Rebutting Dawkins…Sort Of

Much ado has been made in the press of the strident efforts of uber-atheist Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins.  Latest on his list is an effort to have the Pope arrested Pope arrested when he comes to Great Britain.  But Dawkins is better known for his polemical writing and speaking against religion.  Though he most frequently targets Christianity (since it’s the dominant Western religion and the one Dawkins has encountered most often), his logic extends to any and all religious beliefs.  Perhaps his best known volley in this war on religion is his book The God Delusion .

While I’ve read some of Dawkins‘ (The Selfish Gene ), I haven’t yet read The God Delusion.  However, on a whole, I agree with the accusations of this reviewer of The God Delusion However, on a whole, I agree with the accusations of this reviewer of The God Delusion.  At least until he starts off on a rather un-orthodox explanation of what the Biblical Christian faith is.  I think this review is worth your time reading.  It’s not short, but it does address some of the fundamental flaws in Dawkins‘ polemical and amusing and brutal attacks on faith.  
I was forwarded this review by a friend of mine who is, at best, agnostic.  She wanted to know whether I agreed with the reviewer, but then it came out that some of her confusion was on how the reviewer characterizes the Christian faith.  These problems begin to come out in the fifth & sixth paragraphs & following of the review.  Her confusion was that, if God is not personal as I have claimed Him to be in my discussions with her, then it makes even less sense to pray to Him.  The reviewer reduces God to a theological construct – the answer to the questions of existence, of why? rather than why not?.  The reviewer argues against the idea of a personal creator God as demonstrated throughout the Bible (both Old and New Testaments, as the reviewer forgets).  
Unlike the reviewer, I would argue very strongly that God and the universe do add up to two.  God is (this is the name for Himself that he gives to Moses in Exodus 3:14) and does exist, and His existence is the condition upon which all other existence is predicated.  Some of the things the reviewer goes on to discuss I do agree with – God did not have to create the universe and all of creation.  It was not something God had to do, but rather chose to do.  
The ninth paragraph is also problematic, because of course Jesus does reveal that God is in part judge, and that an account will be given for our hearts and actions (Matthew 25:31-46).  Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God incarnate, crucified, and resurrected on our behalf removes the fear that we would otherwise have of appearing before a perfect and righteous judge, but that faith does not negate or remove the fact that judgment will occur.  
I dislike the implication in paragraph ten that the writers of the Gospel “put words into his mouth” in their accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, as though they were attempting to fabricate a series of statements that couldn’t have possibly been authentic and accurate.  
Paragraph 14 also inaccurately summarizes the central Christian doctrine.  The central Christian doctrine is summarized in John 3:16 – God so loved the world that he sent His son to die in our place that those who believe and accept this gift might live, rather than die (paraphrasing mine).  The central doctrine of Christianity has nothing to do with us or our love or lack thereof – beyond pointing out that we are unable to save ourselves and very much in need of saving.  
Take time to read the review .  While the theological liberties and explanations the reviewer takes and makes are dangerous in the extreme, his critique of Dawkins‘ attacks are dead on.  Setting up straw men to knock down is not honest – even if it does manage to sell a lot of books.  

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