Richard Dawkins incites anti-Catholic hatred
And before the learned Professor disses His Grace again or mobilises his hate-filled disciples or deigns to refer to His Grace’s writing as ‘nasty’, perhaps he would acknowledge that at least His Grace is sufficiently secure in his beliefs and broad in his worldview to entertain the Professor’s views upon his blog, while that of the Professor, which purports to be a ‘Clear Thinking Oasis’, admits of no view but the Professor’s insular own.
It is not, of course, the first time.
Though the eminent Professor never had the courtesy to reply.
Perhaps there weren’t enough book sales in it to make it worth his while.
Freedom of speech; freedom of expression; freedom of association; freedom to offend – these are the precious liberties of our liberal democracy, the acquisition of which over the centuries has been a cause of great suffering and not infrequently horrific torture and death. These foundations are being chipped and cracked to a perilous degree, and it is only a matter of time before the whole edifice crumbles to dust.
Richard Dawkins is one of the Pope’s ‘aggressive secularists’ who are rendering the public sphere increasingly illiberal to expressions of faith, deceptively under the guise of enlightenment. But his dogma is as absolute as any fundamentalist religion; his demands as uncompromising as any divine precept. Professor Richard Dawkins has become the self-appointed infallible prophet of the sharia of biological evolution.
As one might expect, he immerses his audience in a predictable flood of indignation: most of it anti-Ratzinger, much of it anti-Catholic, some of it anti-Christian. He often confuses fact with opinion and conflates historical proposition with scientific method, But His Grace does not demur from the Professor’s anger at the Pope’s purposeful juxtaposition of atheism with Nazism. It was not quite as inopportune as quoting a Byzantine emperor on Mohammed or the incommunication of a holocaust denier, but it was hardly a textbook example of missionary inculturation.
Not to believe in God does not make one evil: indeed, there are many who profess God, even the Christian one, and are utterly depraved in their morality and desiccated in their spirituality. And His Grace has said and made it clear that he would rather engage with an honest, self-confessed atheist than with a duplicitous hypocrite who professes to be Christian.
Christians can learn many lessons from the aggressive secularists – like how not to communicate, how not to coerce or impose and how not to disregard the sincerely-held beliefs of millions of rational and reasonable people.
Perhaps the aggressive secularists might reciprocally consider that not all Christians hold to papal teaching on contraception, or that homosexuals are ‘intrinsically disordered’, or that liberation theology is dangerously subversive, or that paedophile priests have lost their free will and those who covered up such heinous crimes should be protected.
But many of those who do hold such views also work tirelessly for the common good, often for nothing, at great expense and huge personal cost.
There are not many aggressive secularists who work for any motive other than personal gain.
There is a balance to be struck between the freedom of individuals and what best serves the common good. This is, of course, the realm of politics. One can be short-term and pragmatic about it, or visionary and prophetic. Prime ministers have elections to win; popes do not. The prophet does not have to concern himself with coercive democratic populism; the politician does not have the luxury to be a philosopher-king.
Professor Dawkins does not need religion, but he cannot abjure politics. And politics needs the insights of religion, especially if that religion is intrinsic to societal cohesion and the pursuit of the common good. He appears to be incapable of perceiving religion as anything other than unconstrained sectarianism and bigoted fundamentalism. Certainly, there is much of it about. But the Anglican tradition has fused faith, tradition and reason in a benign via media, and forged a place for the expression of religious belief within the political process. It does not eschew secular rationality, but the aggressive secularists repudiate the world of religious belief.
In the present context of pervasive Newmania, perhaps Professor Dawkins might join with the Blessed John Henry in his famous toast: ‘To conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards!’.
That is Protestant liberation.
It is the fount of the very liberty by which Professor Dawkins is free to pour out his hateful invective.
But Roman Catholics are an easy target, Professor, for they are bound to respond in love. And so is His Holiness the Pope, for he is obliged to turn the other cheek.
Let us see you ascend your secular pulpit and proclaim your sermon of damnation to Islam. Defame their Prophet as you denigrate the Pope. Mock Qur'anic teachings as you pour scorn over Catholic theology.
There will undoubtedly be a few book sales in that.
There will also be danger.
But then you might begin to understand the importance of the primacy of the liberty of conscience.