Trouble in England! (Taking an Ax to Your Own Beliefs).

What happens when the world’s greatest atheist and England’s top churchman sit down together to discuss religion?  Not dig-your-heels-in, come-out-swinging debate, in this case.  Both men, I believe, took an ax to their own belief system.

The atheist to whom I refer is Rickard Dawkins, long regarded as the most famous atheist in the world.  He is an evolutionary biologist and professor emeritus at Oxford University.  The leading British churchman is Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.   The two conversed recently as part of a public dialog regarding the role of religion in public life in Britain.  Their topic of debate was “The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin.”

The Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams (R) and atheist scholar Richard Dawkins pose for a photograph outside Clarendon House at Oxford University, before their debate, February 23, 2012.

Shocking the world, Professor Dawkins confessed that he is less than 100 percent certain that there is no creator.  An incredulous Sir Anthony Kenny (a philosopher who chaired the debate) replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist!”  Professor Dawkins acknowledged his precipitous fall from atheism into the muddier world of agnosticism – not being sure.  He was quick to add that he is “6.9 out of seven” sure of his belief that God doesn’t exist.

Wow!  That 0.1 difference may well be infinite.  An atheist says with conviction, “God does not exist!”  Opening up the possibility that he might exist reveals a massive shift in thinking.  Could it also signal the presence of the Holy Spirit’s secret work of regeneration in Richard Dawkins’ heart?  Regeneration is the supernatural, God inspired moment when the Holy Spirit breathes new life into a spiritually dead sinner.  As a direct result of new life, the new creation then exercises the gift of faith and responds affirmatively to Jesus’ command to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

Time will tell with Professor Dawkins.  We should pray for his salvation, and we should also rejoice that news of his leap from the pinnacle of atheism is sending thunderous ramifications through the world of unbelief.

If Richard Dawkins took an ax to his own belief system, Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wielded an even greater ax.  Imagine the awesome opportunity.  England’s top churchman is sitting with the world’s greatest atheist at the moment he confesses a chink in his atheistic armor.  Surely, a Christian would lovingly and boldly step in with the gospel.  Surely, he would sense the presence of God’s Spirit and join him there.  Regrettably, Archbishop Williams revealed that he isn’t a believer, either!  Here is a smattering of inconceivable comments made by the Church of England’s top minister.

  • The Archbishop said he believed that human beings evolved from non-human ancestors.
  • He also said that the explanation for the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis could not be taken literally.
  • When Professor Dawkins suggested that the Pope took a rather more literal view of the origin of humans, the Archbishop merely joked, “I will ask him some time.”

If the Archbishop’s comments had been made in the context of international politics, he would have revealed himself as a traitor to his own country!  Williams is supposed to be a heartfelt defender of the Bible.  He is supposed to know the depravity of men’s hearts and believe that Christ is the only source of rescue and hope.  He is supposed to share the gospel that men might hear, repent, and believe.  Instead, he took an ax to the gospel and missed a significant opportunity to give Richard Dawkins what he needed most.

This sad exchange reveals the tragic state of affairs when men begin to arrogantly think they can pick and choose what to believe in the Bible and what not to.  Once we afford ourselves this kinglike freedom, we render the Bible’s power – in our own hearts and minds – powerless.  Obviously, Archbishop Williams no longer believes.  Is it any surprise that less than 2 percent of England’s population worships at church on any given Sunday?

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