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Is Richard Dawkins truly an “embarrassment” to new atheism? Or an accurate representation?


We’re told at Huffpo UK that Richard Dawkins is being labelled an embarrassment to atheism, after a clash with a priest on BBC Radio4, over a poll his own foundation had commissioned, which he trumpeted as showing that Christians don’t know much about their faith: [AUDIO]

Giles Fraser: Richard, if I said to you what is the full title of ‘The Origin Of Species’, I’m sure you could tell me that.

Richard Dawkins: Yes I could.

Giles Fraser: Go on then.

Richard Dawkins: On The Origin Of Species.. Uh. With, Oh God. On The Origin Of Species. There is a sub title with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

Giles Fraser: You’re the high pope of Darwinism… If you asked people who believed in evolution that question and you came back and said 2% got it right, it would be terribly easy for me to go ‘they don’t believe it after all.’ It’s just not fair to ask people these questions. They self-identify as Christians and I think you should respect that.

The correct full title of Darwin’s famous book, not that it would usually matter, is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

The problem here is Dawkins is not your corner cube atheist. He made his name and fame, never mind his living, fronting Darwinism.

So it’s not anywhere near the same thing as the average self-identified Christian not knowing the name of the first Gospel in the New Testament. It’s more like William Lane Craig not knowing. But Craig would know that, wouldn’t he?

But is Dawkins truly an embarrassment to atheism? Well, he would be to traditional atheists, who were often learned. But to new atheists, probably not.

New atheists don’t believe that the mind even exists. They couldn’t care less about the empirical evidence for Darwinism as opposed to other ways evolution can happen. Usually, they don’t even know about the well-attested other ways and don’t care when their Darwinian claims fail.

And why should they care when they can enforce the teaching of Darwinism, their creation story, through legislatures and courts?

Dawkins’ ignorance illustrates the new atheists’ growing cultural power: Whatever they claim Darwinism is at any given time can be forced on the entire education system – even if their own “high pope” is ignorant of the details. The message is clear: Accountability is for losers.

I disagree and agree with GOD Based Magnetism. MichaelGreen
Maybe the new atheists believe the rule... MIGHT...makes RIGHT! adultstemcellswin
Me: "Christians don’t believe that politics provide any ultimate solutions; so why should the government adopt an official religion?" Scott: "I doubt that most people believe that outright, but they often behave as if they do. If you were to survey people in a non-leading manner about how society’s ills will be cured, I suspect that the leading answers would be (in no particular order) politics, revolution, or that things will only get worse." Many people believe that there are political solutions to society's problems, and there are somewhat. I think you will find though, that this is more prevalent in Europe than in America. The more conservative you get in America, the more you believe in less government control, socially and morally. We are for the most part a federation of united states; which have their own individual rights. America's revolution was unique. It was primarily based on escaping British taxation and other abuses. The colonists were Englishmen, and as such, they believed they had the "rights of Englishmen," which included "no taxation without representation." In other words, since they weren't recognized in Parliament, they should not have been taxed for the goods they produced. There's nothing particularly revolutionary in the American revolution. It was already based in British law. So America as a democracy is not particularly revolutionary; which provides for understanding as to why America's democracy has been relatively stable for over 230 years. I mean just think about it. We have the right to bear arms so that if the government becomes tyrannical, we as citizens can legally rebel. With the exception of the American civil war, when has that ever been deemed necessary? With the exception of a few civil skirmishes, we haven't had an armed conflict within America's borders for over 150 years. That's because the democratic process works. So revolution is far outside the American mentality at present. Politics, on the other hand is different. We have a lot of political conflicts in America. Most revolutions that take place in America happen slowly and are relatively non-violent; because of the stability of the democratic process. Many Americans, however believe that is changing, as the system is becoming more radicalized, and in demand for radical change. Also, since the end of WWII America has allowed more influence from the outside, and has indeed been involved more in the international theater. What Richard Dawkins fails to recognize is that in a democracy where religious freedoms are guaranteed, religious expression will be more prevalent, not less. I think he desires Britain to have the same secularist government as is present in America; which, if religious freedom is guaranteed (which it presently is in Britain already), but without an official church, the British people are likely to become more religious, not less. This is because Britain has relatively liberal immigration policies, and people who are persecuted for their religious beliefs in other parts of the world will be even more likely to immigrate. CannuckianYankee
Charles, Furthermore, America's lapse in granting freedom to African slaves following England's initial abolition of slavery can be said to be due to some religious ambiguity in the American Declaration of Independence, where it says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." The ambiguity is in the word "men." And this ambiguity also allowed the American secularists to deny voting rights to women. It really took religious moral interpretation to reverse this, as in scripture "men" includes both male and female (Genesis), slave or free (1 Corinthians). Of course it was very religious men who denied these freedoms, but they depended upon an ambiguous misinterpretation of secular documents to deny it; not the scriptural interpretation on which the word "men" referred. They did not believe that African slaves were "men" in the strictest sense of their economic system; dependent upon slave-driven agriculture (which began long before the establishment of the American Republic, in the 1600s). But that developed in the South primarily, and the original colonists were in the North-East and Virginia. The North-East was decidedly abolitionist on moral grounds. So in America, the abolition of slavery was largely Christian in nature - directly from scripture where the definition of "men" is quite clear. We could also say that women's suffrage came directly from Christian morality. CannuckianYankee
Christians don’t believe that politics provide any ultimate solutions; so why should the government adopt an official religion?
I doubt that most people believe that outright, but they often behave as if they do. If you were to survey people in a non-leading manner about how society's ills will be cured, I suspect that the leading answers would be (in no particular order) politics, revolution, or that things will only get worse. Hardly anyone would mention religion unless it was offered as an option. Some might offer a vague thought like, "people should get religion," but would likely have no thought on what that literally meant or what it would accomplish. That's a guess. I could be wrong. ScottAndrews2
In fact Charles, it wasn't just England's official religion the colonists attempted to escape, but European official religions in general. The Evangelical Free Church in America, a church I'm a member of; was the result of a break-away from the Dutch Reformed Church, which at the time was the Official Church of The Netherlands; thus the word "free." The American colonists and subsequent immigrants from Europe came here to escape government controlled religious beliefs. CannuckianYankee
"I will grant you that might be true …" Oh, I think it's more than "might." England (or rather the UK) as a Democratic Monarchy, has an official church; the Church of England, whose head is the monarch herself. The US has no official church. While the US preserves religious beliefs officially, they are decidedly non-sectarian; "endowed by their Creator," "In God we trust," etc... But the American reformers believed that these official beliefs were "self-evident," and not dependent on any particular religious creed or scripture. In fact, they were very careful to keep any particular creed out of government by the very fist amendment to the Constitution. This construct was directly anti-British; as the regime whose influence the colonists were attempting to escape. The whole basis for the American Republic was to protect American citizens from the type of regime that could enforce an official religion; be it a secular religion or otherwise. Even the separation of powers in American government was set up to be so cumbersome such that any kind of progress could be slowed down in order to prevent any rapid move towards official religious tyranny. CannuckianYankee
Charles, "but I would dismiss, a priori, that Dawkins competently measured it, let alone factually reported it." Well that is of course true. Dawkins was decidedly ideologically driven. CannuckianYankee
One of the most interesting aspects of this latest episode of Dawkins' continuing series of gaffes is that he called out to God when the pressure was most acute on his lack of knowledge of Darwin's book title: "On The Origin Of Species.. Uh, with ... Oh God!" Listen to the audio on it. I guess it's official now, Dawkins is not an atheist; he's just been fleecing the public for years. StuartHarris
But England is officially less secular than the US. The American experiment apparently worked, because while the US government is officially more secular than England’s, Americans have preserved their religious faith more than the British;
I will grant you that might be true ...
and Dawkins, as an atheist should be happy that England’s officiation of religion has actually diminished religious faith.
but I would dismiss, a priori, that Dawkins competently measured it, let alone factually reported it. Charles
Yes, in theory. Of course. ... In courts of law, if the US series, such as Suits and Boston Legal, are any guide, the counsels and the judges seek to impose themselves – in much the same way as, in fact, the evolutionists have done on our culture, with their imbecilic baying about unicorns, magic and all the rest.
Our legal system is designed to be adversarial, to permit the accused (mainly) and accuser (to a lesser extent) to mount the best legal argument money can buy. And if you lack funds, then you had better have near unassailable evidence justifying your position so that even an under-funded attorney has the necessary ammunition in his gun to prevail on legal grounds. Richard Dawkins himself provides us with a case lesson: his recent legal defeat at the hands of the better prepared Josh Timonen whom Dawkins sued for breach of a contract that didn't exist wherein Dawkins sought proceeds that were otherwise denied him under British law. Yet another stellar example of Dawkins' intelligence. Charles
Charles: "Poll: British Christians Believe Religion ‘Should Be Kept Out Of Public Policy’:" Well that's not really anything new. In fact, it's the basis for the American Republic. Most churches I've gone to will not even allow a politician to speak, or any talk about politics in general at the pulpit; so there is that. Christians don't believe that politics provide any ultimate solutions; so why should the government adopt an official religion? On the other hand, it's the morality that derives from Christianity that most Christians want preserved. If, for example, the members of the Democratic party were overwhelmingly pro-life, more conservative Christians would vote for them. It has nothing to do with desiring a theocracy, but respecting life. You will find (well, this is my guess) that Christians in general are less concerned with political positions than they are with moral positions. But England is officially less secular than the US. The American experiment apparently worked, because while the US government is officially more secular than England's, Americans have preserved their religious faith more than the British; and Dawkins, as an atheist should be happy that England's officiation of religion has actually diminished religious faith. CannuckianYankee
Yes, in theory. Of course. But the assumption you make is that we are dealing with rational people, who are open to truth concerning ID, evolution, etc. In courts of law, if the US series, such as Suits and Boston Legal, are any guide, the counsels and the judges seek to impose themselves - in much the same way as, in fact, the evolutionists have done on our culture, with their imbecilic baying about unicorns, magic and all the rest. It's not pretty when we do it, either, but they need a kick in the pants. Spare the rod and spoil the child. If they play by Rafferty's Rules, we need to respect their chosen terms of reference... And what better way than by imitation, although, of course, our best weapons, generally, are truth and satire. At least one of my ancestors owned slave ships, but you'd be hard-pressed to associate my beliefs with social Darwinists, however remotely. Darwin, himself, was horrified at the thought that his ideas could be misrepresented by racists in that way. As regards the African slaves he saw in Brazil, Darwin considered them outstanding specimens of human beings, both in terms of their intelligence and of their physique, in stark contrast to his opinion of their Portuguese 'owners', whom he considered, signally inferior in such terms. In the future, one good thing to have arisen out the abject lunacy of the materialists, we struggle against, today, is that they will serve as prime exemplars of how inadequate our worldy appraisal of the nature of 'intelligence' is; how even people with the highest academic accreditations, can so easily be dunces and knaves - the first following from the second; how 'God scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts.' Axel
CannuckianYankee asks:
So ask yourself then, who is more informed about their beliefs; the Christian or the typical atheist if we include among atheists not just those who have thought about it or are militant about it, but those who fit the criteria of not believing in a god or gods? The non-vocal “atheist by default?”
Well it demonstrably isn't atheists in general or Dawkins in particular. From the Huff Po article Poll: British Christians Believe Religion 'Should Be Kept Out Of Public Policy':
"When it comes to belief, practice or even the most elementary knowledge of the Bible, it is clear that faith is a spent force in the UK, and it is time our policy-makers woke up to that reality and stopped trying to impose beliefs on society that society itself has largely rejected," he said.
And yet self-identified atheists and agnostics themselves have not largely rejected distinctly biblical beliefs. From a 2003 Barna Group survey: Americans Describe Their Views About Life After Death
Many of those who describe themselves as either atheistic or agnostic also harbor contradictions in their thinking. "Half of all atheists and agnostics say that every person has a soul, that Heaven and Hell exist, and that there is life after death. One out of every eight atheists and agnostics even believe that accepting Jesus Christ as savior probably makes life after death possible.
What policy makers (and not a few atheists) need to wake up to is the factual ignorance, hypocrisy and smug incompetance of Richard Dawkins. Charles
Furthermore, the purpose behind Dawkins' survey in the first place was to assess the number of actual Christians in England with the amount of actual Christian influence in the country; with the decided suggestion that since Christians are actually fewer, but with much influence, their influence should diminish. Well now; that makes perfect sense, because as Christian influence in England diminishes, Islamic influence increases as their numbers increase. Great argument. CannuckianYankee
What really irks me about Dawkins' assessment of Christians is that his criteria really applies more to atheists than Christians. I'm talking about the atheists who; you know they are atheists because they are not really Christians - don't go to church, aren't particularly religious and don't make any mention of God in their daily lives. You know the kind I'm talking about; the one's who are more concerned about the outcome of the Superbowl than anything remotely resembling religious thought. They aren't interested in any arguments for what they believe or lack belief in. They are just interested in living their lives and getting them over with. The secular citizen. He's your average joe. The US (and I would guess England too) is full of people like this. They haven't given either atheism or theism a thought. If what atheists say atheism truly is; the lack of belief in a deity, the secular citizen represents atheism more than any intellectual atheist who invents the criteria. So ask yourself then, who is more informed about their beliefs; the Christian or the typical atheist if we include among atheists not just those who have thought about it or are militant about it, but those who fit the criteria of not believing in a god or gods? The non-vocal "atheist by default?" You then get a better picture, and BA's post at 6 becomes even more relevant. CannuckianYankee
I find it disturbing that some people here are anxious to blame someone for what their ancestors did, or allegedly did. The issue I was highlighting is his hypocrisy, and the irony of "selfish" genes, which by his own definition we all get from our ancestors. Others have seen fit to highlight his ignorance of his biblical castigations. No one here has blamed him for what his ancestors did, though his refusal to credit Christians/Christianity with opposing slavery (as he likewise opposes), is again hypocritical. Charles
I find it disturbing that some people here are anxious to blame someone for what their ancestors did, or allegedly did. As a religious person myself I am bothered by that. Can any of us say that all of our ancestors were good people who never owned slaves and never did anything else that was harmful to others? Aren't there better ways to advance ID than to sink to irrelevant personal attacks? Jack Dumond
As a sidenote to Christian slave owners, it is interesting to note that one of the most popular hymns ever written, 'Amazing Grace', was written by John Newton who was a captain of a slave ship at the time of his conversion to Christianity;
Amazing Grace History/"Amazing Grace" By Wintley Phipps - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMF_24cQqT0 Amazing Grace: - The Story of John Newton - video http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html JOTTA A.-Amazing Grace http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2zHKlsMcug
Dawkins further notes of his conversation with the reporter: The Sins of the Fathers :
Our piercing investigative journalist then challenged me to deny that William Wilberforce, the great anti-slavery campaigner, was a Christian. (So, presumably, were the slave-owners. Just about everyone in England was Christian at the time and Henry and Colonel Richard surely were.)
So, presumably all these slave owners and just about everyone in England at the time were able to name the first book of the New Testament, which is, afterall, Dawkins' declared criteria for being Christian For once, Richard Dawkins is lost for words:
The statistics purport to show that most people who identify themselves as Christian turn out, when questioned on what they actually think, to be “overwhelmingly secular in their attitudes on issues ranging from gay rights to religion in public life”. Dawkins’s conclusion is that these self-identified Christians are “not really Christian at all”.
Self-identified Christians aren't really Christian, unless of course they're slave owners like Dawkins' ancestors, then they are self-identified Christians. Charles
"“For goodness sake, William Wilberforce may have been a devout Christian, but slavery is sanctioned throughout the Bible.” - Dawkins .. which is absolute rubbish. Yahweh commanded the Hebrew people not to enslave each other, because God hates that practice. Clearly, that would apply to Christians, also. Moreover, we have a positive duty to evangelise, so that these two precepts are in direct conflict with each other. Once evangelised, the slave-captor would be infuriating God if he failed to release the slave from the iniquitous bonds he held him under, on pain of anything up to and including mutilation (in the US, and possibly British colonies) and death. It seems to be mainly Americans who actually raise questions concerning biblical a putative justification of slavery. The reason why Paul spoke in such terms at that stage of the Church's development, was the same reason why he told people to 'honour the emperor'. It was not that either slave-holding or the emperors were admirable or indeed acceptable as patterns of Christian behaviour and values. Rather, not to have done so, in the latter case, or to challenge the slavery culture in any way would have imperilled the embryonic Church to the point of extinction. Of course, God could have intervened in such a scenario, but he has ordained that grace should build upon nature, so the process of enlightenment and growth in fellow-feeling and compassion would be gradual. Hence, also, acceptance under the Mosaic law of the enslavement of foreigners, despite the absolute ban on the enslavement of fellow Hebrews. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that, under Jewish law, slaves were treated much better than they would be three millennia later in purportedly Christian countries. There was a significant punishment incurred, if a Hebrew slave-owner beat a slave to his serious injury. Amputating one of his feet wasn't an option - nor I expect murder. Also, when Charlemagne was conquering Europe, one of the first questions put to the pope of the day, was, 'How should the sale of a slave for human sacrifice be treated?' 'As murder', was the pope's reply. Pagan religions were very keen on human sacrifices, tending to favour women and children! So when I read of these self-styled pagan 'nuts' today, I wonder of they have any idea of the reality. Bear in mind that those emperors would have been, at best, extreme sociopaths and generally out-and-out psychopaths, totally devoid of a conscience. Indeed, it has been a feature of history - indeed, the rule, rather than the exception - right up to the present day as regards national rulers. "Where your heart is, there your treasure is." People don't arrive at positions of great, never mind, sovereign, power by chance. Of course, occasionally, we have had relatively good rulers, some, great. Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Truman in the US strike me as such, and probably the Kennedy brothers, though their father seems to have been a bad lot. Attaturk in Turkey seems to have been another great leader. So 'honour' in the context in which Paul was speaking must clearly have been used in the sense of generally being a peaceable citizen. But how about the morality of slave-owning in terms of the Commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves? If we entertain the idea that such a love is not inconsistent with slave-owning and all the horrors it entails, then we are inviting God to allow us to become slaves of sin in this life, and of the Devil and his angels in the next. However, even leaving aside Christian morality, it surely offends against the sense of natural justice most human beings across the globe have and always have had down the centuries. Moreover, even the poor kinds of democracy we now enjoy in the West would have no justification whatsoever. To hold a slave, is to deny another human being (not to speak of the harm caused to his family) of the most basic human dignity. God made man in his own image, and John tells us that God enlightens every man who comes into the world; so evangelisation, not enslavement is our Christian vocation. The spiritual harm done to the souls of the slave-owners doesn't bear thinking about. It is characteristic of so many atheist evolutionists and scientismificists that they imagine that they are familiar with scripture, when the reverse is true. They all sorts of things mixed up Axel
Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins' family estate
... Professor Dawkins, the atheist evolutionary biologist and author of The Selfish Gene, claimed associating him with his slave-owning ancestors was "a smear tactic". ... He quoted Scripture – disparagingly - to insist: "I condemn slavery with the utmost vehemence, but the fact that my remote ancestors may have been involved in it is nothing to do with me. "One of the most disagreeable verses of the Bible – amid strong competition – says the sins of the father shall be visited on the children until the third or fourth generation." Audibly irritated, he added: "You need a genetics lecture. Do you realise that probably only about 1 in 512 of my genes come from Henry Dawkins? "For goodness sake, William Wilberforce may have been a devout Christian, but slavery is sanctioned throughout the Bible."
Oh my. Those selfish genes were selfish indeed, and hypocritical. Charles
SCheesman, As to the grace of God, you might find this video very interesting.
Philip Yancey "What Good Is God" - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEZUF1eMofo
Hello SCheesman Well, I have always admired the evangelicals for their level of commitment to the faith. I love my Catholic church, but I regret it's lassitude in such a key area as economic justice, despite that wonderfully penetrating, 19th century encyclical, Rerum Novarum. I believe it was the non-conformists churches in the US who fought so heroically against slavery. Such a glaring abomination. The Protestant churches have helped my church get into line, when it stayed too far, even by the standards of wretched, fallen man. Axel
Hello Axel Thank-you for your thoughtful response. I was in London in October, and had the joy of attending a service at All-Souls, Langham Place, former church of the late John Stott, beloved evangelical teacher and avid birdwatcher, who I had the honour of accompanying several times birding on his visits to Canada. He expressed many of the same sentiments as you. SCheesman
Hello SChessman, Well, I am now 72, but since my day, for generations now, the education of the young people in the UK has deteriorated enormously. The level of illiteracy is shocking, though I can't quote figures - it just registers in my mind when I read about in the papers. Two interesting snippets in today's paper. One in which a teacher wrote that their headmistress told them all that they should always stand at the door of the class and say, 'Good morning' to their pupils when they arrive, and 'Goodbye', when they leave - because that is the last time anyone might speak to the child, until they arrive back in school the next day. The other was, if anything more horrifying, citing five-year olds being delivered to the school wearing nappies. Wet nappies. Throughout most of the scriptures you will find the 'poor man' cited in apposition to the true Israel, the 'good man'; and conversely, the 'rich man', in apposition to the 'wicked man'; so James' remark that God chose the poor to be rich in faith is perfecly consonant with most of scripture. And the rich man in our day, just in terms of the West, tends to be the educated man, living comfortably in the leafy suburbs. Though of course, people with less wealth than a billionnaire claim that they are not rich. I think we all move in very privileged circles in comparison with most of our fellow countrymen. The infuriating thing is that the UK was a Christian country after WWII and for three decades our society became semi-civilised. Not, alas, through the political activism of Christians, and consequently it was inevitably doomed. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8 "Love is the fulness of the Law', were the Apostle, Paul's words on the subject, weren't they? Keir Hardie who founded the Labour Party was a Methodist lay-preacher, brought up in pitiful poverty by his lone mother; but after him, the atheists took over the party and saw their chance after WWII. He once remarked that everything he had ever done in politics was inspired by the words of the Gospel. The Second Commandment was only ever a political front for the Socialists after his day, and that only informally. So, it was a failure of the Christian church, the institution and its people, that heve allowed the ever more merciless right-wing back in power, both NuLab(c) and the Conservative 'coalition' - like the EC, stubbornly economic neoliberals, despite bringing the world to the verge of catastrophe. What's not to love about the company of pious, prayerful people, but among major groupings, I found more basic decency and goodness among ordinary soldiers than in civil society. Apparently, on the battlefields, they are more concerned to protect their mates than themselves. I first read that in a newspaper report from an old boy who had fought across Europe in WWII. But it's often confirmed only slightly less directly by reports of soldiers in Afghanistan. There is, moreover a reference in scripture to our being baptised for others also, is there not? Besides many more are baptised than go to church, and that baptismal grace remains very strong, not least, surprisingly perhaps, among the quasi-agnostic to agnostic majority, in the teeth of all the world throws at them. And I've seen more than few old crones who were daily communicants, who 'wouldn't have a prayer' of measuring up to those wandering sheep. The religious establishment in Israel of Jesus' day were, by his own, account, largely a bad lot, yet, as he said, they sat in the chair of Moses. He went so far as to tell some of them that the Devil was their father. And when God judges our behaviour, he takes note, of the context of our circumstances. If an inordinate number are damned, many more people in the managerial class will be held more responsible. Nevertheless, this is not to devalue the paramount value of Christian scripture or evangelisation. But the ability to even read, now, cannot be a 'given'. 'Yes, I believe that in the end it is Jesus that saves, and faith, not works, is primary.' Well, be that as it may, I base my faith on Christ's own words, in his description of the Last Judgment, the only description in the whole of scripture. 'Good works' are defined by the inspiration by the Holy Spirit; so yes, what you say is true. To be true love, the one must go with the other, and hope with them. Anyway, I'm not, of course, seeking to criticise you; just to state things as I see them. Axel
I also would like to know where the author of the above article gets the idea that atheists, whether new or old, don’t believe that the mind even exists? I am not an atheist but I have friends who are and they certainly do believe that the mind exists. As for Richard Dawkins, the whole story has been blown out of proportion, and it does nothing to advance the ID inference, which I would like to see advanced on the scientific merits. Jack Dumond
Hello Axel. Please read what I wrote more carefully. I don't believe I ever said "correct" formal belief, or some measure of Bible knowledge is a prerequisite on judgement day. I did posit, though, that I would be surprised if there were not a good correlation between formal belief and true piety. Do you, personally, have any good Christian friends who wouldn't know Genesis was the first book in the Bible, or who don't recognize Jesus as the Son of God, and have at least a fair understanding of what that means? Yes, I believe that in the end it is Jesus that saves, and faith, not works, is primary. Yet R.D. claims to have encountered any number of self-identified Christians who didn't know that Genesis is the first book. This astounds me. In my circles "hunger for the Word" accompanies a "thirst for God". SCheesman
Thing is, SCheesman, you may question their formal Christian commitment and status, but any conscious commitment to atheism on their part is evidently still more notional; which would not have been a point Dawkins would have been keen to dwell on, I think. He reminds me of Pauli's reply when asked what he thought of Dirac's contemptuous dismissal of religions, 'God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet.' It tickles me to see the way these would-be materialist iconoclasts love to quote the more famous quip of Pauli (yet another ID believer among the Greats), 'You're not even wrong.' With Dawkins, atheism must be acclaimed. It is not enough for Christianity to be humbled, rather, it is a more targeted adaptation of Gore Vidal's quip, 'It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.' But it strikes me that your quote from Matthew's Gospel makes the opposite case to the one you made; formal belief will mean nothing on Judgment Day, whereas the person's practical expressions of love towards those in need or trouble of other kinds, is, on the contrary, the one thing 'upon which hangs the whole of the Law and the prophets.' Formal religion, zealous though God is for us to evangelise, is no more than* the most propitious means divine providence has disposed, in order for us to learn how to grow in selfless love, as adults, in a World of false lights. *On the other hand, could there be anything 'more than' such an aid to peace and joy in this life and the next? I meant, of course, that that passage in Matthew indicates that there will be people who have Christian love for their fellow human beings in their heart, through the action of the Holy spirit, despite their formal ignorance of God. Axel
Dawkins didn't even say what he meant when he said most Christians couldn't say what the first book of the New Testament is. If he meant to refer to the "first" book as being the one that appears first in printed order in most all versions of the NT (and I think this is what he meant), then I believe most any Christian that even casually reads the NT would correctly say that it's the Gospel of Mathew. If, on the other hand, he meant which book is the oldest, the first one written in the history of the writings of the NT, then he meant what most scholars agree on: Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians. But, I'll bet Dawkins doesn't know this. He couldn't formulate his challenge correctly, was wrong in either way it might be formulated, and couldn't even name the title of his own bible. Why does anyone listen to this dope? StuartHarris

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