Richard Dawkins, the brilliant evolutionary biologist and loud, arrogant atheist, may be an unwitting Christian evangelist. Some have reported being moved toward Christ, not away from Him, after reading Dawkins’ arguments.
This is fascinating. Not all atheists are like Dawkins and many find him distasteful. For those of the new atheist bent however, he is something of a hero. I find them prideful and arrogant, ridiculing faith as unproved by science and thus untrue. First, science does not posit that which is unproven to be false, just unproven. Second, science itself proposes understanding only of the natural world at most. Their worldview is embarrassingly ignorant.
Judith Babarsky, writing for the Dead Philosophers Society, talks of how she was challenged by her stepdaughter to read Dawkins arguments. She writes:
Truthfully, I found the book a waste of my time as it afforded me no cogent arguments concerning the existence or non-existence of God. In fact, not only was Dawkins disrespectful of opinions other than his own, I found his statements about Jesus to be so ill-informed (and, mind you, I was no fount of scholarly information myself) that I resolved to actually learn something about Jesus Christ.
Reading Dawkins challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone and honestly confront the issues holding me back from a full commitment to faith. My sense of The God Delusion is that it is written as a testimony to Dawkins’ belief system (which I call fundamentalist atheism) and that the author cherry picks convenient quotes to bolster his opinion that esteemed scientists (such as Einstein) couldn’t possibly be ignorant enough to actually believe in a supernatural God, no matter what they may have said to the contrary. In fact, anyone with any intelligence at all couldn’t possible believe in a supernatural God. Dawkins is preaching to his atheist choir and evidently they loved the book based on their many five-star recommendations of it. But in that sense, Dawkins is no different than the many Christian authors who write in a similar manner. There is a pre-judgment that whoever disagrees with the premise of the book is, essentially, an idiot! Well, I don’t like to be called an idiot.
I realized I was no better than Dawkins. I was basing my faith on inner feelings and a perceived sense of my world, having never thought much deeper than surface level. I went in search of some answers. Who was this mysterious figure of Jesus? Obviously, he was a man who rocked 1st century Jerusalem to its very core. Something of great significance happened back then. There had been numerous other prophets up until that time, prophets described in the Bible. If any religion would emerge as victorious on the worldwide stage, why would one ever imagine it to be Christianity? Surely it would have been Judaism or perhaps some iteration of the Roman gods. After all, Jesus was a poor craftsman/carpenter, with a rag tag bunch of followers. They certainly were not literate, powerful or politically connected men.
And that was the beginning of the last leg of my journey to conversion to Catholicism. In reading to refute Dawkins as well as educate myself and find answers to questions, I discovered the God-man Jesus Christ. Not only did the Catholic view resonate with me emotionally, but perhaps more importantly for me, it was intellectually honest. The Protestant view seemed watered down (maybe part of the reason I left the Lutheran Church to pursue exploration of Judaism).
Damian Thompson, writing for The Telegraph, picks-up on the story and adds another:
My school friend Michael — an atheist for decades — rang me the other night and told me he’d returned to the Catholic Church. “And you’ll never guess who converted me,” he said.
“No! It was Richard Dawkins!”
He explained that he was, and is, a huge admirer of Dawkins the biologist. (I’m with him there: I read The Blind Watchmaker when it first came out and was blown away.) “But then I read The God Delusion and it was… total crap. So bad that I started questioning my own atheism. Then he started tweeting.”
Like a loony on top of the bus, no?
Funnily enough, this is the second time in a week that I’ve heard of Richard Dawkins leading someone to Christ.
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might conclude that Prof Dawkins secretly converted to Christianity decades ago, and then asked himself: “How can I best win souls? By straightforward argument, or by turning myself from a respected academic into a comic figure fulminating against religion like a fruitcake at Speakers’ Corner, thereby discrediting atheism?”
(That is my bold highlight above. It was just too good not to!)
Read both full articles: Reading Richard Dawkins Led To My Conversion and Is Richard Dawkins leading people to Jesus?. The Catholic Herald also covers the story in The academic who read The God Delusion then turned to God.