Monday, March 1, 2010

One swallow does not a summer make

A lot of ink gets spilt in the quest to either rebut or further the cause of Dawkinism. Here I shall try to restrain the spillage!

On the one hand I have been fascinated recently to hear people's stories of journeys in faith which bely the classic strategy of atheism, to elegantly and rationally explain the world without invoking 'God' as cause, creator, or curator. In several cases God has become present in their lives unexpectedly and (in a sense) irrationally: as the Hound of Heaven, God has chased them into a corner from which the only escape was to place their lives in God's hands. In one case the surge of atheistic literature through Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, has actually provoked thinking about whether God does or does not exist and yielded an 'aDawkinist' answer!!

On the other hand I am concerned about New Zealand, and especially about fellow 'birth NZers'. I am fascinated by the number of accented voices I hear in church these days - that is, voices of those not born in NZ. I wonder whether something about being an enculturated Kiwi from conception means some resistance to believing in God. Positively this could represent a life so good and wonderful in our fair islands that little need for the helping hand of God is required. Negatively it could represent antagonism to God and the gospel of grace: "I'm all right, Jack", "She'll be right", "Need help? No, thanks, I can stand on my own two feet", "Silly so and so got caught" ... our language is often the language of independence, innate belief that no problem cannot be solved by a mixture of hard work and Kiwi ingenuity, and minimisation of the significance of wrongdoing.

So Richard Dawkins will come this summer to our shores. I am sure he will be an effective evangelist for his cause (which he truly believes is good news for the world) who clinches the conversion of a number of people to full blown atheism. But there is a deeper and wider movement towards atheism in our culture irrespective of famous visitors. One swallow does not a summer make - actually it is already made.

I wonder, by the way, since cricket is very much in the news here as we slew the mighty Australians the other night, if Dawkins knows his Darwinian history? In 1835 (I think it was) Charles Darwin visited the Bay of Islands on his voyage which led to the Origin of the Species. He was entertained by the missionaries and watched them playing cricket!
(Some links on atheism/antitheism - thanks to Bosco Peters and to an anonymous commenter on the post below: this, this, and that. Plus, from Bosco again, this particularly helpful post).

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