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Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes on Richard Dawkins over New Atheism

The two still agree about Islam. Credit: X

May 6, 2024 - 7:00am

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has said that she regrets her role in the New Atheism movement, as part of a Saturday debate with Richard Dawkins.

At the inaugural Dissident Dialogues conference in New York, Ali said that she now feels she was wrong to conflate Christianity with Islam when she was an atheist. “I do regret doing that,” she told moderator Freddie Sayers. “I’m guilty of having said all faiths, all perceptions of God are the same and are equally damaging, so
I have come to regret the damage that I’ve done.”

Ali went on to argue that the New Atheists, the highly influential intellectual movement in the 2000s that was sharply anti-religion, had hoped the masses would adopt reason as religion declined. But, instead, they adopted worse and less reasonable beliefs in Christianity’s place.

“What you value in Christianity is something that really is absolutely necessary to pass on to the next generation,” she told Dawkins. “And we have failed the next generation by taking away from them that moral framework and telling them it’s nonsense and false. We have also not protected them from the external forces that come for their hearts, minds and souls.”

Ali announced her conversion from atheism to Christianity last year in UnHerd, emphasising the religion’s usefulness as a means of defending Western civilisation. Dawkins responded with an open letter arguing that Ali was not, in fact, a Christian. “Seriously, Ayaan? You, a Christian? You are no more a Christian than I am.”

“Christianity makes factual claims,” he argued in the open letter. “They believe in a divine father figure who designed the universe, listens to our prayers, is privy to our every thought. You surely don’t believe that? Do you believe Jesus rose from the grave three days after being placed there? Of course you don’t.”

On Saturday, Ali responded to those arguments with a more personal glimpse into her conversion experience. Her belief in Christ, she said, is separate from the belief she shares with Dawkins — that Christianity is a useful, pro-civilisational force.

“On the personal level, yes, I choose to believe in God. And I think that there, we might say, let’s agree to disagree,” she said. “I think it’s something subjective, and it’s a choice and there are things that you see and perceive that a different person cannot perceive.”

Both agreed, however, on the threat posed by Islam, which Dawkins called a “nasty religion”. Since identifying as a cultural Christian earlier this year, the evolutionary biologist went further during Saturday’s talk by saying that he considers himself on “Team Christianity”.

During the debate, Dawkins changed his mind about Ali’s faith and the central claim of his open letter in response to her conversion. “I came here prepared to persuade you, Ayaan, that you’re not a Christian. I think you are a Christian and I think Christianity is nonsense.”

Concluding the debate, the biologist posed a question to Ali about what the correct “epidemiological” solution to Islam was. “We have a vicious mind virus,” he said. “The question is: do we combat it by vaccination with a milder form of the virus [Christianity]? Or do we say no viruses and go for enlightened rationality?”


is UnHerd’s US correspondent.

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Robert Thiesen
Robert Thiesen
21 days ago

“Christianity is nonsense.”
I appreciate that Dawkins states his position plainly. But isn’t it time to admit some philosophy of religion into this discussion? Having studied that subject, it is impossible to take Dawkins’ claim here seriously. It seems to me that Christian philosophy holds its own against the atheist alternative, whose best representatives are not any of the four horsemen.
“Or do we… go for enlightened rationality?”
Isn’t it time to admit a more sophisticated view of psychology into this discussion? Atheists, like Christians, are not rational minds devoid of emotion, bias, assumption. Moreover, a healthy, normal emotional, intuitive psychological profile is a necessary complement to rationality and not a hindrance.
Let’s be adults. Talk to some of the people, Christians and atheists, interviewed by the program Closer To Truth on the subject of religion. Not intellectual cartoonists like Dawkins.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
14 days ago
Reply to  Robert Thiesen

Christianity is not a philosophy. If you don’t accept that Jesus rose from the dead, that Christ is divine, that there was a Virgin Birth etc, you are not a Christian.

Or so the vast majority of Christians, lay and clergy who have ever lived would say. How presumptuous of a tiny handful of post Enlightenment “intellectual Christians” to insist that, no, it is they who define the religion.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
21 days ago

It is obvious, at least to me (and many others), that there is a deeply ingrained religious impulse hardwired into our DNA, and I think it is the height of hubris to simply dismiss this as either untrue or unimportant. Human beings need to believe in SOMETHING, even Dawkins, in his case the supremacy of his own intellectual ego.

I can’t remember who said it, but there’s a relevant quote: “when men stop believing in God, they do not simply believe in nothing. They become capable of believing in anything.”

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Of course you know whose quote that is – GK Chesterton. If you read these pages, its trotted out on a regular basis to support some point or other, as if it’s some kind of debate-settler, when all it does it raise a whole host of other issues.
One thing Dawkins does understand is DNA. Your use of it in terms of suggesting some “hardwired-ness” is nonsense. The spiritual impulse which arose when humans acquired consciousness over a very long period of time is distinct from the way biological DNA is transmitted. It became, through the onset of culture and the transmission via oral and then written words, the organised religions which have played a part in our journey and which now need to be overcome. They’ve taken us so far, but with the advent of the internet and the realisation of what humans are capable of through the wars and suffering of the 20th century, they now fail us. The problem we have – right now – is the religious impulse itself.
In order to proceed, the first thing we need to do is to understand ourselves better. Dawkins seeks to do this, whilst AHA, much as i respect her courage, has shown with her “conversion” to Christianity that she’s not yet capable of taking that next step.
One of the points of contention is what being a Christian actually means. Dawkins describes himself as being on the side of Team Christianity. In other words, those values which Christ preached do have a positive cultural impact, and certainly as opposed to the reductionist death-cult of Islam. AHA’s conversion sounds as if she’s unable to separate the positive values from a belief in a god, which is precisely where religion falls down. You simply can’t base a religion on a falsehood! We, as human beings, need desperately to move on from all of this. It’s part of the problem, not the solution.

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
21 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I don’t think knowledge of DNA is relevant. 
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph. D., a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, and his visionary leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP), is the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). He has described himself as a “serious Christian.” Ref: his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
21 days ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

A fascinating book!

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

I read that book by Collins. His beliefs in God and Christianity are irrational.

Terry M
Terry M
21 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

One thing Dawkins does understand is DNA. Your use of it in terms of suggesting some “hardwired-ness” is nonsense.
Sorry, but no. We have many behaviors hard-wired into us via our inheritance through DNA. Newborns suckle, not because they have been taught, but because the behavior is inherited. It might not be correct to call the behavior a religious urge, but it is certainly a preference for answers to all sorts of phenomena we observe. It is augmented by cultural introdoctination and imitation of our parents and others. Early, primitive cultures had short answers to why the wind blew, why the crops failed, and why some people suffered. They may have been wrong answers, but the deep need for answers/explanations was there.
Science is merely the development/advancement of the search for answers through logic and experimentation. It can answer many questions, but not all. The development of ethics/religion and politics are ‘experiments’ in finding the answers to questions of how to live as members of a society.
I consider myself an ethical and cultural Christian. But I don’t believe in any of the supernatural aspects. I prefer the religion of Christ to the religion about Christ.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
21 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

I expect that what is inherited in the strict sense is the social tendencies which make us work so successfully as groups, but as a side-effect also make us generally unwilling to break away from the group when they get factual ideas wrong. As history shows over and and over, groups that work together and support each other well tend to win contests against those that don’t. A “gene” for Christianity or Islam – no. But genes that lead us to suspend our rational thinking processes in favor of survival within a group – most certainly.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Your last sentence beautifully summed up my own attitudes toward Christianity. Thank you.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
20 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Amen to that, Julian.
*I prefer a monotheism that is centered in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth over any Christology of a supernatural or otherworldly kind. I perceive sincerity in some with a more orthodox religious practice, and hope that some institutional Christians can return the favor to some of my ilk.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

But Jesus was not all he was cracked up to be. Most of the time, forgiveness is not the proper response to unethical, harmful, or criminal behavior. Justice is. And yet Jesus promoted forgiveness across the board. Look at the example when he defended and forgave a woman who committed adultery. Jesus was dead wrong about that. Look at the example when he snubbed his own mother. Look at the example when he advocated for talking in vague and cryptic ways, not in direct ways.
There are better models of moral behavior than Jesus.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago

who?
I think you need to read those passages again. the adulterous woman was told to sin no more. his lesson was to point out the hypocrisy of the crowd about to kill her. he spoke in riddles to fulfil the prophecy in the OT explain the amorality in that. and by whose standard are you determining what right morality is?

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Yes, there is a curiosity urge or a story telling urge, but it is not a religious urge.

John Kirk
John Kirk
21 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Both you and Dawkins – and indeed all too many of the less thoughtful “faithful” – should rid yourselves of the notion that a thing as huge as Christianity can be described in a thumbnail sketch or have its main elements summarised.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  John Kirk

I disagree. Here are the 15 core beliefs of Christianity, a thumbnail sketch:
1. God exists.
2. For all human beings who die, there is an afterlife either in terms of a soul, a body, or both.
3. The quality of the afterlife for any human being, i.e. good or bad, is contingent on him/her sincerely holding specific beliefs about Jesus.
4. God desires human beings to behave and believe in some ways and not in other ways.
5. To behave and believe contrary to God’s desires or commands is sin.
6. The penalty for any unforgiven sins is a bad afterlife.
7. Jesus was at the least a divine messenger of God and may have been the son of God.
8. Jesus died and came back to life in physical form.
9. Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all human beings through his suffering on the cross and consequent death; this is atonement.
10. Human beings may be forgiven by God for their sins only by sincere confession and acceptance of the atonement of Jesus.
11. The Bible is completely or mostly true and reflects the intentions of God.
12. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit form a team of three persons, i.e. the Trinity, who work together for common objectives, but God is the captain of this team, superior to the other two.
13. Jesus will return to Earth and transform it into his kingdom, eventually.
14. Satan or the Devil is a fallen angel who acts as God’s adversary and who tempts human beings to sin.
15. To hold these core beliefs requires faith and not necessarily reason.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago

Thanks but this isn’t the Christianity of the Bible at all. your explanation of the trinity in 12 is aligned to a 2nd-century heresy called Arianism. The Father is not captain or superior they are equal. The doctrine of salvation as you’ve described it is not correct either.
If you want to claim to be rational you need to rationally critique Christianity not poke at it with what you find in an internet search.
This and some of the other posts is the sort of trite illogical rubbish of 15 years ago from the so-called new atheists. Christianity has heard it all before and survived 2000 years yet new atheism already burned out.

Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
20 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Thank you. Nice summary. But too many people still can’t get out of the womb.

T Bone
T Bone
20 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Not a downvoter btw- The Chesterton quote that you think has been overused (and fair enough) comes from a long history starting with Iraneus in about 180 AD. I suppose you could go back to Moses as well.

A false idol will be created in the absence of God. It’s a documented fact. The existence of strictly rational Atheists is 100% predicated on a tolerant society. A truly tolerant society at scale is going to view other beings (even political adversaries) as being made in the image of God. It’s been proven over and over again.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I’d go further and claim that a strictly rational creature is no longer a human, or at least a very uncommon type. Even those of supercharged intellect and naturally dull or deadened emotions have blind spots and prejudices of one sort or another. And frameworks of pure rationality or sensible utility can be used to erect utter monstrosities (pick your historical “favorites”).
Also, such embodied light and studied understanding as we have–at the individual or whole-species level–is heavily informed by forces of conscience, intuition, and realization whereof we are not the true author or autonomous master.
Though the ongoing History of Humanity reveals our capacity to use God as a smokescreen and cudgel for self-interest and bigotry, I tend to agree that general societal tolerance requires belief in something Greater than ourselves. Or at least some humility with regard to what we still do not and may never know.
I don’t think that this must be institutionalized or made “theistic” in a strict sense. But it’s best to live and let live with those who profess or hold a faith that is not cruel or war-like, rather than attempt to destroy that or “rationalize” it away according to the assumption that what fills the void will be better than the more-or-less blind faith it replaces.
Nevertheless, One True Path versions of religion do not shine a beacon of tolerance on those outside of the fold, or even on the entire visible flock. And there are versions of God–filtered as they are through human ego and understanding–that are as hubristic, greedy, or cruel as as secular idolatry you can name. Close call anyway.

T Bone
T Bone
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Agree with most of that. We could quibble a bit on the last paragraph just because I think there is something of a Binary between Non-Atheists that profess to Monotheism vs something resembling Polytheism.

The logical precepts of western civilization are pretty bound to the conception of a singular creator of the universe. Once you extend into a multiplicity you produce a different Epistemology that conflicts with existing values.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Maybe. But there is a form of universalism or centered “Brahmin energy” within the many-deity Hindu tradition. North American tribes of mesolithic technological advancement believed in an overarching Great Creator. Before Israel or Palestine existed, the Abrahamic monotheistic tradition emerged in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia So I’d resist any effort to make it monotheism fundamentally Western.
I’d do think the hyperrational modern tradition represented by thinkers such as Descartes and Hume (whom I admire, to a point) and (to a less dogmatic degree than his followers) Darwin, needs to be tempered with a belief in Transcendence or Providence. While I wouldn’t want to see it be Pagan or Satanic, I’m not convinced it needs to have an monotheistic form as such.
To be honest, I’m trying still struggling to deepen and live according to my own “brand” of unorthodox monotheism.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Please define “transcendence” and “providence.” What is the evidence for either?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago

It’s subjective but near universal in human experience, especially in children, uncontacted tribes, and those not given over to hyperrationality or dogmatic scientism.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence
“For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.” –Franz Werfel

T Bone
T Bone
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I mean, very little of “western culture” is of “western origin” that’s for sure but we’ve effectively been a culture of Judeo-Christian values that borrowed from Greek math and science traditions.  Over the years as we’ve become multicultural we’ve changed our ethos to be more tolerant of “other ways of knowing or being.”  If you think about Yoga, meditation, self-love and numerous social practices that have recently been mainstreamed, those are not “Western precepts.”  They come from eastern religion.  That’s now a notable part of the cultural ethos although not necessarily the driver of dysfunction. There’s been a disintegration at the base of our culture because there’s little grounding and cohesion.  Conflicting values don’t seamlessly integrate into mainstream culture as well as they might appear.  So the society has lost faith.

Any rational person that opens their eyes to the supernatural is going to go through back and forth tussling with belief. That’s because rational people are also empirical. They need to confirm things with certainty. When they see an apparent contradiction it’s going to rattle them.  But Faith doesn’t imply certainty.  It implies doubt. Without doubt there is no Faith.  A rational person can look at the “science of life” and acknowledge that something can’t come from nothing. Inorganic material can’t become organic through evolution. Hume or Darwin couldn’t account for the fact that its more rational to believe that the universe came into being vs eternally existing.  Especially when “the science” confirms an expanding universe.  Strict rationalism can become irrational.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Yes, I’m with you on most of that. I thought you’d acknowledge my point but I did want to emphasize the more universal origins and cross-cultural overlap with what even we who defend it tend to call Western Culture.
Personally, I am not a strict empiricist at all. I’m now more willing to accept that I am not given to know certain things than I ever have been. Nevertheless, there are what Wordsworth called “intimations of immortality”. especially in childhood or during transcendent experiences–for me at least (I know it’s not rare).
I have high regard for scientists and philosophers who admit human limitations (even their own) and don’t, for example, use their inherited lights attempting to “explain away” human consciousness as an epiphenomenon of matter, or whatnot.
I surely think Hamlet had it right when he said: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. Or science.

T Bone
T Bone
17 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Anybody that’s intellectually honest will discover the more you learn, the more apparent it becomes how little you actually know about the universe. Every discovery just opens up a new vortex of questions. The

Postmodernists take abstract irrationalism too far but there is truth in the fact that everyone’s lens is polluted with bias. The fact that abstract philosopher’s are now convinced that they’ve constructed an adequate empirical system to evaluate how bias shapes power dynamics is pretty funny but that’s where we are.

There’s something to be learned from everyone and everything. I find the more I shut up and absorb the more grounded I become. There’s comfort in knowing your own limitations.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
17 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Amen to all of that.
Now to keep my lens as clear as I can, shut up, and absorb what around me more often!
*(and makes fewer typos).

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

to start with Greek is western but besides that. I assume you are talking about values and philosophy rather than culture?
we are not at all like Romans or Greeks in our philosophy today. if you told the parable of the Good samaritan to Aristotle he would think you were mad. if you told a Roman Senator that his slave has equal value to him you’d be laughed at, If you said we should protect the weak and vulnerable in those societies you’d be asked why? Killing 1M Gauls got Ceasar a Triumph, in killing 1M jews Hitler is called the devil. we don’t in anyway resemble the Greeks or Romans in our values we resemble what Jesus Taught.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

But there is no good evidence for the existence of any deities, including God. In fact, we now know that God (just one deity) does not exist. This has been proven.

T Bone
T Bone
18 days ago

“We now know.” Wow that is exciting!
Please share the breakthrough evidence that you established on your time traveling research trip!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago

there is no proof for God there is no proof for no God both are statements of faith. there is historical evidence for Jesus who claimed to be God and there is evidence that people thought they saw him risen. I say its more rational to say there is a God than to say.
everything has come from nothing, life from non-life, order from chaos, minds from the mindless, human rights from nowhere and the rapid expansion of Christianity from a crucified teacher to be a fluke.
give me reasonable rationale and empirical evidence for these phenomena without a rationale God who creates and sustains.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Purely rational human beings? That’s a straw man. Human beings should strive to be as rational as possible in answering questions about the world and in solving problems. Nothing wrong with that.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago

You’re not attempting to engage in any kind of a discussion at all–let alone a “good faith” exchange.
“Strictly rational” was T-bone’s exact wording, not some rhetorical construct of my own.
You come to the table with fixed certainties and dismissive contempt for those who disagree with you. With the evidence you’ve provided thus far, I’d say you are far more of a dogmatist or unreasonable thinker than T-Bone or I am.
Many find humility and compassion or any smidgeon of free will hard to justify on any strictly or even primarily rational grounds. They are indispensable anyway.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Nonsense. God is a false idol! Why? Because God does not exist. This has been proven.
We should value a correct metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Those aren’t idols. They are the real things!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago

Given your militant atheism: Can you define the abstract term metaphysics in your own intended usage?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 days ago

you cant prove God doesnt exist any more than I can prove he does. I do have historical grounds for faith which is more than you have.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Chesterton.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
21 days ago

Thank you.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Why on Earth would someone downvote this?

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

I don’t know. Is there some pro-ingratitude movement sweeping the nation that I’m not aware of? I mean, aside from the campus Gaza protests.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

I have a feeling there are some people/trolls who are having fun with the downvote button. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

I agree with you, but I had to give you a downvote just for the fun of it.

Sam dg
Sam dg
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Atheists. What else would you expect from them. They have nothing sensible to counter with so 
 hate. Even Dawkins would never have been so conciliatory on this, but for his friendship with Ayaan.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Sam dg

Atheists and theists should be civil, polite, and ethical.

Sam dg
Sam dg
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Atheists. What else would you expect from them. They have nothing sensible to counter with so 
 hate. Even Dawkins would never have been so conciliatory on this, but for his friendship with Ayaan.
Dawkins, if willing to be sincere and following his admission that he was wrong about Ayaan not being a Christian should now publish a list where his atheist ranting has crossed the line to sophistic propaganda. I’d gladly help him begin the list.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Sam dg

But Dawkins is right on the main issue — God does not exist. When will you accept this truth?

Andrew D
Andrew D
21 days ago

attrib

Aloysius
Aloysius
21 days ago

Actually it’s a summary of Chesterton’s argument by Cammaerts

Frances Mann
Frances Mann
21 days ago

But where does Chesterton say it? As far as I know it has not been found in his writings.

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

I remember having a discussion with my uncle (a Lutheran Minister) many years ago. He put broadly the point above, namely that there was a strong impulse pushing us to religious belief (although he did not express it in terms of DNA). He was however unable to satisfactorily answer my main question – “Why should that impulse necessarily lead to the Christian God?”

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Perhaps because it is the only one of the world faiths that does not require believers to be ‘good enough’ for a perfect place, ie heaven! It provides dome one to be good enough for us!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
21 days ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

someone

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I don’t recall Buddhism requiring anything like that.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

It does require people to be good enough to go to heaven. They must believe that Jesus Christ is their savior. That is an irrational criterion.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Excellent question. I’d describe that human impulse as ‘spiritual’, which has been contorted into false beliefs through orthodoxy – another “all-too-human” trait.

When that belief in a deity falls down, people lose faith, not just in their religion but also in themselves. That’s what must now be overcome. Those who cling ever more desperately to their orthodoxy will seemingly go to any lengths to try to fend off the inevitable (death to all non-believers) as with one current religion but also Catholicism in the not-too-distant past.

How much more suffering must we humans inflict upon ourselves in this way, before we start to.understand ourselves more fully? That’s why Dawkins is essentially right, and on this, AHA is misleading herself, albeit for noble purposes.

Terry M
Terry M
21 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Christianity and other religions have done themselves a disservice by making their entire ethical construct dependent on a god, a god that cannot be seen or heard and for which there is no repeatable evidence. When believers start to consider that they cannot ever prove the existence of such a god, they lose their faith in the god and the ethics along with it. A religion without a god, more like Buddhism (AFAIK), is more enduring and compatible with real world evidence.

Michelle Perez
Michelle Perez
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

The Christian and Hebrew God can be heard. Through reading the Bible. That is His word. That IS how He communicates with His creation. You may dismiss all of this, but it is worth saying.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Michelle Perez

Yes, I will dismiss all of that and say that it isn’t worth saying. Why? Because it is absolutely false! It has never been proven that God has spoken to anyone. If God did exist, he would have spoken to all living human persons AT THE SAME TIME. Also, we now know that God does not exist. There are many proofs of this. Dawkins is on the right track, but he doesn’t go far enough.

T Bone
T Bone
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

So replace Christianity with something like Bioethocal Climate Change Theology that combines a focus on meditation, mindfulness, sustainability and a deep reverence for the earth and its co-equal creatures?

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Replace “theology” with “ideology” or “belief system” and I’ll join you.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

A god that can be seen or heard becomes a mere idol.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
20 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Exactly. I quite prefer the Carl Sagan quote describing us ‘as the means by which the Universe might understand itself’. In essence we are both separate from, as well as intrinsically a part of, God. We are him and he is us, like individual cells within a much larger organism.

To use a far more crude and visceral analogy, we’re like God’s gut bacteria; transforming chaos into habitable order as our stomachs would transform food into nourishment. Grotesque imagery, I know, but I’m nowhere near as learned or pithy as Sagan was.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

False. The opposite is true. An imaginary god, which can’t be seen or heard, becomes and has become an idol.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Yes, I concur. I always thought that spiritual belief derails when someone says “You can’t talk to God, only I can do that. Still, it’s ok, because I will talk to him, and tell you what he says”.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
18 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Yup. People used to be burnt at the stake for trying to translate the bible into English (or any language that wasn’t Latin). Even today, the Quran can only ever be written in Arabic. When translated into any other language it is technically no longer the Quran, but the ‘Meaning of’ the Quran, translated into one of those barbaric, guttural heathen-tongues.

If God is everywhere, and within everyone, why would he need intermediaries? Simple answer is he doesn’t.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

I agree with your point here. We must develop an ethics grounded in reason and compassion, not in a nonexistent God.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Good response, thank you.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

We are curious about the universe, but God is not the correct answer to any existential or ethical question.

Robbie K
Robbie K
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

You’re definitely on to something there, I’m uncertain it needs to be under the umbrella of ‘religion’ however, although that depends how one defines it. Humans are tribal and have a sense of belonging, whether that is fulfilled by being part of the golf club, the women’s institute or the Church adds up to the same thing. We also like stories and can buy into the world of fantasy quite easily – Yuvel Noah Harari covers these subjects brilliantly.

AC Harper
AC Harper
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Philosophers and pundits who worry about such things fall into three groups (I oversimplify):
1) There is no truth in religion, gods don’t exist.
2) A particular god actually exists and requires some worship or submission.
3) The idea of god(s) is a useful fiction.
A useful fiction may be beneficial by-and-large and therefore important to groups of people – as long as the harms are not too great. I expect that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is most comfortable with this variation and that Richard Dawkins acknowledges the benefits but thinks the harms of believing in an untruth are greater.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
21 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Your second category should simply read: God exists.

AC Harper
AC Harper
21 days ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

…but which one? The idea of a single god is perhaps a feature of a universalizing mode of thought. The disputed idea of the Axial Age (see Wikipedia) suggests that god ideas arise from societies, not the other way around.

Aloysius
Aloysius
21 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The theistic God of the Abrahamic faiths is uncreated, timeless, spaceless, omnipotent, etc. There is a rich history in philosophy of arguing for and against such a concept, but it is in no way comparable to created deities like say the Norse gods. I don’t recall an Aristotelian argument from motion to prove the existence of Thor. Of course which of the theistic religions you choose is a fairer question since now you are comparing like with like, but the concept of God remains the same, not just one choice of creature from many.

Terry M
Terry M
21 days ago
Reply to  Aloysius

You might benefit from reading A HIstory of God by Karen Armstrong. She describes the evolution of beliefs in many gods to belief in one god quite well.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
21 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Yes – that is a good book. The problem I’ve always had with “uncreated” gods is that they are middlemen. If I can’t ask where “he/she/it” came from, because they always existed, why must the universe itself have to have been created? Why can’t it equally have existed always? It makes me think more and more that it’s the early Buddhists who were onto something. No gods. We create the universe with our own consciousness which we are incapable of stepping outside of. Reality is something we can only observe indirectly with highly flawed and limited senses.

Aloysius
Aloysius
20 days ago

This is a rather complex topic for which the format is not entirely suitable, but (aside from the obvious implication of modern cosmological theories suggesting the universe has a beginning point in time) when Aquinas formulated his cosmological argument it already accounted for the possibility of an infinite universe.

To summarise though, even if eternal, the universe is contingent – that is it could conceivably have not existed, or existed in a slightly different state. So then the fact that it takes a particular form requires a cause for taking that form and not some other, and if you repeat this causal chain you must get to a cause that is not contingent in this way. That necessary cause has traditionally been identified with God.

Aloysius
Aloysius
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll look into it but don’t see what bearing a historical argument about the development in the beliefs of people at given times has on the question of the reality of God’s existence. People may have developed a true belief in contingent ways over time – in fact I think this is how many modern ideas about science (e.g. penicillin) developed.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
20 days ago
Reply to  Aloysius

Which Abrahamic god? The one who had early prophets but didn’t have a son, the one who had early prophets and a son, but no later prophets, or the one who had early prophets, didn’t have a son, but sent a later prophet to correct the messages of the early ones? The founding beliefs of the followers of each of these deny the beliefs of the others, as the slaughter of millions of the ‘wrong’ believers so graphically demonstrates.

Aloysius
Aloysius
20 days ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

Yes obviously Judaism, Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive (I stated this implicitly in the original comment), though I think your account of history is rather lacking in an understanding of human nature and the justifications we provide for our own selfish desires, as the last century likewise graphically demonstrates. The original comment was to say that the theistic God is a single proposition in philosophy that one can accept or reject, as opposed to one creature in a large pantheon to choose from.

To answer your question directly, though, I am a Christian, so obviously I think God is three persons in one substance, and had prophets as preparation for the Incarnation.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I always liked the way Terry Pratchett dealt with it in “Small Gods”.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
21 days ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Or “gods”. Thinking Hindus here.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago

They have quite a few apparently. I was recently in Nepal, and a guide was showing me statues of gods in Patan Durbar Square. He said “I am a Hindu, and even I don’t know all the Hindu gods”.

Poet Tissot
Poet Tissot
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Chesterton

Poet Tissot
Poet Tissot
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

It should be recognised that the ultimate woke agenda appears to be to destroy the remains of Christendom: the sexual revolution; the new atheism; activist groupthink; the commandeering of Christian symbols for a quite different purpose; extreme feminism and abortion; the strategic distortion of language – that is Christian concepts such as justice, compassion – to favour certain ideologies/ groups; the undermining of the concept of Truth. Dawkins is guilty of feeding into this – read Eagleton (LRB) on D’s actual knowledge of theology – slim pickings.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
21 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Why do we seem to need to attribute perfectly obvious observations to somebody famous? I’ve heard statements like that in conversations numerous times with people who’ve never read an adult book.

David Morley
David Morley
20 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

It is obvious, at least to me (and many others), that there is a deeply ingrained religious impulse hardwired into our DNA

Which is, of course, a very strong argument against religion actually being true. We don’t believe it because it’s true, we believe it because it is “hardwired into our DNA”.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

I’m a scientist with a dozen publications in behavior genetics.
The relationship between genes and even simple behaviors, such as infant suckling, is quite indirect. Our human habits of attention and social response clearly depend on our DNA, and those cognitive and emotional habits are often co-opted by religion. But there’s no gene for religion itself.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
20 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

No, obviously there isn’t a specific gene directly responsible for religious or spiritual impulses. If there was, theoretically we could just snip it out in some way or remove it entirely, whether through gene-editing or selective breeding or some such. I don’t claim to be a scientist or biologist, just a rational, logical person, so forgive me for oversimplifying.

But you’ve actually highlighted my point better than I did myself. The impulse I’m referring to isn’t specific to a single gene or genes, in fact we can’t trace where it comes from at all. But it is there. It is an emergent property that arises from somewhere within every single human being, a need for purpose or meaning that cannot be satisfied with a simple, materialistic rationale, and instead seeks something more metaphysical.

What I was calling hubris was the fact that, since we don’t know exactly where this impulse comes from, it either doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter, that it can be easily replaced by ‘Enlightened Reason’. The irony being is that it is in itself replacing one ‘belief system’ with another. Those like Dawkins are still engaging in this same metaphysical behavior, but exchanging an external reasoning for an internal one. He is making mental idols out of ‘Science’ and ‘Reason’, behavior which, consciously or not, places his own intellect and perception of reality at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. By claiming that there is not nor can never be any evidence of any higher power, he is inadvertently laying claim to the same omnipotence he mocks others for ascribing to their deity or deities. Essentially, ‘If I don’t see it, it must not be there’. It is that arrogance that I’m railing against, not the assertion of any religion(s) making factual claims that are or are not true.

Again, forgive me for oversimplifying as a layman, but it is almost like a cell in the body claiming that, since it itself cannot perceive the whole of the biological structure that it is intrinsically a part of, that that must mean such a structure cannot exist. Human perception is finite and extremely fallible, so to claim one can understand the boundlessly complex cosmos with naught but our own five feeble senses is, at best, misguided.

To end with another unattributed quote who I can’t remember originally said it; ‘Nature herself has imprinted upon the minds of all the idea of God’. Maybe our time would be better spent finding out why she did that rather than whether such an imprint even exists, or whose version of it is better.

Gary Whittenberger
Gary Whittenberger
18 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

All people have beliefs, but the belief “God exists” is false. This has been proven.

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
18 days ago

Proven how? Could you site your source? If such a thing has been ‘proven’, why are we even having this conversation?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
14 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

This may be the case, but it doesn’t make Christianity true! Religious belief may be beneficial for the (true) believers, though not perhaps not so good for the non believers! But again, studies show you can’t fake this, and in any case it doesn’t make the religious claims “true” – at least in the use of the word used in every other circumstance.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
21 days ago

Dawkins is intellectually dishonest.

The fruits of Christianity arise from faithful Christians living a life dedicated to holiness and to Christ. You cannot have those fruits without the tree that is Christianity. He takes delight in the fruits of the tree, but rejects the tree.

How curious an attitude this is ….

D Glover
D Glover
21 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Do you believe that God listens to your prayers? Does He ever change His course of action as a result? What would it mean if He did?
Was God doing the wrong thing before He heard you pray, and you explained the right thing to do? Was He doing the wrong thing just because He enjoys hearing you plead?
If He never does things wrong, what are you asking of Him?

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
21 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

Yes to your first question, no to your second question.

We pray to change our own mind, not to change God’s mind.

When you pray, you 1) create a connection/closer relationship to God and 2) bring your own mind closer to God’s mind. You humbly ask Him for mercy and for the strength to accept His will, whatever it may be.

The one who prays to change God’s mind has got hold of the wrong end of the stick, I’m afraid.

Terry M
Terry M
21 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Good answer. Prayer is a wrestling with one’s own conscience; articulating a problem is an important step on coming to a solution to the problem. Prayer forces you to articulate a problem. It is even more helpful if you describe that problem to others who ask questions to help you understand it better, hence counseling.

D Glover
D Glover
19 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

So when a Christian prays for something he knows he’s not going to get it but he’s praying for the grace to accept the disappointment.
Doesn’t that promote a sort of quietism?

Sam dg
Sam dg
21 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

You might consider Jesus prayer to the Father, If possible, may this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but thine.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
21 days ago
Reply to  Sam dg

Very good. The Lord’s Prayer is lovely isn’t it? It asks God that our daily needs are met and that we aren’t tested beyond our strength. It asks that God forgives us but accepts that He can’t forgive us unless we learn to forgive. And when we say it, like Jesus, we recognise that God’s will is to be done above our own.
Some people have, like Jesus, have followed its demands to the bitterest of endings, Bonhoeffer for an obvious example. Others, like John Howard, have put dedicated their lives and fortunes to doing God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven.
Some of it is simple, some is beyond me, in its meaning and its demands. I’ve never been able to really understand all of it in 65 years. But I say it every night before bed and normally sleep better for it.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

John Howard? The former Australian Prime Minister?

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
19 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Not him! I meant the bloke who founded the Howard League for Penal Reform. I could’ve picked a lot of people really, Wilberforce, Fry, Josephine Butler and so on; but he’s the one who came into my head.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
21 days ago
Reply to  Sam dg

What, in this context, could he possibly mean by “father”? How does a supposedly timeless deity have a son? Look beyond the scripture, written in an era when very little was understood about our human evolutionary origins.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

God is busy answering the prayers of (American) football teams.

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

The fruits of Christianity arise from faithful Christians living a life dedicated to holiness and to Christ.
Where are these people? I haven’t encountered them in 60+ years of life (although I have encountered any number of smug and sanctimonious types who want to push their religious beliefs down everyone else’s throats).

Phil Mitchell
Phil Mitchell
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

You need to get out more, Martin. I married one of those–a faithful Christian living a life dedicated to holiness, Christ, and the well being of everyone else.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Phil Mitchell

Well, she and her ilk are keeping a low profile. Still, I mustn’t complain about that, I guess.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

We tend to congregate with people who are like us in significant ways.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

Fair enough. I guess you don’t go to the same parties as I do,

Terry M
Terry M
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Martin, maybe you are judging people too harshly. Remember:
“…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
Don’t think that people living lives dedicated to holiness and Christ become perfect; they are human with the same human frailties you have.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Don’t get me wrong. It is probably a positive that there are some “good” Christians out there somewhere, to counterbalance all the “bad” Christians that we always encounter.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Nietzsche would say the fruits are demonstrating everywhere on college campuses today.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago

I am a big fan of Nietzsche!

Poet Tissot
Poet Tissot
21 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

It should be recognised that the ultimate woke agenda appears to be to destroy the remains of Christendom: the sexual revolution; the new atheism; activist groupthink; the commandeering of Christian symbols for a quite different purpose; extreme feminism and abortion; the strategic distortion of language – that is Christian concepts such as justice, compassion – to favour certain ideologies/ groups; the undermining of the concept of Truth. Dawkins is guilty of feeding into this – read Eagleton (LRB) on D’s actual knowledge of theology – slim pickings.

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
21 days ago

Blessed is Ali who comes in the name of the Lord.
Glory to the Father, the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
21 days ago

Archibald, you know as well as i do that’s what’s brought us to this juncture in human history. It’s spiritually dishonest and bankrupt – part of the problem with our humanity which has brought us to this point by refusing to understand ourselves as we are, rather than how we’d like ourselves to be. Your “god” is just a projection of that perfection we can never hope to attain, whilst competing factions battle each other to claim ascendency in a completely futile waste of time and lives.
We really do need to start to move away from this paradigm. The 20th century brought it to a head, and now the internet is reflecting us back to ourselves as never before. There’s just no need for false belief – it’s destructive when it inevitable fails, as it has done and will continue to do until we finally begin to understand ourselves better.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
21 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

You are quite sure you are right, aren’t you?

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago

Ah, yes. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They caught the last train for the coast the day the music died.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
21 days ago

Ali is grifter who will say whatever it takes to win favour with the mouth breathers and swivel eyed loons who populate the far right.
Nobody should care which brand of imaginary sky pilot she claims to believe in this week…

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
21 days ago

Imaginary Sky Pilot is my favorite Imaginary Eric Burdon song.

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago

Eric Burdon doesn’t exist. He is just an imaginary construct.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
21 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

How old are you people?!?!

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago

Old enough to have seen Eric Burdon live.

Andrew D
Andrew D
21 days ago

Old enough to buy champagne from an off licence, and to have grown out of socialism. How about you?

Robbie K
Robbie K
21 days ago

I agree, she rinsed this subject as far as she could as an atheist then revived it by becoming a Christian, apparently. No doubt in ten years from now she will discover Islam.

richard jones
richard jones
21 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

She was born into an Islamic family and was a devout Muslim, so not much for her to discover.
There’s no ‘problem’ with belief and faith in God. There is with the vanity that summarily dismisses it.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
21 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I predict Buddhism. Probably the Vietnamese flavor.

Brian Kneebone
Brian Kneebone
21 days ago

My hunch is that all religion is based on the human intellect trying to make sense of life and, above all, death.
It’s easy to understand why people want to believe, the complicated bit is trying to understand what they believe in. For example, is there a limit to the size family gatherings in heavan? Who knows!

Aloysius
Aloysius
21 days ago
Reply to  Brian Kneebone

I think if you accept a God with the creative power to generate our universe, logistics aren’t going to be an issue
 Although incidentally for Christians, life in Heaven is about partaking in the Beatific Vision, not family gatherings.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
20 days ago
Reply to  Aloysius

I’m pretty sure don’t really believe that utter linguistic nonsense.Not deep down.You’d have to be absolutely mad. I doubt you come across as being absolutely mad when you aren’t engaged in linguistic nonsense.

Aloysius
Aloysius
20 days ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

I presume by linguistic nonsense you mean that you don’t understand the concept of the Beatific Vision. Theologians far more educated and eloquent than I have for thousands of years written on the subject, but I find Aquinas’ explanation clear and helpful. To summarise perhaps beyond what is reasonable, the final end of man is a perfect happiness which can neither increase nor be lost, and can therefore only be found in something infinite and perfect, namely God. I doubt this means very much to you, it would have meant very little to me before my own conversion, but incidentally I always found this view one of the more convincing aspects of Christianity – a much fuller account than simply a heaven filled with earthly pleasures and the logistical banalities of mundane existence that exists in some other religious traditions.

I would however ask that you not pathologise the opinions of those with whom you disagree – it is the sort of thing done by a totalitarian regime which seeks to delegitimise opposition (e.g. the Soviet Union putting dissidents in mental institutions), and not what one would hope for in a free society.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
20 days ago
Reply to  Aloysius

I presume from your response that you have either not read or not understood Wittgenstein on the subject of linguistic nonsense?
As to pathology 

.

Arthur King
Arthur King
21 days ago

Most atheists are so ignorant of Christian theology that they sound sophomoric in their attacks on the faith.

Martin M
Martin M
21 days ago
Reply to  Arthur King

I’m no expert, but I recall something about Jesus being the Son of God, and dying on the Cross, but Rising from the Dead. What else was there?

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
20 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

A whole Hell of a lot, I’m afraid. Something like 2,000 or so years worth.

Martin M
Martin M
20 days ago
Reply to  Thomas K.

Yeah, but that’s the essence of it, isn’t it? The rest is just filler. I mean, can one describe oneself as Christian if one doesn’t believe the “Son of God, rose from the dead” bit?

Thomas K.
Thomas K.
20 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

That is an incredibly condescending and misguided way to interpret the entire foundational ethos of Western Civilization, but sure, I guess if you want to be that crude than yeah, you could phrase it that way. That’d be like calling the Atlantic Ocean ‘a small bit of water’, but if you’d like to miss the point that much, go ahead. Although I don’t think it would help with the persuasiveness of your argument.

Nathan Sapio
Nathan Sapio
20 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

I humbly submit to you that you should look further into those words. All claimed by a man whose life and words have more historical documentation and evidence than any other, whose life was like a bombshell effect in the course of history. What does it mean if he lived and claimed those things and had an effect on the world like no other human being? That his followers who didn’t believe those things initially until seeing them, who stood to gain nothing except hate and persecution claimed those things at the cost of their lives… And on… Good resource to examine: “cold case Christianity”

LeeKC C
LeeKC C
21 days ago

May the force be with you.

Ian Wray
Ian Wray
21 days ago

The debate between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Richard Dawkins is an example of the ‘restricted choice – of god or nothing’ which is discussed in a chapter of the book ‘Thinking at the Crossroads – A Buddhist Exploration of Western Thought’. Basically, there are alternatives to theism and philosophical materialism.

Tony Nunn
Tony Nunn
21 days ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Such as?

Ian Wray
Ian Wray
21 days ago
Reply to  Tony Nunn

Buddhism, for example.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
20 days ago
Reply to  Ian Wray

Well said.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
21 days ago

“But, instead, they adopted worse and less reasonable beliefs in Christianity’s place”. As Chesterton said, and has been borne out many times, when men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing. They believe in anything.
If Dawkins is on Team Christianity, let’s hope he stays on the bench.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
20 days ago
Reply to  Richard Ross

Quoting a completely false assertion made by GKC does not amount to a proof. It doesn’t even amount to a reasonable argument.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago

I find it interesting that Ali, in her essay here last year and in the debate, never mentions Christ or his teachings. She seems to want to shore up Western civilization and a return to to morals.in society., which is fine. If I were debating her, however, I would ask her what teachings of Christ motivate her.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
20 days ago

Our modern, left-brained, post-enlightenment society has such a need for black-and-white, zero-sum, either-or answers to every question.
If one believes in science, one cannot believe in God.
If we are rational, we cannot believe in something greater than rationality.
If we believe in the power of our own intellect, we cannot believe in something greater.
Everything in life can’t be understood or approached by data. What should I do today? Should I marry this woman or not? Is it right to force people to be vaccinated? Is slavery OK?
These are not scientific questions. We can’t seek the answers to them in a spreadsheet or with some kind of measuring device.
I have no problem with atheists. I do have problem with fundamentalists atheists. I strayed into being one for a while. Believing in fundamentalist atheism is the ultimate in narcissism. It allows one to judge other “lesser” humans who believe in God from our high perch and to quickly decide that they are morally and intellectually inferior to those of us who are “smart” enough to leave religion behind. Thus it’s a very attractive and successful cult.
https://pairodocs.substack.com/p/in-defence-of-the-christians

M To the Tea
M To the Tea
19 days ago

We are hard wire to “believe”. That is it. That can be god or a dog or a bird.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
18 days ago

At least Dawkins is honest about his intellectual dishonesty. He basically admits to wanting to have all the cultural values and beliefs of Christianity without the foundational belief in God upon which those values and beliefs are based. I’m reminded of the simplistic rhyme about the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.
If Dawkins and atheists are correct and there’s no God, no spiritual component to humanity, nothing beyond this material world we can touch and see, then pure logic and reason will lead only to a combination of nihilism and hedonism whereby the individual has every reason to pursue his own personal satisfaction whatever it be, and no reason not to. The only law in such a world would be the law of the jungle, the law of power, that might makes right and a man or a group can do whatever they have the power to do and nobody has any real justification to stop them. That’s what ‘nature’ is, folks. It’s tooth and claw, predator and prey. If that’s what you want to worship, that’s what you’re going to get eventually.
Indeed, I think Dawkins is smart enough that he must understand this on some level, hence his endless equivocating about being a ‘cultural Christian’ whatever that means. He doesn’t really want a society of apathetic self-interested hedonists who don’t believe in anything any more than he wants a society of fundamentalist jihadists for the same reason. Both are a threat to his real ideal which is the humanistic collectivist nonsense that he shares with most of the globalist aristocracy, which conveniently keeps people obedient, passive, peaceful, and eminently controllable without a higher authority than the global aristocrats and their collectivist clique for any rabble rouser or reformer to appeal to.
In other words, my opinion of Dawkins is roughly the same as my opinion of most everyone else who courts public opinion. He’s a self-centered idealist hawking a set of ideals that, whatever their basis be, leads to the sort of world he personally prefers without regard to individual or cultural preference. He’s a proselytizer and a missionary as much as any other. The only virtue he has over the average televangelist is that he at least usually doesn’t ask for money.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
18 days ago

But the New Atheist movement (necessarily) gave birth to the new conservative intellectual approach to Christianity that Ms Hirsi Ali is championing today. And she actually received distant intellectual support for her personal cause being that she was a refugee from Islamism in Africa. If there’s bad faith here, it’s that the New Atheists were essentially children of Rushdie, Amis and Hitchens in being radical critics of Islam.

Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones
11 days ago

Excellent point Professor Donkey. Just like democracy is a milder form of fascism, capitalism is a milder form of communism, and white is a milder form of black.