Dawkins and ‘cultural Christianity’: what does it all mean? (Heather Tomlinson, 05 April 2024, Christianity Today)

However it could be said that Dawkins hasn’t really contributed that much to the decline. The poor arguments of his ilk have in some people prompted a move towards faith, and caused other positive effects such as sharpening the Church’s intellectual capabilities. The deterioration of Christian belief in the UK has been gradual and a long time coming: writers CS Lewis and GK Chesterton, for example, predicted the trajectory many decades ago. Dawkins’ personal contribution has been minimal.

What is also new is a more widespread questioning of the dogma of progressivism – the relentless pursuit of improvement while sidelining or completely rejecting tradition, which in practice has often included Christian belief. This momentum is perceived as a good thing by most people today, unaware that it is a fairly new idea: previous generations were more respectful of their history. Attempts to re-engineer an imaginary “better world” often lead to unforeseen consequences, as Dawkins seems to be learning as he mourns the loss of Christian culture while rejecting the tenets that had created and sustained it.

Esme Partridge in Unherd slammed Dawkins comments as “naivety”. She argued his attitude is similar to another huge social change: his generation’s stance on the sexual revolution. They personally benefitted from the old morals, yet at the same time put the future availability of such positive effects in question by attacking their foundations.

“Dawkins’s belief that it is possible to reap the cultural benefits of Christianity while publicly undermining its legitimacy is perhaps an expression of this generational mentality,” she wrote. This was also the attitude of Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke and Montesquieu, who believed that liberal values would be upheld without Christianity. Partridge points out that this has been shown to be false too, as they have mutated into “anarchic systems of self-interest which undermine the virtues upon which liberalism was originally premised.”

She adds her voice to the calls for a renewal. “Like any organism, Christianity must recover its roots, or it will die — a fact of life which, as an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins ought to appreciate,” she said.

Everyone is culturally Christian. You can’t have a Clash of Civilizations when there is only one.