I wrote this expose of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion in the form of a letter to him. Although I haven’t actually sent it to him yet, I thought my readers might enjoy a preview of it.
Dear Professor Dawkins,
I have recently finished reading your celebrated work The God Delusion as a recommendation from a friend. Before I go any further, I want you to know that I am a born-again Christian. Furthermore, I am saddened at some of the hate mail that you have gotten from persons claiming to be Christians, but displaying an attitude much unlike their namesake. I want you to know, that though I may disagree with you on many points, I do not hate you and consequently do not hope that you die a painful death or burn in hell, as some have rashly commented.
I enjoyed your book, in the sense that it was well-developed, generally interesting, and I especially relished your prolific utilization of the English language as well as your biting sarcasm at times. Also, I’d like to agree with you that religious groups should not be given special treatment simply for the sake of being religious. I’d like to also conversely say that atheists and other “nones” should also not be given any special treatment in the public sphere. This, I believe, is the true form of religious freedom. I also believe, as you do, that a child should not be associated with the belief system of their parents. Their decision should be theirs to make, not their parents’.
However, for the majority of the rest of your book, I disagreed with you. But for time and space’s sake, I will list three of my main issues with your book. First, I think that you’ve made a fundamental error in your assessment of faith itself, or at least the faith of Christians. As is stated in Hebrews chapter 11, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In this verse faith (pistis from the root word peithō) means persuade. Therefore faith does not refer to a blind belief without any basis in evidence, as you and others suggest. Rather, it is just the opposite.
Secondly, you’ve stated several times that evolution was not guided by random processes, but by natural selection. Pardon me, but I don’t think I really see the distinction. What decides which gene gets mutated? What process selects a certain species to be mutated? And then, on top of all that, how do you explain several of these phenomena occurring all at the same time? It certainly seems like chance process to me, even if it’s in the guise of “natural selection.”
Finally, and most lengthy, I believe you’re mistaken in your assessment of the God of the Old Testament. Several times you referred to Him as a homicidal, racist, intolerant maniac (or something along those lines). Although I agree that if you look at the Scriptures at face value and read those accounts of slaughter and war, you are certainly not a dunce to think as such. However, since the Bible was written in languages foreign to us and in cultural contexts that we often forget, what it may seem to say may not be what it originally meant. In this case, we need to take into account everything that occurred prior to these events, and even events that occurred afterwards.
To help establish a context, we need to start from the beginning. You ask why God is obsessed with the smell of charred meat. In Genesis 2, when God says “‘but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die [emphasis added].” Why is this significant? What does God command Israel to do repeatedly in the Law? To sacrifice animals; which involves death, the penalty for disobeying God in the garden. As we continue through Genesis, God expects this trend to be followed. In Genesis 4 Cain brings fruits and vegetables, while Abel brings the best of his flock. God isn’t whimsical about which offering He decides He’s going to accept. He had previously set a precedent when Adam and Eve received tunics of skin instead of their fig leaves. In Hebrews 9:22 we read, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission [of sins].”
How does this tie in to why God is a “genocidal maniac”?
As we’ve seen from the Cain and Abel incident, God had a certain set of regulations for the conduct of humans, particularly in the covering of sin. This was passed down through Seth’s line, while Cain’s line continued down their path of materialistic pursuits, shunning the words of God. A chapter in the Bible that most people skip is Genesis 5. It’s the genealogies, but we find some significant details there. It traces the line of Adam through Seth and we eventually get to Enoch. The peculiar thing about Enoch was that God took him after 365 years; he never died. But Enoch wasn’t just sitting around waiting for God to do something; Enoch walked with God. And Jude 14-15 tells us that Enoch was the first recorded prophet of God. He warned people of the coming judgment of God, if they chose to keep on the rebellious path they were on. Enoch wasn’t the only one though. Noah also was a prophet of God, and we all know what happened when people didn’t listen to him. Most Bible scholars place the Flood around 2300 B.C. This is significant because the conquest of Canaan (probably the first instance of “genocide”) is placed in the late 1300’s B.C. This means that God gave those groups at least a millennium to turn from their evil ways and serve Him. These people weren’t ignorant of God either; they were all descended from righteous Noah, knowing of God from him.
While this probably won’t convert you, I do hope that you have had your “consciousness raised,” as you and the feminists like to say. Here’s a link to my blog (www.asheepatthegate.wordpress.com). Feel free to comment or critique me. Also, thank you for the opportunity to respond to your arguments.