In defense of Richard Dawkins

Religion | Marvin Olasky

In defense of Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins
Associated Press/Photo by Manish Swarup (file)

Douglas Murray recently suggested in The Jewish Chronicle Online that celebrated atheist Richard Dawkins was either ignorant or cowardly. Both may be true, but I’ll suggest a third option.

Murray cited an interview on Al-Jazeera in which Dawkins argued that the “the Old Testament” god is “hideous … a monster” and the most unpleasant character “in fiction.” The interviewer rightly asked if Dawkins thought the same of the God of the Quran, but Dawkins ducked: “Well, um, the God of the Quran I don’t know so much about.”

Murray asked, “How can it be that the world’s most fearless atheist, celebrated for his strident opinions on the Christian and Jewish Gods, could profess to know so little about the God of the Quran? Has he not had the time? Or is Professor Dawkins simply demonstrating that most crucial trait of his species: survival instinct.”

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After what’s happened to Danish cartoonists and journalists from many countries, Dawkins certainly has reason to duck. But one venerable adage—“the enemy of my enemy is my friend”—also explains the dodge. Dawkins wants to blast away the remnants of Christianity’s leadership in his country, and if Allah-worship will help him do so, why gainsay it?

Many people sleep with strange bedfellows and find out, too late, that they’ve earned an STD. Iranian liberals, allied with ardent Muslims in 1979 to overthrow that country’s shah, ended up with ayatollahs in charge. Egypt’s liberals have repeated that tragedy.

Dawkins hates the God of the Bible for purportedly placing a heavy burden on his shoulders—but even if Dawkins has never read Pilgrim’s Progress and understood that Christ removes the burden, he should recognize that Islam offers not just a backpack but tons of steel. Yes, Dawkins is clever to make Al-Jazeera watchers smile rather than frown—too clever for his own good and the good of free societies.

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