Friday, November 10, 2006

Dawkins: Justifying Ignorance

Timothy van den Broek has shared a quote from Dawkins on his blog, in which the professor tries to justify his ignorance of Christian theology. This would not be so lamentable if it were not for the fact that Mr. Dawkins has set himself up as an expert on the Christian faith in his book The God Delusion.

Mr. Dawkins' comments occured after McGrath challenged his knowledge of Christian theology. Dawkins replied: “Yes, I have, of course, met this point before. It sounds superficially fair. But it presupposes that there is something in Christina theology to be ignorant about. The entire thrust of my position is that Christian theology is a non-subject. It is empty. Vacuous. Devoid of coherence or content.

I was glad to see Mr. Dawkins put in his place by Terry Eagleton, who wrote,

'Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.'

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