Dawkins and The God Delusion
Richard Dawkins is known for his anti-Godliness, as evidenced by the Book The God Delusion. Read whether Dawkins ’arguments make sense or not
Some years ago the world-renowned scientist Richard Dawkins wrote his book The God Delusion. It became a bestseller and caused wide-spread conversation, and it was probably what caused many to object the idea of God. This was also one of Dawkins’ aims for the book, as he wrote in his prologue the following: “If this book influences in a way that was intended, it will be finished by atheists, who were believers when they first opened the book.”
Next, we will discuss this book that is Dawkins’ most famous writing, as well as other literary works by him. The purpose of this text is to address the most common counterarguments found in his books that also appear in everyday life. It is probably easy for many to agree with the views posed by Dawkins, as they are easy to understand (I used to have similar thought processes, when I was an atheist), but do these views and claims have proper grounds? That is what we will be looking into. We’ll start off with science and evolution.
Dawkins’ closed universe. Richard Dawkins keeps suggesting the absence of supernatural in his book The God Delusion. He sees God’s existence as impossible and juxtaposes religious and scientific worldviews. He thinks that matter is the only thing that exists. That is why the universe is closed; similar to a closed box, which cannot be affected by anything supernatural or by God. Miracles and God’s interference with worldly events are considered impossible. However, Dawkins himself acknowledges that we cannot be one hundred percent sure about God’s existence. One of the headings in his book The God Delusion says: “Why we can be almost certain that there is no God?”
The atheistic view is difficult to prove. Someone saying: ”there is no God”, doesn’t prove that He wouldn’t exist. Or someone saying that miracles never happened doesn’t mean what they say is right. These kinds of thoughts are only premised on preconceptions, and not on what we can be certain about. Any time these kinds of claims are being presented, the claimer should have all the knowledge about everything. People claiming the following: “I know that miracles could never have happened and that God doesn’t exist”, is equivalent to them saying that they know everything about the world and its past. It would require absolute and solid knowledge about all things, but no one attains such level of information. Even Dawkins admitted that we cannot be one hundred percent sure that God’s not there. Otherwise he wouldn’t have written: “Why we can be almost certain that there is no God?”
The following image illustrates the limited nature of our knowledge. It shows how it is impossible to conclude that there is no God or that miracles never happened on the premise of confined knowledge. If we only know a fraction of all information, we cannot debunk things that we haven’t seen. They might be a part of that information that we don’t know about. The image also shows how atheism is based on religious attitude, as it issues an opinion on God. It is grounded on the assumption that there is no God. It is not about definite information and science, but about disbelief (cf. Hebr 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.). If we are being honest, we’ll have to admit that in this area everything is about belief or agnosticism. The former refers to having faith in God and the latter stands for a worldview, in which people are uncertain about God’s existence.
Who should have to present the evidence? Richard Dawkins keeps appealing to science in his books. He claims that a naturalistic view of the world without God is scientific, but that believing in God isn’t. He thinks that these two things oppose each other, for example, when he stated in one of his writings that “Belief that means assumptions without evidence, is the keynote of every religion” (1)
Richard Dawkins and other naturalists like him break this principle blatantly in one area: origin questions concerning the universe and life. The reason for that is simple; none of us were there to witness their beginning. There are only different theories on how the world began to exist, but it is impossible to prove anything about it scientifically. We cannot go back in time to see what really happened, so in that sense we are all in the same boat, that is both, people who believe in creation and people who believe in the world’s self-caused existence. The following things are examples of cases that are left outside the scope of science:
• The beginning of the universe. Currently it is presumed that the universe exerted itself into existence from nothing.
If this theory was accurate, then why won’t other things like cars, street signs, cliffs, etc. appear from nothing? Why would the universe, which is much larger than anything else, be an exception? Moreover, there’s no evidence to support the idea that anything could appear from nothing. It is an apparent contradiction and assumption lacking premise.
• The emergence of galaxies is founded on belief. Distinguished scientists have admitted that their origin is a mystery:
I do not want to claim that we really understand the process that created the galaxies. The theory on the birth of the galaxies is one of the major unsolved problems in astrophysics and we still seem to be far from the actual solution even today. (Steven Weinberg, Kolme ensimmäistä minuuttia / The First Three Minutes, p. 88)
It is quite embarrassing that no one has explained the origin of them (galaxies)… Most of the astronomers and cosmologists openly admit that there is no sufficient theory for the formation of the galaxies. In other words, one of the central features of the universe is without an explanation. (W.R. Corliss: A Catalog of Astronomical Anomalies, Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos, p. 184, Sourcebook Project, 1987)
• The origin of the Solar System is left outside the scope of science. Scientists acknowledge that all theories have serious shortcomings:
Even nowadays, when astrophysics has progressed enormously, many theories concerning the origin of the solar system are unsatisfactory. Scientists still disagree about the details. There is no commonly accepted theory in sight. (Jim Brooks, Näin alkoi elämä, p. 57 / Origins of Life)
All presented hypotheses about the origin of the solar system have serious inconsistencies. The conclusion, at the moment, seems to be that the solar system cannot exist. (H. Jeffreys, The Earth: Its Origin, History and Physical Constitution, 6th edition, Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 387)
• The birth of life is outside the scope of science. Richard Dawkins admits the problematic nature of it in his book The Greatest Show on Earth (p. 382,385). He believes in natural selection and evolution, but he and other naturalist don’t have answers to these problems, because they don’t accept creation:
Clearly the first birth of life has been a rare event, but it has happened once and this stands whether you believe it was a natural event or supernatural... But before moving on from this subject matter, I am going to repeat my warning from my earlier works. We don’t really need a believable theory for the birth of life, and maybe we should be a little concerned if someone were to come up with a theory that was a little too believable.
Who still needs evidence for their theory: a person believing in God and creation or a person, who believes that everything came to be by itself? This is what naturalists usually have to say about the matter: “If there is a God, then prove it to us!”. However, we can turn this around; we could ask naturalists and atheists: “If there is no God, then how do you prove that the universe and life caused their own existence?” The ones needing to provide evidence are naturalists and atheists, especially when these kinds of people usually claim that their view of the world is scientific.
The next comment by atheist Bertrand Russell follows up on the topic. The comment appears in Dawkins’ book The God Delusion and poses that whoever makes a claim must prove their assumption. (Dawkins writes the following: “Russell’s essential claim is that believers must come up with the evidence, not the ones who don’t believe.”). Dawkins’ book applies this notion to God belief, but it could just as well be applied to naturalistic belief, which assumes the self-caused birth of the universe and life. Naturalists must provide an answer, e.g., to the birth of life and prove its accuracy, because that is what they demand from people, who believe in creation.
Many orthodox people speak as if it were the job of skeptics to prove common doctrines wrong, and not really the job of dogmatists to prove them right. This is naturally a mistake... (Bertrand Russell: Is there a God?”)
If naturalists were logical, they should admit that their view is completely founded on belief, as is having faith that God created the world. Both are matters of faith, which cannot be proven afterwards. The following confessions picture this issue well. The first confession is from the Epistle to the Hebrews and represents the theistic view. The latter confession represents the naturalistic view:
- (Hebr 11:3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Naturalism and atheism:
Through faith we understand that the world exerted itself into existence, that matter formed celestial bodies by itself and that life birthed itself.
Evolution under a microscope. Richard Dawkins is a keen supporter of evolution and Darwin. It can be seen many times in his writings. He considers Darwin’s theory and natural selection to be a sufficient enough of an account for the existence of our current life-forms. He believes in the idea of one small original cell being the origin of all animals and plants. He believes in this view, although no one has been able to prove how the birth of that original cell by itself could have been possible. It remains unsolved.
What is meant by evolution? When beginning to explore this topic, the first necessary question to ask is, what is meant by evolution. This term might be used too vaguely. Sometimes it is used to refer to variation in nature, but it might also be used to refer to the emergence of complex new structures, like developing wings, hearing or sight. Basically, evolutionists use the term evolution for two different concepts, which are:
Adaptation is the first concept, which might be coined to evolution. Adaptation entails many things, such as the immunity of bacteria, variation in bird beak sizes, insects’ resistance to pesticides, changes in growth speeds in fish due to overfishing, and dark and light colors in peppered moths. All these are examples of how populations react to environmental changes, but they are not cases of new species being born, because the bacteria are still bacteria, peppered moths are still peppered moths, and the other species remain the same as well. Evolution literature has many great examples of adaptation. These examples can be seen in Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species, as well as in other evolutionary works.
Molecule-to-man theory is another concept found under the term evolution. It is this concept of unicellular organisms turning into fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and into humans, in particular that causes disputes. Whereas, adaptation, the first term for evolution, has no disagreements surrounding it. Everyone agrees on it.
Interestingly, when evolutionists want to prove the molecule-to-man theory, they’ll use examples of the first concept that is adaptation. Why is that?
Perhaps the most accurate answer is that they don’t have evidence for actual species transforming into another species, because they only have examples of adaptation. Experiments of over a hundred years on bacteria and fruit flies, as well as, centuries of breeding selection have shown us that there are certain boundaries that cannot be crossed. Species do not become another, but bacteria and fruit flies, e.g., are still the same species. That is why we should be able to differentiate changes within species and adaptation, from the notion of all species descending from one shared ancestor. They are two different things, and only one of them has convincing evidence. The following comments will further the subject:
We can only present presumptions on the motives that lead scientists to assume that the notion of a common ancestor is without criticism. The triumph of Darwinism undoubtedly increased scientists’ authority, and the idea of an automated process fit so well with the spirit of the time that the theory also gained a lot of support from religious leaders. In any case, scientists accepted the theory before it was rigidly tested and after that they used their authority to assure wide audiences that natural processes are enough to produce human bacteria and the chemical compounds of the bacteria. Evolution theory began to search for evidence to support itself and started to fabricate explanations to annihilate any contradictory evidence. (2)
I have been assured that there are evolutionists, who have described, how the necessary changes could have happened. When I ask, what are the books, where these descriptions can be found, I either get no response or I get referred to books that don’t have these descriptions. Everyone seems to know about the descriptions existence, but I have not yet found anyone, who would know where to find them (David Griffin, 2000, Religion And Scientific Naturalism, State University of New York Press)
When Richard Dawkins and other evolutionists rely on Darwin, it is odd that even Darwin himself couldn’t pose any examples of species transforming into another in his book On the Origin of Species. He has great examples of adaptation, such as variation in beak sizes in birds from the Galapagos island, but he lacked in evidence for species transformations. Darwin himself was forced to admit the lack of evidence. In one of his letters he said the following:
I am actually tired of telling people that I do not claim to have any direct evidence of a species having changed into another species and that I believe this view correct mainly because so many phenomena can be grouped and explained based on it. (3)
Where do species come from? Because Dawkins and other naturalists like him don’t believe in creation, they have to come up with an alternative explanation for the existence of the thousands of current species. They acknowledge that life had a beginning (limited lifetime of the Sun sets limits to life’s existence), but assume it birthed itself (although there is no practical evidence to support this claim) and that it developed gradually into our current species.
Dawkins follows faithfully in the footsteps of Darwin. He holds on to the idea of development occurring step by step over a course of million years. He believes that time makes the things possible, which otherwise would seem impossible. Time enables a fish to turn into a human that can talk, run, throw javelin, drive a car and travel to space. In the naturalistic view time has become god that can do impossible and miraculous things. It has replaced the almighty God the Bible tells us about.
The following chapters look more into the idea of gradual development and why it should be criticized.
Complete species. One reason to look critically at gradual development is the observation showing that all current species are complete and fully developed. We haven’t detected semi-developed wings, arms, legs or senses, because they are all in their fully developed form. Evolutionary theory claims that all animals keep developing, and that is why we should be able to see semi-developed organs, when in fact we haven’t seen them.
Dawkins himself refers to the same issue in his book The God Delusion (p. 153). He states that every species and every organ in those species, which we have already examined, is good at what it does. Dawkins also sees strong signs of design, although he tries to say it isn’t true. He tries to deny an obvious fact, due to his naturalistic view of the world:
The reality based on observations is that every species and every organ inside a species that so far has been examined is good at what it does. The wings on birds, bees and bats are good for flying. Eyes are good at seeing. Leaves are good at photosynthesis. We live on a planet, where we are surrounded by perhaps ten million species, which all independently indicate a strong illusion of apparent design. Every species fits well into its special lifestyle. (4)
No gradual development in fossils. Another reason to be critical towards gradual development is the fact that it hasn’t been observed in fossils. Dawkins in not a paleontologists, whose expertise would be fossils, but we can use some observations made by real fossil researchers. For example, Stephen Jay Gould, who is possibly the most well-known fossil researcher, and his friend Niles Eldredge have denied the claims of fossils displaying gradual development. Dawkins also refers to the same remark, but appeals to the inadequacy of fossil records. He uses the same argument as Darwin used to. However, if there have been tens of millions of fossils dug up from the ground already, and none of them carry any signs of transitional forms or gradual development, we can be quite certain that it won’t be visible in those fossils that are still under ground.
Basically, these observations mean that the most pivotal evidence for evolution is missing from our past. If we cannot see any signs of gradual development in fossils, then the evolution theory cannot be accurate. This is true despite the amount of time, even if it would have been millions of years. The evidence better supports the idea that species have been separate from the beginning, as posed by the creation model:
Stephen Jay Gould: The extreme rareness of intermediate forms in fossil material continues to be the trade secret of palaeontologists. The evolution trees appearing in our textbooks include facts only at the heads and folding points of the branches. The rest is reasoning, no matter how reasonable it is, not evidence of fossils –- I do not want in any way to belittle the potential competence of the gradual evolution view. I want only to remark that it has never 'been observed' in rocks. (...) (5)
Niles Eldredge: We palaeontologists have said that the history of life supports [a story about changes that promote gradual adapting], even though we know all the while that it does not. (6)
Richard Dawkins: Since the times of Darwin, scientists researching evolution have known that fossils arranged in the order of time do not form a sequence of small and barely noticeable change. - - For example, strata from the Cambrian period from 600 million years ago are the oldest strata that contain fossils from most of the vertebrate phyla. On top of that, many of them are already quite far developed. Because there are no earlier fossils, they seem to have appeared on these strata from thin air… Regardless of their school of thought, all the evolutionists agree that in this area there is a huge gap in the fossil discoveries. (7)
The Cambrian explosion. Above we brought up two cases that go against the molecule-to-man theory, which is the evolution theory by Darwin. It is not supported by exemplar observations of current species, nor is it supported by fossils either. Instead, the observations are better suited to support the creation model, where species have been separate from the beginning. The so-called evolutionary tree, where organisms’ relatedness is being illustrated from the very first original cell, the shared ancestor, is quite simply wrong. Evidence better supports the creation model, which suggests that there are thousands of different trees (basic kinds), which all might display minor variation. The evidence favors creation model.
We can see the same thing through the so-called Cambrian explosion, to which Dawkins also referred to in the former quotation. It means that multicellular life appeared on earth ca. 550 million years ago (according to the evolutionary timeline), and there hasn’t occurred any major changes ever since. Stephen Jay Gould explains this peculiar phenomenon. He states that within a couple million years all the main phyla of the animal kingdom were formed.
Paleontologists have known for long, and wondered that all the most important phylums in the animal kingdom Animalia appeared rapidly over a short period of time during the Cambrian period... all life, also including the ancestors of animals, stayed unicellular for 5/6 of the recent history, until about 500 million years ago evolutonary explosion caused all the phylums of the animal kindom to emerge only within a few million years...
The Cambrian explosion is one of the key events in the history of the life of multicellular animals. The more we examine this period, the more we are convinced by the evidence that it is unique and affected imperatively the course of the subsequent history of life. The anatomical basic forms then born have dominated life ever since without significant additions. (8)
What makes the Cambrian explosion problematic from the evolutionary view point? There are two reasons for that, and both of them support the creation model, but not evolution. The reasons are:
Diversity in the beginning. The fact that Cambrian fossils are fully developed, complex and distinctively different from each other suggests that they were created. These first multicellulars are not simple or semi-developed, as presupposed in the evolutionary theory, but instead they are as diverse as current species. They don’t really differ from current forms, expect from those species that have gone extinct.
Furthermore, there are no simpler preceding forms underneath the Cambrian fossils. If evolution were true, we should be able to find simpler ancestors, but none have been found. The discoveries clearly favor creation, where species are fully developed, complex and different from the start. Darwin had to admit the issue with Cambrian explosion as well. He didn’t look at the evidence as it was presented, contrary to the most distinguished paleontologists of the time, but instead he tried to make it fit into his theory:
There is another similar difficulty, which is much more serious. What I mean is that species in particular phyla of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known rock kinds that contain fossils. - - I cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the question about why we don’t find many fossil formations that would belong to those earliest periods, earlier than the Cambrian period. - - Currently, we cannot come up with an explanation for the matter, and this fact can be used as substantial evidence against the views that I have posed. - - The sudden way, how different groups of species appear in European formations; thirdly, the almost complete lack of rich fossil formations underneath the strata of the Cambrian period – all these problems are of significant nature. It is thus rightly understandable that the most competent paleontologists, such as Cuvier, Agassiz, Barrande, Pictet, Falconer, E. Forbes et al. and our greatest geologists, such as Lyell, Murchison, Sedwick et al. have unanimously, and often vehemently, adhered to the unchanged nature of species. (9)
Array of species in the beginning doesn’t fit into the evolutionary model. That is, if the evolution model and the evolutionary tree were accurate, in the beginning there should have been only one original cell, which has gradually developed into other species. The number of species should have increased with the passing of time. The one initial species should have generated more and more species with time.
However, the Cambrian explosion is against this notion. It shows that it was specifically in the beginning that we had an array of species, but now there are far less species than initially. The direction has been that species keep going extinct, and we cannot bring them back. If evolution and the evolutionary tree were accurate, the direction should be the opposite, but that is not the case. This fits better into the creation model, which believes there was an array of species in the beginning.
Who are the deniers of history? An essential part in the assumptions of evolutionary literature is that organisms have developed over periods of dozens and hundreds of millions of years. Although, it is admitted that during those million year periods major catastrophes took place, for example, 250 and 65 million years ago. It is believed that the majority of the time’s living organisms disappeared in those disasters.
Richard Dawkins also writes about millions of years in his works. In his book the Greatest Show on Earth, which discusses evolution, he names the kind of people, who don’t believe in evolution and long time periods, as deniers of history. He compares it to denying the Holocaust:
I call the people denying evolution “deniers of history” and by that I mean the people, who believe that the age of the universe is measured in thousands of years, instead of thousand million years, and who think that humans walked among dinosaurs... Evolution is real... The evidence supporting evolution is at least as strong as evidence supporting the Holocaust, even when taking into account the eyewitnesses of Holocaust. (10)
The question is, whether Richard Dawkins and naturalists like him are the ones, who deny history and rely on fiction (2 Tim 4:3,4: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.), when they deny creation and the Flood? That is, when they are unable to prove the birth of life on its own, their assumed destructions, e.g., 250 and 65 million years ago, can be explained in another historical way: the Flood. The fact that there are hundreds of stories about the Flood, according to some estimates, suggests that it actually happened. It is much more rational to believe in that, than in periods of millions of years posed by the table of geologic time:
Around 500 cultures – including indigenous peoples of Greece, China, Peru and North America – are known in the world where the legends and myths describe a compelling story of a large flood that changed the history of the tribe. In many stories, only a few people survived the flood, just like in the case of Noah. Many of the peoples considered the flood to have been caused by gods who, for one reason or another, got bored with the human kind. Perhaps the people were corrupt, like in Noah’s times and in a legend by the Native American Hopi tribe of North America, or perhaps there were too many and too noisy people, like in the Gilgamesh epic. (11)
Earth book tells about Flood stories:
If the world-wide Flood was not real, some nations would have explained that frightening volcanic eruptions, large snow storms, droughts (...) have destroyed their evil ancestors. The universality of the story of the Flood is therefore one of the best pieces of evidence of its truthfulness. We could dismiss any of these individual legends and think it was only imagination, but together, from a global perspective, they are almost indisputable.
There are also visible signs of the Flood in the nature, because water has covered such areas that are now high mountains or dry land. The following examples were found from the world’s highest mountain range from its highest summit, Mount Everest. The first quotation has been taken from a book that is from 1938. Similar signs of marine life can also be found from other high mountain ranges.
There are bones of oxen and horses in the Himalayan glaciers. An ice slide starting at a glacier at the altitude of 5,000 metres (three miles) brought such bones with it.
A large British expedition that almost reached the peak of Mount Everest found petrified fish lying on the mountain. (12)
Harutaka Sakai from the Japanese University in Kyushu has for many years researched these marine fossils in the Himalayan Mountains. He and his group have listed a whole aquarium from the Mesozoic period. Tender sea lilies, relatives to the current sea urchins and starfishes, were found on cliffs over three kilometres above sea level. Ammonites, belemnites, corals, and plankton fossils are found in the rocks of the mountains. (…)
At an altitude of two kilometres above sea level, the geologists found markings the sea had made. There was a wavelike rock surface, similar to that which is formed by waves on sand in low water. Yellow stripes of limestone have been found even on the peak of Mount Everest, formed from innumerable remains of marine creatures under water. (Maapallo ihmeiden planeetta, p. 55)
Jerry A. Coyne’s book (Why Evolution is True?, p.127), which discusses evolution, tells how Darwin found fossilized sea shells from high in the Andes. The writer admits that the mountain has been under water, but doesn’t believe it has been due to the Flood:
While travelling on the Beagle Darwin himself found fossilized seashells from high up on the Andean Mountains. It shows that, what is now a mountain was once under water. (Jerry A. Coyne: Miksi evoluutio on totta [Why evolution is true], p. 127)
Finnish geologist Pentti Eskola wrote already decades ago, how there are sea creature remains in the Alps. How could these sea animal remains be at the mountains? The usual account is that land must have risen in time, but we need to realize that in any case these areas have been covered in water. At some point in time they have been under the sea.
What also causes trouble for the table of geologic time and its millions of years, is the fact that such organism remains have been found, which should have lived during the earliest periods of our planet. According to the geological timeline they should lie in a stratum that is dozens of kilometers deep underground. However, they stand high in the mountains and at their summits:
There is reason to look closely at the original nature of the rocks in the mountain ranges. It is best seen in the Alps, in the lime Alps of the northern, so-called Helvetian zone. Limestone is the main rock material. If we were to scale the steep slopes of some mountain or peak – if we had the energy to climb up there – we would find fossilized remains of marine creatures. They are often badly damaged, but it is possible to find recognizable pieces. All those fossils are lime shells or skeletons of sea creatures. Among them are spiral twisted ammonites and many bivalves. (…) The reader might wonder at this point what it means that mountain ranges hold so many sediments, which can also be found stratified in the bottom of the sea. (p. 236,237, Pentti Eskola, Muuttuva maa)
How do people interpret the location of fossils? When Richard Dawkins and other evolutionists explain the history of our planet and life, their baseline usually is the notion that life began in the sea and then gradually moved on land. That is why they believe that fossils of sea creatures (from the Cambrian period and other early periods), such as the trilobites, which lived on the bottom of the sea, represent older fossils than the fossils of mammals, which lived on land. It is thought that there are hundreds or tens of millions of years between their appearances on earth. Stephen Jay Gould talks more about this view:
For example, every time I gather fossils from a Paleozoic (550-225 million year-old) rock, I don’t expect to find fossilized mammals. That is, mammals were developed on the subsequent Triassic period... If I were to find fossilized mammals from Paleozoic strata, especially such mammals that developed quite late, like cows, cats, elephants and humans, our evolutionary theory would be doomed. (13)
However, there is a simple explanation as to why we don’t come across fossilized mammals, such as cows, cats, elephants and humans, in the so-called Cambrian stratum and other strata that are considered old. The reason is that trilobites and other similar so-called Cambrian creatures represent sea-life, whereas mammals like cows, cats, elephants and humans live on dry land. There could have been and still is tens and hundreds of kilometers between these two areas. (Also, dinosaurs, which have been considered younger than Cambrian animals, but older than mammals, lived between dry areas and the sea. They moved around in more low-lying areas than mammals did. They lived near the sea.) That is why you don’t really find them in the same strata, because even today it is so that sea creatures and dry land animals aren’t near each other. Ecological niches and natural sectors were a thing of the past as much as they are of today.
Age of the universe. How about the age of our universe and planet? Richard Dawkins and other naturalists assume that the universe exerted itself into existence, and the cause is presumed to be the Big Bang 13, 7 billion years ago. They believe in this concept, although no one has been able to explain, how anything could appear from nothing. This kind of notion has no sense to it and it’s not supported by any empirical evidence from today. Non-existent things don’t just appear from nothing by themselves.
What if we look at the universe and space? We could just as easily say that the universe looks like it’s only 6000-7000 years old and not 13,7 billion years old. No one has the ability to prove this by methods of science. Just by looking into space and the universe we cannot determine what age they could be. On the other hand, the older we assume them to be, the more likely it is that stars and galaxies have run out of their energy. The fact that we can currently see billions of stars and galaxies shining on us, favors the idea of a young universe rather than a really old one.
What about radioactive dating? Evolutionists put a lot of faith in these methods, but radiocarbon dating, e.g., spits out rather interesting results. This method is only used to date the age of organic samples, whose half-life is ca. 5700 years, so there shouldn’t be any radiocarbon left after 100 000-200 000 years. However, radiocarbon has been detected even in Cambrian creatures and dinosaurs – usually radiocarbon dating is not performed on these organisms as they are presumed to be too old. It proves that history of the living world cannot be millions of years old, not to mention hundreds of millions of years:
However, in the 1950s-70s authorities were cautious towards the estimates from radiocarbon dating. This was due to the discovery of 14C isotope remaining almost in all of the dated samples (over 15,000 samples) that were published in the Radiocarbon magazine by the year 1970. The obtained measurements were thought to be implausible, because there were many millions of years old fossils among the samples. The fossils’ age was determined according to an index fossil –chart, which had been considered reliable. (14)
It is not common for fossils that are thought to be very old to get a carbon-14 dating, because they should not have any radiocarbon left. The half-life of radioactive carbon is so short that all of it has practically decayed in under 100,000 years.
In 2012 during August a group of German scientists in the convention for geophysicists reported carbon-14 dating measurements, which were made from many fossilized dinosaur bone samples. According to the measurements, the bone samples were 22,000-39,000 years old! The presentation can be seen in written form on YouTube. (19)
How were the measurements received? Two of the chairmen, who could not accept the measurements, deleted the abstract of the presentation from the conference website without mentioning it to the scientists. The measurements can be found here: http://newgeology.us/presentation48.html. This incident tells us, the impact of naturalistic paradigm. It is nearly impossible to be able to publish measurements conflicting it in the science community dictated by naturalism. It is more likely that pigs fly. (15)
What is the impact of Christianity? Richard Dawkins’ books, especially The God Delusion, heavily attack against Christianity. However, Dawkins also addresses other religions and beliefs, but he is most focused on Christianity, because he believes he has the most knowledge about it. The same topic is discussed in this text also in the upcoming parts.
There are basically two reasons to why Dawkins attacks Christianity. They are as follows:
1) Dawkins considers Christianity unfounded. The biggest reason for his attitude might be his own faith in evolution and his naturalistic worldview. However, people like Dawkins don’t possess a strong premise for their claims of the world causing its own existence from nothingness and how life began (basically, it’s about creation and trying to come up with other theories to replace it). It forces us to abandon common sense if we believe anything could appear out of nothing by itself.
2) Another reason for Dawkins negative attitude towards Christianity is that he sees it as harmful, like other religions. He criticizes the image that the Old Testament presents of God and brings up examples of wrongdoings and odd things that have been done in the name of God. Dawkins is convinced that if the God belief didn’t exist and everyone were atheists, the world would be a much better place.
Was Jesus good or bad?
- (Luke 6:22) Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
When looking into this topic, it’s good to start with Jesus’ personality and life. He was undoubtedly the center figure of the New Testament. There are four Gospels talking about Him. Moreover, He and His death on the cross, resurrection, and the atonement of sins through Him are the central topics in the Books of New Testament. Without Him, we wouldn’t even have Christianity. That is why we cannot forget about Him.
The question is whether He was good or bad. Richard Dawkins believes that Christianity is bad, but in saying so he also attacks against Jesus. However, the life of Jesus and His teachings speak for His goodness:
The life of Jesus demonstrates His goodness. He might have said to His opponents: ”Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:46) Additionally, both His opponents and the disciples refer to His goodness. When Dawkins claims Christianity to be bad, he should prove the following statements about the goodness of Jesus to be lies:
- (John 8:28-30) Then said Jesus to them, When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spoke these words, many believed on him.
- (Hebr 4:15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
- (Hebr 7:26) For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
1 John 3:5 And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
- (2 Cor 5:21) For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- (Matt 22:16-18) And they sent out to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth, neither care you for any man: for you regard not the person of men.
17 Tell us therefore, What think you? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt you me, you hypocrites?
- (Matt 27:3-5) Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see you to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
- (Matt 27:17-19) Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, Whom will you that I release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, Have you nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
Jesus’ teaching, such as the Sermon on the Mount, serves as an example of His goodness. If these teachings were adhered to, the world would be a much better place. The greatest commandment Jesus referred to, is to love your neighbor, which also extends to our enemies. The disciples abided by the same rule. If Dawkins and other atheists like him claim that Christianity is harmful, they should show us, what is wrong in the following teachings:
- (Matt 22:35-40) Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
- (Matt 5:44-47) But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?
- (1 Cor 13:1-3,13) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.
13 And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
- (1 John 3:17,18) But whoever has this world's good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
God of the Old Testament and what is taught about hell. Richard Dawkins heavily attacks the image that is given about God in the Old Testament, and criticizes what the New Testament teaches about hell. The major reason for his attacks is perhaps the fact that he doesn’t think God is righteous. He doesn’t believe in God, but sees the descriptions of condemning societies in the Old Testament and the teaching of hell in the New Testament as not representative of justice.
Dawkins’ comments surely evoke ideas and appeal to many. However, there is another side to the story: If God doesn’t react to evil and doesn’t regard evil things as bad, then how could such a God be good? That is, if God accepted evil and was indifferent towards whatever happened, He would actually be bad. That is why the kind of God that clearly takes the side of good and condemns evil, can truly be good. God from the Bible is like that.
Demonstrations of God’s wrath are, for example, descriptions of when he condemned the Canaanites, who burned their children in fires, and when he condemned the violent generation that lived during Noah’s time. These condemnations didn’t happened randomly or arbitrarily, but were caused by people’s constant evilness and impenitence.
What the New Testament teaches about hell, which is namely for unrepentant wrongdoers, follows the same path: wrongdoers will be held accountable for the wrongs they have done to others. Nothing takes place for no reason. Our current societies usually go by the same rule where crime committers have to right what they have done wrong to others.
There is another side to the story as well. When Dawkins and atheists like him see only one side of God, they forget that God wants what is best for us, and not for us to end up in hell. He wants us to be saved and forgiven for everything and to receive an eternal life. God has loved every person, and for that reason Jesus came to the world. This is the core message of the New Testament, and we shouldn’t reject it. Anyone could receive the gift of eternal life, and the only thing that could stop it from happening is if we don’t have regret and don’t want to turn to God through Jesus Christ. God has everything ready for us and his grace is there for us, but it is up to us whether we want to keep that door shut or open it:
- (1 Tim 2:3,4) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- (Rev 21:5,6) And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Mistakes of the church. When Dawkins criticizes Christian church and the wrongdoings committed in the name of God, he is absolutely right about his criticism. No one can deny that. Many evil and wrong things were certainly committed and the name of God has been disgraced by them. Dawkins and other atheists don’t usually take into account the following aspects:
Savage wolves. For example, Paul was able to predict that after his departure there would be savage wolves, who would pose as Christians, but who in reality, would be far from God. Jesus also taught that wrong prophets could be recognized for their labor. This shows that not all people, who claim their doing God’s work, actually are.
- (Acts 20:29-31) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
- (Matt 7:20-23) Why by their fruits you shall know them.
21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
- (Tit 1:16) They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him
Encouragement for reformation was one of the main teachings Jesus and the disciples, alike, encouraged people to do. If someone lives against this teaching, it is likely that they have never been connected to God. At least that is what Jesus and the early congregation taught us:
- (Luke 6:46) And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
- (Luke 13:2,3) And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
- (1 Cor 6:9) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived
People might fall. Although someone would be converted to God, it doesn’t stop them from falling. They might, e.g., fall for sex, money; get too proud, or angry. Or then there might be mentally ill people, who could hurt themselves or others, because they think they are hearing the “voice of God”. Media often likes to write about these incidences, but we have to keep in mind that not all direction comes from God and that anyone could fall. After all, we are all quite weak and could get lost. Everyone has their weaknesses that their vulnerable to if we don’t stay vigilant.
However, no one can plead to anyone else’s actions and wrongdoings before the throne. We are only accountable for our own life and actions. We should primarily be concerned about the state of our own life.
- (Rom 14:10-12) But why do you judge your brother? or why do you set at nothing your brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, said the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
History. As already mentioned, it is possible that some act falsely in the name of God. I’m sure there would be plenty of examples if we wanted to look for them.
Christianity could also be compared to science and politics. All these things can be misused. However, no one abandons science because some scientists have developed neurotoxins, destructive weapons or acted otherwise in immoral ways (e.g., Nazi doctors). It’s the same with politics. We can also see wrongdoing, as well as, great accomplishments in the political field. Yet, we don’t forsake it because of some people, who have exploited their position.
Christianity, provided that it is real, should have a positive influence on society in many aspects. We will look at a few of those aspects.
Crime will decrease. When Jesus and the disciples preached: “Repent for your sins” and encouraged people to believe in the Gospel, it meant that people should stop doing wrongful things. Sometimes in the eyes of man it could mean small things, like wicked thoughts and attitudes, but also bigger things, like crime, such as theft, acts of violence and other kinds of criminal activity. Basically, if someone has been affected by God, it should always result in positive change in that person. Grumpy and bitter people can change into more positive; addicts can quit using drugs and stop thieving. Gamblers will get other interests than games and terrorists can make an end to terrorist attacks. Those are some of the changes that can have a positive impact on their and other peoples’ lives. If their faith is authentic and they’re not afraid of religiousness, it is possible that they could undergo such changes.
Charles G. Finney tells how this happened during a Godly movement in the 19th century:
I have told that the moral situation changed greatly through this revival. The city was new, economically prosperous and enterprising but full of sin. The population was especially intelligent and ambitious but as the revival swept through the city by bringing large crowds of its most remarkable people, men and women, to conversion, there happened a very miraculous change concerning the order, peacefulness and morality.
I had a talk with a lawyer many years later. He had been converted in this revival and was a general prosecutor in criminal cases. Because of this office, the criminal statistics were thoroughly familiar to him. He said about the time of this revival, “I have examined documents of criminal law and noticed a surprising fact: while our city has grown three times larger after the times of the revival, there has not been even a third of the indictments than there were before. So miraculous an effect did the revival have on our society.”(…) (16)
When crime decreases, it also lowers societal costs. A significant amount of society’s expenses go to fixing consequences of bad lifestyles. One of these includes breaking up families and the other is crime, which is also often related to a broken family. However, if people turn to God, it can prevent both families breaking up and criminal activity. If even one criminal were to quit their criminal career, it could significantly lower societal costs. The following example talks about spiritual prison work, and how it has led to the criminals quitting their criminal activities. They have become tax payers for society and helpers of the underprivileged. Many have at the same time gotten free of alcohol and drugs, which both are a large societal expenditure for the criminal and for society. It is estimated that in Finland, for example, alcohol directly causes annually billion Euro costs for society, and indirectly up to five billion Euros (Kauppalehti 16/9/2011). There are thousands of people addicted to alcohol.
Over the years there have been numerous amounts of prisoners who have converted, and there’s only a few of them, who have biographies or magazine articles written about them... The Bible says that “Jesus Christ is worth welcoming into your life in every aspect”, even financially. I’m sure that every former prisoner, especially substance abusers, is left with more “pennies” in their wallet, than when those pennies used to go straight down their throats or into their veins. But there are financial benefits to society as well. One day in prison costs society around 150 Euros. If we were to imagine that these 27 former prisoners never became believers, but instead, would have continued their old habits, and would have each gotten 10 more years to serve. In that case, society would have needed almost 15 million more Euros, in order to keep those prisoners inside. Not to mention the costs they would have caused while out of prison before getting caught again. Now Jesus has turned the situation around in impacting these people in a way that they have become honest tax payer workers, and even helpers of those who have become alienated from society and in need of help. (17)
Democracy and stability of society.
- (1 Tim 2:1,2) I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
The First Epistle to Timothy urges people to pray, for example, for the authorities, so that people could live a peaceful life. It is better than having a disoriented society, an absolut dictatorship, or a constant rebellion against the governers. It is better for financial and other kind of development if the authorities strive for goodness.
Some researchers have noted that namely Christian missionary work has had a positive impact on developing democracy and stability in societies. This has been witnessed in African and Asian countries. Those areas, which have been influenced by active missionary work, are better off today than those areas, where missionary work has not been as active or non-existent. We can see it in things like missionary areas currently having more developed economy, relatively better health situation, lower child mortality rate, less corruption, literacy is more common and access to education is better than in other areas. In Europe and North America the same develoment took place earlier, and Christianity may have been the driving force.
According to Robert Woodberry, the assistant professor at Texas University, the impact of Protestants’ missionary work in the 1800s and in the beginning of 1900s on the development of democracy has been more significant than originally thought. Rather than having a minor role in the development of democracy, missionaries had a substantial part in it in many African and Asian countries. Christianity Today magazine tells about Asia.
Robert Woodberry has studied the relationship between missionary work and the factors affecting democracy almost for 15 years. According to him, there where Protestant missionaries have had a central influence. There the economy is nowadays more developed and the health situation is relatively much better than in the areas, where missionaries’ influence has been smaller or nonexistent. In the areas with prevalent missionary history, child mortality rate is currently lower, there is less corruption, literacy is more common and getting into education is easier, especially for women…
According to Robert Woodberry, namely the Protestant Evangelists had a positive influence. However, the clergy hired by the government or Catholic missionaries, before the 1960s, did not have the same influence.
Protestant missionaries were free of the control of the government. “One central stereotype in missionary work is that it relates to colonialism. - - However, Protestant workers, who were not funded by the government, reacted always critically to colonialism”, says Woodberry to Christianity Today.
The long-term work of Woodberry has received praise. Among others, research professor Philip Jenkins of Baylor University has noted the following about Woodberry’s research: “I really tried to find gaps, but the theory holds. It has great influence on the worldwide research on Christianity.” According to Christianity Today magazine over ten studies have reinforced Woodberry’s findings. (18)
Abolition of slavery. Christianity affected the abolishment of slavery. For example, in the ancient times this practice was common, but it disappeared from many areas during the Middle Ages when Christianity was spreading around. Christianity also had an effect on the abolition of slavery in Richard Dawkins’ home country England. This country had a strong revival in the 18th century, and John Wesley, the father of this revival and a Methodist movement, played a key role in the battle against slavery. It has also been said that due to John Wesley’s impact, England was spared from the kind of revolution that hit France.
Another important figure was William Wilberforce, who proposed many bills to abolish slavery. His pastor was John Newton, who used to be a former captain of a slave ship, but was converted into Christianity, and thus began to oppose slavery. John Newton is also famous for his spiritual song “Amazing grace”. He encouraged Wilberforce in the fight against slavery, until their efforts paid off.
Society, which was mostly lead by Christian activists and intellects who relied on biblical principle, came to a conclusion that slavery is wrong. A British member of the Parliament, William Wilberforce, was the first one to propose a bill against slavery in 1789. Because he was motivated by biblical principle, according to which all people were created in the image of God, he proposed up to eleven bills in the House of Commons to abolish slavery; until in 1807 slave trade was finally abolished. Additional campaigning resulted in abolishment of slavery itself in 1833. After that Britain hoped to persuade other countries to abolish slavery as well – the government paid over million pounds to Portugal and Spain in hopes that they would end slavery, and in turn offered France military aid. The British navy used 40 million pounds over the course of 50 years. During those times they caught 1600 slave ships and freed 150 000 slaves. (19)
Women’s status. A particular claim against Christianity is that it is patriarchal and has deteriorated women’s status. These kinds of claims have been posed especially by members of feminist motions and others with similar ideologies. They think that women’s status is dependent on women acting the same ways as men (e.g. ordination of women), but fail to see how valuable women are, especially through Christ, by just being themselves. This standpoint only measures women’s value in how similar they are to men, and not in what their own identity is like as a woman.
However, it is contradictory that the same members of feminist motions, who claim to be representing women, strongly advocate for abortion, which is abandonment of real womanhood. Killing a child in the womb or outside the womb isn’t a part of real womanhood. Instead, a close relationship between a mother and child and taking care of children are part healthy femininity. Current leaders of feminist movements have forgotten that.
Another problem that has followed the strong feminist movement, is the rise in the number of single mothers. This phenomenon has also only become more common during our generation, now that we have started to abandon Christian principles and the permanence of marriage. Many women are now put under larger burdens, than they were before our current feminist movements existed. It hasn’t made it easier for women, but rather worsened their status.
What about accusations that Christianity has deteriorated women’s status? In the light of history this is not at all accurate. It is quite the contrary, because Christianity impacted in a way that, for example, child negligence (which mostly affected girls) ceased to exist, and improved women’s status in marriage and also improved widowed women’s status. In Christian congregation women’s status was better and their involvement was greater than in the most parts of Roman society.
The professor of sociology and religious studies, Rodney Stark, has written a book about the growth and success of Christianity, and he also analyzed women’s significance on the spreading of Christianity. According to Stark, the status of Christian women was good ever since the early stages of Christianity. They enjoyed higher status and protection than, for example, their fellow Roman sisters, whose status in their part was significantly higher than that of Greek women. Abortions and the killing of newborn babies were also not allowed in the Christian communities – both were strictly prohibited. Consequently, Christianity was very popular among women, (Chadwick 1967; Brown, 1988) and it spread, especially through posh women to their husbands. (20)
Besides, it is futile to deny, what even the heathen opponents of Christianity openly admit: that this new religion attracted unusual amounts of women and that many women got such comfort from the teachings of the congregation that the old religions were not able to provide. As I have mentioned, Kelsos thought of the vast proportion of women among Christians as evidence for the irrationality and vulgar nature of Christianity. Julianus criticized the men of Antiokia in his scripture Misopogon for letting their wives waste their possessions on “Galileans” and the poor, which unfortunately resulted in Christian “atheisms” gaining public admiration. And so on. Evidence concerning early Christianity does not directly leave room for doubts of it being a religion, which heavily attracted women and it would have not spread nearly as widely and not as fast if it did not have as many women. (21)
Hospitals and social work. Richard Dawkins and others like him don’t seem to grasp the positive significance that Christianity had in the Western world. They only see the things, where the teachings of Jesus and the disciples were not followed, but refuse to see the positive aspects.
However, Christianity has positively impacted in many areas, including social work. Poverty, disease, hunger and homelessness are major problems in many parts of the world, but those societies, where Christianity has been prevalent and places that have experienced spiritual revivals, suffer less from those problems. Of course, no society is perfect, but if the world didn’t have Gospel in it, there would be a lot less hospitals and a lot more poor and hungry people. The majority of the hospitals in the world began operating due to Christian influence:
During the Middle Ages the people, who belonge to the Order of Saint Benedict, maintained over two thousand hospitals in the Western Europe alone. The 12th century was remarkably signigicant in this respect, especially there, where the Order of Saint John operated. For example, the large Hospital of the Holy Ghost was founded in 1145 at Montpellier, which quickly became the center of medical education and the medical centerl of Montpellier during the year 1221. In addition to medical care, these hospitals provided food for the hungry and took care of widows and orphans, and gave out alms to those who needed them. (22)
Even though the Christian church has been criticized a lot throughout its history, it has still been the forerunner in medical care for the poor, helping captives, homeless or the dying ones and improving working environments. In India the best hospitals and educational institutions connected to it are the result of Christian missionary work, even to that extent that many Hindus use these hospitals more than the hospitals maintained by the government, because they know that they are going to receive better care over there. It is estimated that when the Second World War began, 90% of nurses in India were Christians, and that 80% of them received their education from missionary hospitals. (23)
In church the affairs of this life were as much taken care of as were the affairs of the future life; it seemed that everything that the Africans accomplished, originated from the missionary work of the church. [Nelson Mandela in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom])
Education and literacy. Christianity has moved Europe into a more positive direction in terms of civilization. Literacy and written standard language were mainly created by devoted Christians. For example, in Finland Mikael Agricola, who was a reformer and the father of Finnish literature, printed the first ABC book, as well as, the New Testament and segments of other biblical Books. The people learned how to read because of them. In numerous other nations in the Western world advancement has happened through similar processes:
Christianity created the Western sophistication. If the followers of Jesus would have stayed as a faint Jewish sect, many of you would have never learned how to read and the rest would have read from hand copied scrolls. Without theology coined with progression and moral equality, the whole world would currently be at a state, where non-European societies were roughly in the 1800s: A world with countless astrologists and alchemists, but without scientists. A despotic world without universities, banks, factories, spectacles, chimneys and pianos. A world, where most children die before the age of five and where many women would die of childbirth – a world that would truly live in the “Dark Ages”. A modern world only arose from Christian societies. Not in the Islamic realm. Not in Asia. Not in a ”secular” society – as such a thing did not exists. (24)
Do we benefit from atheism? One of the fundamental assumptions in Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion is that the world would be better off without God belief. He brings up conflicts, where religion has played a part, such as the problem in Northern Ireland, mass murders of Serbs/Croats/Muslims, as well as, the wars between Israelis and Palestinians:
Picture a world without religion with John Lennon. Imagine there would not be suicide bombers, no 9/11, no crusades, witch hunts, Gunpowder Plot, divide of India, wars between Israelis and Palestinians, massacres of Serbs/Croats/Muslims, persecution of Jews as the “killers of the Christ”, “the problems” in Northern Ireland, and no “honor killings”. (25)
If we look at this issue only from the point of view of Christianity, we can see the situation completely differently. It is namely the lack of God belief and not believing in the final judgment that brings about conflict.
For example, the crisis between Palestinians and Israelis results from forgetting forgiveness (Matt 6:15: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses..) and from not loving your enemy (Matt 5:46: For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?). Similarly, the spiraling in the Balkans, Northern Ireland and in other conflicts is caused by people rejecting the idea of God’s judgment and that some day they would be responsible for what they have done. If they really believed in judgment after death and that wrongdoers will go to hell, they would change their behavior. These kinds of people often just use God for their own benefit. The following example from the Northern Ireland describes the issue:
I remember talking to a group of young men, who were on their way to Glasgow Rangers’ home arena in Ibrox stadium. They held a sheet that read “For God and for Northern Ireland”. (It’s so silly that I’m almost tempted not to explain, what it has to do with Glasgow and football.) I ask them if they believe in God. “I’m not sure – but we are Protestants!” “Do you go to church?” “F- - (curse word hidden). We go to Ibrox stadium, why should we go to church too?” (26)
What would society be like if it was completely atheistic, as wished by Dawkins and others like him?
The last century gives us a little preview of where an atheistic worldview can lead in the worst case. It was one of the most cruel centuries in the history of mankind, and the name ‘Dark Ages’ would have been far more suitable for it than it was for the Middle Ages. Apostate church and religiousness without Christ have not caused as much destruction in any other century as it did over the last century under the influence of atheism. The world’s only atheistic countries, such as the Soviet Union of Stalin, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Northern Korea, as well as Hitler’s Germany, were especially responsible for such development.
[What would you say to those, who blame religions?] I would try to make them think about the horrific 20th century, during which we encountered more destruction than ever before. Possibly, along with the destruction of Jews, the greatest crimes were committed by two openly atheistic nations. The Soviet Union with its atheist museum being one and Mao’s China being the other. Both were militantly atheistic. And what did they do? They killed 70 million of their own people. Why won’t we ever hear that this is what atheism causes? There is something devious about it. Why the sins of religion are always so harshly judged (as they should be), but no one ever pays attention to the sins of atheism. (27)
If we only look at the development in Europe before the Second World War, we can see that it was preceded by liberal theology becoming more common in universities, evolution theory gaining more popularity and many people leaving Christian belief behind. This trend was also prevalent in Hitler’s Germany and the movement was represented by Hitler himself, who heavily criticized Christianity and believed in evolution. Hitler’s attitudes become clear, for example, in his secretary’s written notes, which Dawkins also refers to in his The God Delusion book. Moreover, Hitler offered his friends books that were written by the philosopher Nietzschen. This philosopher denied the existence of God.
We can see what kind of development dominated in Europe before the Second World War from the following quotation. It tells us how people left God and the churches. The description is from the year 1934, five years before the Second World War. An essential detail to notice in the quotation is that the time’s presumed erudite men claimed that current science would make believing in God impossible. They were probably similar evolutionists as Dawkins today. They believed that the molecule-to-man theory would prove God’s existence impossible, although this theory doesn’t have any practical evidence.
From time to time in many countries there have been masses of people leaving the church after a war. And so 305 000 people left the Evangelic church in Germany in 1920. This fleeing from churches has continued. In 1930, 59 225 people left a Lutheran church in Berlin alone, not to mention those Catholics and Jews, who abandoned their fathers’ belief… We do not need to get too much into the spreading of atheistic ideologies during the 20th century. It is enough said that the number of those, who publicly recognize or silently accept the absolute nonexistence of God, has tremendously increased. Some men, who are considered educated, claim that the modern science makes believing in God impossible. They either completely stop believing in God or state that “science requires new a new concept of God”. This denial of God begins in schools among children. In a few cities thousands of children of the age of 6 to 14 have, all the way from the lowest classes, walked the streets carrying the following stickers: “God out of schools”, “Take down God-superstitions”, Religion is a narcotic” etc. (28)
People’s God belief
- (Ec 3:11) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
When reading Dawkins’ The God Delusion book, you can see how he heavily attacks all forms of religion. Yet, he admits and recognizes the fact that religion is a universal thing. All cultures possess God belief, whereas animals have nothing of the sort. Animals don’t pray and they don’t even have language or other complex abilities that humans have. Dawkins is unable to associate this fact to the possibility that people were originally created to be with God and in His image (Gen 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.). Why else would people be so different from the rest of the nature? From an evolutionary common-ancestor stand point it is difficult to explain why people are so different from animals. Dawkins states the following in his book:
Everyone has their favorite theories on the origin of religion and why all human cultures have it...
Religious behavior could be referred to as a human universal, in the same way as heterosexual behavior. For both generalizations there are exceptions, but these exceptions understand too well the rule which they have broken. Universal qualities of species entail a Darwinist explanation. (33)
Dawkins also attacks against undoubting faith without even realizing that people like him are guilty of the same thing. They cannot account for life birthing itself and the world coming about by itself from nothing, because they are naturalistic perceptions founded on belief. We discussed this already in the initial chapters. When it comes to questions like these, we’re all relying on faith:
Christianity, as well as, Islam both teaches children that undoubting faith is virtue. There is no need to defend what you believe in. (34)
There is one topic, which Dawkins addresses that is the truth. He writes the following:
I don’t want to deprecate people’s feelings. However, I want to clearly state what the discussion is about: feelings or the truth. Both are important, but they are not the same. (35)
When it comes to the truth, it is an essential part of Christianity as well. In fact, it is personified in Jesus Christ. He said He is the Truth and that He speaks the truth, so we need to address it. If He did speak the truth, for example in saying that He is the only way to God, we cannot overlook that. The following passages are some examples that relate well to this topic:
- (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
- (John 8:45,46) And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.
46 Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?
- (John 1:17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
What about the meaning of Jesus Christ? Of course, we cannot directly prove His great significance, as it is a matter of faith. However, we should take into consideration these words of Jesus. He said that if someone wishes to do God’s will, they will know, whether His words are true. We must be open to His words, in order to know if they’re real. He who seeks will find, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Thus, when having your life on the line, be open to the words of Jesus. Don’t reject Him and His words, but take them to heart:
- (John 7:17) If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
- (Matt 7:8) For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
1. Richard Dawkins: ”Is Science a Religion?”, The Humanist. January/February 1997, p. 26
2. Philip E. Johnson: Darwin on Trial, p. 152
3. Darwin, F & Seward A. C. toim. (1903, 1: 184): More letters of Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray.
4. Richard Dawkins: Jumalharha (The God Delusion), p. 153
5. Stephen Jay Gould: The Panda’s Thumb, (1988), p. 182,183. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
6. Niles Eldredge (1985): “Evolutionary Tempos and Modes: A Paleontological Perspective” teoksessa Godrey (toim.) What Darwin Began: Modern Darwinian and non-Darwinian Perspectives on Evolution
7. Richard Dawkins: Sokea kelloseppä, p. 240,241
8. Stephen Jay Gould: Hirmulisko heinäsuovassa (Dinosaur in a Haystack), p. 115,116,141
9. Charles Darwin: Lajien synty (The origin of species)
10. Richard Dawkins: Maailman hienoin esitys (The Greatest Show on Earth), p. 14,16
11. Kalle Taipale: Levoton maapallo, p. 78
12. Raamatullinen aikakauskirja, p. 17
13. Stephen Jay Gould: Hirmulisko heinäsuovassa (Dinosaur in a Haystack), p. 440
14. Kimmo Pälikkö: Taustaa 2, Kehitysopin kulisseista, p. 194
15. Matti Leisola: Evoluutiouskon ihmemaassa, p.146
16. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 245, 246
17. Harri Lampinen: Katkaistu kahle, p. 6,7
18. Matti Korhonen, Uusi tie 6.2.2014, p. 5.
19. David Robertson: Kirjeitä tohtori Dawkinsille (The Dawkins Letters), p. 121
20. Mia Puolimatka: Minkä arvoinen on ihminen?, p. 130
21. David Bentley Hart: Ateismin harhat (Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies), p. 224,225
22. David Bentley Hart: Ateismin harhat (Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies), p. 65
23. Lennart Saari: Haavoittunut planeetta, p. 104
24. Rodney Stark: The victory of reason. How Christianity led to freedom, capitalism and Western Success. New York, Random House (2005), p. 233
25. Richard Dawkins: Jumalharha (The God Delusion), p. 21,22
26. David Robertson: Kirjeitä tohtori Dawkinsille (The Dawkins Letters), p. 40
27. P. Cousineau: Conversations with Houston Smith on the spiritual life, p. 259
28. L.H. Christian: Kylvöä ja satoa, p. 114,115
29. Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, Sandra Blakeslee: Avioeron perintö (The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce)
30. Michael J. Sandel: Oikeudenmukaisuus (Justice. What’s the Right Thing to Do?), p. 283,284
31. Bill Hybels: Kristityt seksihullussa kulttuurissa (Christians in a Sex Crazed Culture), p. 132
32. Carl-Gustav Severin: Rohkeasti täysin raitis (It Is Never Wrong To Be Totally Sober), p. 100
33. Richard Dawkins: Jumalharha (The God Delusion), p. 174,177
34. Richard Dawkins: Jumalharha (The God Delusion), p. 315
35. Richard Dawkins: Jumalharha (The God Delusion), p. 359
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!