• Patrick Prill

I Declare War On God!

Updated: Jan 30

I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.”[1] - Richard Dawkins When it comes to the subject of God or religion, Richard Dawkins’ demeanor seems to transform from that of a sedate Oxford University professor to that of an angry bull. It left his colleagues at Oxford scratching their heads in confusion. One of his former colleagues, Alister McGrath, put it this way: “Like so many of my atheist friends, I simply cannot understand the astonishing hostility that he [Dawkins] displays toward religion. Religion to Dawkins is like a red flag to a bull – evoking not merely an aggressive response but one that throws normal scholarly conventions about scrupulous accuracy and fairness to the winds.”[2] - Alister McGrath Why declare war? Why the hostility? When a person displays an emotional response that’s dramatically disproportionate to their normal emotions, it would seem that something deeper is going on. So what is it? > Does he see belief in God as an impediment to the intellectual advancement of the world or as an opponent of science? > Did he have a less than positive experience as a child at his nominally religious British boarding school?[3] > Does he feel personally slighted because the majority of the world doesn’t embrace the atheism of those whom he refers to as the “intellectual elite?”[4] Whatever the reason, Mr. Dawkins is certainly at war with God or at least the idea of God. This seems odd if he genuinely believes God doesn’t exist. If God is just an empty concept, why does he not engage in calm scholarly discourse like his Oxford colleagues? Why all the bluster? Why the condescension, bullying and insults toward people who do believe in God?[5] This hardly seems the approach of a scholar. The fact that a former Oxford professor has chosen to spend extraordinary amounts of time waging war on God suggests belief in God is not a trivial concept. It is certainly non-elitist and it’s not intellectually deficient. If it were, billions of people wouldn’t believe it to be true. If God does exist (and I believe this to be the case) it would actually make sense that God is accessible by all and yet fully comprehensible by none. Previous wars on God At the turn of the 20th century, many scientists promoted the idea that science must replace religion. Ludwig Büchner[6] and Ernst Haeckel[7] were among them. They reasoned that, given the discoveries of science, God was no longer required to explain the Universe or provide moral direction. Yet over 100 years later, belief in God seems to be doing just fine. In the 1940s, the Soviet Union didn’t just wage an intellectual war on God; it got physical. Stalin executed or imprisoned most of the Christian clergy in the nation and closed about 50,000 churches.[8] Yet today, the overwhelming majority of people in Russia do believe in God.[9] The same is true of China. Mao Zedong, who imposed atheist Marxism on China for decades, also didn’t win the war against God. Though China is still officially an atheist nation, about 48% of the population is affiliated with a religion.[10] And, in spite of efforts to control the growth of religion, Christianity is growing by 10% per year. It’s projected that by 2030, there will be more Christians in China than any other nation in the world.[11] It seems that wars on God tend to accomplish little. Back to Richard Dawkins With all due respect to Richard Dawkins, his declaration of war on God makes little sense whether God exists or not. If God does not exist, why waste all of his energy? And, if God does exist, it’s a war he’s not going to win.

About Richard Dawkins:

Richard Dawkins is an ethnologist and evolutionary biologist. He earned a PhD in Zoology at Oxford University. He was a fellow at Oxford University and is a prolific author. He is also an enthusiastic advocate of atheism.

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 57. [2] Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion?, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 12. [3] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 69. [4] IBID, 126-127. [5] IBID, 66, 81, 84, 100, 120, 125, 187. [6] Ludwig Büchner, Force and Matter (New York: NY: Peter Eckler, 1891), 385. [7] Ernst Haeckel, The Riddle of the Universe (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1900), 232. [8] Revelations from the Russian Archives, Anti-Religious Campaigns, (Washington, DC: U.S. Library of Congress, 2010), [9] Russians Return to Religion, But Not to Church, (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, 2016), also Under Caesar’s Sword, (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 2016), [10] The World Factbook, (Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2020), [11] Eleanor Albert, Christianity in China (New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations, 2018),

Copyright 2020 by Patrick Prill

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