Christians are often upset by Richard Dawkins. But Heather Tomlinson believes we also have many reasons to thank the controversial atheist
Richard Dawkins has had a minor stroke, and though he says he is recovering well he sounded frail on a recorded message he posted. There's been an outpouring of love for him from Christians I know, and the hashtag #prayfordawkins has sprung up on social media.
When the Church of England tweeted a prayer for him, it was wrongly thought by some to be sarcastic, and there was a fuss. However I see plenty of private expressions of concern and genuine warmth from my friends of faith too.
Some atheists are saying that we shouldn't pray for him, and perhaps he wouldn't want us to. But I think they underestimate how fond we are of the old fella. Of course we're supposed to 'love our enemies', and you could argue Dawkins is such - his acerbic critiques of religion have got many backs up, including mine at times. But from what I know about the guy, I really like him, and I don't think I'm the only Christian who feels this. I also think that overall, he's been good for the Church. Here are some reasons why Christians should be thanking Richard Dawkins:
1. Dawkins has encouraged committed Christians to think
Once upon a time, a common Christian response to questions like 'how can an all powerful and all loving God allow suffering?' and 'what about the slaughter passages?' was 'well you've just got to have faith'. That kind of theological flippancy is no more, by and large. Partly we can credit this to Dawkins, because the amount of media coverage his ideas have received and the rise of militant atheism has meant that Christians have been inspired to think more about what they believe and why.
2. He's got everyone talking about religion again
It may be hard to remember, but before Dawkins' book The God Delusion, 'religion' was a dirty word and hardly anyone discussed it in the public square. Now it's back on the agenda. Some people have become atheists as a result, but many have become Christians…
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