Asked by a British member of Parliament if he is one of those atheists who wants to get rid of Christian symbols especially during the Christmas season, atheist Richard Dawkins replied that he is not. Dawkins said that he himself sings Christmas carols and that he considers himself a “cultural Christian.” Just as many Jews regard themselves as Jewish, defend Jewish interests and cherish Jewish culture while not participating in Jewish religious rituals, Dawkins says that he respects the fact that the history and traditions of the West are shaped by Christianity. Dawkins says he's not one of those who wants to purge the West of its Christian traditions. The main threat to Christian symbols, Dawkins argues, does not come from atheists like him but rather from Muslims and members of other faiths.
Now this is quite remarkable. In The God Delusion, Dawkins portrayed the Christian God as a wicked, avaricious, capricious, genocidal maniac. Dawkins even blasted Jesus for such offenses as speaking harshly to his mother. Yet if the Jewish and Christian God was such a monster, what sense does it make for Dawkins to embrace the cultural influence of that deity? It would be like someone saying, "Hitler was a murderous maniac, but I am a cultural Nazi. No, I don't embrace the specifics of Nazi doctrine, but I appreciate what fascism has done to shape German culture. Let's give up the specifics of the Hitler program, but let's also keep Nazi culture along with the fuhrer's imagery on our coins and monuments."
Dawkins is not an unintelligent man, so what's going on here? One possibility is that Dawkins now recognizes that today's atheists who want to get rid of Christian symbols are just as intolerant as Christians who in the pst sought to deny atheists a voice in the public arena. So Dawkins' statement can be read as a critique of intolerance and political correctness.
A second possibility is that Dawkins now sees the Muslim threat to the West--and especially European culture--as more serious than the prospect of a second Christian Inquisition, so he has decided to ally with the Christians against the Islamic radicals. Other atheists like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens are now admitting that atheist attempts to equate Islamic extremism with Christianity are bogus. The real threat doesn't come from Presbyterianism or Anglicanism but from a radical Islam that wants to obliterate Western civilization.
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