Famed atheist Richard Dawkins says he's a 'cultural Christian'

(Photo: LBC Radio)

After decades as the poster boy for New Atheism, 'God Delusion' author Richard Dawkins says he is a "cultural Christian". 

Speaking to Rachel Johnson on LBC Radio, Dawkins said he was "happy" that the number of professing Christians in the UK was declining but said it would be "truly dreadful" if Christianity were to be replaced with another religion. 

The straight-talking scientest admitted he was "slightly horrified" to see Ramadan lights being displayed in parts of the UK over Easter.

"I must say I'm slightly horrified to hear that Ramadan is being promoted instead," he said. "I feel that we are a Christian country."

He continued, "It's true that statistically, the number of people who actually believe in Christianity is going down and I'm happy with that, but I would not be happy if, for example, we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches.

"So, I count myself a cultural Christian. I think it would matter if we... substituted any alternative religion, that would be truly dreadful." 

Reacting to his comments, Christian Concern said, "Who would've thought we'd ever hear those words come out of Richard Dawkins' mouth, even a few years ago?"

Theos CEO Chine McDonald, writing in Christianity magazine, said, "We've come a long way from the antagonism of New Atheism that made it its mission to denounce all religion, including Christianity. But I'll save my excitement for when Dawkins et al start talking about the ways in which their lives have been turned upside down by the radical love of Jesus Christ."

Later in the interview, Dawkins said that given the choice between Christianity and Islam, he would go for Christianity "every single time". 

"[Christianity] seems to me to be a fundamentally decent religion in a way that I think Islam is not," he said. 

He went on, "I'm not talking about individual Muslims, who, of course, are all quite different, but the doctrines of Islam, the Hadith and the Quran, it's fundamentally hostile to women, hostile to gays and, I find that I like to live in a culturally Christian country, although I do not believe a single word of the Christian faith."

Dawkins has in the past spoken about his "normal Anglican upbringing" before abandoning Christianity in his teenage years.