We have a battle about religion and truth between three Britons, each highly learned and in respected academic positions at Oxford and thus in all England.
God save the Queen!
The Attack - God Delusion
Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science,
University of Oxford
Richard Dawkins (1941), the father of the intriguing theory of memes, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist, author, and an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008.
He is also known as one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism along with D.C. Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.
The Counterattack - Dawkins Delusion
Rev'd Dr Joanna Collicutt McGrath is deacon at Oxford and a lecturer in the psychology of religion at Heythrop College, University of London and is a student of the Bible with great interest in neuropscyhology. Alistair McGrath was Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford, and has since 2008 the chair of Theology, Religion and Culture at King's College London.
Repel the counterattack!
Professor Dawkins's answer to Professor McGarth and his wife book in a letter to the Times "My critics are wrong to call me dogmatic" (here). Here is a part of that letter:
"... I never tire of emphasising how much we don’t know. The God Delusion ends in just such a theme. Where do the laws of physics come from? How did the universe begin? Scientists are working on these deep problems, honestly and patiently. Eventually they may be solved. Or they may be insoluble. We don’t know.
But whereas I and other scientists are humble enough to say we don’t know, what of theologians like McGrath? He knows. He's signed up to the Nicene Creed. The universe was created by a very particular supernatural intelligence who is actually three in one. Not four, not two, but three. Christian doctrine is remarkably specific: not only with cut-and-dried answers to the deep problems of the universe and life, but about the divinity of Jesus, about sin and redemption, heaven and hell, prayer and absolute morality. And yet McGrath has the almighty gall to accuse me of a 'glossy', 'quick fix', naive faith that science has all the answers.
Other theologies contradict his Christian creed while matching it for brash over-confidence, based on zero evidence. McGrath presumably rejects the polytheism of the Hindus, Olympians and Vikings. He does not subscribe to voodoo, or to any of thousands of mutually contradictory tribal beliefs. Is McGrath an “ideological fanatic” because he doesn’t believe in Thor’s hammer? Of course not. Why, then, does he suggest I am exactly that because I see no reason to believe in the particular God whose existence he, lacking both evidence and humility, positively asserts?"
Excerpt from Richard Dawkins letter in the Times
Humble message from the trenches
1, Dawkins cares
Highly learned and intellectual Richard Dawkins and many other atheists like him know much more about religions in general and about Christianity in particular than average Christians know about their own religion. He cares and is much more interested in intellectual honesty and truth about God than an average baptized citizen in any country with majority Christian population.
Many Christians live quite happy with their faith in God although they disagree with Dawkins and think that there probably is God. The order and purpose of nature seems to them such that the idea of a God makes sense. But this faith in God causes neither much anxiety nor much happiness simply because these jolly good fellows do not really care about the probably existing God. He is there in Sundays and in celebrations, royal weddings and so but is not present in everyday life so that a Christian would be too worried about matters of religion in our modern days of science and theology. Let Him be and may each man and woman live happy everafter with his religion or lack of it.
2. Three-pronged attack
In his counterattack to McGraths Dawkins fires his big weapons, killer arguments so to say, at three targets
- Credibility of religion and his call for scientific or any other kind of logical proof.
- Veracity of Nicene Creed, the fundamental statement of faith accepted by all Christians in the world (and there are many).
- Validity of one belief system over another
3. God of Israel
IMHO Professor Richard Dawkins goes deep in his counterattack but not deep enough. For example, scientific cosmology reaches as far as it can in time-space continuum, so why not our respected unbeliever? He honestly confesses that he is an agnostic in most essential questions about our existence. But in matters of religion he is not an agnostic - he knows without any proof that there are no gods!
Nicene Creed is deep in Christianity. But this is not the point of origins of this belief system. Christianity is a religion that has its roots in Judaism. (I would not use here the word evolution of religion because it is not such a simpleexpression and many Jews would rather call Christinity and Islam corruptions of religion).
Even when we talk about Judeo-Christian culture and religious heritage, the belief in One God is originally and genuinely introduced to humanity through the Jewish people, their God, God of Israel.
Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that the God of Israel is the only real God - all other gods are not real gods at all but variously seen as nonexistent or evil spirits and something to be fought against as we know (often sadly).
4. What is in the name?
el is the name of the Canaanite King of gods known from Ugaritic texts dating to the second millennium before Christ. The word is used as the name of God in Hebrew elohim אֱלהִים and in Arabic Allah لله .
The name of the spouse of the Canaanite god, elat, survives for example in the name Eilat and in the name of the pre-islamic female goddess allat.
"The English word God continues the Old English God (guþ, gudis in Gothic, gud in modern Scandinavian, God in Dutch, and Gott in modern German), which is thought to derive from Proto-Germanic *ǥuđán."
Depending on which possibility is preferred, the pre-Christian meaning of the Germanic term may either have been (in the "pouring" case) "libation" or "that which is libated upon, idol" — or, as Watkins opines in the light of Greek χυτη γαια "poured earth" meaning "tumulus", "the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound" — or (in the "invoke" case) "invocation, prayer" (compare the meanings of Sanskrit brahman) or "that which is invoked".
Wōdanaz or Wōđinaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of a god of Germanic paganism, known as Odin in Norse mythology, Wōden in Old English, Wodan or Wotan in Old High German and Godan in the Lombardic language. Godan was shortened to God over time and was adopted/retained by the Germanic peoples of the British isles as the name of their deity, in lieu of the Latin word Deus used by the Latin speaking Christian church, after conversion to Christianity."wikipedia
Importantly, the name of god demonstrates significant continuity and overlapping in the history of human religions. After all, we humans are children of Adam and Eve whether we like it or not! (And yes, I am well aware of the truths found out about our biological evolution and that the key person in the search of fossil evidence Luis Leakey (1903-1972) was himself a personal Christian.)
5. According to Scriptures
There are many fronts in this distinguished Battle of Britons that continues and is carried on by many.
But the crux of the matter is the God of Israel known to us only from the Jewish Scriptures (as we know, both Tanakh and New Testament are written by Jews).
Those wanting to crush faith in God of Israel must take on the Scriptures and show that they are not telling the truth.
Surprisingly many think so before actually joining the Blitz Krieg on London. The aim of those bus messages is not to crush the brave spirit of the jolly Britons but utterly destroying Ye Olde English soul with modern scientifically argued false claims of unbelief. The aim is to imprison this magnificent people into the cramped and pitifully limited scientificially proven world understood by Dawkins, the people with such a royal role in the history of this world created by God of Israel.
I say, it will not happen and the true Britons will vomit these illuminated ones from their midst.
Says not Simon but Paul
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.1 Corinthians 2:6-10