were quite frankly worse, was better than being trapped in Europe. The enduring fear of my great-grandmother in her later years (she was born in 1889, emigrated in 1905 or 1906 and was naturalized sometime in around 1915) was that she would be deported-she retained municipal tax receipts from the 1930’s)

            • Arriero

              – «It is what it is today because statists imported European intellectual and political viruses and you are the one that believes in a robust, and unquestioned state, not me.»

              In Europe, as the European crisis is clearly showing, there are some very radical free-market lovers, even more radical – insofar as they retain political power – than in America.

              On monetary issues, the level of radicalism in Europe is impossible to overcome. On fiscal issues, the level of radicalism in Europe is impressive. No monetary easing. No fiscal expansion. Hard money, hard money and hard money. Austerity, austerity and austerity.

              Ideology or death. A praise of folly, that Erasmus would say.

              By the way, were Hayek and Von Mises from America? No.

              Don’t take the wrong causal line. America exports the ideology (at least since the end of IIWW) and Europe (an intellectual zombi) receives and processes it, not the other way around.

              PS- Spaniards had nothing to do with the 13 colonies, yes. That’s why protestantism was the de facto official religion of the 13 colonies. Apart from that, you cannot deny the paper of Spain in spreading the True Faith (even communist countries like Cuba are still essentially Catholic. That shows the deepness of the message). California is a good example of how Catholics have always evangelized the places: by putting the names of the Saints.

              • DE-173

                Try to pay attention to your own arguments, so they aren’t self-refuting.

                You should also remeber that if you’re Catholic if because someone from Europe decided to bring this Faith to North-America *.

                * And a big important group were the Spaniards.

                Spaniards had nothing to do with the 13 colonies, yes.

          • DE-173

            “I could even believe in an Union of Catholic Nations”

            Until you have one, you believe in a fantasy.

        • hombre111

          The strangest sect is nationalism, which gave us two world wars with almost 90 million dead, one cold war with uncounted millions dead, and the delusion cherished by the sole surviving superpower that it is somehow the light on the hill with a mission to decide the fate of the world.

          • DE-173

            For people who understand history a deeper level than the seventh grade civics textbooks of 1950 or so, Nationalism was one cause of World War 1, but like most wars, it was the product of elites and their libido dominandi.

            However World War II was all about socialism and statism. Hitler’s Nazism was National SOCIALISM, and Stalin of the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST “republics”. Stalin thought them amenable enough to cut a deal with Hitler.

            Of course had the German state, considered by American progressives to be the ne plus ultra of good governance not destablized Russia by funding Lenin we would not have had WW2.

            Nationalism and Socialism go hand in hand. Two little flowers on the nightshade plant of statism.

            • hombre111

              Glad you grant that nationalism triggered WWI. The French and British dismantling of Germany’s infrastructure then created the human and economic tragedy that, combined with the Great Depression, caused the Germans to vote for Hitler, the ubernationalist, and helped bring on WWII. After WWII, it came down to two nationalist states still standing. The American chant: We are number one! and our perpetual conviction that we are the freedom loving capitalism spouting light on the hill, is also a form of ubernationalism, although few Americans will admit it. And so it was our nationalism vs. Soviet nationalism.

              When we won the Cold War, we had 154 military bases scattered all across the world and could actually call it an empire, although, again, few Americans want to admit the truth. We boasted that we had entered the “American Century,” which is a nationalist chant if ever I heard of one, and already an ironic echo as China comes to the fore. But now it is China vs. America, and more nationalism.

              • DE-173

                Glad you grant that nationalism triggered WWI.

                No, I said it was A factor, not THE cause. Pay attention.

                The rest of your post is as usual, superficial, incoherent and irrelevant.

    • michael susce

      a major concern of mine in contradistinction to yours is the developing reticence of my fellow Christians who are also longtime friends who are feeling the heat of being politically incorrect and retreating from discussions even among fellow Christians. This is becoming more obvious. The underlying discussions are apt to avoid any accountability to speak the truth or tend to a skepticism with no rational basis. I can somewhat understand this in a secular context (but not much) but in the realm of fellow Christians, it is heartbreaking. We spend so much time building on the truths of the faith but balk at expounding them outside our inner circle because the various levels of rejection that may be experienced. Please pray for those also. God bless.

      • fredx2

        Part of this is the failure of Christians to understand that the atheist main argument is flawed – there is no fundamental conflict between science and religion. To believe there is shows you have no idea of what is going on. Once you take away their science versus religion spiel, they have much less to argue about. They always want to turn it back to science versus religion, which is the reddest of red herrings.

        • michael susce

          I agree with most of what you say. But you say that, “to believe there is [a conflict between Christianity and science] shows you have no idea of what is going on.” I may have not been clear but I don’t believe there is a conflict between Christianity and science.

          • hombre111

            Don’t be injured by this. Fred2 sometimes uses a broad brush.

    • AlienDan

      Yeah, because there is sooooo much evidence that we are broken because of some woman who ate a fruit thousands or millions of years ago.

      Atheist are prideful?, what’s up with all the “I’m proud to be a christian!” going around among christians.

  • Mr. Oddie’s Catholic faith, hope, and charity are evident in his final thought: that we should pray for the conversion Dawkins. In fact, this already brief article could have been much shorter:

    Is Richard Dawkins on the Way to Belief? Yes.

    Yes, indeed; aren’t we all on the way? Isn’t that why we call it “the good news”?

    Of course, truth must be proclaimed and correction must be given, and the countless perils which threaten theist and atheist alike are not to be ignored or underestimated; but what, I ask, could be more scandalous than a Catholic who presumes his own salvation while despairing of the salvation of his neighbor? It is by our love that they shall know we are Christian–by our supernatural ability to tread the narrow path of love between presumption and despair.

    How can we underestimate the infinite power of the resurrected Christ of Whom we are the Mystical Body?

    We are on our way! Hallelujah!

  • Dick Prudlo

    Grasping the concepts provided by theistic evolution is an easy task. These good folks being annoyed by fundamental elements and having lost most of their faith, and the firm belief that Darwinism was proved chose to come up with the canard of theistic evolution. Lots of really smart people joined its ranks and now we have almost the complete population of “Catholic’s” buying this nonsense.

    Can some explain why God would chose his creation to create men from the get go? After spending five days he must have gotten REAL tired and demanded that we, or it, or something finish the job. This is like saying after creation He just simply retired to His condo in Trinidad.

    • michael susce

      Theistic evolution can be explained if it is asserted that a creator must always be in the process of sustaining the universe’s viability. This is not based on faith but on science. Is it not true that the early church fathers asserted that God upholds the order of the universe and without Him, it could not exist? They were right. Modern science has recently discovered and added an abundance of evidence to accept His sustaining power as fact. The fundamental problem is that many theistic evolutionists assert that God does not need to be involved in the impossibly innumerable and minute beyond imagination mechanical processes that occur constantly in this vast universe. Just typing out the sentence that the universe is not in need of an intelligent designer in light of the mathematical probabilities alone reveals the absurdity of such a belief. But there is no scientific basis for this NADA. The opposite is true, therefore, I agree with your observation.
      Everywhere, do you hear that evolution proves that God does not exist or is not necessary for Creation and hardly anywhere is it shouted that evolution proves the necessary existence of God.
      A wonderful friend of mine who believes in evolution, gave me the vocabulary necessary to reject evolution and never use the word evolution again (and he gets so mad when I give him credit for my rejection of evolution!) Rather, the innumerable…..MECHANISMS within nature are a more scientifically accurate description of the order of the universe. As I have stated before, what Galileo was to the Catholic Church, evolution is to modern science. Both institutions made mistakes; admit them and go on with your good work seeking what is beautiful, good and true.
      God bless Crisis Magazine: don’t forget your monthly contribution!!

      • Dick Prudlo

        Well said. Michael.

    • MarcAlcan

      Theistic evolution?
      Is there such a thing?
      The very term evolution reeks of randomness.

  • Let’s keep it quiet, shall we? He is probably mulling it now or maybe not. Let’s not cause any distrubances. Let him think for himself. Our intervention and comments might cause adverse reactions.

    • fredx2

      It will probably delay things for a year or so. You are correct.

  • fredx2

    Dawkins may end up being a Christian, but he is not there yet. What he seems to have said is that he realizes the world view adopted by Christians is valid and perhaps even superior to other world views. Love they neighbor, turn the other cheek, peace. brotherhood, etc. These Christian ideas have been central to our civilization for hundreds if not thousands of years. So it would seem that Dawkins has come round to believing the end result of Christianity is good. He cannot yet come to the conclusion that there is a God involved, though.
    As an intelligent man, I am sure that some of his prejudices were just that – prejudices. And he of course will come to abandon many of them.
    Watch Dawkins interviews with various people on youtube. For most, he is challenging, sometimes insulting, but always probing. He is piecing out the structure of Christianity – where its flaws are and where its strengths are.
    But then go look at his interview with Father Coyne, head of the Vatican Observatory. Coyne describes a vision of Christianity that seems to fascinate Dawkins and you can almost see the light bulbs coming on over his head.
    After seeing that interview, I began to wonder if Dawkins was beginning to understand the subtleties of a subject he never really understood well.

    • Thomas

      I just watched the Coyne interview. You have said that you “began to wonder if Dawkins was beginning to understand the subtleties of a subject he never really understood well. For the first time, I think he encountered a Christianity that he could buy into.”
      I did not get that impression. What I saw and heard was a priest who has read a lot of Teilhard de Chardin, and a priest who, with comments like “I don’t believe in a soul”, raised my eyebrows a little. That was the only comment that “bugged” me. As for the priest’s impact on Dawkins, I would say it was minimal. Dawkins was polite to him, but was not entirely convinced of Coyne’s basis for faith: “It is a part of my history.” Of course, that brought up the obvious rebuttal by Dawkins, and all atheists: “See! If you had been brought up in a different part of the world with a different personal history, you might not believe in Christianity as the one true religion.”
      If the good Father is correct and there is a cosmic dimension to faith that must be reconciled with science, then don’t you think that many of the things for which we are so “certain,” might be a little less certain?
      While Mr. Dawkins’ conversion would be welcome and a celebratory event, I saw little in the video to convince me that his conversion might still be a few galaxies away.
      That’s what I thought after viewing it just once.

  • Bruno

    Prayers for Richard’s conversion!!! Mr Dawkins helped me into atheism, perhaps I can help him out! hehehe
    With God all things are possible.

  • Wulfrano Ruiz Sainz

    I thought he was already in Hell.

  • Stephen Hitchings

    An interesting point of view. I have certainly been praying for Dawkins’s conversion, as I’m sure many others have been, and it would be wonderful if our prayers were answered. Of course, if it occurred, Dawkins would then become persona non grata, but I guess that’s the price you have to pay. I would have to say that a belief in evolution never in any way affected my Catholic belief.

    As an aside, it is a pity to see the normally very well-informed Dr Oddie slip up by calling Mendel and Lamarck listed as Catholic scientists responsible for early contributions to the theory of evolution; although Mendel was aware of Darwin’s work, there is no evidence or reason to suppose that he thought of his own discoveries as being in any way linked with Darwinism, and Lamarck, although he began as a Catholic, was a deist for most or all of his adult life.

  • Paul

    I have to chuckle each time I hear David Cameron proclaiming the UK being a Christian nation while he was instrumental in legalizing gay-marriage in the UK. Not a single UK tv channel, newspaper and the media had the moral courage to state that the reason for 1/3 of dissenting Conservative voters deserting the Tory party in the recent local & European elections is due to the legalisation of gay-marriage. It’s about time Cameron wakes up !
    As for Richard Dawkins’ belated change of heart I for one will not hold my breath.

  • The_Monk

    Truth will never contradict truth, nor even contraindicate it.
    Where the atheistic evolutionary scientist may see order from randomness (ponder that simple phrase if you dare), the creationist sees interlocking engineering.
    Evolution has not yet been swept out onto the refuse pile of silly ideas. Yet. But it will be….

  • Cyrus

    I think Lamarck was not a contributor to the Theory of Evolution. In fact, he postulated the inheritance of acquired traits, which is anathema to evolutionists.
    Mendel discovered de principles of inheritance. Which is not the same thing as evolution.
    As for Humanis Generis, as far as I remember it affirms the need for a catholic to believe in a real Adam and a real Eve, as multigenesis would render Original Sin meaningless.
    (Excuse my broken english).

  • hombre111

    Really, really good. David Platinga has some excellent essays on this subject.

  • Jason

    May God grant wisdom and love to Prof. Dawkins. Thank you, Dr. Oddie, for this splendidly written essay.

  • John Haggerty

    I was only converted in my mid-fifties through reading Iain H Murray, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Donald Macleod, Karl Barth and others. The conversion occurred over about 18 months. So I am quite at home with agnostics and hardened atheists. I like Richard Dawkins and have never understood the animosity some Christians feel towards him. He is not to be dismissed by talking about ‘the God of the gaps’. Bad theology as we all know. The Dawkins advocacy of Darwin in solving the ‘big problem’ of creation, through Darwin’s discovery of the laws of natural selection, always moves me. It’s a great story. Who couldn’t be moved? In one of the ‘extra’ features in the documentary DVD ‘The Unbelievers’, RD talks to physicist Lawrence Krauss about how disturbing it would be to even THINK about an intelligence behind creation. ‘That way madness lies,’ he tells Krauss. Is there something here for us to think and pray about? A scientist fearful of the notion of a transcendent God outside of space and time? The God who is there, as Francis Schaeffer would have it. The idea disturbed me as well in my pre-conversion days. On YouTube RD is interviewed by a man of faith in a video called ’14 glorious minutes of religious people getting served by Richard Dawkins’. Mr Dawkins says he might be able to entertain the notion of some kind of intelligence behind creation. But not a God who cares about our sins, who cares if we sin ‘with our genitals’, and who sent his Son into the world to be tortured and punished for the sins of humanity. It is the Biblical view of man he despises. The Biblical view of sin and the atonement of Christ on Calvary. This is like the pre-conversion place I used to inhabit myself. A lady of my acquaintance from Wester Ross, Scotland, formerly a nurse (converted at the age of 18, now in her seventies) said she thought Richard Dawkins might be like St Paul before his conversion. We pray the Holy Spirit open his eyes to the doctrine of sin and of our redemption in Jesus Christ.

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