Dawkins on compromising churchians

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionist and Oxford University professor who is one of the most strident antitheists around. Some churchians think they can appease him by compromising the Bible with evolution. But what does Dawkins think of this?

In his TV diatribe against theistic religion called The root of all evil? (broadcast on Channel 4, 16 January 2006), he said:

‘Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!’

Elsewhere in The root of all evil?, he said the following after a discussion about homosexual behaviour with the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, who has joined the antitheist Dawkins in opposing creation teaching in British schools. Harries, a liberal who also told Dawkins that he rejects the virginal conception of Christ, admitted that the OT and NT teaching was clearly that homosexual behaviour is wrong, but then went on to argue that we needed to reinterpret these texts based on modern scientific findings of ‘a significant percentage of people are predominantly attracted to members of their own sex.’ etc. (probably, like his fellow liberal (retired) bishop John Shelby Spong, relying on the discredited gall wasp specialist Alfred Kinsey). Again, he should just say that he doesn’t believe the texts, rather than dishonestly claim he is reinterpreting them to mean the opposite of what they say!

Dawkins responded to the camera, showing that Harries’ appeasement results only in contempt:

‘The moderates’ [liberals’] position seems to me to be fence-sitting. They half-believe in the Bible but how do they decide which parts to believe literally and which parts are just allegorical?’

Presumably here he means, ‘which parts of the Bible’s historical narrative are to be taken as historical narrative and which parts are to be explained away as allegorical’ — see Should Genesis be taken literally? Then he gets it right:

‘It seems to me an odd proposition that we should adhere to some parts of the Bible story but not to others. After all, when it comes to important moral questions, by what standards do we cherry-pick the Bible? Why bother with the Bible at all if we have the ability to pick and choose from it, what is right and what is wrong?’ [but see also answer to philosophy/religion professor on biblical exegesis and the problem of evil for some clarification on this topic]