Christian News from Scotland

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dawkins Programme Bias

The Evangelical Alliance condemned Richard Dawkins’ Channel 4 programme ‘The Root of All Evil?’ as a ‘woefully ill-informed atheist polemic which belies its own claims to rational argument.’

The first half of Dawkins’ two-part broadside against religion was aired last Monday. The film attacked Judaism, Christianity and Islam as ‘irrational’, ‘divisive’ and ‘dangerous’. Singling out Evangelical Christianity for particular scorn, it equated it with fascism, the tactics of the Taliban, and the ideology of the 7/7 bombers.

Dr David Hilborn, Head of Theology at the Alliance, said that Dawkins “signally failed to define key terms like ‘religion’, ‘evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist’, showed no evidence of having engaged with scholarly sources at the interface of theology and science, and dodged any interaction with peers from the academic community who are believing scientists, or with theologians trained in the natural sciences.”

He added, “Professor Dawkins can write stylishly about his own field, but he is both philosophically naïve and poorly informed on the history and development of religious thought. This is nothing new, but here he seemed particularly intent on gratuitous abuse of religious people. He deliberately generalised from the very worst or most simplistic examples of the three faith-traditions in question. Had he chosen to debate with Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne or Sam Berry it might have been a very different matter, but Christians of such scholarly calibre in this area were conspicuous by their absence.”

Dr R. David Muir, the Alliance’s Head of Public Policy, commented, “One of the few things on which we agreed with Professor Dawkins in this programme was the inadvisability of the government’s proposed religious hatred legislation. We are not suggesting that ‘The Root of All Evil?’ should be banned or censored; we are simply surprised that Channel 4 commissioned a programme of such poor quality. Like the BBC, commercial terrestrial channels are subject to broadcasting standards, and this did nothing to enhance Channel 4’s reputation for often impressive, well-researched documentaries. Dawkins’ film was so viciously biased against faith-communities, and against Evangelicals in particular, that in the interests of balance and freedom of speech the station ought to offer a substantial right of reply.”

On the same point, Dr Hilborn added: “Especially in view of Professor Dawkins’ false depiction of religion as inherently violent, it would be worth pointing out that in the name of scientific materialism, atheistic regimes like those of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot have caused far more bloodshed in the past century than any self-consciously religious belief system. Not surprisingly, this inconvenient fact did not feature in ‘The Root of All Evil?”

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