'I Am a Secular Christian,' Richard Dawkins Admits

Speaking at a literature festival in Wales, British atheist professor Richard Dawkins admitted that while he surely doesn't believe in the supernatural elements of Christianity, he wouldn't mind being called "a secular Christian."

"I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies," Dawkins said at Britain's Hay Festival, according to The Telegraph.

Dawkins was responding to an American Christian minister, who was part of the audience and told the 73-year-old evolutionary biologist that he doesn't believe in miracles any longer but still sees himself as a Christian. The minister was not identified.

"But if you don't have the supernatural, it's not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister," added Dawkins, who also said he had an "Anglican upbringing."

At the festival, which started Thursday and will go in until June 1 in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, Dawkins was speaking while presenting the first volume of his memoirs, An Appetite For Wonder. "But I am a secular Christian, if you want to call me that," Dawkins repeated.

He also indicated that he believes in destiny, as he recalled witnessing bullying at his school in Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe. He told the audience that he didn't join any science group at the school for fear of being bullied.

"Peer pressure is terribly strong and there are things you should have tried but you don't because you want to fit in," Dawkins said. "I was neither a bully, nor was I bullied, but I reproach myself for not having intervened. I think there are always paths not taken but if a different path is taken, I think there is a magnetic pull. There is a sort of something that pulls you back to the pathway having taken a fork in the road."

Last January, Dawkins described himself as a "cultural Anglican" during a debate with former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on whether "religion has no place in the 21st Century."

Dawkins, an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, told the audience in the debate that he lost that his main concern was simply whether religion was true, and described religion as a "cop-out."

"It is a betrayal of the intellect, a betrayal of all that's best about what makes us human," he argued. "It's a phony substitute for an explanation, which seems to answer the question until you examine it and realize that it does no such thing… It peddles false explanations where real explanations could have been offered, false explanations that get in the way of the enterprise of discovering real explanations."

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