Mere materialism would never explain Connie and Chris’s battle on behalf of Charlie Gard

Archbishop of Canterbury: “My heart breaks for Charlie Gard’s family”

By Dave Andrusko

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

A colleague passed along a link to a story that appeared The Guardian newspaper under the tender headline, “Archbishop of Canterbury: my heart breaks for Charlie Gard’s family.”

The subhead spoke volumes: “Justin Welby says any parent would fight for their child’s life as he argues rationality alone is not key to making big decisions.”

The larger context, of course, is the death of little Charlie Gard, a week before Connie Yates’ and Chris Gard’s son would have celebrated his first birthday. The specific context were remarks made by utilitarian philosopher and atheist Prof. Richard Dawkins on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week and Archbishop Welby’s response on the same program yesterday.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates

Chris Gard and Connie Yates

According to the Guardian’s Kevin Rawlinson, Dawkins spoke of how people should avoid voting with their gut.

“Of course, we all think with our gut a lot of the time,” he said. “But when we’re making important decisions, like when we’re voting [or] when we’re taking important business decisions, don’t think with your gut, think rationally. Look for the evidence one way or the other; weigh it up.”

But Dawkins didn’t stop there. According to Rawlinson, “Dawkins said the scientific method should be applied beyond the lab, adding that ‘evidence is the only reason to believe anything about the real world.’”

Archbishop Welby lost one of his own children, Johanna, who died when she was less than a year old. So when he said, “My heart breaks for Charlie Gard’s family,” his grief was especially poignant.

Referring to Charlie Gard, Welby said any parent would “fight for the life of their child as long as they could,” adding, “We know what that’s like.”

And he firmly but politely disagreed with Prof. Dawkins. He said

“The world is not entirely materialism. It’s not entirely made up of what you can experiment with. There are things we deal with every day – emotions around love, around the value of people, around how we treat those who are weaker and stronger – where mere rationality, even evidence-based rationality, which I hold to as a really important thing, does not answer the whole question adequately.”

No, it doesn’t. Few examples better illustrate the limits of materialism than Connie and Chris’ noble, selfless, and loving battle against overwhelming odds to save their son.