Assistant Professor of Biology Ransom Poythress has contributed a book to Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing’s Great Thinkers Series titled Richard Dawkins. Published in November 2018, the book seeks to “provide a foundational understanding and set of tools for engaging, critiquing, and interacting with New Atheist believers of Dawkinsian thinking,” says Poythress.
Dawkins is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist who proposes a gene-centered approach to evolutionary science. New Atheism, a phrase coined in 2006 by agnostic journalist Gary Wolf, advocates the view that superstition, religion, and irrationalism should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever their influence arises.
Poythress, who is in his fifth year teaching at Houghton, said the process of writing the book “bolstered my own faith. Now, more than ever, it’s critical for Christians to effectively challenge the lines of thinking popularized by Dawkins.”
Poythress wrote the book primarily for Christian college and seminary students and pastors but hopes lay leaders will find it informational and accessible as well.
“I hope it will open doors for discussions as well as embolden individuals to proclaim the truths of the Gospel as supported in the Bible, science and philosophy,” says Poythress. “My background in biology as well as graduate training in philosophy, theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary provided an excellent framework to engage with Dawkins and see the many flaws in his argumentation.”
Poythress is thankful for the influence of his parents—his mother has a doctorate in church history, and his father has a doctorate in math and a doctorate in New Testament—for nurturing a love of science. Ransom earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the California Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in molecular and cell biology and biochemistry from Boston University.