I’m going to use James Maxwell’s thoughts (as quoted by Ian Hutchinson) to show you why I think somebody like Maxwell has a much better handle on this (and from within the faith) than Dawkins does. The following words are from that master scientist, Maxwell himself:
Now my great plan, which was conceived of old, … is to let nothing be wilfully left unexamined. Nothing is to be holy ground consecrated to Stationary Faith, whether positive or negative. All fallow land is to be ploughed up and a regular system of rotation followed. … Never hide anything, be it weed or no, nor seem to wish it hidden. … Again I assert the Right of Trespass on any plot of Holy Ground which any man has set apart. … Now I am convinced that no one but a Christian can actually purge his land of these holy spots. … I do not say that no Christians have enclosed places of this sort. Many have a great deal, and every one has some. But there are extensive and important tracts in the territory of the Scoffer, the Pantheist, the Quietist, Formalist, Dogmatist, Sensualist, and the rest, which are openly and solemnly Tabooed . …Christianity - that is, the religion of the Bible - is the only scheme or form of belief which disavows any possessions on such a tenure. Here alone all is free. You may fly to the ends of the world and find no God but the Author of Salvation. You may search the Scriptures and not find a text to stop you in your explorations. …The Old Testament and the Mosaic Law and Judaism are commonly supposed to be “Tabooed” by the orthodox. Sceptics pretend to have read them, and have found certain witty objections … which too many of the orthodox unread admit, and shut up the subject as haunted. But a Candle is coming to drive out all Ghosts and Bugbears. Let us follow the light.
Maxwell’s confidence in Christian objectivity or our will to “plow up that sacred ground” might have taken a bit of a battering if he could have witnessed the last 150 years of fundamentalism, but his attitude is still striking, and shows that there is a long legacy of rich and deep self-reflective and self-critical Christian thought to be had, despite the shallow fundamentalisms with all their distracting clamor that so singularly captivates and imprisons the stunted Neo-atheist gaze.
I welcome and value the critique and insights from a man who knows where he is within a system even more than those from someone who presumes to have uprooted himself from any philosophical soils, to the point of scorn even, and ultimately to his own ignorance. And that is not to say the latter contributions were valueless - far from it; because the rich soil was still there all along of course, even if the intellectual growth that sprang from it chooses to remain ignorant of its debt.
Let me hasten to add that this freshly expressed critique here is nonetheless an old thought reactive to a now dated book “The God Delusion”, and as such I’m not reacting to Dawkins as he may think today, but as he expressed himself then in that particular book. [And this is without any presumption whatsoever that he is any less atheistic now than he was then.] He is brilliant, and he might not now be so philosophically naieve as the stridency of his writings then made him appear. His science in his published work is such that I am in his debt.