Dawkins, the Cultural Christian?

BBC News: “Dawkins: I’m a Cultural Christian Atheist partisan Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and numerous books on evolution, still considers himself a “cultural Christian” despite rejecting the claims of Christ.

Dawkins was on the BBC’s Have Your Say responding to comments by Member of Parliament Mark Pritchard, who, also on Have Your Say, “accused ‘politically correct’ people of undermining Christmas.” Dawkins said he did not want to rid the U.K. of its Christian heritage and that he enjoys singing Christmas carols.

“I’m not one of those who wants to stop Christian traditions,” said Dawkins.

“I’m not one of those who wants to stop Christian traditions,” said Dawkins. “This is historically a Christian country. I’m a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.” Dawkins speculated that the threat to such traditions comes from “rival religions and not from atheists.”

On one hand, it is certainly more welcome to hear Dawkins expressing his comfort with Christmas traditions than it would be to hear him attacking Christmas festivities with the fervor with which he attacks religious belief. There is little doubt that many other atheists, filled with fond childhood memories and the like, are similarly willing to tolerate religious festivals. However, are there not also atheists who would prefer every vestige of religion removed, including even seemingly innocuous Christmas carols? While Dawkins presumably wishes to portray atheism as a carefree, live-and-let-live philosophy, atheism can just as easily fuel those who would prefer to ostracize and strangle Christianity and its traditions.

We also wonder how much of Dawkins’s moral compass—which he claims to retain despite his atheism—is rooted in the fact that he is a cultural Christian. Tragically, transplanting Dawkins’s atheistic beliefs to a country devoid of religious backdrop—as Britain, the U.S., and elsewhere may soon or eventually be—may result in a society where morals are deemed unworthy and survival of the fittest reigns supreme.

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