I would count well-known British atheist Richard Dawkins amongst the least likely of all people to be a promoter of real Christianity. After all, he was the man who, earlier this year, described religion as a “cop-out.” He went on to say, “It is a betrayal of the intellect, a betrayal of all that’s best about what makes us human. It’s a phony substitute for an explanation, which seems to answer the question until you examine it and realise that it does no such thing … It peddles false explanations where real explanations could have been offered, false explanations that get in the way of the enterprise of discovering real explanations.”
In the light of this I find it interesting that, while speaking at a literature festival in Wales this week, professor Dawkins admitted that while he surely doesn’t believe in the supernatural elements of Christianity, he wouldn’t mind being called “a secular Christian.”
Dawkins was responding to an American Christian minister, who was part of the audience and told the 73-year-old evolutionary biologist that he doesn’t believe in miracles any longer but still sees himself as a Christian. I am fascinated by Richard Dawkin’s response: “But if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.”
I find it fascinating because, of all the voices God could have used to bring correction to this “Christian Minister,” He used one of the world’s most well known atheists. Richard Dawkins, who doesn’t believe in God or the supernatural world, recognises enough about real Christianity to know that, by its very nature, if it were true, it would have to be supernatural. Let’s face it, the entire Christian faith hangs on the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead after he had been dead for three days.
And further to that the Bible is absolutely jam-packed with miracles from start to finish – from the creation of the world through to the parting of the Red Sea through to all the miracles of the prophets and Jesus and the first century church. In fact the apostle Paul didn’t consider that he had fully preached the gospel unless miracles were present: “… in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19).
And miracles are still active in churches and in the lives of Christians today. Even last Sunday morning, as we were praying for people at Bayside Church, I went and laid hands on one of the guys who had come forward for prayer. I felt God’s power flow through me into him. The next day he sent me this note of Facebook:
Hi Ps Rob, thank you for standing with me yesterday, I was standing for my mother who is in hospital with congestive heart failure and some internal bleeding. I was waiting word from the doctor regarding my return home to see her and felt the need to stand and pray for her. I received word today that her heart is strong, the bleeding has all but stopped and the swelling in her legs is gone (it has been years since we have seen her ankles). She should be released from the hospital later this week. Praise God! Thank you for standing in agreement with me yesterday, I told my mum about it when we spoke yesterday and she asked me this morning to send her thanks to you for your prayers. She is a big believer in the power of prayer.
And this is just one example of the many miracles that we see and hear about in our church community on a regular basis.
I thank God for His miracle-working power that is still at work in people’s lives today, and one of the miracles I’ve experienced this week is that, for once, I actually find myself agreeing with Richard Dawkins: “But if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.” Spot on professor!