Dawkins: The Faith of an Atheist

Richard Dawkins has written books and appeared often on TV to argue against religion and even against the existence of God. He has reminded me often of an experience I had when a freshman at the university.

One of our assignments in Psych 101 was to write a report on any book by any psychologist or psychiatrist. Being highly motivated to do as much hard work as possible, I chose the shortest book I could find: Freud’s Future of an Illusion, in which he argues against the reality of God. I didn’t care much about the subject, since I didn’t believe in God and wasn’t interested in exploring religion. But the book was so short I couldn’t pass it up.

To my surprise, I became engrossed in Freud’s argument. I don’t remember the details of the book but I do remember almost word for word the closing line of my paper. “My conclusion is that Freud is not what he claims to be, an atheist. Rather, he is very sure there is a God and he resents that fact very deeply. Such a book could not have been written by anyone who was not fighting a real enemy.”

Reading that book was actually for me one of several steps toward becoming a devoted believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, though I couldn’t have guessed it at the time.

These days I listen to Dawkins and have the same feeling. He wouldn’t invest all this time fighting God if he were not in fact fighting a very real enemy. In fact, in all the decades since reading Freud, I have talked with a great many who claim to be atheists but who very obviously are just mad at God.

There is quite a difference between the two. A true atheist will find the subject of God boring, while a resentful believer posing as an atheist can’t drop the subject. A true atheist is indifferent to ideas about God, while a resentful believer is angry about them.

In our day, America has been going through some substantial turmoil as we have tried to rid ourselves of God. So far, I’d have to say the results are pretty awful. Atheists have no foundation for ethics and morality and each generation, being another step farther removed from Judeo-Christian ethics, is morally impoverished just a bit more than the previous generation.


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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6 Responses to Dawkins: The Faith of an Atheist

  1. essiep says:

    I have never encountered am atheist who is ‘angry at god’. They all seem to be angry with religion; that includes Dawkins.
    I agree that most atheists are bored by talk of religion and god. On the other hand, WordPress is full of religous writers posting about atheism.

    • mthayes42 says:

      Hmm, probably no way we can resolve the difference. I see religion as being the scapegoat for many people who just don’t know how to address God directly. I spent half a century in ministry, first on university campuses, then in churches. In all 50 of those, I have been actively resistant to religion. Before becoming Christian, I read the New Testament over and over. One of my strongest impressions was that Jesus could get along beautifully with any and all kinds of people. . .except religious ones. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget. So, yes, I do understand that Dawkins et. al. are bothered by religion. So am I. That, however, does not explain to my satisfaction why some people, such as Dawkins, go on crusades.

      • essiep says:

        Good points, but lest us not forget that Dawkins does not represent atheists. Most atheists are simply not interested and don’t spend time discussing the issue.

      • mthayes42 says:

        Yes, I agree. That’s why I put him in a different category from “regular” non-believers.

  2. David K says:

    I started out as a Christian and after years of religious instructions, I just did not find it credible. I have spent years researching the backgrounds of religion and history of world religions. I am not angry at any “god”, I just understand that there are a multitude of religious beliefs, different people believe in different things, all claim their belief is the true belief – just as I am free to believe whatever it is I want.

    There is also a multitude of people attacking atheism, not many atheists stand up for themselves because there is still a stigma attached to it. This is the reason I like that there are people like Dawkins who will defend or speak for atheists. I may not agree with everything he says but I can appreciate what he does.

    You stated “as we have tried to rid ourselves of God” which is likely directed at atheism but then state Judeo/Christian. Why not add Buddhist, Tao, Islamic, Hindu..etc principles? Since the country has people of various beliefs, shouldn’t everyone have a voice?


    • mthayes42 says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful note, David. I do agree that there are many non-believers who are not angry at God. They tend, methinks, not to go on crusades against faith or God.
      As for the variety of religions, without hesitation I affirm there is a place of equal stature for them in our society — or ought to be. I would point out two factors, though, that are think are important. One, Jews/Christians/Muslims seek to worship and heed the biblical Creator in whose image we have been made, the sovereign Lord and Judge of the universe. The others either have a multitude of gods or have, as you note, “principles.” to me that means the one word “religion” is hardly adequate to cover such differences. Two, by the circumstances of history, Christianity is the only “religion,” if that is the right word, which had a substantial influence on America from 1607 at Jamestown, 1620 and 1630 in Massachusetts, up through the founding of our independent nation (“all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator.. . .”). I have no idea what the phrase “Christian nation” might mean but I do know there is a very real sense in which Christianity lies at the core of the American ideals in a way that cannot be said of any other religion.
      The bottom line, though, is that we have to distinguish between Christianity and God. We Christians are not his only game in town.

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