How often have you heard an unbeliever play their trump card, ‘You don’t have to be a Christian to be a good person’? The assumption being that they are strong, independent people who don’t need anyone’s help, especially not Jesus. Above all, they aren’t Christians and how dare you imply they aren’t good? This seemingly absolves them of the need to consider the claims of Christ.
There is a partial challenge to the unbeliever’s statement from the most unlikely source. Richard Dawkins has achieved world-wide fame, not to say notoriety, for his relentless campaign against theism. He is well known for making, like other atheists, statements such as ‘sending children to Sunday School is a form of child abuse’.
In an article in The Times, Dawkins said he feared that if religion were abolished it would ‘give people a licence to do really bad things’. He is of the opinion that security camera surveillance of customers in shops appears to deter shoplifting, adding that people might feel free to do wrong without a ‘divine spy camera in the sky reading their every thought’. He said ‘People may feel free to do bad things because they feel God is no longer watching them.’
Expanding on his point, Dawkins described an experiment by one of his former pupils, Dr Melissa Bateson, Professor of Ethology at Newcastle University, which involved setting up a coffee station with an honesty box for payments.
‘They help themselves to coffee and they are supposed to put money in the box and each week the honesty box takes in less than the amount of coffee taken,’ Dawkins said.
In alternate weeks the honesty box had a picture above it of some flowers or a picture of a pair of eyes. Professor Bateson reported that when the watchful eyes were on display, the takings were nearly three times higher than when the flowers were on the wall.
Dawkins concluded that ‘whether irrational or not, it does, unfortunately, seem plausible that, if somebody sincerely believes God is watching his every move, he might be more likely to be good.’
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SOURCE: Christian Today, Campbell Campbell-Jack