Please, Rev. Graham, Don’t “Agree 100%” with Richard Dawkins

Mar 31, 2023 by David Fowler

Please, Rev. Graham, Don’t “Agree 100%” with Richard Dawkins
Last week Richard Dawkins, an avowed atheist and evolutionary scientist, said “there are two sexes, and that’s all there is to it” and that those going after Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, over gender identity were “bullies.” Via Facebook, evangelist Franklin Graham said, “I usually don’t take sides with an atheist but on this issue, I agree 100%.” Here is what I wish Mr. Graham had said instead.
Dawkins added to the previous statements that “it’s very upsetting the way this tiny minority of people has managed to capture the discourse and really talk errant nonsense” (emphasis supplied). To this point Graham chimed in saying “[t]hey’re even trying to ‘de-gender’ our language.”
But Graham made an additional point: “Science reflects what the Bible clearly says, ‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.’ Period. That’s it. I appreciate him taking a stand for this truth.” 
Dawkins would never agree with “this truth” because science as practiced by Dawkins does not tell us anything about the image of God. And I suspect Graham implied something he would not have us or Dawkins believe.

Notice What Graham Seems to Have Missed About Dawkins

Science as practiced by Dawkins has reduced the world to two things that Aristotle and later Christian philosophers called material and instrumental causes. Material causes constitute the “stuff” that exists such as energy and matter. Instrumental causes are those which “do things” with that stuff, e.g., the laws of nature that act upon stuff to change it. 
What Dawkins and his ilk have done is eliminate God as a cause of anything, particularly what Aristotle and later Christian philosophers would call a thing’s formal cause and final cause. By formal cause they meant the idea or form giving rise to the stuff and by final cause they meant the end or purpose for the stuff. 

A Practical Example of What I Just Wrote

Think of a painting and you will get the idea behind the four causes. The artist’s thought about what he wants to paint is the formal cause of the painting. It informs and frames what is to be done. The artist is the instrumental cause that frames on the canvas the picture to be painted and paints it. The paint, brushes, easel, and canvas are the material causes of the painting. The final cause is to create beauty, make money, etc. 

Why This Is Important

Without a formal cause, we don’t know what a thing is supposed to be, and we have no ability to judge it. If the formal cause was to paint a man’s face, then we can judge whether a man’s face was painted. But without knowing anything about the formal cause, we cannot evaluate the painting in any way.
But the formal cause informs the final cause, the purpose of the thing. In the case of the painting, if the purpose was to create beauty by painting a man’s face and everyone shrieks and shrinks back in horror when they see it, then the painter failed. 
Dawkins’ science and view of the world eliminates meaning (the formal cause) and purpose (the final cause) and reduces everything to stuff or, in the case of humans, biology or plumbing.
What Graham did by speaking to the image of God strictly in terms of male and female could lead some of his followers to reduce the image of God to biology, the two sexes. 

Applying the Foregoing to Dawkins and Graham

I do agree with Dawkins and Graham that there are only two sexes, but there I must stop.
I cannot agree with Dawkins “100%” because his worldview authorizes each of us to give biological sex a meaning and purpose of our own choosing, i.e., values. 
In fact, in a PBS interview several years ago he said, “I am very comfortable with the idea that we can override biology with free will.”[1] He views gender identity as “errant nonsense” when he should admit that his worldview unleashed it and makes sense of it.
But I also cannot agree with Graham to the extent he communicated, even unwittingly, to his followers that the image of God equals or can be reduced to biological sex. 
That would constitute the same error Dawkins made. It eliminates any human meaning and purpose beyond biology or reproduction. To the contrary—and I suspect Graham agrees—the whole of man, including his immaterial soul and all his faculties, is made in the image of God. 
Sadly, Professor Dawkins uses one of those faculties—his mind and reason—to reject the One who created his mind with an ability to reason. Now he complains when others go further than he thinks reasonable. If he is autonomous, then so are they, and it is unreasonable to deny it.

What I Wish Mr. Graham Had Said

If I could have written a script for Mr. Graham, here is what I would have offered:
Professor Richard Dawkins said science establishes the fact of only two sexes and treats gender identity as “errant nonsense” and its proponents as bullies. Ironically Dawkins has spent a lifetime convincing people that meaning and a meaningful purpose do not exist. Now that others have decided to act on what he has taught them by deciding for themselves what the biological sexes mean and their purpose, he complains. He needs to repent. We have been made by God, who like an artist, gave meaning and purpose to what He created when he made us male and female. You and we are reaping what you have sown, Professor Dawkins. Live with it or repent. 


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