Numerically Negligible‏

Posted on January 3, 2013


Martin LutherAuthor: Andrew Kerbs

Richard Dawkins, Oxford professor, atheist, and renowned author of The God Delusion once proclaimed that religion is the root of all evil—and I agree with him.

In the history of humankind no more atrocities have ever been committed than those which were done in the name of a god. Whether we are speaking of human sacrifices of the Aztecs, the Crusades, or the most recent 9/11 attacks in which jihadists used airliners to destroy skyscrapers, much innocent blood has been spilled and many evil deeds committed with religion as the justification.

So with that in mind, Dawkins is spot on. I could agree that religion—at least in the most general sense of the word—is the root of all evil.

Now before I begin receiving letters of criticism, let me also state that Dawkins goes on to make an erroneous premise. In fact—and most ironically—he goes on to use a logic that was once used by the Catholic Church of the Dark Ages, one of the very institutions he so haughtily condemns.

This logic is the idea that numerical superiority is directly related to credibility. The church argued proudly that her numerous councils and edicts could not be wrong in the face of criticism of a single man.

In criticism to his book The God Delusion, Christian readers have oft remarked why he only chooses the bad examples of religion to make his point as opposed to including such theologians as C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Oswald Chambers.

Dawkins response to this critique: “The melancholy truth is that this kind of understated, decent, revisionist religion is numerically negligible.”

To paraphrase and put in layman’s terms, Dawkins is saying the bad so far outweighs the good in religion that it is the only real aspect worthy of a thorough investigation and verdict.

Numerically negligible denotes lack of credibility or strength. At least in Dawkins’ book.

Thankfully, that is not the case with God. The story of Gideon is a prime example. Also the story of Elijah where God promises that He has preserved a 7,000 strong remnant who have not bowed the knee to Baal is a powerful testimony.

God is not a God of statistics. In 1521 at the Diet of Worms the ecclesiastical world stood in opposition to a lone German monk by the name of Martin Luther. By Dawkin’s terms Luther certainly was numerically negligible.

As Seventh-day Adventists we are familiar with being numerically negligible. I fear this will only intensify as the signs of the times progress and this world creeps further into its twilight. Christ said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Thankfully, Truth is not dependent upon consensus nor is the power of God. Let us stand firm in Him, though the heavens may fall, though all of the world oppose us.