In news that reverberated within philosophical and apologetic circles (but almost nowhere else) Richard Dawkins, British Evolutionary Biologist and undisputed leader of the New Atheists, suffered a temporarily debilitating stroke. Soon after, the Church of England took to it’s official twitter account to express that it would be praying for Dawkins. This ignited a firestorm from among the ranks of the new atheists, many of whom insisted that this would be insulting and that Christians should definitely not pray for Professor Dawkins. This begs the question, Whom else should we not pray for?
Professor Dawkins is often cited as one of the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism so let’s add the other three. Sam Harris is an author and neuroscientist most noted for his many books and his willingness to take on some of the toughest Christian Apologists in public debates. Next we’ll add Daniel Dennett, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University as well as a member of the advisory board for the Secular Coalition for America. Dr. Dennett is, perhaps, the least well known or vocal of the four but no less influential. Finally we come to Christopher Hitchens, whom some of you will know passed in 2011 from esophageal cancer. Most adherents to orthodox Christianity do not pray for the dead, but to make a point we’ll put him on our list of those we should not pray for as if he were still with us. Now lets get political and add the Presidential Candidate that you most expect will destroy America if elected, either intentionally or through sheer incompetence. I’m not going to put a name here of my own, but know I have one in mind. It would be unfair for me to unduly influence your choice.
So far our list is as follows:
- Richard Dawkins, as he recovers from a stroke
- Sam Harris, in open and vocal rebellion against God
- Daniel Dennett, the man behind the scenes helping destroy everything we hold dear
- Christopher Hitchens, Cancer sufferer but ardent Atheist all the same
- The Presidential Candidate you hate the most
I know my title says ten people we shouldn’t pray for and we’ll get there, but lets just take a moment and talk about why we should definitely not pray for these despicable examples of humanity. The one thing they all have in common is there absolute, unalterable, disgusting, selfish, demeaning, irredeemable condition before a Holy God. Their rebellion and sin has left them without excuse. Nothing they could do could save them at this point. They have broken God’s heart. Their only rightful place is Hell. There are at least five other people who fit this description as accurately as Professor Dawkins and Dr. Dennett. You know them well so I’ll just list them below.
- Your children
- Your spouse
- Your Pastor
- Your Parents
- You and me
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matthew 5:43-47 (NIV)
If we deceive ourselves into believing someone is less able to receive God’s blessing and mercy because of their behavior we are the worst kind of hypocrites. If we think that it’s enough to pray for God to change our enemies minds to be more like what we think they should be we put ourselves in the place of God and attempt to make Him our servant, that puts us in at least as much danger of His judgment as we think the Atheist have themselves. So let’s pray openly and sincerely for Professor Dawkins as he continues to recover and lets let our families, churches, and children hear us pray for him and explain to them why. That apart from Christ’s life and death on our behalf we would be no more deserving of God’s consideration in judgment than we’d like to think Professor Dawkins is…
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)