Volume. XXII, No. 13
Sunday, 23 September 2007

From the Pastors Heart: Richard Dawkins Battles

The Prospect magazine named three names as the world’s top three intellectuals.  They are Umberto Eco, Noam Chomsky, and Richard Dawkins.  Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and a Fellow of New college.  He is a graduate of Oxford, and he did his doctorate under the Nobel-prize winning ethologist Niko Tinbergen. In 1967 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley, returning to Oxford in 1969.  He has been a Fellow of New College since 1970.  The Chair (of the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University) was founded in 1995, by a donation from Dr. Charles Simonyi.  According to its homepage, the aim of the Professorship is “to communicate science to the public without, in doing so, losing those elements of scholarship which constitute the essence of true understanding.”  The reason that I am introducing him to you so much in detail is because he has been the champion of atheism.  From his office, he writes and speaks about not only science but also philosophy and religions.  His previous book, The Selfish Gene,” has brought him much reputation, and his new book, The God Delusion, has brought direct challenges to the world of faith(s).  For his book, “the God Delusion,” he uses the Penguin English Dictionary to define the word, “delusion,” as a false belief or impression.”  He also uses another definition of delusion: “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric disorder.”  He also quotes from Robert M. Pirsig, who is the author of Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity.  When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”  He boldly says the following in the preface of the book: “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.”  He also talks about atheism as following: “Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about.  On the contrary, it is something to be proud of, standing tall to face the far horizon, for atheism nearly always indicates a healthy independence of mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.”  What he is doing in his book is to declare a war against any suggestion of the existence of God.  He portrays himself as an atheistic fundamentalist.  He is dangerous. 


He battles for his case from three frontlines: (1) past history of religions, (2) intellectual negligence among the religious people, and (3) strong faith in Darwinism.  Concerning the first frontline (past history of religions), we, ourselves, ought to have some answers to him.  It is not an easy task to provide him with a satisfying answer.  His challenge comes from the facts of religious atrocities committed in the name of religion(s) or the name(s) of God(s).  The list of examples is endless: suicide bombers, 9/11, crusaders, witch-hunters, Gunpowder-plot, Indian partition, Israeli/Palestinian wars, Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, persecution of Jews as Christ-killers, Northern Ireland troubles, honour killings, fleecing gullible people of their money (‘God wants you to give till it hurts’), Taliban blowing up ancient statues, public beheadings of blasphemers, and the flogging of females for the crime of showing an inch of their skin.  Though we may not have been a part of such atrocities, we must admit that we have not once in a while respected people properly because of their religious backgrounds.  We should have had a respectful attitude to all people regardless of their religious practices.  If God provides us with absolute moral standards, the Christians must be more moral than non-Christians.  However, very unfortunately, it is not the case.  Such hypocritical attitudes dissuade people like Dawkins from pursuing God.  H. L. Mencken says, “People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police.”  It is a cynical comment on the immoral and unethical believers of God.  Therefore, though we may find some answers to the challenges from Dawkins biblically and theologically, we must be honest with ourselves first and recognise the need to improve our character by having the right sort of faith in God.  The following report from Muriel Gray in the Herald on 24 July 2005 in reference to the London bombing needs our attention:

Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim ‘communities.’  But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus.  The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance is of course religion itself, and if it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.


How are we going to respond to such charges?  Is our religion or faith benefiting our communities and families?  Or are we causing pain and suffering to others?  I do have critical views of Dawkins’ view of religion and faith.  However, he gives us some points to think about.  Are we becoming violent, rude, and impolite in the name of our faith and truth? 


The second frontline is about Christian churches’ negligence of intellectual pursuits.  Dawkins argues that our faith must be scrutinized by science.  He rails against the widespread notion that faith is personal and can’t be questioned.  We need to think of two points at least.  One is that faith must have both subjective and objective aspects.  Our faith must be grounded in the objective truth of God.  The other is that we ought to encourage ourselves to study more diligently.  We need more Christian scientists.  It is true that fundamentalists have tended to despise intellectualism.  They have emphasized on the importance of faith and evangelism, but neglected to encourage young people to go into the fields of science.  As a result, we do not hear strong voices from Christian scientists.  


The third frontline of the battle comes from Dawkins’ strong view (rather faith) in evolution.  His specialty is evolutionary biology.  As much as he hates the absolute nature of Christian faith (or all other faiths), he has absolute faith in evolution, especially natural selection.  When it comes down to his hatred to any religious faith, he, despite his noble academic credential, does not mind using vulgarisms such as “sucking up to God.”  In his mind, science and faith are not so compatible.  Further more, he relates virtually everything to evolution from the nature of man to ethics and morals.  For example, he says, “. . . evolutionary continuity shows that there is no absolute distinction [in moral principles].  Absolute moral discrimination is devastatingly underminded by the fact of evolution.”  He also said, “I now want to pursue the point mentioned above, that the way we see the world, and the reason why we find some things intuitively easy to grasp and others hard, is that our brains are themselves evolved organs: on-board computers, evolved to help us survive in a world.”  In fact, Dawkins’ first two battlelines are coming out of his strong faith in Darwinism.  Unfortunately, his science becomes scientism, and from his faith in scientism he rails against our faith.  He should have gone out for debates with creationists than writing a book like The God Delusion.  He needs to be disillusioned from his faith in evolutionary theory first.

Lovingly, Your pastor

More Lively Hope




Adult & Junior RPGs for the next quarter now available on the Literature Table. Donation: $1.

BBK class to start on 7 Oct. Anyone interested please see Elder Michael D Lee.

Worship Service Survey forms - to be handed in to Dn D’Mello by today.


Looking Ahead

Sunday School Sports Day on Sat, 6 Oct at The Gums, Shakespeare Avenue, Tranmere at 10am.

Christmas Concert on Sat, 8 Dec.

National B-P Youth Camp, 11-15 Dec.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies- Pastor Ki (Adl); Dn David Yeo (Melb); George Family (Syd/Adl); Sis Joyce Chen (Renmark) & all who arrived safely at their destinations.

Ps Ki’s Ministry in North Asia.

Church activities: Joy, YAF & Sparks4Christ activities.

Answered prayers: Job for Sis Nikki Ching in Hong Kong.

Journey mercies- Pastor Ki (Adl); Dn David Yeo (Melb); George Family (Syd/Adl); Sis Joyce Chen (Renmark) & all who arrived safely at their destinations.

Ps Ki’s Ministry in North Asia.

Church activities: Joy, YAF & Sparks4Christ activities.

Answered prayers: Job for Sis Nikki Ching in Hong Kong.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Winston Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelman; Grandpa Ki, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Juanita Tong, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction with influenza.

Cambodia Missions - Bro Sam Nang & Sis Chulamy; preparation for our team.

Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

YAF September30in30 Evangelism Programme.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

Journey Mercies - Dn David Yeo; Sisters Min Yen Chia, Julia Son & Juanita Tong, Joyce Chen (Adl); Michiko & Jasper Law (Jpn); Mary Ting (Sabah),  & all those travelling this week.

Job -  Sis Juanita Tong.

Ebenezer BPC- 8th Anniversary Thanksgiving & Church Dedication today.

Sister B-P & Bible-believing Churches all over the world.

Drought to cease in Australia.

Year 12 - Bro Samuel Ki & Sis Amelia Tan.

YAF Committee Elections - guidance.



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