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VICTOR JOECKS: Dawkins’ ‘cultural Christianity’ is a parasitic contradiction

The world’s most famous atheist calls himself a “cultural Christian.” It’s a parasitic contradiction, denoting someone who feasts on the fruit of Christianity while poisoning its roots.

On Easter, Richard Dawkins did an interview on a U.K. talk show. Dawkins is a British biologist famed for his atheism. He has authored books on that subject, including “The God Delusion” and “Outgrowing God.”

In “The God Delusion,” Dawkins entertained the idea that religious faith is “a symptom of a psychiatric disorder.” His goal for the book was that religious readers “will be atheists when they put it down.”

Following the Bible encourages “a system of morals which any civilized modern person, whether religious or not, would find — I can put it no more gently — obnoxious,” he wrote.

Contrast that with what Dawkins said in his recent interview.

“I do think that we are culturally a Christian country, and I call myself a cultural Christian,” Dawkins said, referring to Britain. “I’m not a believer, but there’s a distinction between being a believing Christian and being a cultural Christian.”

He noted he was “happy” that the number of believing Christians was declining. But it “would be truly dreadful” if “we substituted any alternative religion” for Christianity. In Europe, the fast-growing alternative is Islam. Dawkins said that was a problem. “If I had to choose between Christianity and Islam, I’d choose Christianity every single time,” Dawkins said. “It seems to me a fundamentally decent religion in a way that I think Islam is not.”

To be clear, this was no conversion experience. Dawkins went on to disparage those who believe in Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection.

But there’s a stark contrast between these recent statements and his past description of biblical principles.

Here’s what is happening. Western civilization, including the United States and Britain, is built upon Judeo-Christian values. These are more foundational than the government itself. Indeed, our country’s government assumes its citizens will have them. “We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion,” then-President John Adams wrote in 1798 to the Massachusetts Militia. Further, “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The limited government envisioned in the Constitution rests on a populace that’s willing to self-govern. Most basically, the citizenry at large must be willing to do what is right without an immediate threat of force. If not, either the government must become intrusive to keep order or society descends into anarchy.

Christianity helps promote self-government in a number of ways. First, it provides an objective source for right and wrong. Second, it restrains human behavior because people know they are always accountable to God. Third, local religious communities encourage and censor various behaviors without the need for government. Fourth, it promotes vital institutions, such as the traditional family. Fifth, it provides an intellectual basis for the God-given rights identified in the Declaration of Independence.

A non-religious person can see the benefits provided by a society built on Judeo-Christian principles. But if people believe that foundation — Christianity — is false or insane, as Dawkins does, its values won’t survive. Why subject yourself to “obnoxious” morals if God is a delusion?

A tree is known by its fruit. If even Dawkins can acknowledge the cultural benefits of Christianity, he and others should examine why it works. Chance isn’t a probable or satisfying explanation. Psychiatric patients don’t create great societies. Perhaps Christianity works so well because it came from the one who personally designed and created humanity.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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