Famous atheist Richard Dawkins says he considers himself a ‘cultural Christian’

Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, on Dec. 4, 2014, in Sydney, Australia. | Credit: Don Arnold/Getty Images

The famous British atheist Richard Dawkins, author of the book “The God Delusion,” said in a recent interview that he identifies as a “cultural Christian” and prefers Christianity to Islam, although he clarified that he does not believe “a word” of the Christian faith.

In the interview with Rachel Johnson broadcast on March 31 on LBC, Dawkins said he was “slightly horrified” to learn that Oxford Street in London was promoting Ramadan, the Muslim month for fasting, instead of Easter.

Dawkins went on to explain: “I do think we are culturally a Christian country. I call myself a cultural Christian.”

“I’m not a believer, but there is a distinction between being a believing Christian and a cultural Christian,” Dawkins noted, adding: “I love hymns and Christmas carols and I sort of feel at home in the Christian ethos, and I feel that we are a Christian country in that sense.”

After expressing his satisfaction at what he perceives as a decline in the number of Christians, the famous atheist noted that he “would not be happy if, for example, we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches.”

“So I call myself a cultural Christian and I think it would be truly dreadful if we substituted any alternative religion.”

‘I’d choose Christianity every time’

Asked whether he sees the decline in church attendance and the construction of some 6,000 mosques with many more planned as a problem, Dawkins responded: “Yes, I do really. I have to choose my words carefully: If I had to choose between Christianity and Islam, I’d choose Christianity every single time.”

“It seems to me to be a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that I think Islam is not,” he commented.

When questioned about that statement, Dawkins said: “The way women are treated in Christianity is not great about that, it has had its problems with female vicars and female bishops, but there is an active hostility to women which is promoted I think by the holy books of Islam.”

After clarifying that he was not referring to individual Muslims but to the doctrine contained in books such as “the Hadith and the Koran, which is fundamentally hostile to women and hostile to gays,” the famous atheist stressed that he likes “living in a culturally Christian country although I do not believe a word of the Christian faith.”

Who is Richard Dawkins?

Dawkins, 83, was born in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 26, 1941. He is a British biologist and researcher who held the Charles Simonyi Professorship Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University until 2008.

He is the author of books such as “The Selfish Gene” (1976) and “The Extended Phenotype” as well as “The God Delusion,” his best-selling book in which he claims that the nonexistence of a supernatural creator is almost a certainty and that the belief in a personal God could be described as delirium.

In 2018 he notably said that we should not celebrate that Europe is less Christian, as we should hold onto it “for fear of finding something worse.”

“Before we rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion, let’s not forget Hilaire Belloc’s menacing rhyme: ‘Always keep ahold of nurse / For fear of finding something worse,’” he noted at the time.

Dawkins hasn’t been exempt from controversy. In August 2014, for example, he responded on then-Twitter, now X, to a subscriber who confessed: “I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a Down syndrome baby,” to which he replied: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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