Following the April 29 opening of their documentary The Unbelievers at Toronto’s Hot Dog Film Festival, outspoken atheists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss discussed the merits of their approaches to “ridding the world of religion.” In a recent interview with Steve Paikin, they made it clear that, despite their sometimes different personas, they have the same agenda—getting people to get rid of their belief in God. Yet they both say that Christians should not feel “threatened” by their efforts to expunge religion from human history.
Outspoken atheists Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins, costars of the documentary The Unbelievers, discuss their strategy for ridding the world of religion in general and Christianity in particular. They consider Christianity “demeaning” and wish to re-design society “the way we want it.” Image: screen shots from interview with Steve Paikin.
The Goal of The Unbelievers Documentary
Evolutionary biologist Dawkins and theoretical physicist Krauss recounted that when they first met they had a heated debate about, as Dawkins said, “whether we should have a kind of full-on attack on religion or whether we should, as Lawrence preferred, seduce them.” Krauss explained that this is really “a strategic question.” They agree that both approaches have merit depending on the nature of the people being targeted. However, expressing general agreement with the more confrontational approach of the often-irascible Dawkins, Krauss said, “You’ve got to confront silly beliefs by telling them they are silly,” adding, “If you’re trying to convince people, pointing out that what they believe is nonsense is a better way to bring them around.”
Despite their great hostility toward religious beliefs (other than their own) and avowal that they hope this film will help in their efforts to eradicate all religion worldwide, the atheist pair indicates that belief or non-belief in a deity is not what really matters to them. Krauss declares that what is actually important to them is that “everything should be open to question and that the universe is a remarkable place.” By contrast, he says, “This is more important to us than not believing in God—that’s not important at all.” Dawkins and Krauss both expressed grudging tolerance for evolutionists who want to keep their religious beliefs in order to keep the good things religion offers them—“spirituality,” “consolation,” and “community”—so long as they do not then reject evolution. They said that people are “hard-wired” to seek something spiritual, but by “spiritual” they refer to a sort of emotional high. And they declare that science offers a better kind of spirituality, “a sense of oneness with the universe.” Therefore science, they maintain, can meet the inmost needs of people better than religion of any sort.
“Spirituality is a sense of awe and wonder at something bigger than oneself,” Krauss explained, adding that being “insignificant is uplifting.” And while some people cling to their religion to satisfy some spiritual need, he says, “The spirituality of science is better than the spirituality of religion because it is real.” Both of course vigorously deny that their own atheistic position is one of “belief,” saying “we don’t define ourselves by what we don’t believe in.”
In The God Delusion, author Richard Dawkins asks: “If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment … ?”
The answer depends on three things: What is sin? Why does God oppose it? How can God justly forgive it?
Note: Dawkins begins with the axiom2 that God does not exist. We shall begin with the axiom that God does exist and the Bible is His written Word.
1. What is sin?
When God created Adam and Eve, He made human beings who were not only dependent on Him for existence and life, but who He intended to enjoy a relationship with Him of sharing in His life and love. Sin, in essence, is the desire of mankind to be free from this dependence on God, and indeed from any relationship with God at all.
When Satan tempted Eve to disobey God, the ‘bait’ he used was the assertion “you will be like God”. Thus, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had forbidden them, they were defying God, repudiating His authority over them, and elevating their own wills above God’s will.
Sin does not primarily refer to isolated acts (sins), for they are only the outworking of human self-will. It refers primarily to the rebellion of men and women against God, which may range all the way from careless indifference to the hell-bent hostility of which Dawkins’ posturing is an extreme example. Since sin is defined by this opposition to God and his standards, if God doesn’t exist, then the concept of sin becomes meaningless.