Is Richard Dawkins More Catholic Than the Pope?

Dawkins now thinks traditional Christianity is a benevolent fable. Francis doesn’t.

By John Zmirak Published on May 28, 2024

Over the weekend, The Stream was privileged to reprint a brilliant series recently by intelligent design scientist William Dembski on the evolution of Richard Dawkins. But the famous atheist didn’t progress by purely random mutations culled via natural selection from an amoeba to a primate. Nothing ever has. (Increasing numbers of biologists are reluctantly whispering that in private, as Darwinist materialism collapses on every front like the German army of 1945.)

If you haven’t yet read Dembski’s essays, you owe it to yourself. He chronicles how Dawkins went from the impartial scourge of every religion equally as a force for mindless intolerance to a soft-eyed Victorian, standing like Matthew Arnold on Dover Beach wistfully singing the praises of “cultural Christianity” — compared to jihadist Islam and post-modernist woke irrationalism.

So Dawkins still considers Christianity a fable, but one whose side effects are benevolent. He proved too intelligent, finally, and intellectually honest to keep denying that Christian faith is one of the sources of the West’s many earthly blessings: rational discourse, scientific progress, the institution of the university, human rights, due process, representative government, the market economy, modern technology, and exquisite cultural monuments from Westminster Abbey to Anglican choral music. Indeed, Dawkins seems nostalgic for the old England where he grew up, with choirboys trilling “Abide with Me.”

Does this make Richard Dawkins more Catholic than the pope? I have argued at length that a secret but deep-seated atheism is the most parsimonious explanation of Pope Francis’s statements and actions. I’m not alone. As The Stream has reported, a group of Catholic academics recently called on Francis to resign or be removed because of his anti-Catholic, even anti-Christian statements. I signed that appeal.

The Woke Pope

If the pope cease to be Catholic, then he cease to be the pope and becomes instead a kind of imposter. Imagine if a U.S. president openly renounced his citizenship and swore allegiance to Russia or China but clung to his office and powers, which he then used to persecute Americans as an agent of those other states. We Catholics are in a situation like that — but infinitely worse, since legitimate popes claim divine protection from error and are not subject to impeachment. Only God can sort this out.

See the 18-page list of sobering facts compiled in the petition I referenced above. Really, go skim it at least, and you’ll see that at best, Francis believes in a Marcionite, post-biblical “future Christianity.” Its “new gospel” negates every aspect of traditional faith that offends rich, globalist elites and the LGBTQIA2S+ movement. (That movement celebrated worldwide when Francis’s Vatican approved the blessing of same-sex couples in festive mock-wedding ceremonies in church.)

The one thing It seems Francis doesn’t believe in is traditional Christianity. He told an interviewer recently that faithfully conserving and passing on ancient beliefs is “suicidal.” But that is precisely the pope’s role as “vicar of Christ.” (You had one job, Señor!)

What’s worse, Francis evidently disagrees with Dawkins that traditional Christianity has in fact been a wholesome influence on society for the last few millennia. With one statement or decree after another, he makes it clear that he detests as evil the key institutions and achievements of Christianized culture which Dawkins, to his credit, treasures. Are Francis’s attitudes the confusions of a tormented, poorly educated faithful Catholic — or the logical implications of his truest, deepest convictions? The reader must decide for himself.

A Study in Contrasts

Dawkins, for instance, speaks kindly of traditional Anglican worship; Francis has wielded his power tyrannically to suppress ancient Catholic rites, but enshrined a pagan idol at the Vatican during Mass. Dawkins praises the heritage of Christian art and architecture. Francis aggressively promotes through official Vatican publications the crude, primitivist art of the widely accused sexual abuser of nuns, Rev. Marko Rupnik.

But let’s look at the most substantive areas where Francis uses his power to attack the most prominent institutions which grew organically out of Western Christian culture.

Democracy and Representative Government

Pope Francis sides habitually with elitist, unrepresentative organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and even the private cabal of billionaires at the World Economic Forum, who seek to override the sovereign wishes of citizens — transferring control over their lives, economic fortunes, and basic freedoms to global institutions that don’t answer to voters. Francis cites one pretext after another for centralizing power. This year the fig leaf is climate change.

In 2020 it was the COVID panic, when Francis supported forced vaccinations using abortion-derived, experimental, unproven mRNA gene therapies. He taught that all Catholics were morally obliged to be vaccinated, issued a Vatican coin celebrating the useless vaccination of children, and forbade bishops to support Catholics who sought “conscience” exemptions from mandates. He even tyrannically removed a bishop in Puerto Rico for refusing to stigmatize and segregate the unvaccinated at Mass.

Francis speaks in glowing terms about “international cooperation,” which translates as “elite collusion,” while warning in apocalyptic language about the dangers of “populism” — which means the wishes of voters.

Francis actively seeks to dissolve actual sovereign nations, especially by promoting lawless mass migration. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he denounced those who would “build walls” as “not Christian.” He warns constantly about the danger of “xenophobia,” while Catholic bishops and NGOs rake in vast sums from taxpayers to actually engage in human trafficking; the U.S. Catholic bishops and the nonprofits they control collected some $3 billion from the U.S. government in the past 15 years — dollar for dollar the exact amount the Church had been forced to pay out for enabling and hiding priestly sex abusers who preyed on children.

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In 2017, Francis sent a message endorsing the radical leftist manifesto organized by a Soros-funded Latin American NGO and signed by 15 bishops. It called for American Catholic churches to hide illegal immigrants from authorities.

A recent Vatican document teaches that voters’ wishes must be disregarded both on capital punishment and immigration, claiming that executing any criminal is everywhere and always wrong. (Hence it was wrong to hang the Nazi war criminals after Nuremburg.) This rejects both biblical teaching and almost 2,000 years of Church tradition. In the same document, Francis’s Vatican teaches that any deportation of anyone from any country is equally evil — and even equates deportation with outrages such as slavery and sex trafficking.

Meanwhile, Francis’s Vatican has pursued an active alliance with Communist China, handing control over the Church to the local Communist party and (in the words of Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen) “betraying” the faithful underground dissident Christians of China. The highest authority in the Church on both science and social sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, made a Potemkin village tour of China in 2020. Afterward, he told the world that Red China better lives out Catholic social teaching than Donald Trump’s America. To cap off this second Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Sorondo spoke at a conference of the Chinese regime’s organ harvesters, who steal kidneys and livers from prisoners in concentration camps for sale on the global black market. Sorondo gave moral cover for their practices, and praised both them and China’s regime.

The Market Economy

As Stephen Meyer documents in The Return of the God Hypothesis, and Rodney Stark proved in The Victory of Reason, the Scientific and Industrial revolutions were the direct result of Christian culture and its worldview. We believe the universe is rational and comprehensible, the product of an infinitely wise Craftsman who planted the seed of reason inside us. This deep-seated belief is what permitted empirical science to flourish first and most fully in the Christian West.

The explosion of technological invention that began in the eighteenth century allowed for longer, healthier, happier lives across the world, gradually banished extreme poverty from one corner of the world to another, and made it possible for the world to support eight billion people.

Now Francis echoes the Malthusian, millenarian rhetoric of radical ecologists, whom he invites to the Vatican to preach that the world cannot sustain its current population, and certainly cannot permit the Developing World to attain Developed World standards of living. Instead, Francis demands that the world renounce “luxuries” such as fossil fuels, air conditioning, and the hope for economic growth. Instead, we should accept, even embrace, a global asceticism imposed by global institutions, achieved by abandoning cheap, reliable sources of energy.

Francis also habitually denounces private property rights and the free market economy, which transformed one backward, famine-plagued country after another into prosperous, free societies — from the agrarian, hierarchical England of 1700 to Hong Kong after World War II. Instead, we must hand control of our economic decisions to governments and global institutions, who will use their arbitrary power to impose their vision of “economic justice.” As the WEF, whose members Francis hosts at the Vatican, promise the world: “You’ll own nothing, and be happy!”

I can’t read souls, and don’t know where Richard Dawkins and Jorge Bergoglio stand in their relation to God. But I can see one moving fitfully in the right direction, and the other leading his flock over a cliff and into the sea.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or coauthor of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. With Jason Jones, he also is coauthor of God, Guns, & the Government.

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