Apologetics Books Scotland Solas

The Dawkins Letters outselling The God Delusion!

I am writing this from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis – the last time I was here was when I spoke at the Lewis book festival – just ahead of Richard Dawkins.  Coming into the airport set me to reflecting on that and reminded me of this wee Christmas ‘video’ card we made!  This was three years ago – and again it was a storm!

Ok – the headline is a bit misleading – but it is true that the Dawkins Letters is currently outselling The God Delusion and God is Not Great on the US Amazon Atheism chart!   And that the top three books on the Amazon Kindle theology chart in the UK are Magnificent Obsession, the Dawkins Letters and Why I am not an Atheist!

I am delighted not because it means I will make a lot of money (they are on a special so it means virtually nothing financially) but because its great to see that after eight years they are still being used to counter the errors of the New Atheism and even more that in so doing they are being used to proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.   CFP are running a special on them until the 9th of December….why not treat yourself or someone else?




  1. I received a copy of The God Delusion for Christmas in 2006. I found myself unable to put it down, and it was well into it’s second re-reading before Hogmanay was upon us. As a lifelong atheist, I had often felt just like the small boy in the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Emperors’ New Clothes”; was I really the only one who could see that faith in general was a failed epistemology, and that Christianity in particular nothing more than just another mythology?
    Reading The God Delusion, I found I was not alone in my rationality. But my curiosity in the phenomena of faith was truly aroused. Given The God Delusion, I could not see how religion could possibly survive – the cat was out of the bag – the emperor was truly naked! I was fascinated to know how Christians could possibly respond to this careful the thoughtful expose of their delusion. I can remember my excitement on hearing that Alistair McGrath would be on the radio one Sunday morning to refute Dawkins’ book. I was genuinely enthralled to know what this response could be. To say I was disappointed is something of an understatement; McGrath didn’t address any of the points raised by the book, instead he simply claimed that Christianity enabled him to ‘make sense of the world’ but without ever saying how, or more importantly, how it could for anyone else. In fact, he didn’t even go as far at to reveal just what about out world didn’t make sense! – I felt sure I could have helped him, without recourse to the supernatural; perhaps McGrath was having trouble programming his VCR …….
    So much for my first encounter with Christian apologetics. My second, was reading an electronic version of Terry Eagleton’s review of TGD originally published I the Sunday Times. And for the second time, I was sorely disappointed. Eagleton also neglected to engage with any of the points in the book, defending a nebulous god in sneering tones. What struck at that point was that the sneering tone was actually one of the primary defence tactics of the apologist; religion has a privileged position and how dare anyone criticise it? Thankfully, the emergence of the internet, and with it the ability for all of us to make our views known, means that the ‘thou shalt not criticise religion’ defence is in retreat.
    I had also discovered the Richard Dawkins website by this time. While it was reassuring to find a website dedicated to reason and science, I rarely contributed to the forums, given that they were populated by people of roughly the same opinion as me, but of greatly more intelligence and eloquence. What could I possibly add?
    Then a wonderful thing happened – David Robertson started to contribute. This was incredibly exciting. Finally we could have an interaction with a Christian, work through the arguments one at a time, and come to a conclusion about each one. Sure enough, others must have been of the same opinion as myself since the volume of responses shot up.
    Sadly however, David’s contributions proved to be as frustrating as every other apologist I had encountered. His opening entry to the discussion as I remember was his first chapter to what was to become The Dawkins Letters. A master of misrepresentation and evasion as I was dreading. Rightly so, he was torn apart by the regulars on that forum. Now how should we expect a Christian apologist to react? Anyone with an honest care for what is true, will seek out the strongest opposition to his views, and engage with them to determine which position is indeed the correct one. Did David do this? Not a chance! Like every other apologist he would evade and misrepresent. David as good as concedes this point with his recollections as he admits “that one third of them were just vitriolic”; what about the majority two thirds then David? (Not even that the one third were vitriolic, more like simple, and in my view deserved, ridicule.)
    It was incredibly frustrating to read those exchanges. So many reasonable objections to faith and Christianity were raised, David ignored them all. Instead he would revel in mud slinging with those who would ridicule him. Due to forum rules for productive discourse, he was banned. And again. And again. To this day, David wears his bans as a proud badge of Christian martyrdom, the fearless Christian in the atheist lions den, but still concealing the truth that he was kicked out for being unable to hold a reasonable conversation, and hijacking the forums through wilful dishonesty.
    Fast forward a couple of years and I find David contributing to the ‘Unbelievable’ forums. At last, I find an opportunity to hold a conversation with a Christian, this time in a Christian setting. Will David engage? No, beyond the first initial exchanges where I refuse to be fobbed off, David stops responding. Then the Unbelievable forums close. So much for that!
    Finally I find that David has a website. I cautiously send in a message, enquiring about the comment moderation policy. After all, it’s David’s own website, I can’t demand that my contributions are published. David’s reply is courteous, and encouraging – perhaps at last this is the medium for an honest discourse?
    Sadly once more I am disappointed. After publishing the first few messages, censorship soon surfaces and my posts never see light of day. I give David the benefit of the doubt; perhaps he is too busy to moderate the forum; but after the fifth post is censored, I stop wasting my (electronic) breath. The irony is not lost on me each time I see David boasting of his bans from the Dawkin’s forum! Where David was banned for rabble rousing, I am censored for raising a dissenting voice.
    This post of David’s recalling the days of the Dawkin Letters prompts me to write again, I feel it’s important that the perspective from the other side is recorded; and shall post it also on David’s site although I have no idea if it will be published.
    Looking back however, I see now that my initial intuitions were correct all along. There is no refutation of The God Delusion, for the simple reason that there is no good reason to believe that any of the claims of any religion are true. The behaviour of Christian apologists with their tactics of evasion, misrepresentation and special pleading simply confirm the point.
    I no longer hold my breath in anticipation of a reasonable defence of faith. The debate is not just over, there never was a debate. Christianity is sustained only though it’s position of privilege, take that away and it will wither and die, just as all other religions that we now call mythology have.
    The emperor is truly naked; and it’s no longer just this small boy who sees it.


    1. Thanks Linear – for a classic piece of ‘I was blind but now I’m blind’ writing. Of course TGD confirmed your life long atheism. Thats how confirmation bias works! I hope it doesn’t upset your fundamentalist certainty too much to point out a few places where you are just factually wrong.

      1) Terry Eagleton is not a Christian apologist. He is a Marxist. The fact that you did not know this or could not ascertain it but just blame religion for his critique of TGD indicates the depth of the cognitive dissonance in your own position.

      2) The vitriol I received on the Dawkins website was according to you, ‘deserved ridicule’. Indeed. Does that include the death threat and the many abusive taunts? It is also not true that I only responded to the 1/3 ridicule…indeed I usually ignored them and spent most of my time in answering the more serious questions – including Paula Kirbys lengthy review of TDL – which she described as the ‘best of the flea books’. People like you constantly accused me of evading and lying – but strangely enough you were never able to provide ONE example of a lie.

      3) I was not banned because I abused people I was banned because people abused me. Dawkins did not like the fact that someone stood up to the bullying that went on – with his sanction. But even he at one point became embarrassed by it and sacked the webmaster!

      4) Your posts have been allowed on my personal blog – when they are relevant and non-abusive. AS you are well aware, if you read, there are plenty of dissenting voices on here. If you have something worthwhile to say it will be allowed on here. If you are just here to mock then I suggest you return to the confirmation bias of the Dawkins website.

      5) Your final point is that there is no refutation of TGD because what you believe is always going to be true. You have a faith and nothing, no amount of evidence, reason etc will drive you from that faith. There is no debate. You know the truth. End of story. Its ironic that such fundamentalism calls itself ‘rational’!

      Indeed the emperor of naturalist materialism is naked. Its just a shame that the self styled wise men can’t see it. Try thinking….and next time you post on here – bring some facts and evidence with you….(or it won’t be posted!)…

  2. Hi David,

    Thanks for posting my recollections. It was your own post about writing the Dawkins letters that prompted me to put a view from the ‘other side’ as it were down on paper. I would have hoped that you would agree that an alternative perspective was relevant, even if you might not agree with it. My post was an honest memoir, I guess we shall just have to agree to disagree on how you behaved on those forums.
    Regarding censorship, the fact is that I stopped commenting on your blog because my posts began to get censored. Now this is your blog and you are free to publish whatever you like. Your claimed standards of relevance and non-abusive are more than reasonable, but I would take serious issue with you for your implication that my posts fall into these categories.
    Further, I don’t know if you realise that you do this, but even your short response to my post contains many knee-jerk implied insults and accusations. (I suffer confirmation bias. I am a fundamentalist. I accuse you of lying. I have faith. I am impervious to reason. I am irrational. I don’t think. I have no facts or evidence) Would it be irrelevant or abusive for me to robustly tell you why you are wrong on each of these points? When the Christian accused you of lacking grace and arrogance in the recent debate in Northern Ireland, your reflection on your blog was to state that if you were in the same situation again, you would be more, not less robust. I guess abuse, and what is merely robust debate is in the eye of the beholder!
    I know you like to point out irony, so let me wind up by noting that you accuse me, of accusing you, of evasion and lying. I didn’t. I accused you of evasion and misrepresentation. How ironic that you should misrepresent this!
    But to end on a serious note, I hope the other irony that you have a dogmatic faith that I reject your god claims through ‘fundamentalism’ is not lost on you. I’ve said many times that I reject god claims because there is no good reason to accept that any of them are true. You never challenge me on this point, you simply repeat your mantra that I am a fundamentalist, and it’s ironic that you then accuse me of not thinking.
    I took up your offer last Christmas that I should read your book Magnificent Obsession in order to find good reasons to accept that Christianity is true. Well, I treated myself to a kindle copy, but in terms of finding good reasons, I’m afraid the cupboard was bare. If you have any interest in an honest conversation, I’d be happy to tell you why I think this is so. And this year I have taken advantage of the price reduction on the Dawkins Letters.
    It’s not faith that leads me to my conclusions, it’s the evidence that there are no good reasons to believe that any religious claims are true.
    And finally, it’s ironic that you would use an accusation of faith as an insult!

    Best wishes,

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