Who You Calling Crude, Bub?

There was this interview with Alister McGrath last spring, all about how wrong Richard Dawkins is and how weak his arguments are. It’s rather puzzling.

But by the time you get to A Devil’s Chaplain, what we have is a very crude religious propagandist, only loosely connected with the whole scientific culture…It seems to me, he has a real animus against religion, but I’m unable to identify any single factor that seems to be a legitimate explanation of that hostility.

That’s puzzling, because, one, Dawkins (of course) is not a religious propagandist, that’s just the usual silly – and crude – religious rhetoric that pretends religion and non-religion are both religion, theism and non-theism are both theism. Two, because I would say McGrath is the crude one, based on what I’ve read of him, which tends to be short on argument and very long on assertion. Third, what is the nonsense about being unable to identify any single factor that would explain Dawkins’ dislike of religion? Well I suppose it’s that McGrath is so convinced that there’s no good reason to be hostile to religion that he can’t recognize reasons when he sees them. Which is a pretty crude way to think, frankly.

Dawkins seems to assume that his audience is completely ignorant of religion and, therefore, will accept his inadequate characterizations of religion as being accurate…And really, one of the things I find so distressing and so puzzling in reading him was that his actual knowledge of religion is very slight. He knows he doesn’t like it, but he seems to have a very shallow understanding, for example, of what religious people mean by the word “faith.”

Okay – what do they mean then? Go on, explain it to us – give us the deep version. Go on.

But he doesn’t do that.

The reason that Richard Dawkins has become so influential is that his rather strident, rather aggressive views resonate with what quite a lot of people hope is indeed the case.

Oh right! And your views don’t! Religion has nothing whatever to do with wishful thinking! Puh-leeze.

Altogether, not a very impressive performance.

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