“A Fundamentally Decent Religion”

“A Fundamentally Decent Religion”

The rise of wokeness, the all-encompassing digital age, and the decline of Western power have forced many atheists to admit that Christianity will not, as it turns out, be replaced by the rationalist regimes they dreamed of. The West is gripped by a crisis of meaning—and atheists have nothing to offer. Dawkins himself has been forced to confront this fact, and he appears to have realized of late that the society he cherishes—one in which freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and other principles he apparently chalked up to the evolutionary process, are the rule—may not be possible in the anti-Christian culture he once strove so hard to bring about.

In 2013, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins announced that teaching children about hell was tantamount to abuse. In 2015, the author of The God Delusion elaborated further, telling the Irish Times that children needed to be “protected” from the religious beliefs of their parents and that we must “write off” those who believed in Scripture. It was a grotesque but unsurprising suggestion from a man who had spent years attacking Christianity.

Less than a decade later in 2024, Richard Dawkins has changed his tune. He still clearly despises the truths of Christianity, but he has abandoned his characteristic contempt and now calls himself “a cultural Chrisitan.” How has this evolution come about?

Dawkins became an atheist culture warrior in the years following 9/11, when the New Atheist movement emerged in the wake of Islamist terror and the sex scandals wracking the Roman Catholic Church. The most prominent of these atheist polemicists were the men dubbed the movement’s “Four Horsemen”: philosopher Daniel Dennett, journalist Christopher Hitchens, neuroscientist Sam Harris, and Dawkins himself. Each published bestselling books attacking God and religion that were briefly but wildly popular.

The New Atheist movement has since spectacularly collapsed and Justin Brierly describes its demise in his fascinating new book, The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God.

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