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Conclusion The intention of this book is to advocate a paradigm of theological dialogue that seeks to respond to theology’s most virulent critics. Without engaging in a cheap search for reference, it was argued that the current context of multiculturalism and the public character of religious antagonists force theology to address and explore the perspectives of its intellectual opposition. This book has presented such a dialogue by taking Dawkins as a representative of a worldview hostile to theology, namely atheistic or scientific materialism, and investigating whether the consideration of such a worldview may be of benefit to a theological project. The results of this endeavour will now be explained. Dawkins espouses a worldview, grounded in evolutionary science, that seeks to explain naturalistically every facet of life, including human behavior. Dawkins’ view is of particular interest to the theologian because certain aspects of human behavior that he seeks to explain have decidedly theological connotations—for example, ethics, humanity’s search for purpose, and religious belief systems. Dawkins proposes an evolutionary weltanschauung that understands these elements of the human experience purely as products of natural selection. Moreover, this evolutionary worldview is presented by Dawkins as particularly atheistic and anti-religious; he feels the evolutionary explanation of life undermines, or in cases dissolves, a religious outlook. Throughout a dialogue with Dawkins, this project has identified significant areas of theological and religious studies that may benefit from a consideration of his materialist vision. We particularly signified how an understanding of religious belief may be enriched from a cognitive, evolutionary perspective, and how we understand humanity’s place in the grand narrative of creation. We have shown how Dawkins’ evolutionary materialism may also offer substance to ongoing theological debates pertaining to anthropocentricism, the fall, evil, and God’s relationship with creation. Therefore, because considering the materialist position may significantly sway opinion in theological debate, we can argue that opting to take Dawkins as a conversation partner for theology is a worthwhile endeavour. Consequently, it is advocated that theology should seek a relationship with its critics, even those as hostile as Dawkins, as we may find new areas of substance rarely considered, or new possible areas of exploration. Dawkins’ atheistic picture can also be limiting as it may be deliberately presented with the goal of excluding God. Moreover, his contempt for the 239 subject of theology and his lack of theological understanding make it difficult to engage in a rigorous academic discussion. As a result, major caveats have presented themselves as we progressed through the dialogue. Therefore, an argument could be made that the polarized positions of Dawkins and theology on key issues such as the existence of God may become insurmountable obstructions to a successful dialogue. Yet the current character of the intellectual marketplace, with the free access of information, forces theology to engage with its critics. In doing so, theology can demonstrate that it is willing to be selfcritical and fight for its place as a discipline against those such as Dawkins, who see theology as irrelevant in the modern world. In the past, the predominant attitude toward Dawkins from theology has been confrontational. Conversely, this project has sought an earnest consideration of his philosophy. However, considering the philosophy of such a contrary other may become more complex than a dialogue with thinkers of a persuasion more agreeable to theology (for example, Hegel, Ricoeur, or in terms of a dialogue with science, Francis Collins), given that we may need to search harder to find common ground. Yet through the Anselmian pilgrimage of faith seeking understanding, it is not satisfactory to consistently follow the path of least resistance. By looking for insight in less obvious places, we can find new avenues for classical theological debates to explore. We can enable theology to more fully participate in a public exchange, acknowledging the advancements in other areas of academia and what possible implications these advancements may have for theological motifs. The methodological framework within which this work was developed was systematically outlined in the first chapter. In this section of the book, we acknowledged the strong emphasis on pluralism and interdisciplinary dialogue in contemporary theology. It was argued that the modern setting of academia requires an openness to conversation with a multitude of belief systems and intellectual disciplines. Moreover, the public character of strident critics of theology forces theology to engage in debate. Therefore, it was proposed that theology should engage in an earnest dialogue with a contrary worldview. It was then shown how Dawkins can...


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