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Revised Edition - Challenging Atheist Myths
When Richard Dawkins published The God Delusion , David Robertson wanted an intelligent Christian response - and so he wrote it. This honest book draws on Robertson's experience as a debater, letter writer, pastor and author to... read more
The Dawkins Letters
Challenging Atheist Myths
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When Richard Dawkins published 'The God Delusion', David Robertson wanted there to be an intelligent Christian response. After some ill thought through interventions in the media it was obvious that no one was really going to answer the real issues so David Robertson wrote an open letter to Richard Dawkins on his church website. This has found its way into Richard Dawkins website, where it generated the largest response of any posting up to that time. Since then it has been the source of continued discussion - being a critical part of the largest discussion since that time as his book was officially reviewed on the website.
This ferocity of the responses and the shallowness of the thinking that it exhibited, spurred David to write this book. Christians need to know where Dawkins is weak and we need to explain things better! It draws upon David's experience as a debater, letter writer, pastor and author.
This is a very honest book. It agrees with Dawkins where appropiate but also does not hesitate to point out where some of his thinking does not hold together - It is written in a gentle spirit of enquiry.
If you want ideas and answers to the challenges of 'The God Delusion' then Dawkins Letters is the place to find your answers!
David Robertson, author of The Dawkins Letters and Awakening, is pastor of St Peter's Free Church of Scotland in Dundee, Scotland. Robertson is a trustee of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and works to fulfil the Centre's mission to engage culture with the message of Christ.
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"The content is excellent. It's a fun, engaging read that seeks to be as charitable as possible (with an obviously virulent opponent) while not shrinking back from pointing out and exposing the fallacious, emotional, and often-childish arguments constantly employed by Dawkins."
Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary
Note from the author The poster, 'richarddawkins.net' (is this an official view?) accuses me of lying and gives the example of the quotes on the cover of the book having been made up. From a Christian perspective this accusation of lying by either myself or CFP is very serious. Lying for Jesus is obviously self contradictory and wrong. The example that the poster gives is just wrong. All the quotes came from the Dawkins website, were seen by many people, and I have copies of them all. However over 300 posts were removed from that particular thread - including many of my own posts and all the ones referred to in the book. Perhaps it was just a coincidence but whatever the case those quotes did exist. If the poster is writing on behalf of richarddawkins.net, they know this and therefore are themselves not telling the truth. It is not the first time that a lie is told in order to accuse others of lying. It is very strange that richarddawkins.net are so keen to accuse me of lying, it indicates a certain level of desperation. They are struggling to answer 'The Dawkins Letters' and so have to revert to attacking the author.
David Robertson, Pastor, St Peter's Free Church of Scotland, Dundee & Associate Director of SOLAS, Centre for Public Christianity
"The shortest, the cheapest and in some ways the sharpest book is The Dawkins Letters (Christian Focus, £4.99) by David Robertson. David, Free Kirk minister in Dundee, writes ten letters to Dawkins, and they are clever, humourous and right to the point."
Ron Ferguson, Life & Work, Church of Scotland magazine
"This book is a refreshing, excellent read...I wouldn't hesitate to pass this book on to a non-Christian, atheistically-persuaded friend."
Hannah Wooley, Evangelical Magazine, Evangelical Movement of Wales
No preacher or church leader should be without this remarkable book. Arch-atheist Professor Richard Dawkins is campaigning to banish religion in general and Christianity in particular from our schools, government and all significant areas of public life. Dawkins' big idea is that Christianity does more harm than good and he's aggressively campaigning on both sides of the Atlantic. He won't succeed but he will do a great deal of damage as his poisonous lies permeate Western culture. David Robertson has written a brief, brilliant and compelling rebuff to Dawkins' latest book, ‘The God Delusion'. It is a remarkable apologetic for the Christian faith and an essential tool in winning the battle of ideas. I'd give it ten stars if I could!
Richard Morris, Wesley Owen
This book is a more than useful contribution to the ‘Dawkins Debate' and one which has helped me to understand more about the flawed arguments contained within ‘The God Delusion'. The book comprises a series of ten letters to Dawkins, the first of which was published on Dawkins' own website, which counter the arguments in Dawkins' book chapter by chapter. Robertson is clearly well-read and marshals his arguments in a balanced and intellectually sound way. But this is not an inaccessible academic treatise; he writes clearly and understandably in such a way that most people will be able to grasp the arguments easily. He avoids the temptation to ‘rubbish' Dawkins, just dismantles and challenges his arguments frankly and cohesively. The final letter (to the reader) "Why Believe", contains a very useful and extensive reading list which most will never get to read in entirety but is helpful to have.
Clem Jackson, Editor, Christian Marketplace
Comment about the initial 'Letter' that appeared on Richard Dawkins website and which prompted the writing of the book "Wow, this is an intelligent and well-crafted view of RD's book."
Response from an atheist on Richard Dawkins Website
"...probably the book's greatest triumph is that it doesn't come across as being a knee-jerk polemic right back at Dawkins, but rather a book that deals with bigger atheist arguments (myths) and as such has more value than just for the next few months."
Gary Aston, Youth Pastor, England
"I have read your manuscript. In a word, it is SUPERB! You really do an extraordinary job."
Samuel Logan, International Director, World Reformed Fellowship
I can only comment on the original letter as that is all that I have read. Perhaps it is within the book that evidence for the reason for belief of any of the author's faith is proposed as there is none in the letter. He does, certainly, pick up on errors in some of Dawkins arguments but then proceeds to use straw men and ad hominem fallacies to prove his point. For example;
"[...] unlike the cowards and the lazy who want to deny its existence, you admit that there is such a thing as truth." - Ad Hominem (All people who disbelieve in objective truth are cowards or lazy, ignoring any arguments they may have)
Why is it lazy to think there may not be a 'truth'? I'm not sure I follow. I believe that all answers about the universe we will come across will be garnered through empirical study and hard work. Also I'm not sure which atheists deny the concept of truth. All Atheists would deny the existence of any God(s), surely that's a conceivable truth?
"And of course you have stated that you do not discuss with 'fundamentalists' or those who would be stupid enough to disagree with you." - Straw Man (Simplifying Dawkins's reasons for limiting his arguments into an easily attackable form)
The second point is especially galling as what Dawkins actually says is that he won't debate with Creationists, the reason being that he doesn't want to give credence to such clearly antediluvian position. He is correct to do so. With the wealth of evidence to support the original hypothesis including for seemingly unexplainable organs such as eyes, there is little point debating with a true believer who would ignore the evidence and continue believing the same position anyway. Science has had a bad lot in the past (think Galileo), and now that is has worked its way to the top of the tree (through explaining things to us, sustaining us, heating us, sheltering us, flying us around the world, making this electronic debate possible etc), I think it should appear obvious why it would not want to spend its time on people who will willingly ignore strong empirical evidence and stick with their blind faith. Empirical evidence is the bedrock of many, if not all, of humanities most earth shattering discoveries, if people are willing to ignore this then it is easy to see why they are brushed aside and their ideas considered with such contempt.
"You may laugh at the idea that the truth is ultimately found in Jesus Christ. However I remain an optimist. I believe not only in truth but also in the power of God and his Holy Spirit to bring enlightenment to even the darkest mind."
What is optimistic about believing in Jesus Christ? Why is belief in Mohammed or Buddha or Loki or Ganesha or any of the other God's currently, or formerly, venerated, any less optimistic than belief in Christ? Also where is the evidence for this? I know. Asking for evidence seems to deny the main purpose of a faith but originally faith provided perceived answers when the scope of our knowledge as a species was much smaller. Now things have changed, dare I say it evolved, and we have the capability discover the truth that your author searches for not in divine scriptures or divine explanations but in hard work and empirical study. I hope this explains the point that if you are to make such claims to knowledge that you must back them up with real evidence. The author does not.
My final point is that I don't believe that a 'Godless' universe needs to be a 'pessimistic' place. Within it I am free to create my own destiny, not watched or judged on high by anyone, least of all a God who created me sick and then commanded me to be well.
Posted by George, Reading at 09:24 on Tuesday 18 May 2010
In This readers experience, D.A. Robertson hasn't the intelligence required to approach a subject like the God Delusion. He was recently on Dawkins' blog site railing against atheist indoctrination at a god-free camp, where children were reportedly singing "Imagine", by John Lennon.
As another poster there put it, "Nothing is quite as exquisitely ironic as religious people complaining about indoctrination of children."
Of course, Mr Robertson could be unaware of the prevalence of religious music, camps, and maybe even sunday school...
Posted by Delivery System, Vatican City at 21:34 on Sunday 28 June 2009
Just finished reading The Dawkins Letters, it was a surprising read, given the hype I was expecting something new, but it seemed to be the same arguments over again many of which are addressed in The God Delusion.
It is really important not to read this book in isolation, you must read The God Delusion first otherwise it's like hearing closing statements of a trial without being there for the trial, Mr Robertson quotes with (understandable) bias.
It is also of note that Mr Dawkins is not grinding an axe specifically for Christianity, Mr Robertson lets any criticisims of Islam slide (obviously), but also takes the opportunity to perpetuate some Islamic hate myths, like the image with the disturbing quote about behading (which was a made up "photoshop" image) Mr Robertson calls it a "photograph" at best this is ignorant, at worst this is spreading lies (lying for Jesus I believe it's called).
This is a good read, but if you read it in isolation then you're not doing it justice and you risk being accused of strawman arguments.
If you are a Christian and want to re-affirm your faith this is a good book, if you are a Christian who is questioning your faith you may find this book does not answer all the issues in The God Delusion.
An example to clarify the above, Dawkins asks if "God made everything who made God", Robertson replies as if the question is stupid "God is eternal he was never created", I guess this is where faith begins, faith requires that you never ask "how did God get here" faith requires that you "just accept without questions", people like Dawkins can't, the more you think, the more questions and fewer answers you have, faith gives comfort, ignorance is bliss.
Posted by Mikey at 11:55 on Wednesday 06 May 2009
Mr. Robertson, I finished your book about ten minutes ago and I wanted to tell you thank you, a thousand times thank you for your book. It was faith-affirming, well-written, and full of joy. I had been missing that in my life for a long time. There was always tension at home as to whether I'd be raised religiously, and my mother asked that I be christened and sent to Catholic school, and my father accepted it. When I was older, I did doubt, and I began my denial of God which lasted a good five or six years. When The God Delusion was published, I almost bought it. I wanted to see Christianity lambasted, I wanted to see it torn to pieces. Then I realized that I actually didn't. I started to pray again, and started to accept God into my life again. It was hard, because my father and most of my friends at school didn't understand that I was religious. When I got to university, in Scotland incidentally, I realized how much of an atheistic wasteland I lived in, and began to despair again. Then I read an interview with you in Student newspaper with the University of Edinburgh and learned about your book. Finally, I got it for Christmas and devoured it in two days. It restored my faith - it affirmed so many things I knew to be wrong with Dawkins, and what I knew to be right with God and the Bible. Again, thank you for standing up and saying something constructive and convincing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me back to God
Posted by Student, Edinburgh at 11:26 on Monday 12 January 2009
apologies to RichardDawkins.net - obviously he may believe in Michael Faraday as he may have heard of him (NB he has also heard of Jesus, does he believe in him too?). However, to have as his evidence grid that only people he has heard of are really 'real' is - well - farcical. Also to say that the qualifications of being a skeptic are to only believe in scientific evidence is an interesting method of pre-determining your conclusions according to your prejudices. It is rather like saying 'prove to me the optical spectrum exists but you are only allowed to use the wavelength of indigo to do so. The Greeks identified 4 ways of 'knowing' - to limit this to just one means that all your conclusions will always match your pre-suppositions. That is not Scientific - that is bias.
Posted by mlearnedfriend at 20:21 on Tuesday 29 April 2008
Sadly the poster from 'RichardDawkins.net' is exhibiting the typical behaviour of a frustrated atheist lashing out at someone to vent their 'unfaith'. I saw the quotes that are on the book - ON THE DAWKINS WEBSITE. Our friends requirement of evidence to believe that these are real means that he is not able to believe in anyone that he does not know!! So, President Harrison didn't exist, or Michael Faraday!! As regards the accusation that David 'has a reputation of lying' well, yes he does - given to him by the same people who refuse to come up with any evidence that he has done so - and this despite repeated requests to do so. Obviously evidence only works one way for our friend. The example of 'lying' he gives - saying you are not going to do something and then doing it, is what is called a change of mind. To lie David would have to change his mind and then say that he didn't! Einstein an Atheist Freethinker - well that's actually a matter of conjecture as you can read his writings as more agnostic that Atheist. The Bible is not a myth when read as a historian - well if your historical research was not 100 years out of date and based on presuppositions that outweigh any evidence you may discover, then you might think that - but the latest historical methodologies place a much greater reliance on the Bible as history. Your definitian of a liar is actually 'someone who disagrees with me'!!
Posted by Batreader at 15:07 on Monday 28 April 2008
I notice that David Robertson has written a review of his own book in the section at the top -if only we could all write our own reviews. I'm not officially from richarddawkins.net but i regularly post there and I'm sure david will tell you that i'm not the only one claiming he made all his reviews up. As a skeptic I only count scientific evidence and therefore don't accept David's word that the posts saying his book was good were once there, particularly when he has a reputation for lying for Jesus. I also have reason to believe that the other reviews were also made up and that Ron Ferguson, Hannah Wooley, Richard Morris etc don't even exist as i've never met or heard of these people. In fact I can imagine David sitting at his computer thinking 'drat nobody likes my book so I better make some reviews up' But another lie he told was saying in a post that he would never post again only to do so a few days later. He even claimed that Einstein wasn't a freethinking atheist and that as a historian he doesn't think that the bible is a myth. If that's not lying then I don't know what is. Then to cap it off he ran to the BBC and told them a load of lies.
Posted by richarddawkins.net at 22:45 on Tuesday 22 April 2008
All I have to say in response is - just read the thread on the Richard Dawkins website. I don't have to make any appeal apart from that. I also leave to your judgement the style of arguement exhibited below and on the site.
Posted by Ian at Christian Focus at 17:32 on Thursday 03 April 2008
Oh dear - it appears that Ian has a problem with lying too.
Posted by richarddawkins.net at 16:39 on Thursday 03 April 2008
For those interested in a more balanced view than anonymous from richarddawkins.net I advise you to visit the website and read the thread he is referring to. You will notice several things. a) the review referred to by Paula Kirby does not really review David's book at all. She misses out key content because that is inconvenient to her and makes interpretations that are not justified by text or context. b) David provided the website with the source of the reviews on the book and they were verified by contributors to the website as being sourced from there. c) far from being demolished, David's detailed rebuttal to Paula Kirby on this thread shows up her 'review' to be a piece of propoganda unworthy of the name. d) It is sad that people like the reviewer below take their hate to such blind extremes. A short perusal of the website will show you how far well-meaning, but misguided, individuals will go in order to stifle free speech.
Posted by Ian at Christian Focus at 15:40 on Thursday 03 April 2008
David Robertson is a liar and pretty much everything he says on the Richard Dawkins website simply isn't true. He just makes stuff up as he goes along. For example he simply made up all the reviews on the back of his book and we proved to him that nobody on Richarddawkins.net said his book was intelligent. Just look at all his posts (http://richarddawkins.net/userComments,page1,25843) and you'll see how he lies in pretty much everything he says. His book gets demolished here (http://richarddawkins.net/articleComments,2285,Fleabytes,Paula-Kirby,page149#153728) I wouldn't read this book if you paid me to.
Posted by richarddawkins.net at 14:06 on Thursday 03 April 2008
Well, thanks for the review below by 'an intelligent reader' - although to be honest you should address yourself as 'an intelligent non-reader' (-: I don't dispute that you are intelligent, just wrong-headed in your head-in-the-sand like response! All people who disagree with you aren't, by definition, stupid!! David's book is not bad, in fact last week the official Dawkins website said that it was the best of the books that argued against the God Delusion. Of course, they didn't agree with it, but I didn't expect that! The God Delusion is not a convincing read to people who have some knowledge of the subject area - and The Dawkins Letters is no doubt not a convincing read to those in the Dawkins camp - but it's not designed to be a 'read this and be converted' book - it's designed to be a 'you see, other people have a different opinion that can be argued' book. You do not do your 'side' justice by scoffing! Oh! and one last thing, David has been banned from the Dawkin's website for (and I kid you not, this is the reason given) 'when you post it causes arguments' - I mean, isn't that the point of lively discussions between people who disagree. So much for free speech! I guess that it makes life easier to only allow those to speak who agree with you - but it's just not British!
Posted by Ian at Christian Focus at 10:35 on Monday 25 February 2008
Whilst I haven't read the book myself I've been told by others that it isn't any good. As he has apparently read the God Delusion and is still a Christian he must have either misunderstood Dawkin's arguments or be very stupid. The guy who wrote it is a troll over at Dawkin's website and don't take him seriously and i'd advise others to do the same.
Posted by an intelligent reader at 22:45 on Sunday 24 February 2008
I left Christianity two years ago as a 23 year old in a cloud of anxiety. I began then to resort to atheism and science as a means of comforting myself and not having to delve bellow the surface spiritually. As a natural searcher I began to read from sceptical and atheistic websites and books and found myself quite emotional and reassured at times by what I read. However, on reading The God Delusion and witnessing Dawkins in interviews I began to doubt his honesty as a scientist and began to see his blinkered stubborness towards Christianity. A recurring bias I see in published atheists is to refuse to acknowledge the good verses in the Bible (which without doubt far outway the morally difficult)and instead childishly focus on any reasons (as uncontextual or feeble as they may be) to believe that the Christian God is a fallacy. It is Dawkins who through his transparent advocation of science as a new, all encompassing belief system and his stubborn disregard for beliefs unmeasurable or observable through science, who has lead me back to the door of God.
Posted by Sean Sayer, Cape Town at 23:17 on Thursday 31 January 2008
I read Robertson`s book before reading 'The God Delusion'. I have now read Dawkins' immensely fair-minded book, and have to say that except in one or two minor respects, Robertson`s unctuously written and disingenuous 'critique' simply does not address Dawkins' arguments in any satisfactory or responsible way. It will doubtless appeal, though, to the self-deceived.
Posted by Tim Harris, Tokyo at 02:33 on Monday 14 January 2008
"The Dawkins Letters" is a well researched and scholarly response to "The God Delusion." It is quite devasting for Richard as it demolishes his atheistic evolutionary arguments. Perhaps this is why Richard has banned further chapters from his website and why he refuses to debate with David.
Posted by Will Brooks at 10:32 on Saturday 17 November 2007
This is a really good book which I read very quickly. This is an easy thing to do as it is succinct (and thus not too long) and also it is written in a very easy to read style with good referencing throughout. This book is an analysis of Dawkinss God Delusion examining the evidence that Dawkins supplies for his statements, exposing the (many) places where no such evidence is presented and testing the logic of his inferences. If Dawkinss atheistic naturalistic view is to hold water then his base assumptions must be supported by good hard objective evidence and his logic impeccable, as both are an absolute requirement for any conclusion to be proved true. This type of 'proof concept' seems to be absolutely essential in Dawkinss worldview in order to believe in anything (which must make relationships somewhat difficult!) Robertson succeeds in each chapter and on page after page to show that Dawkins fails badly in both areas citing many good references often to non christian and atheist authors. He is humorous and sometimes quite scathing but without resort to the personal abuse that this book seems to have engendered in some atheist retorts on the Dawkins web site. This is a great book to read as a Christian and also to pass on to non Christian friends who have probably only heard one side of the story mass marketed by the largely atheist media machine of our modern western society.
Posted by Gordon Mackley at 12:45 on Wednesday 03 October 2007
"Congratulations on a monumental rebuff of some of the most hideous and down right evil attacks on not only what we believe by Mr Dawkins but in fact the deeper issue of our and anyones right to choose to believe The Gospel or any other ideals that dont line up with his Materialist world view. Once more thank you from one grateful soul! Bless you."
Posted by Bob Anderson (Falkirk area) at 20:27 on Friday 21 September 2007