The God Delusion - an Appraisal  - Chapter 7: Pt.2

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This is the Chapter 7, Part 2, Page for the appraisal of the contents of Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion.



Page Contents:









Chapter 7 Overview

"The ‘Good' Book & the changing moral Zeitgeist"


Chapter 7 is divided into:

  (The above items are covered on the previous page, the following on this page)


From the above links, you will see on this page we will only cover the second half of the chapter. To see the first half of the chapter, click on the top Parts or use the link to the Main Contents page.



Chapter 7:  Content & Comments

Second Half of Chapter


Part 2: Is the New Testament any Better?



Quote 2.1: p.283


Jesus, if he existed



MALICIOUS WRITING: I can't really believe that Richard doesn't know about the non-Christian references to Jesus outside the New Testament, or hasn't thought about how such a body of writing such as the New Testament could have come into being without the existence of Jesus (see references to Luke in earlier chapters), or wondered how so many other Christian documents could have come into being based on a myth, or why so many other cultic groups mentioned him if he didn't exist, and if he does, then this quote was just maliciously provocative.



Quote 2.2: p.284


Jesus was not content to derive his ethics from the Scriptures of his upbringing



UPHOLDING THE LAW: As he goes into making Jesus out to be a rebel against the Law, I can only believe that Richard stuck his finger in odd pages of the Gospels, to mis-state Jesus' teaching. When he extols the Sermon on the Mount one assumes he has read it – all three chapters, and wonders why he ignores Jesus saying,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19)


Read these verses through. They say exactly the opposite of what Richard is asserting. Jesus totally supported and upheld the Law in every way.


EXTENDING THE LAW : Indeed Jesus extended the Law, not did away with it:

You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (Mt 5:38-40).

Don't let your ethics be just an outward thing, he was saying, let it be a change of heart thing.



Quote 2.3: p.284


The Sabbath was made for man



CLARIFYING THE LAW: Using this as an argument that Jesus was putting aside the law, is a further example of blatant negligence, that might be expected of a critic who fails to carefully study the Gospels. Jesus did not explicitly depart from the Law as Richard says when he spoke about the Sabbath. The Sabbath Law said don't work on the Sabbath. The Pharisees came along and tried to tie down the Law in ways that were never meant. The purpose of that Law was to release people from excessive working, to give them time to relax and spend time with their families and with God.

It was not meant to forbid people making a meal. There was no requirement to fast on the Sabbath; quite the contrary. Thus, when Jesus and his disciples were travelling and his disciples took a handful of corn as they passed along the edge of a field, the Pharisees who (like Richard) were looking for reasons to denigrate Jesus, picked up on what their applied rules said, which were not what the Law said. Jesus was therefore NOT diminishing the Law but clarifying it. Wrong conclusion, Richard!



Quote 2.4: p.284


he encouraged his disciples to abandon their families



READ SCRIPTURE IN ITS ENTIRETY: Another of the rules of interpretation that scholars use when seeking to understand the Scriptures is, read Scripture as a whole and see meaning of individual verses in the light of the complete teaching. I'm almost loathe to pick up on every one of Richard's misunderstandings, there are so many of them, but here goes!


THE ROLE OF FAMILY: Starting out the paragraph on Jesus' attitude towards his family, he says, “He was short to the point of brusqueness with his own family."  He doesn't cite any references for this but I assume he may be picking up on Jn 2:4 where older versions have, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” Modern translations have a much softer,Dear woman, why do you involve me?” In either case, Jesus is now operating as the head of the family (his father having died and he being the eldest son), and also as the Son of God that he is slowly revealing to the world. Mary was pushing in where she shouldn't and so his response is in fact remarkably gentle and he does follow through on what she said, almost as if to honour her.


LEAVING FAMILIES: Without doubt the disciples were called to leave everything, including families, to follow Jesus. However that is very different from inferring that they carelessly left their families to fend for themselves. Although we aren't told how this was managed, it is quite clear that in the working out of the call on them, they still used their own homes when they were around and there is no indication that they ever went in need. The inference that Jesus was careless about his family and in his attitude towards his disciples leaving their families, is challenged by the episode at the foot of the Cross where Jesus hands over Mary into John's care. There needs to be a distinguishing between a separating-off mentally to go with Jesus and leaving families uncared for. The former was so, but there is no suggestion whatsoever of the latter being so.



Quote 2.5: p.284-286


‘atonement' for ‘original sin'



ADAM AND EVE: We'd better pick up some odds and ends before we get to the main part here. Richard refers to “the Old Testament myth of Adam and Eve.” So who says it is a myth? His liberal, unbelieving friends? He really does get into bad company! Beyond Genesis, Adam gets a mention in Chronicles, the prophecies of Hosea, and by the three intellectual heavy weights, Luke, Paul and Jude.


Exclude the historical account of Adam and Eve and the Fall, and there is:

a) nothing to distinguish us from animals (yet there are a whole variety of things man does that animals have never done), and

b) there is therefore no reason to make us moral and higher beings, and

c) this is the only way to explain how perfect beings became the far-from-perfect beings that we are today, especially when all the other evidence (despite Richard's blindness) points to the goodness of God.


Perhaps the distinction between mankind and all other animals is the greatest negative against natural selection and godless, chance evolution. The leap from mankind to the nearest animals cannot in any way explain the enormous gap between creatures (Humans) who are spiritual and worship, who communicate through complex languages, who invent, plan, reason, rationalise, fantizise, create great works of art, literature or music, and those creatures (animals) who don't.


ATONEMENT: Richard places himself in a well known tradition by his views of the atonement:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (1 Cor 1:18,19).

He is really quite vociferous about the atonement, but then enemies of God usually are. I have a very simple answer to all his rantings about this, and strangely the easiest answer is not theological (because he wouldn't be happy about any theological answer), but pastoral.

All I know is that frequently there are people, non-believers or even untaught believers, who have a major problem with guilt. As I have suggested before, guilt is one of the biggest problems that therapists encounter. What I know is that these people can get no relief from their guilt, even by traditional therapy, until they hear that God can forgive them because His Son has taken the punishment they know deep down they deserve. THAT is why Jesus Christ died, to bring forgiveness to those in need of it who can get it no other way.


SIN AND MORE SIN: Richard believes that “the Christian focus is overwhelmingly on sin, sin, sin,” etc. If that is so, it is because there is a recognition that we do have this self-centred, godless disposition that leads us to be, in the words of my students, “nasty”! It is only when we face up to this disposition and its outworkings, that we realise we have a need, which the guilty people I referred to above, have recognized.

The emphasis, if that is what it is, is on sin for the unbeliever, because they fail to see it, fail to cry out for a remedy and fail to get the glorious answer that is there through the Gospel – of total forgiveness and a sense of being freed and completely remade, to enter into a life of peace, harmony and blessing.

There is not that emphasis for the Christian because their sin has been dealt with and they are free to enjoy God's good provision. If there are misdemeanours then it is a matter of acceptance of the failure, confession and receiving fresh forgiveness. The Christian focuses on God's love, not on sin.


Quote 2.6: p.286


Jesus has been worshipped as the redeemer of our sins



JESUS THE REDEEMER: Richard doesn't like this idea, but then he can't see that he is lost. He seems totally convinced that he's OK and then when death comes that will be the absolute end – a real man of faith! The apostle Paul wrote,

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,” (1 Cor 1:22,23)

For Richard, Jesus being our redeemer is pure foolishness, an anathema to his worldly wisdom, but he doesn't realise that for millions of people it has suddenly made sense. If you become aware of your shortcomings as an individual and have a sense of guilt, millions will be able to tell you that when they came to the account of Christ dying to redeem them from lostness, it all suddenly made sense and the way ahead became clear.



Quote 2.7: p.286


poor Judas Iscariot



DODGY DOCUMENTS: Again Richard wanders back into the murky realm of dodgy documents that have been weighed and found wanting. I simply refer you again to Dr. Michael Green's book, The Books the Church Suppressed.


POOR JUDAS:  More misunderstanding coming up. The more you go through this book, the more I think Richard's denouncing theologians in an earlier chapter was a classic case of shooting yourself in the foot. Having denounced them he goes to show his need of a theologian or two to dig him out of his morass of misunderstanding. Here's his statement: “Judas Iscariot has received a bad deal from history, given that his betrayal was a necessary part of the cosmic plan.”  I wish Richard did believe in a cosmic plan, but of course he's just being sarcastic.


On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter, preaching under the power of the Holy Spirit, speaking about Jesus, declared,

This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2:23).

That summarises the truth of what happened. Yes, the Cross was God's objective, for reasons Richard doesn't like, and God knew that Jesus' goodness would provoke the evil in men's hearts to rise up and crucify him or, in Judas's case, He knew that Judas's bad attitude would rise up and enable him to betray Jesus to the authorities in the middle of the night. To talk about ‘poor' Judas is a bit like saying poor Jack the Ripper.



Quote 2.8: p.287


condemning remote future generations of Jews to pogroms and persecutions as ‘Christ-killers'  




TRUTH ABOUT THE Jews: I'm sure there have been those who opposed the Jews as Christ-killers but I would suggest they simply used that tag to legitimise (in their own minds at least) their opposition. I'm sure there have been Christians in the past who have joined in that opposition and I in no way agree with that. However, the Bible suggests another reason: because they are the people of God from the pre-Christian era and God has a part for them to play in end-time history.

In pure sociological terms I suspect such opposition has been focused on the fact that they have kept themselves to themselves, maintaining their own culture, and prospering in business. Remember in an earlier chapter Dawkins himself spoke disparagingly about American Jews. Those who blame Jew-baiting on Christians forget a number of issues:


1. The early Christian church was entirely Jewish.

2. As the early church grew to include non-Jews, one of the main areas of opposition to the church was the other Jews who refused to receive the Christ-revelation.

3. Those who blame the Jews for Jesus death are ignorant of the facts of his death. Yes, they did arrest and try him falsely and accuse him, but it was the Gentile world, the Romans, who just went along with it and actually ended up crucifying him!  If there is Jew-Gentile guilt apportioning, then it is equal!



Quote 2.9: p.287


Progressive ethicists




PROGRESSIVE?:So who are these people? They are those who agree with Richard's point of view. I would never want to be called progressive (and I realise Richard uses it as a positive description – in his eyes at least) because every time some group is called progressive, they are later shown up to be in error. Progressive education was once that which did away with any forms of direction or discipline. Today they are seen as naïve, unrealistic, theorists who don't understand human nature.



Quote 2.10: p.287


Love thy neighbour




CONTEXT: This gets a mention here to prepare the way for what is to follow – a demeaning of the concept of loving your neighbour. Well, OK, let's clear the ground a little. The Law was specifically stated as “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev 19:18) and quite obviously living in a uniquely closed community, all from the same family, 'neighbour' obviously did mean other Jews and if they had a failing it was to look down on those who were not part of this family of people, but that wasn't because that was what God wanted. A careful examination of the Law shows that those who were not Jews but who joined themselves to them, were to be looked after because they, the Jews, had once been aliens in a foreign land.


JESUS' APPLICATION: The fact that the Pharisees, as we have already noted, and some of their teachers, had distorted the Law, did obviously bring confusion which may have been why the man questioning Jesus asked, “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29).  Jesus' teaching was very clear as he told the parable we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It was a Samaritan, one of the semi-Jews, often hated by them, that Jesus made the man who helped the injured Jew, and thus his 'neighbour'. Now there was nothing strange about this because, as we've commented previously, God's intention was for this people to be a light to the rest of the world and that included them having a favourable attitude towards them. Such an attitude was seen, for example, in David's and Solomon's attitudes to certain non-Jewish leaders who helped them in the construction of the Temple. More later in the next Part.


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Part 3: Love thy Neighbour



Quote 3.1: p.288


Methodists are more likely to be saved than Roman Catholics




UNCLEAR WRITING: It's difficult to know what point Richard is making in the first paragraph of this Part because it is not clear. I assume from the way he proceeds that he is talking about cliques who only see themselves as saved, but I may be completely wrong.



Quote 3.2: p.288


Jesus limited his in-group of the saved strictly to the Jews.




JEWS ONLY: Here he relies on another to claim that Jesus only went to the Jews. It seems obvious that Jesus chose only Jews to be part of the apostolic team, as

a) there were relatively few non-Jews (apart from the Romans) in Israel, especially who would want to be part of such a band, and

b) others would not have the teaching and background knowledge that fellow-Jews would have.

Without doubt, during the time of his ministry he went primarily to the Jews because, again, they would be the best prepared to receive what he was saying. (Similarly later on, Paul always went first of all to synagogues in the different countries, because the Jews should have been the first to understand the background and therefore life of Jesus.)


TO THE WORLD: The argument (and I'm not sure why he's making it) that Jesus only came to bring these commands to the Jews, despite citing a medieval rabbi, falls down when we hear Jesus sending his disciples out:

go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19,20) and “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

These are clearly instructions to go to all the world and all nations, and not just Jews in nations, especially as at that time there were very few Jews scattered around the world.

Throughout the Old Testament, the clear indication is that Israel were to be a light to the nations (Isa 49:6), indicating God's concern for the WHOLE world:

Gen 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, Ex 15:14, Lev 26:45, Num 14;15, Deut 2:25, 4:6, 26:19, 29:24, 1 Kings 4:31, 1 Chron 16:8,24,28,31, 1 Chron 22;5, 2 Chron 32:23, Neh 6:6,16, Psa 9:11, 18:49, 22:27, 44:14, 45:17, 46:10, 57:9, 67:2-4, 79:10, 86:9, 96:3,7,10, 98:2, 102:15, 105:1, 108:3-5, 113:4, 117:1, 126:2, Isa 11:10,12, 12:4, 42:1, 51:4,5, 52:10,15, 56:7, 60:3, 61:11, 62:2,10, 66:19, Jer 1:5,10, 3:17, 4:2,16, 6:18, 31:7, 33:9, 46:12, 50:2, Ezek 5:8,14,15, 16:14, 28:25, 36:23, 37:28, 38:16,23, 39:7,21,23,27, Dan 6:25, Joel 2:17, 3:9,11, Na 3:5, Zep 3:11, Zec 9:10, Mal 1:1, 3:12.

That did not change in the New Testament, as Jesus' instructions to his followers, above, clearly shows.



Quote 3.3: p.288


thou shalt not kill




HALF TRUTH: The impression given in the next paragraph, although it is not very clear, is that Richard is trying to maintain that all of the Old Testament commands were meant only for the Jews and for once, he is at least half right, but not on the particular commands he mentions. When Christian scholars look at the Law of the Old Testament, it is usually considered as three distinct forms:


1. The Ten Commandments and similar ‘general' laws – specifically given to Israel but recognised as being God's wisdom that can be applied to any wise society.


2. The ceremonial or sacrificial law that could only be exercised in the Temple. As that no longer exists, it is no longer operated. As far as Christians are concerned, the purpose of the various functions of that Law have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ and therefore it would not be operational on that basis.


3. Practical Laws – again specifically given to Israel as a nation under God, to maintain order and harmony. Some of those laws we simply don't understand (but may come to) e.g. not growing two crops alongside each other, and many of which would be seen as practically wise by us today and indeed we might base our own laws on them, e.g. the law of Strict Liability and negligence in the case of dangerous animals. ‘Reconstructionists' in America have suggested that we apply all such laws yet they miss the primary requirement, that they are laws of a nation under God, and Israel alone was uniquely that.


As noted earlier in this chapter, to say that “You shall not kill” was only meant for Israel, ignores the various references to God's purpose for them to be a light to the nations. Quoting a variety of think-alike rabbis doesn't make the case. There are rabbis of lots of different persuasions.



Quote 3.4: p.289


the conquest of the Promised Land




TAKING THE LAND: In what follows, it is almost impossible to understand what Richard is trying to show because he is enamoured by Hartung's writing and quotes his study of Israeli children, I think to show that religion, and Jewish religion in particular, is strong on genocide, especially in respect of Jericho. I simply refer you back to what I said about occupying the land earlier.



Quote 3.5: p.292


it was Paul who invented the idea of taking the Jewish God to the Gentiles. … Jesus would have turned over in his grave if he had known that Paul would be taking his plan to the pigs




BAD BACKGROUND: Well, Hartung was writing in The Skeptic, so we shouldn't be too surprised at such garbage. What is sad is that Richard doesn't know any better and thoughtlessly repeats what is quite unbelievable to any Biblically literate person. No doubt usual readers of The Skeptic herald this man as something or other but here he comes over as Biblically illiterate. McGrath obviously ran out of grace as well at this point of the book for he wrote in The Dawkins Delusion, “There are points at which his ignorance of religion ceases to be amusing, and simply becomes risible.”


THE BIGGER PICTURE: I have already commented a number of times on the Old Testament references to the nation of Israel being a ‘light to the nations' and have already quoted Jesus words in Matthew and Acts. The breakout from Judaism really came about following persecution when Philip took the Gospel first to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5) and then to an African who was clearly a Gentile (Acts 8:27-38). Paul became a Christian soon after, as recorded in Acts 9, but before Paul could take the message out, Peter was required to take the Gospel to Cornelius and his family and friends, all of whom were Gentiles. There is no question that Paul was one of the main architect's of expanding the church to the wider world, but he wasn't the only one.


GODLESS EXPLANTIONS: It is possible to lose sight of what is going on in the midst of the pseudo-intellectual quoting that goes on in this chapter. Richard is seeking to show that the growth of Christianity was an evolutionary thing which was distorted along the way, and cites his fellow atheists' bizarre writings to confirm his own misguided viewpoint.

The point that comes through Scripture again and again, is that what took place, took place at the specific instigation of God, under the direction of His Spirit, counterbalancing the godless warring against the church that began then and has continued ever since. An examination of the pages of our Apologetics section will show a page on the persecutions that the church suffered in the first three or four hundred years of its life. If the church was just a bunch of deluded individuals, you would have expected it to die away as a variety of other cultic groups did. Instead, contrary to all expectations, it grew and grew until it covered the face of the globe, but it was not a social phenomena, it was a God phenomena, and that is why Dawkins and his misquoting friends have to battle so hard trying to compete against the truth.

LINK to our Apologetics page on Persecution of the early Church



Quote 3.6: p.293


the exclusiveness of Judaism




DIVISIVENESS: Right, I understand now. Sorry it hadn't been that clear before! Richard is showing how divisive religion is and how ‘love your neighbour' doesn't work. I think there is a lot of truth, sadly, in what he says, but if anything it goes to show the truth of the Gospel message: left to ourselves we make a total mess of our lives (that is Sin) and we need God's help to prevent that (Salvation).


ORGANISED RELIGION: I have commented upon it before that primary divisions occur when religion has been organised and organisations have been created to manage it. The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church are primary examples of where this has come about, and a multitude of denominations further accentuate it.


NATIONALISM: Where there have been national divides, such as in Northern Ireland, then religion has been high-jacked as the means of stirring the division as has been witnessed for so long. The troubles in Ireland following the arrival of William of Orange probably had less to do with differences in doctrine rather than differences in allegiances to a power base.


DISAGREEMENT: The history of the church has been plagued with teachings coming in that ran contrary to Scripture – heresies – and thus there has been a natural fear of any group that tries to impose itself or its will on others. Richard's crusading on behalf of atheism is no different whatsoever to what goes on with different religious groups. Indeed reading this book has made me realise more than ever before how many divisions there are among atheistic scientists. Atheism is just like the church in this respect, each struggling for the truth and struggling against those who have a variant.


UNCLEAR TRUTH: At first sight I tend to agree with Richard that there is a distinct absence of ‘love your neighbour' but the more I think about it, the more I realise it is not that clear cut. For instance, here are two (or more) churches in one town. They meet separately and exercise their religious activities in slightly different ways. Yet, on occasion they meet together, whether in groups or as individuals and there is no animosity and indeed there is clearly a sense of ‘love your neighbour'. Thus I think where there is any big organisational power base there is division, but on a one-to-one level there is love and acceptance. Allegiance to structure also divides. We have friends who are Roman Catholics and as much as I am horrified at what I perceive to be power structures in the Catholic Church, that does not stop me loving my friends and thoroughly enjoying their company.



Quote 3.7: p.295


Religion exacerbates the damage in at least three ways



Richard moves on to criticise religion for worsening secular feuds. Sadly, because it shouldn't happen, I am sure he is right. Whether it is a case of poor teaching, superficial or nominal Christianity or people simply being sucked in to secular divides, it does happen, he is right, and it shouldn't happen.

LINK to Appendix 8 - Facts, Formulas & Freaky Behaviour

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Part 4: The Moral Zeitgeist



Quote 4.1: p.298


This chapter begins by showing that we do not – even the religious among us – ground our morality in holy books, no matter what we may fondly imagine.




If you are not familiar with the term, zeitgeist simply means ‘the spirit of the age'.


COMPLETE MISUNDERSTANDING MEANS WRONG START: As we have already shown, Richard's complete misunderstanding of the Bible and of the Christian faith means that he started out with a wrong premise, that morals are taken from human behaviour recorded in the Bible. Morals are not taken from imperfect human behaviour but from the immense amount of specific instruction given by God in the Bible. [It is interesting to note that of the major Christian divisions, it is the Catholic division (which Richard so dislikes) that adheres most strongly to stated Biblical morality.]

LINK to Appendix 8 - Facts, Formulas & Freaky Behaviour



Quote 4.2: p.298


There is a consensus about what we…. consider right and wrong… The consensus has no obvious connection with religion… most people pay lip service to the same broad liberal consensus of ethical principles




WHAT WE ALL AGREE ON: Richard goes on to give a list of things that we all subscribe to, followed by atheists' ten commandments. What is interesting is that the first five of that list are exactly what the Bible teaches although they have been worded in ways to appear to be quite different.


INABILITY TO KEEP THE RULES: What is hilarious, is that in the midst of this list of ten new commandments is one that says, “Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.” I really like it, but it only goes to prove a significant point: people can know such a comment but be totally unable to keep it! Richard would do really well to adhere to this particular one, and if he did it would be the end of such books as The God Delusion! Similarly he totally disregards the one he quotes which says, “always respect the rights of other to disagree with you.”


THE NEED FOR GOD IN THE RULES: What Richard and other atheists seem incapable of understanding (although in his discussion on absolutes, Richard did virtually concede this) is that if you remove God you have no reason whatsoever why anyone should follow your rules. See earlier in this chapter.



Quote 4.3: p.300


in my own amended Ten Commandments…




NAÏVE SEXUAL AGENDA: I suspect a political agenda in the items that Richard would like to include but putting that aside, these are good illustrations of the atheistic optimism which is naïve and flies in the face of reality. To say, as Richard does, “Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else)” sounds so adult, so mature and grown up, but the trouble is, it doesn't happen and it doesn't happen among those who are in practice atheists!!


HARSH REALITY: In this enlightened and modern world (words which Richard likes to use) we have a crisis of relationships which have become almost entirely sexually orientated with little social or deeper relational content, so that as a result we have high levels of relational breakdown, lots of damaged and abused children, lots of single mothers on their own, and constantly increasing levels of STDs. This optimistic philosophical opium is wonderful stuff for intellectual atheists to bandy around in their head-in-the-cloud discussions, but has little to do with the reality of life.


HYPOCRITICAL STANDARDS: The third one he would like to add is certainly politically motivated – but it is obviously one he does not adhere to, no matter what he “may fondly imagine”: “Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence and how to disagree with you.” Richard is a classic example of someone who does not evaluate the evidence. He only picks out bits that suit him. I know this is coming up later, but we might as well take a first shot at it here:


ATHEISTIC INDOCTRINATION TODAY: An extension of the hypocritical standards theme, is seen in education today. “Do not indoctrinate your children” says the atheist and the atheistic government, but isn't teaching children only one approach to life exactly that! A society that teaches its children about sex but does not put up as a strong option, “Don't have sex until you are married” is pushing a one-sided agenda. A biology teacher who does not teach evolution as a theory with lots of holes it in, is perpetuating a one sided agenda. A school that refuses to allow the teaching of the alternatives of Creationism and Intelligent Design as beliefs by large numbers of intelligent people, is indoctrinating its children. Religious Studies taught as myths by atheists, are indoctrinating children because they are refusing to acknowledge huge amounts to evidence that says such beliefs are not myths. If you want me to believe you have any sense of integrity, you'd better start being honest about these things. Enough said – for the moment!



Quote 4.4: p.300


we have almost all moved on, and in a big way, since biblical times




HYPOCRITICAL BLINDNESS: Now I have to warn you, that when I start hearing this sort of stuff I start feeling like the Old Testament prophets and Jesus himself, who were all strongly against hypocrisy. The first point of hypocrisy is to pretend that using a phrase like “since biblical times” blames God and biblical characters for what was the cultural norm at that point of history – as we have amply covered previously. To sound pious from an atheistic angle about abolition of slavery is hypocrisy because it was the Christians who battled to abolish slavery. The major hypocrisy is the refusal to acknowledge the incredible influence of Jesus Christ and Christians who have worked to bring social changes into an otherwise unjust and harsh world.


THE CHANGING WORLD: In the pages that follow Richard scans over changing history showing that the spirit of the age has changed dramatically but along the way he conveniently misses a few useful points. He actually cites various atheistic writers speaking into their age but using very racist ideas. David Robertson in The Dawkins Letters makes the good point that Christian reformers at that time were establishing the spirit of the age by pushing the abolition of slavery, but these atheistic writers were flying against that on what they maintained were scientific grounds!

I'm not going to quote any more from the remaining pages of this part because it is a) questionable [and the debate could go on for many pages], and b) selective [omitting the tremendous Christian influence that often came to bear to bring change]. It is also highly questionable whether moral standards in many areas are actually better today than in past centuries.


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Part 5: What about Hitler & Stalin? Weren't they Atheists?



Quote 5.1: p.308


It is important to separate the evil intentions of men like Hitler and Stalin from the vast power that they wielded in achieving them.



DISASSOCIATION: I've looked at that sentence a few times and I'm not sure I know what it means. The power they wielded in achieving those evil intentions?   I take David Robertson's point in The Dawkins Letters:

I can understand why atheists want to dissociate themselves from the like of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot – after all they were the leaders of the only official atheistic states so far, and their human rights record was, shall we say, not exactly great.”



Quote 5.2: p.309


What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things




RELEASING NOT INFLUENCING: This is all a bit coy. It's not that it influences them but that it releases them. If they have no one to answer to, they are their own god and can do what they like. That's a point we keep trying to make but it doesn't help the atheistic cause so atheists remain blind to it. Really all the rest of the words about Stalin are waffle. He acknowledges that Stalin was an atheist but waffles about the rest. No, atheism released Stalin to do what he liked! Be honest about it!



Quote 5.2: p.310


The legend that Hitler was an atheist




THE TRUTH ABOUT HITLER: David Robertson in The Dawkins Letters is an expert in this area. The best he can say for your case is that Hitler used the church. He quotes Hitler as saying, “The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity.” He also quotes Hitler's secretary as writing, “He was not a member of any church, and thought the Christian religions outdated… the laws of nature were his religion” Robertson with his knowledge of Hitler concluded, “He hated Christianity.” There are a lot of people who maintain that Hitler was seriously into the occult which makes him a humanist who likes to control powers. Not very religious. In practice he was an atheist! Be honest.

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In the preamble Richard is simply derogatory about the Bible and appeals to a liberal theologian to confirm his confused beliefs. Not very good!



Part 1: The Old Testament


Unlike previous pages, I am not going to provide you with links back to the points I have made in this part because there is too much said. There are two primary points to be made and beyond that you really do need to read through each comment if you want to see the truth of what is there in the Old Testament:


1. Richard seeks to show that we do not follow Biblical morals, by pointing us to the behaviour of a variety of Old Testament characters. What he obviously doesn't realise, or purposely disregards because the truth spoils his story, is that theologians don't get morality from questionable human behaviour. The Bible records good and bad behaviour but morality comes from the specific instructions of God.


2. Richard reveals that neither he nor any of his sceptical atheistic friends has much of a clue of what is actually in the Old Testament, because he makes us feel embarrassed for him by misunderstanding the characters he quotes and by failing to quote from the massive Old Testament resources that show God as good.


This is a disastrous Part and no other description fits it.


Part 2: Is the New Testament any Better?


Point two above applies equally here. Another disastrous Part.



Part 3: Love thy Neighbour


In this Part alone is there any merit in what Richard has to say in this Chapter. Essentially he castigates the church (and other religions) for being divisive, for their history of getting involved in secular divides, and basically for not showing love to all others. As far as this goes, he has some grounds for complaint. Yet three points needs making:


1. He fails to distinguish between:

•  belief in God as revealed in the Bible, and

‘religion' being the outworking of those beliefs – usually inadequately and incompletely – by imperfect human beings.


2. The observation of imperfect human beings doing the things he criticises, does not necessarily take into account that:

a) sometimes there are those who would seek to gain credibility by calling themselves Christians, but who aren't

b) sometimes the inadequate behaviour criticised is by those who are purely nominal Christians, i.e. those who say they are but have not had any real life-changing experience of God.


3. Although Christians often choose to worship the same God in different manners and in different places, that does not stop them loving one another and appreciating one another.



Part 4: The Moral Zeitgeist


The discussion about the spirit of the age simply seeks to show that things change with history and, in Richard's eyes, religion hasn't played a part in that.


I have simple observed that:

1. Richard fails to see that without God it is impossible to keep even your own rules and it is impossible to agree the rules to start with,

2. His view of life is blindly optimistic and completely fails to face the reality of life today,

3. He blames religion for things which were simply cultural norms thousands of years ago,

4. He fails to take into account the immense Christian input to social reform that has brought about the changes for good, and

5. It is questionable whether so many of today's moral standards are actually better than in the past.



Part 5: What about Hitler & Stalin? Weren't they Atheists?


In this Part he wants to disassociate himself from two of the most evil men of the last century. Stalin was obviously an atheist and Hitler was one in practice, even if he didn't speak it out for fear of losing the support of the church which he manipulated for his own use. It wasn't a case that atheism made them do the things they did, but it certainly opened the way up for them to act like they did, being no longer answerable to a divine being.



Overall Comment:


About half of this 48 page chapter was given over to deriding the contents of the Old and New Testaments with the aim of showing that we don't get our morals from them. In that Richard obviously totally (and that is the right word) misunderstands the Bible and how theologians use it, it completely fails in its aim.


About half the chapter then shows how the religious population is still very human and frequently gets sucked into divisive world affairs and doesn't make much of a job loving one another, then giving a one sided view of the spirit of the age, and concludes with an inadequate explanation why Stalin and Hitler's atheism was the reason they were so nasty. Just so we don't lose the point of the book, we should also note that nothing in the second half shows that the belief in God is a delusion. All it shows is that Richard doesn't understand the difference between belief in God and the various religious outworkings of that belief by imperfect human beings.


Overall an embarrassing chapter, but hopefully it may have acted as a Primer for you to find out what the Bible does actually say.


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