Richard Dawkins is again venting his spleen at believers, this time in a contribution to the Washington Post, “Haiti and the hypocrisy of Christian theology”. You can read it here. Dr. Dawkins sees the Haitian earthquake, no matter how tragic and heartbreaking, as an opportunity to shake up theists. I don’t know who he is trying to convince but “Darwin’s Rottweiler” is certainly not out to “…win friends and influence people.”
He mainly has his dander up at folks who are calling earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters acts of God’s judgment. Well, they make me angry too but I’m not ready to throw a blanket of condemnation over every believer for the sins (oops!, I mean “mistakes”) of the few. But why am I expecting a Rottweiler to be reasonable? However, dear reader, you may be open to some alternative thoughts. So, I have chosen five points from his article to address.
- “The religious mind…restlessly seeks human meaning in the blind happenings of nature.” We do? Wow…I didn’t know that! To the best of my memory I don’t believe I, or any other theist of my acquaintance has sought to assign human meaning to natural disasters. We do, however, allow such events to remind us of the brevity and vulnerability of human life.
- He assures us that the embarrassing Pat Robertson is the “true Christian,” and true to the Bible. I’m not quite sure how God looks at Mr. Robertson but, of all people, Dawkins would seem to be the least qualified to judge the Christianity of anyone. He really doesn’t like any of us and has made no secret of his disdain. Additionally, he calls those of us who oppose Robertson and distance themselves from him, “hypocrites.” Well, I wonder if Dr. Dawkins endorses all the statements and positions of his fellow-atheists? What does he think of his wild-eyed atheist friends who, in the name of reason and science make outrageous statements? Nietzsche and O’Hair come to mind. Will the real hypocrite please stand up?
In another place he refers to Robertson’s “hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance.” According to the records, Robertson has a pretty good education which has not served him very well in many of his public statements. This should prove, Doctor Dawkins, that degrees have very little to do with making sense.
- He says we Christians see God as “suffering on the cross” in the ruins of Port Au Prince. Not me, Richard, or any fellow-believer I know. Such a notion is certainly not the “centerpiece” of my theology. It is true that Jesus, in the most supreme act of love and grace came to make atonement for the sins of mankind. But he came for so many other reasons as well. I have a list if anyone’s interested.
And, by the way, how does he know our anguish is “faux?” Could it be he has some supernatural powers he so eloquently deplores?
- And you gotta love this next one, “Where was God in Noah’s flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world…as punishment for ‘sin’. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were being consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry…as punishment for ‘sin’. Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with ‘sin’ with punishment and with atonement.” It is interesting that Mr. Dawkins cites these supposedly fictitious events perpetrated by a non-existent God upon mythical populations and cities. Since we are referring to these “myths,” is he aware of the behavior of the people in both cases? Is he aware of the century Noah spent seeking to persuade his fellow men, whose “…every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time,” to turn from their evil and save themselves? Is he aware of the total depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah’s populations? Maybe he should re-read the accounts (if he has read them at all) and tell me who was obsessed with sin. To those aware of the whole story, his ignorant comments loudly proclaim, “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
- He informs us that our “…entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for ‘sin’ – or suffering as ‘atonement’ for it…” To celebrate suffering we Christians certainly seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to alleviate it. The high count of Christian organizations struggling to ease the suffering of the Haitian people is no “celebration”, Richard.
I have a few suggestions for Dr. Dawkins:
- Try to make informed diatribes. Your ignorance negates your reasoning.
- Be nice. Arrogant, elitist intellectuals have a terrible track record of persuasion.
- Avoid hasty generalizations. Lumping all religious people together so you can more easily squash them may sell books and make money but it doesn’t make sense.
- Avoid silly, inflammatory catch-words like “Palinesque.” and theological terms like “theodicean.” These may reflect your elitist, intellectual self-perception but the guys in the oilfield won’t “get it.”