Responding to Dawkins

Terry Eagleton on Richard Dawkins: “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.”

And he’s just getting started.

There’s also an essay by Marilynne Robinson in the November Harper’s.

And this interesting Gary Wolf piece talking with Dawkins and a host of other New Atheists who share the belief that professing one’s atheism is now necessary.


  1. Dear Sir,

    The following issue can destroy ISLAM or ISRAEL, study it thoroughly to see if there is any truth to it.

    READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

    The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY/ISLAM.

    Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

    GENESIS 16:16
    And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.
    GENESIS 21:5
    Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

    NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

    100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING


    Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

    GENESIS: 21:14 – 21
    So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 or less than the Islamic point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

    This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

    Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

    I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces – unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.

    For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:
    (MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE),,31200-galloway_060806,00.html

    HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 – 122

    101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

    102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!”

    103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

    104. We called out to him “O Abraham!

    105. “Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” – thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    106. For this was obviously a trial-

    107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

    108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

    109. “Peace and salutation to Abraham!”

    110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

    112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac – a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

    113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

    114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

    115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

    116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

    117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

    118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

    119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

    120. “Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!”

    121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    122. For they were two of our believing Servants.


    Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.

  2. just starting off the wired article….

    — Highly intelligent people are mostly atheists,” he says. “Not a single member of either house of Congress admits to being an atheist. It just doesn’t add up. Either they’re stupid, or they’re lying. —


  3. I am now reading Dawkins’ book and I am mystified why I should, as a matter of course, announce my beliefs to others in a stalwart and pugnacious manner. Is this really anybody’s business other than my own?

    He raises some very good points about atheism, but the book’s overall timbre sometimes comes off as fundamentalist and as partisan as those he decries. The point here is that any ism, ideology or religion is plagued by this mentality of absolutes.

  4. To be honest, I find Dawkins’ whole media persona creepy but I wonder to what extent Eagleton takes exception to his disdain for Islam purely on the basis of taking allies wherever you can find them?

  5. That first comment is hilariously typical.

    Marilynne Robinson is similarly all double-extra indignant, as well, as any semi-intelligent yet pious pundits will likely get their panties similarly in a bunch.

    I’m not particularly familiar with Dawkins, and I must say that his ‘proofs’ of atheism sound about as logically fallacious as any of the enlightenment theologan’s ‘proofs’ of god’s existence. Still, it seems a common argument against atheists by the believers that because they dismiss the entire field of theology, they are in no place to take issue.

    To me, that makes as much sense as if saying one can’t study science without studying Scientology, astronomy without astrology, ad absurdium. Have any theologans, at the end of years of research and thought, determined there was no god? I doubt it, because they have to accept the core axiom on faith in the first place.

    Sigh. My favorite atheist preacher is still Douglas Adams. Just recently enjoyed his interview with American Atheist Magazine from a few years ago in “The Salmon of Doubt.”

  6. Interestingly enough, Jackson, Dawkins dedicates THE GOD DELUSION to Douglas Adams. You know the story of how they met? Dawkins set a fan letter to Adams. They became friends. Adams invited Dawkins to his 40th birthday party. He also invited Lalla Ward (Romana from “Doctor Who”), who he had worked with as script editor. Dawkins and Ward were the first to show up and thus had to talk with each other. They later married that year. Go figure.

  7. That’s an appropriately Dirk Gently-esque anecdote. My atheistic weltschmertz is always happy to leave room for Jungian serendipity. Take that, supernaturalists!

  8. Maud Newton has posted some links to the matter here

    As for Robinson’s response, I hardly found it as pious panties in a twist — then again, as long as we’re throwing latin around, De gustibus non est disputandum

    I’m not sure if “Still, it seems a common argument against atheists by the believers that because they dismiss the entire field of theology, they are in no place to take issue.” is meant to summarize Robinson’s response, but if so, I’d say it greatly misses the point.

  9. A Bat Segundo podcast with Richard Dawkins is coming next week. In light of all the discussion at Maud’s, at the Valve, and here, I’ve put this one on the fast track.

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