Posts Tagged “apologists”

In the wake of the manner in which Christians — such as Marion “Pat” Robertson — have used the Haiti earthquake to advance their own agendas, scientist and outspoken critic of religion Richard Dawkins is using the comments of Christians — both Robertson’s, and those who try to distance themselves from him — to expose the reality of the religion they worship. In the Washington Post On Faith blog, he wrote (WebCite cached article):

Needless to say, milder-mannered faith-heads are falling over themselves to disown Pat Robertson, just as they disowned those other pastors, evangelists, missionaries and mullahs at the time of the earlier disasters.

What hypocrisy.

Loathsome as Robertson’s views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized theodiceans who see suffering as an intractable ‘mystery’, or who ‘see God’ in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding into Haiti , or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God ‘suffering on the cross’ in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.

Where was God in Noah’s flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for ‘sin’. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock stock and barrel, as punishment for ‘sin’. Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with ‘sin’, with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the obnoxious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the ‘sins’ of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the ‘sin’ of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed?

The reality of Christianity is that sin, suffering, and retribution are central to everything about it, and Dawkins delivers this philosophical hammer-blow to Christians who would try to disavow Robertson:

Educated apologist, how dare you weep Christian tears, when your entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for ‘sin’ – or suffering as ‘atonement’ for it? You may weep for Haiti where Pat Robertson does not, but at least, in his hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance, he holds up an honest mirror to the ugliness of Christian theology. You are nothing but a whited sepulchre.

Dawkins will, no doubt, be condemned for this confrontational piece, which is one of the harshest things I’ve read about Christianity, in the mass media, in a long time. (People seem to think that atheists like Dawkins are supposed to be meek, humble milquetoasts who cannot say anything even remotely mean about any religion … even though they, themselves, think nothing of deriding atheism, secularism, and other forms of non-belief.) But whatever the merits of Dawkins writing this confrontational piece may be, the fact remains that he is correct: Christian theology is predicated on viciousness and suffering, and revels in it. I have long argued that the God of all the Abrahamic faiths (i.e. Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition) can — logically — only be a malevolent being. It is not possible for him to be benevolent, as JCI worshippers assume him to be, nor is it possible even for him to be ambivalent or neutral. It’s heartening to see a public figure delivering a similar message.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith and the Friendly Atheist blogs.

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