Saturday, September 12, 2009

The God Delusion... and theological positions...

In the Sep. 8, 2009 issue of The Christian Century, one of the book reviews is on the book Losing My Religion by William Lobdell. The reviewer, Valerie Weaver-Zercher, opens her review with the paragraph:

Either you don't believe in God or you're a dope." This is how Newsweek's
Lisa Miller sums up the thinking of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and
Sam Harris. And despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans say they believe
in God, Miller writes, plenty of us seem to enjoy the new atheists' "books and
telegenic bombast so much that we don't mind their low opinion of us."

Well, I don't know if I mind the low opinion of the atheists, but their work is certainly engaging, in style at the very least. So, despite the fact that I have written twice before about the new atheists (10-30-2006 and 4-26-2007) a couple of years ago, I am finally now getting around to reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (and just an aside here but the book cover has the title presented as The GOD Delusion... it would have been much more fitting, I think, to be presented as The god Delusion, but that's just me). I am only a short way into the book, and I agree the above quote from the reviewer, there is certainly "telegenic bombast." The book is not dry or academic. It is written very well and is keeping my interest, even if I am clearly looked down upon bu the author. I am consistently engaged even if I remain unconvinced about his arguments.

Nonetheless, I believe that even this early in the book, I have discovered some common ground. Dawkins lays into the notion that opinions and moral positions based upon religious principles (however they come about) are seemingly untouchable by critique. They stand behind an incredibly thick (and undeserved) wall of respect. Dawkins is out to offend and challenge the position of Christianity (and other religions as well), plain and simple. No doctrinal position or ethical stance should ever be untouchable. As Christians we must be in conversation with others for we have much to learn from other Christians, not to mention non-Christians. Any theologian worth his or her salt must be ready to admit that he or she is wrong, and that won't happen if we are unable to challenge our fellow brother or sister's position. But Dawkins wants it all gone, because it is unreasonable. Reason reigns, at least for him.

In our conversation with the world, we can use secular terms, using reason alone (after all our positions should be reasonable). However we must also wrestle with revelation (that is, what God has done, is doing, and will yet do in Christ Jesus). We cannot ignore the gospel, nor the opportunity we have to communicate it when in conversation with those outside the Church, no matter how much bombast Dawkins and his compatriots unleash.

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