Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Monday, February 27, 2012

One Step Closer

One Step Closer

          Richard Dawkins has been called the most famous atheist in the world.  Only he isn’t.  An atheist, I mean.  At least, by his own admission.  Dawkins said in a recent discussion at Oxford University that he can not be sure that God does not exist and prefers to call himself an agnostic.  In the same discussion he said he is pretty confident that God does not exist, so why is his admission that he can’t be sure such a major event?

          Dawkins is a professor at Oxford and is probably best known for his book The God Delusion.  Christians have become accustomed to having their beliefs mocked by Dawkins.  As I have become familiar with Dawkins’s work I have come to believe that he doesn’t actually believe that God does not exist, but rather that he is angry with Him.  And the little I know about Dawkins himself actually allows me to understand that a bit.  I don’t want to be presumptuous; I do not know the man personally; it is simply my interpretation of his work.

          It is clear that Dawkins is a man of at least average intelligence and his arguments against God’s existence don’t withstand even rudimentary scrutiny.  His response to challenges by other scientists, such as Michael Behe, has been to set up a straw man, and proceed to knock it down.  Dawkins is at least intelligent enough to recognize a straw man.  But the purpose of this post is not to criticize the philosophy Dawkins espouses.  There has been plenty of that done.  The Godless Delusion, by Patrick Madrid and Ken Hensley is an easy-to-read book that does a good job.  And my purpose is certainly not to cast judgment on the man himself.  I have no right to do that.

          No, my purpose today is to rejoice.  One would think that Professor Dawkins’s recent admission does not amount to a powerful statement of faith.  And of course it doesn’t.  But it does represent an opening of the heart.  Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks.  He respects our freedom, and if we insist on keeping the door tightly locked shut, He will not break it down.  But neither will He stop knocking, stop pursuing us.

          As often as Richard Dawkins has spoken against God, one thing is certain: God has continued to love him.  As often as Dawkins may have blamed God for his pain, God has longed for the professor to seek comfort in Him.

          As Christians we are called to long for the same thing.  I have not appreciated many of the things Professor Dawkins has said, but I have always desired his salvation. 

          His recent admission is not a profession of faith, but an openness to the reality of God, however slight, and an indication of humility.  For a man like Dawkins, that is a journey of a million miles.  It is an incredible development.  It is a cause for hope to those of us who have been praying for him, or praying for anyone far away from God.  Not many people have at least publicly seemed farther from God than Dawkins, and I certainly can not be sure what his future holds.  But I know that with every crack he opens that door to his heart, the Love of God will find more of a foothold, and the Church will pray ever more fervently.