and that it is ultimately grounded
first claim, that it wholly misrepresents
the origins of man and the cosmos assumes that the beliefs and assumptions
of the author's position, are in fact accurate. If you would like
to go to Appendix 4 [CLICK
HERE] in our appraisal of Dawkins' The God Delusion,
you will see that this is not so certain as our author here would
have us believe.
second claim, that it manages to combine
the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism is, I'm afraid,
beyond my understanding, and I suspect yours too if you are honest.
Solipsism is the philosophical view that self is all that exists or
can be known. For the life of me I cannot see any connection whatsoever
with my knowledge of the Christian faith. It has nothing whatsoever
to do with me, myself, my ideas or whatever. It's all about what has
happened in time-space history.
third claim, that it is both the result
and the cause of dangerous sexual repression seems to be a bizarre
and outdated claim linked to Freud. To speak of Christianity as the
result of sexual repression is the most staggering declaration
of ignorance that can possibly be made. To say that it is the cause
of sexual repression is likewise a declaration of misunderstanding.
Christians, quoting the Bible, say that God's design is one man with
one woman for life, is only sexual repression if you believe that
unrestrained sexual liberty with as many partners of whichever sex
should be the norm. Sexual health experts and psychologists jointly
agree today that that latter view is a staggeringly ‘dangerous' view!
fourth claim, that it is ultimately grounded
on wish-thinking is again outdated Freudian thinking. I didn't think
that Freud held much credibility these days. The author is apparently
living in the past. Charles Colson in How Now Shall We Live?
could argue that the myth of human goodness to which modern culture
has succumbed is best explained by the psychology of atheism,
which is itself a form of wish fulfilment
– a deep desire to be free from all external authority and from
any transcendent source of morality.”
(my emphases added)
go to our Apologetics page on Wishful Thinking, please CLICK
little paragraph on page 4 provides a classic illustration of complete
misrepresentations of the truth that can be so easily slipped in under
the guard of the gullible and unwary because it appears so smooth
and so knowing.
People have moved away from belief
and are rational ordinary
people – “Literature, not scripture, sustains
the mind and …. also the soul.”
is part of the atheists' wish list. Richard Dawkins in The God
Delusion bemoaned the fact that atheists were so ineffectual
because religious people held the high ground in so many parts of
society. Modern man increasingly doesn't “go to church” in Western
societies but that is a far cry from giving up religious beliefs.
The truth is that there actually is a spiritual hunger in the modern,
Aside: For a detailed examination of this section on
page 5 which almost appears as an 'atheist's creed, please CLICK
Being good to one another? “We
speculate that it is at least possible that, once people accepted
the fact of their short and struggling lives, they might behave better
toward each other and not worse.” “We believe with certainty that
an ethical life can be lived without religion. And we know for a fact
that the corollary holds true – that religion has caused innumerable
people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to
award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper
or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.”
more of the atheist's wish list, referred to in the Colson quote above
as the “myth of human goodness” A careful assessment of modern Western
societies clearly shows that there is more, not less, antagonism in
human relationships today.
Ethical without Religion?
believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion.
And we know for a fact that the corollary holds true – that religion
has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better
than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways
that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.”
is one of those cases that I referred to as the sixth form of deception
above, where he has things in his mind but doesn't say them because,
I suspect, if they were brought out into the cold light of day, they
would be clearly seen to be questionable. I suspect that the author
has in mind either various expressions of world religions past or
present, or individuals who have been less than civilised while purporting
to hold religious beliefs. We'll come on to all of those later.
his book Is Religion Dangerous, Keith Ward, after carefully
examining some of these things, concluded,
is not religion that causes intolerance. It is intolerance that
uses religion to give alleged ‘moral' support to the real cause
of intolerance – hatred of those perceived or imagined to be oppressors
or threats to one's own welfare.”
some people can live an ethical life without religion, but as Dawkins
showed, the best that it can then be is ethics based on ‘self-serving
needs'. The major ethical changes for good that have come in Western
societies have, by and large, come because of Christian influence.
You can check it out!
Not needing machinery of reinforcement.
There seems a misunderstanding here. Although it must be accepted
that there are religious people who feel that they do have to do their
various religious activities to bolster their beliefs and perhaps
even appease their apparent deity, for traditional, Biblical Christian
faith, such activities are an expression or outworking of love rather
than a required act of submission. It is a popular misconception that
we have here.
Deriding religious writers of the past for their limitations.
“Augustine, Aquinas… These mighty scholars
may have written many evil things or many foolish things… there are
no more of them today… and will be no more of them tomorrow. Religion
spoke its last intelligible or noble or inspiring words a long time
is a bit of an odd section because speaking of some of the ‘greats'
he says, “These mighty scholars may have written
many evil things or many foolish things” Now this is again
one of his generalities that is utterly meaningless without content.
Do we claim that such men were always right in what they wrote? Of
course not! Yet we are left wondering why some of these brilliant
thinkers are being derided here. And as for his, “Religion
spoke its last intelligible or noble or inspiring words a long time
ago” this is just atheistic arrogance at its best and which
hardly bears comment.
The efforts of apologists derided:
“How much effort it takes to affirm the incredible! The Aztecs had
to tear open a human chest cavity every day just to make sure the
sun would rise. Monotheists are supposed to pester their deity more
times than that, perhaps, lest he be deaf.”
much effort it takes to affirm the incredible!” Oh
please! The only reason apologists spend so much time is that they
have so much baseless, uninformed and ignorant chatter to counter.
Pestering their deity…lest he be deaf? Is this an oblique reference
to the prayer practices of Islam? To read fuller comments on prayer,
HEALTH WARNING! I said
it in the Introduction but it bears repeating here, but the central
flaw of atheists, such as this author, is to lump together all religious
faiths and practices. I speak for Christianity alone, which has a
number of staggering claims to uniqueness and which mark it out from
any other so-called world religion. I wish such writers as this author
would have the integrity to not make sweeping statements that apparently
wish to include Christianity, when the truth is that those statements
should be made in respect of other world religions who need to stand
under the intellectual microscope on their own. If you want to fire
on other world religions, fine! But don't lump unique Christianity
in with the rest; you only display your ignorance!
Squirming with Sin
- sacrificing self-respect: “How much self respect
must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an
awareness of one's own sin?”
gets confused with this as well. Do all atheists? What we're struggling
with here is the varied expressions or outworkings of practice of
faith. Yes, some religions do not have an answer to the problem of
sin. Indeed some branches of Christianity do not apply the Bible and
so struggle with the ideas of sin.
the traditional, Biblical form of Christianity, anguishing over sin
is the prerogative of the pre-believer, the person who has not come
to faith in Christ. For the believing Christian, sin is not the focus,
but forgiveness, which releases worship, praise and thanks. I suspect
that this oft-repeated mantra of the atheists is, in fact, an expression
of their own deep-down guilt which they have no way of dealing with.
When they condemn Christianity in this way, they are simply expressing
their lack of understanding.
Religion as man-made and hostile.
“Past and present religious atrocities have occurred not because we
are evil, but because it is a fact of nature that the human species
is, biologically, only partly rational.”
you would like to take Christianity out of the equation, then I am
quite happy for you to speak of religion as man made and, indeed,
so often hostile. If you would like to define ‘religion' as ‘man-formulated
beliefs about a deity, and the way we relate to that deity', then
I am happy for you to go with that as you seek to apply it to what,
to many, appear the unsatisfactory world religions.
you try to apply it to Christianity, I have to suggest you are way
off base and are displaying your lack of knowledge and understanding
of the origins, veracity, integrity and expression of true, traditional,
Biblical Christian faith. To see more what that actually is, please
go to Appendix 6. CLICK
Secularists are more entertaining.
“Darwin… Hawking… Crick … These men are more enlightening when they
are wrong, or when they display their inevitable biases, than any
falsely modest person of faith who is vainly trying to square the
circle and to explain how he, a mere creature of the Creator, can
possibly know what the Creator intends.”
atheistic scientists are wrong or biased they are more interesting?
In the same way as Jack the Ripper is interesting? Oh, but they are
being compared to a “modest person of faith”
(a nice description!) who is “vainly trying”
(according to the author's view maybe) “to square
the circle and to explain how he, a mere creature of the Creator,
can possibly know what the Creator intends.” The author clearly
hasn't examined in an open-minded fashion, all the evidence and therefore
comes from a view that says, “There isn't a God, therefore no God
means he can't speak and therefore people can't know.” Circular arguing
that ignores the evidence! I still think such people are far more
interesting than muddled, speculative atheistic scientists.
There is genuine mystery in the universe.
“Now at last you can be properly
humble in the face of your maker, which turns out not to be a “who”
but a process of mutation with rather more random elements than our
vanity might wish.”
bit this, full of romanticism that tries to sound noble. As I've quoted
elsewhere, Richard Dawkins had to write his Unweaving the Rainbow
because his previous book left people complaining about “its
cold, bleak message”. References to mutation in this section presumably
refer to atheistic neo-Darwinism which reduces everything to accidental,
chaotic and meaningless cells. That isn't humbling; it is depressing,
and such atheists as the author and Richard Dawkins are constantly
struggling to dress up their empty philosophy and make it look not
only palatable, but really worth while believing in. That is what
so much of this chapter is about!
Humility comes from not knowing.
“Religion is man-made.
Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers
or gurus actually said or did….. the believers still claim to know…
to know what “he” demands of us – from our diet to our observances
to our sexual morality..”
is a simple denial here of the possibility of revelation from a Supreme
Being and a deriding of religious believers who “still
claim to know… to know what “he” demands of us – from our diet to
our observances to our sexual morality.”
presume, in respect of Christianity at least, this is a reference
to the Old Testament law. The only comment that really needs making
here is that if there is a God who designed and created this world
(initially, perfectly – see Appendix 6 referred to above) then surely
he would be the best person to suggest how we work best. But as Colson
pointed out (see above) the atheist's wish-thinking desperately wants
to avoid any all-knowing and all-wise authority figure. Such rejection
comes from what the Bible calls rebellion, which in psychological
terms might be explained as insecurity, the fear that this Being cannot
love me, so I must stand on my own two feet and reject what I see
as the threat from Him.
Not knowing is more real.
“The person who is certain, and
who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy
of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like
all farewells, should not be protracted.”
claim here is that belief in God is now outdated: We have grown up,
is the claim, and it's time such belief disappeared off this earth.
You mean like some of the atheistic regimes in the world that are
bringing such enlightenment to their people?
wholeness, freedom and goodness are seen where genuine Christianity
lives. It works! Check it out, and it's alive, well and flourishing.
To quote the apostle Paul, “When
I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned
like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
(1 Cor 13:11 ).
Yes there are childish versions of Christianity around the globe and
surely they will disappear, but don't confuse them with the real,
adult version which is alive and growing!
His grace to appreciate widely
– Bible quoting author. “I … selected as my
text a verse from the epistle of Saul of Tarsus…. because of its haunting
and elusive character … and for its essentially secular injunction,
and because it shone out from the wasteland of rant and complaint
and nonsense and bullying which surrounds it.”
part of the chapter conveys grace and acceptance. This is the deception.
Yes, he says, I can appreciate your beliefs and when I'm around you,
I'll go along with what you do (sounds like a good Hindu) for I can
pick out the good bits – without God. This would have a more solid
feel to it if earlier he had not spoken so vigorously (P.5) about
what “we” believe or don't believe. There was a real put down for
“you” (implied) religious dogmatists! This is the man who walks among
the religious infants of the world, and (although he prefers not to
say it blatantly) looks down on their childish, outdated beliefs.
That is what is conveyed here. So if you are a religious believer,
it's time to grow up. If you are thinking about being a religious
believer, don't be so childish! There are those who would suggest
that such talk is in fact childish and irresponsible, ignoring the
facts of history and of life.
Upset at religion being imposed.
“Religion poisons everything.”
Yes, he is ready to “respect” these various beliefs he lists, but
doesn't want them imposed on him. Leave me alone! I think ‘respect'
in this context means hold a tongue-in-cheek toleration of your funny
little beliefs. As for ‘leave me alone' I
think that is definitely tongue-in-cheek because here he is writing
a book with outlandish comments, decrying the beliefs of millions,
and is saying, I don't want to hear your side. Please stay away.