Tuesday, July 22, 2014

David Robertson's The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths

MY NON-ACADEMIC READING for the week is The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths by David Robertson.

David Robertson is a pastor of St. Peter's Free Church in Dundee, Scotland, who posted a comment on Dr. Richard Dawkins's website in the winter of 2006-2007. His comment was on the book, The God Delusion, written by Dawkins himself, who has gained quite a following, mostly from the academia and the so-called intellectual elite. It's also popular in the growing atheist movement in local Philippine universities, especially at the University of the Philippines, where I studied for 10 years. Pastor Robertson received many replies in that website, many of them scathing, insulting, personal attacks against Christianity and the people associated with it. In this short book, Robertson aims to present “one person's response to Dawkins and to do so from a wide and personal perspective.”

The book interested me greatly because for years I've been faced with similar questions, mostly from friends who were genuinely curious and critical about the things I passionately and fundamentally believe in: that there is a God who sovereignly rules the world; that He is holy, loving, and just; that He, in fact, exists. “Why should I pick Christianity, of all religions?” is another follow up question I get. In these matters I answer as best as I can, praying silently that God grant me the right words to speak, as I don't fancy myself especially well-versed in apologetics. There are times, though, when I have to say “I don't know the answer to that, but I will try to find out.” The curious inquiries of my friends have brought me to a deeper, more profound appreciation of Christianity—that it is a worldview worth believing in, not just because my family or community believes in it, but because it is cemented on solid facts and can withstand the toughest debates.

Robertson's letters to Dawkins are humble, respectful counter-arguments. In the book he explains where Dawkins is mistaken without being snobbish. I appreciated that. The last thing I want, after all, is to see a defender of the Christian faith spewing his arguments in the most un-Christian manner. Roberston doesn't hide his personal feelings, too, as he doesn't shy away from saying he was offended by what Dawkins wrote.

In the first chapter, The Myth of Higher Consiousness, Robertson argues that the people who truly believe in Christianity aren't the ones who were simply born into religious homes that follow the same belief system, the ones who want out, the ones who have been brainwashed. Christians are people who have freely chosen this belief system because it is grounded on facts and further supported by personal experiences of God's love and mercy.

You know the real relief came when I realised I could be a Christian and think for myself and seek to make a difference in the world; and that I did not have to buy into all the quircks and cultural nuances of religious groups, nor the fundamentalism of the secularists who just knew that they were right.

I'll write some more about the book when I have time. I'm only halfway through it, but it has already proven to be a worthwhile read.



Blogger Unknown said...

Robertson is the kind of person who sees Hitler pay his church tax to the Catholic Church and then ties to persuade people that somebody who pays taxes to a church never considered himself a Christian.

Fri Aug 01, 06:33:00 PM GMT+8  

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