Sorry, but Christianity must be more than just cultural

Apr 14, 2024 by

by Peter Harris, TCW:

IN 2007, the four men who came to be recognised as the leaders of New Atheism – Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens – met at Hitchens’s apartment in Washington DC to affirm their alliance and explore together the nature of their respective anti-theisms. Hitchens, ever the contrarian, voiced two heretical views at the meeting: first, that as religion is so deeply engrained in humans due to their evolutionary trajectory, it is unlikely that it will disappear; two, that it is undesirable that religion should disappear since arguing with religious people sharpens sceptics’ polemical skills. Hitchens later stated to Doug Wilson, his debating partner on the ‘God is not Great’ book tour, that for the rest of his life he would never forget the look of hostile incredulity on Dawkins’s face when he said those two things.

Yet Dawkins, despite his trenchant desire to see society thoroughly secularised, has expressed at times a fondness for certain aspects of Christianity. He has extolled the literary genius of the King James Bible, expressed a liking for Christmas carols and church bells, and when asked whether there was any kind of religion he can tolerate, his answer was a very mild Anglicanism. Dawkins therefore is a cultural Christian.

As Laura Perrins wrote in TCW last week, he called himself such in a recent interview with LBC’s Rachael Johnson with the emphasis firmly upon the word cultural, for Dawkins is ‘happy’ that ‘the number of people who actually believe in Christianity is going down’ but would ‘not be happy’ if ‘we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches’.

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Read also:  How to square ‘cultural Christianity’ and ‘non-belief’ by Glen Scrivener, The Times (£)

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