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The Dawkins delusion

The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. Graphica Artis/Getty

“We all love a repentant sinner,” says Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph. After a decade of encouraging the most extreme form of gender ideology, Britain’s intellectual elite has realised it’s a dreadful idea, and is nimbly backing away. “Self-ID is out; the Tavistock clinic is closing.” But don’t fall for the idea that the “trans cult” was a one-off mistake. It’s just the latest example of the consequences of “tearing up the old maps by which we once lived”, leaving us to plot our own “chaotic routes to nowhere”. I blame Richard Dawkins.

A key feature of the “New Atheists” movement of the 2000s was to insist that all faith is “equally irrational” – that there was essentially little difference between, say, al-Qaeda and Anglicanism, as it was all “fantasy”. But over 2,000 years, the Church has learned a thing or two: Christianity was deeply influenced by Greek philosophy; underwent a “Renaissance and a Reformation”; and provided the philosophical foundation for liberal democracy, all while encouraging us to be law-abiding and compassionate. Yet now, on subtle issues like how best to look after gender-confused children, it has maintained a cowardly silence. Why? Because Dawkins and co have convinced a whole generation that religion was “wholly unreasonable and thus totally irrelevant”. By turning people away from the Church, the New Atheists thought we’d “mature into” our new freedom and “become sophisticated navigators of our own destiny”. Instead, “we resemble sailors lost on a stormy sea”. And that’s because “atheism can only take something away”. Once the old faith is gone, it offers nothing to fill the void.