Thursday, July 20, 2017

Quibbling with Richard Dawkins

Yesterday I used a quote from Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.  (Dawkins established the Foundation for Reason and Science in 2006 and is an avowed Atheist).The more I thought about what he wrote, the more I felt I needed to say something more about the Bible, (or was it simply a need to quibble with Dawkins?). “The God of the Old Testament,” he writes, “is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”  Dawkins implies that the Bible is fictional (meaning:  “The category of literature, drama, film, or other creative work whose content is imagined and is not necessarily based on fact” and/or “Narrative, explanatory material, or belief that is not true or has been imagined or fabricated”).  The Bible contains books of history, short stories, drama, love poems, philosophy, law codes, etc. It cannot be considered as entirely fictional, though certainly some of it is fiction.  The Bible is the story of a people searching for God in the midst of their “real” not “imagined” or “fabricated” historical experience.  Cyrus the Great and Nebuchadnezzar were real historical figures.  So, I’m not sure it is fair, nor accurate, for Dawkins or anyone else to call the Old Testament (or the Bible) a fictional account.

Now it is difficult for anyone to quibble with Dawkins about the kind of "God" he sees in the Old Testament, "jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, meglomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."  But, I wonder if Dawkins included the God described in the Book of Hosea in his research, or the ever-growing conception of "one" God, a God of Love, in the writings of Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah?

The early conceptions of God in the Old Testament were and are crude, just as some conceptions of God in the modern day are crude.  Humankind has always shaped their gods into the kind of image that will support their "petty, unjust, unforgiving" nature and their ethnic cleansing, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, etc., propensities.  These propensities remain and are still acted out and ascribed to God's word!  The early writers of the Old Testament did the same.  The atrocities committed and ascribed to God are more in tune with their own human nature than that of the divine.  But if you read the Old Testament with care, openness and reason, you will find this theme throughout:
"My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.

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