A new article in First Things
Prosthesis Blogspot pointed out a new article in First Things Magazine entitled "The Devil’s Chaplain Confounded" by Stephen M. Barr which is a review of Dawkins' book A Devil's Chaplain. This article (not the book) is a must read and very insightful. Here is an example of what it has to say:
Ain't it the truth? I readily concede that the history of Christianity has not been all rosey and wonderful. People claiming to be acting in the name of Christ have done some horrific things throughout history. I also readily acknowledge that people have done some pretty amazing work outside of Christianity. So why is it so hard for people like Dawkins to give credit where credit is due? Regardless of your views on Christianity, to ignore the many positive contributions it has made to further a political or anti-Christian agenda is the mark of a closed mind.Dawkins gave an interview to Belief.net recently. He was asked whether he could think of anything, just “one positive, if minor, thing” that religion has done for the good. No, he replied, he really couldn’t. What about great religious art? “That’s not religion,” said Dawkins, “it is just because the Church had the money. Great artists like . . . Bach . . . would have done whatever they were told to do.” So Johann Sebastian Bach was just in it for the money. What this sordid remark reveals, apart from amazing ignorance and philistinism, is the mind of a true fanatic. It is not enough for Dawkins to say that religion is bad on the whole; it must be wholly bad.
The essay concludes:
Even without his bigotry, we could not expect balanced judgment or logical consistency from Dawkins, because he is a man in a muddle. One encounters in A Devil’s Chaplain at least three Dawkinses: there is Dawkins the Humanist, Dawkins the Reasoner, and Dawkins the Darwinist. Each sits on a different branch, sawing away at the branches on which the others sit. Dawkins the Humanist preaches, inveighs, denounces; he bristles with moral indignation. Dawkins the Darwinist tells him, however, that his humanism is speciesist vanity, his moral standards arbitrary, and his indignation empty. Dawkins the Humanist rebels, proclaiming himself (in human affairs) passionately anti-Darwinian. Dawkins the Reasoner joins the rebellion, declaring that our minds allow us to transcend our genetic inheritance. Dawkins the Darwinist answers with lethal effect that our brains “were only designed to understand the mundane details of how to survive in the stone-age African savannah.”
The blame for this muddle lies not with humanism, reason, or even Darwinism. It lies with Dawkins’ atheism and materialism, which prevent any coherent viewpoint from emerging because they deny the spiritual soul in man. That soul is indeed a blessed gift. It is precisely “what is so special about humans.” It is what enables us to be people of reason and not just animals programmed to survive on the African savannah. It is what allows us to grasp moral truth and to have the freedom to follow it rather than the laws of matter or the law of the jungle. It is what makes it possible for us to have that hope and love to which the subtitle of Dawkins’ book refers, but which are absent from its pages, and about which he has nothing in the end to say. (Emphasis added.)