For decades, avowed atheist Richard Dawkins has built a small industry attacking biblical Christianity and Christians, authoring books such as “The God Delusion.” That’s why so many were surprised by his recent statement proclaiming himself “a cultural Christian.” 

“And so you know, I love hymns and Christmas carols, and I sort of feel at home in the Christian ethos,” Dawkins, a British biologist and zoologist, told the U.K. radio show “Leading Britain’s Conversation.”

But don’t hold your breath for now waiting to hear heavenly choirs singing or see Dawkins on “The 700 Club” talking about his radical conversion. Dawkins suggested he still would like to see Christianity disappear, stating: “The number of people who actually believe in Christianity is going down and I’m happy with that.” 

However, Dawkins also said he doesn’t want to see the benefits Christianity has brought to the culture disappear.

 “I would not be happy if, for example, we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches,” he said. “So, I count myself as a cultural Christian. I think it would matter if we … substituted any alternative religion; that would be truly dreadful.”

Dawkins concludes that Christianity “seems to be a fundamentally decent religion.”

As the Washington Examiner’s Kaylee McGhee White writes:

Believers and nonbelievers alike would be forgiven for laughing off Dawkins’s concerns. This is, after all, the man who, in a book called ‘The God Delusion,’ argued not only that God does not exist but that if he did, he should be considered a sadomasochist and megalomaniac. This is also the man who encouraged his fellow atheists to ‘ridicule and show contempt for’ people of faith and their doctrines, the same man who claimed it is worse to teach children to believe in God than to sexually abuse them.

Dawkins also recently said with regard to transgenderism: “Sex really is binary. You’re either male or female. … To me, as a biologist, it’s definitely weird people can simply declare ‘I am a woman’… ”

Thus, despite continued hostility to Christianity, what Dawkins “gets” is that Christianity, more than any other religion, believes in and practices the inherent dignity and respect of the individual (created Imago Dei, or in the image of God), equal justice under the law, and self-control and responsibility.

As with so many others, it seems that Dawkins wants to enjoy these “benefits,” but just doesn’t want anyone to acknowledge who—Jesus Christ—made those benefits possible in the first place. Those benefits include the laws and institutions that have guided Western civilization for centuries.

In effect, Dawkins and other atheists instead want to enjoy a delicious ice cream sundae while denying the existence of the cow whose milk made it possible for that ice cream to exist.

But perhaps Dawkins also sees how lost the world is, and he is, without these values. For instance, despite his skepticism and hostility toward Christianity, Dawkins sees that fundamental difference, as well as the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of those who reject the “concept” of “gender fluidity,” and has concluded that Christianity benefits rather than harms a culture.

So, perhaps we might be seeing the first steps of that acknowledgment and, prayerfully, an understanding that his reasoning has been fundamentally flawed in characterizing the Bible and Christianity as a bunch of random teachings that he has called “systematically evil” and “just plain weird.” Without those teachings, Dawkins may be realizing, we would lose all the good things that come with them.

Hopefully, as with previous persecutors of Christians and the faith, the Apostle Paul among them, this may be the beginning of an awakening of Dawkins’ soul.

As White concludes: “Far worse have been saved by [God’s] grace, including a man who once sanctioned the killing of Christians for sport only to become the greatest defender of the faith. The Apostle Paul’s testimony is an example for us all—even for Dawkins.”

Let’s all pray—for Dawkins’ sake—that this indeed is the beginning of a great awakening in his soul.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.