“Thinking is anathema to religion,” says Richard Dawkins.
There are times when people say things with a straight face without realizing the ironic, contradictory juxtaposition of their statement with their actions. This is one of those times. Dawkins made his comment about thinking and religion while discussing the recent advertising campaign by atheists in England. They’ve put signs on the sides of London’s famous buses, reading, “There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.”
Billboard sloganeering qualifies as higher “thinking”?
The sad fact is that this sophomoric level of “thought” is what passes as cutting-edge insight among many atheistic circles. This is the sort of atheism espoused by the adolescent more motivated by rebellion than by humble search for the truth. Having just dried off his logical and rhetorical wings, he flaps about the forest floor and thinks he’s soaring above the eagles. Dawkins and his atheistic comrades are so conceited that they cannot even grant that two millennia of Christian thought, based on an even older tradition of theistic thought, qualifies as thinking. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas were amateurs. Augustine couldn’t tie his shoelaces. Popes John Paul and Benedict are morons.
There are serious and strong arguments for atheism – very intelligent arguments, though they ultimately fail. Hilaire Belloc maintained that the honest and intelligent skeptic is the most like in mind to the honest and intelligent Catholic. Those who come by those beliefs honestly deserve our respect and, if they will have it, our dialogue. But the type of atheistic arguments that fit neatly on a bus-side are not in the league of intelligent arguments. These are the arguments the obnoxious eleven year old makes in Sunday school, thinking he’s the first to hit on an objection in thousands of years of Christendom:
“Well who made God?” — Asked with complete ignorance to the fact that whether one is atheist or not, there still must be an uncaused cause.
“Can God make a rock so heavy he cannot lift it?” — A mistake that assumes any combination of words must have real-world meaning. This sentence works only grammatically, but not conceptually. It is an artifact of the limited nature of language.
“Scientists have looked underground. There’s no hell there.” — Nobody said it was supposed to be. (I actually saw this one on an atheist blog recently.)
“The Inquisition! Galileo!” — Stalin! Mao!
Skepticism is not a bad thing. Even atheism as a result of reasoned and honest thought may be commendable, as long as the person remains open to further thought and inspiration. But Dawkins’ suggestion that two-sentence advertisements surpass centuries of Christian thought is nothing short of laughable.