David Robertson, a Free Church of Scotland pastor who lives in Dundee, wanted there to be an intelligent Christian response to Richard Dawkins’ bestselling The God Delusion. To that end he wrote an open letter to Richard Dawkins and subsequently posted it on his church’s web site. The letter somehow found its way to Dawkins who posted it on his own website where it generated a response that was massive in scope and in passion. According to the back of The Dawkins Letters, “The ferocity, and shallowness of thinking, of some of the responses spurred David to write further letters, which form the basis of this book. They explain a credible basis for faith that counteracts the ‘atheist myths’ that so much popular discussion is based upon.”
The Dawkins Letters, then, is a series of letters from Robertson to Dawkins–a series of ten letters that call Dawkins to account for the errors and inaccuracies within his book. It also responds to his arguments–both his novel new ones and the tired rehashed ones common to a whole generation of atheists. Generally speaking, Robertson does a superior job of doing this. He says in his Introduction that he will no doubt be criticized by some for being too harsh and by others for being too gentle; some will say that this is an in appropriate forum for attempts at humor and others will simply miss the humor altogether. But, says Robertson, “It will be helpful to remember that these are personal letters, not an academic discourse, not an exercise in English grammar.” In order to make this a personal rebuttal and in order to reach a wide audience, he has decided not to make this an academic treatise, though I’m sure he would have been capable of doing so.
The book does a particularly good job of point out the unending contradictions between what Dawkins wants to believe and what he must actually believe on the basis of his atheistic beliefs. After all, most atheists stop far short of following their beliefs to fair conclusions. Robertson calls them on this time and time again.
I had very few notable concerns with the book. Robertson perhaps cedes a little too much to theistic evolution, intelligent design, or old earth creationism. He does not state his position on the age of the earth and the way life came about, but neither does he deny the validity of any of the possibilities. I was a little disappointed in this. But beyond that I found little that I objected to. I thought he did as good a job of anyone of interacting with atheistic arguments and of challenging atheists to understand the contradictions inherent in their worldview. Anyone who has read The God Delusion would do well to follow it with this intelligent, measured, respectful response.