Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Great Moral Teacher

Dawkins: Losing the plot?
Richard Dawkins has described Our Lord as a great moral teacher. According to Dawkins, in fact, if Our Lord had known (we believe He does know) what we know today, He would be a disciple of Dawkins, an atheist, because atheists are "intelligent" not like those "dumb" Christians.

There are lots of things that simply don't add up about Dawkins arguments, that must be why he won't spend any time debating with Christians whose arguments are grounded in theology or, Heaven forfend, Scripture. At some point, someone who is obsessed with disproving God's existence is going to have to refer to texts which have as their main thread the revelation of God. At some point, someone who wants to tell the World that God (probably) does not exist, is going to have to examine Scripture.

The problem is that atheists, especially those atheists whose specialist subject is biological science, are usually quite ignorant of Scripture. So, we have Dawkins describing Our Lord as a 'great moral teacher'. According to The Catholic Herald...

“Jesus was a great moral teacher,” Richard Dawkins said to The Guardian earlier this week. “Somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”

Gandhi is a man who is often described as a 'great moral teacher'. He was famous for saying, "I love your Christ but I hate your Christians." Fair enough, I guess. He taught non-violence, peaceful protest against unjust political rule and generally 'turning the other cheek' and, let's not forget, that it was still cool to wear sandals. Here are some Gandhi quotes, from someone who is widely admired as having been a great moral teacher.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

We can assume that for his statement that Our Lord was a great moral teacher, Dawkins has searched the Gospels, since we really have no other historical record of what Christ said. So, let's source from quotes from Our Lord, the great moral teacher...

Before Abraham was, I am.

You will see the Son of Man coming in great glory on the clouds of Heaven.

When you pray, pray Our Father, who art in Heaven...

I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.

I am the living bread which has come down from Heaven.

Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life. 

When the Son of Man is lifted up from the Earth I shall draw all men to myself.
You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

And, according to Dawkins, Our Lord is a 'great moral teacher' and 'intelligent' too. Our Lord sounds like a man worth listening to. Of course, Our Lord's moral teaching is perfect. He is a great moral Teacher, the greatest because His words are 'spirit and they are life' and they came from God's own mouth, but there is a distinct difference between what Gandhi said and what Our Lord actually said. Gandhi didn't, for example, say stuff like, "If anyone believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live."

Dawkins refused to debate with a Protestant Christian theologian because he was 'too busy' or something. It would be a 'waste of time'. Perhaps he realises that if he debates with someone who knows Scripture then he'll (probably) lose. I don't know why he doesn't just stick to his specialist subject, which is, ironically, not God, out of whom he has made so much money, but the inheritance of acquired behaviour in chickens. Why should he 'waste his time' debating with a creationist, he said. I expect that even against a creationist, the simple fact is that Dawkins would have lost the debate. I expect that is the real reason he refused it.

And while we're discussing Dawkins, another thing. Do you remember that bus advertising campaign with the slogan, 'God probably does not exist, so don't worry if you murder your husband' or something like that? What gets me is that word 'probably'. If you told me that there was 'probably' not a lion outside my door, but there was a 10 % or even 1 or 2 % chance that there was a lion outside my door, I might actually consider not going to the front door. I want to hear that word 'definitely'. I want to know that there is definitely not a lion outside my door. The Catholic Church says God's revelation to us in Jesus Christ is full and final - it is definitive. For the Church, there is no 'probably'. 


Anonymous said...

"At some point, someone who is obsessed with disproving God's existence is going to have to refer to texts which main thread are the revelation of God."

Dawkins is like a man arguing against the presence of a rabbit whilst refusing to acknowledge or address the reason for the hutch, straw, carrots and water bottle.

Or indeed the rabbit staring at him


The Bones said...


I don't publish anonymous comments.

The point is that Dawkins speaks like a man who is certain that God does not exist, even though he himself admits that he cannot say for sure. Therefore, he is actually, in a position of uncertainty.

The Church says that God does exist and more, that we can 'know Him'. It doesn't leave room for doubt. This is a claim that is worth investigating since it is an absolute claim to truth. Dawkins doesn't lay claim to an absolute even though he behaves as a man who does.

Now, you may say, why should people listen to the Church because She says that God definitely exists? But then, surely, why should anyone listen to Dawkins when even his claim is not an absolute. He himself admits that it is a 'probable' that He does not exist. Aside from the fact that he cannot offer people hope, neither can he offer people certainty.

Things are either true or false. There is no grey area. Either the Catholic Church is right, or it is wrong. Dawkins is yet to come up for a convincing argument as to why the Church is wrong. He himself freely admits, indirectly, that the Church could, in fact, be right.

The Bones said...

You see, you can't even comment here without resorting to insulting those who believe as if we are stupid.

What's the point in arguing or debating something with someone who believes that the other person is thick, demented, just a scared little boy afraid of death?

You then refer to 2,000 years of Christian belief as a 'fairy story'.

Hello! McFly! There are no fairies in the Gospels! There is God, there is Satan, there are demons, there are Saints, there is Jesus Christ, there are sinners, there are Prophets, there are Angels, there are a lot of different people, as well as God, in there, but not a single, not even one ****ing fairy.

The Bones said...

Oh and by the way, this 'We'll never know' stuff is garbage.

We will know. When we die, we will know. Simple as that.

The Bones said...

I don't think Dawkins is being 'intellectually honest'. He insults those who do believe in the most disingenuous way, a little like you do towards the end of your rant.

For one, he is far more rhetorical than are those who believe. Yet, like yours, his rhetoric, once stripped away is empty. It is just derision and contempt, - it is not grounded in anything substantial. It is not science to which he appeals but to his own intellectual Pride. Pride is a sin by the way. Dawkins tends not to mention sin either because for one reason or another, he doesn't want to go there.

He uses images of 'sky fairies' for those who believe, when, what Jews believe is that God is One. No Jew ever said God was a sky-fairy. Neither did any Christian. Christians believe in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Are Jews and Christians so crazy? After all, the Jewish religion is the religion from which Christianity emerges, with the coming of Christ. Christianity just claims one thing really - that God became man and died for our sins, rose again, ascended and will come at the end of time as Supreme Judge of mankind.

After Christ, its a different ball game. In fact, Dawkins sets himself up as a kind of weird new pagan emperor who looks back upon 2,000 years of Christian belief, plus the Jewish belief as being absurd. What were all those idiots thinking? That Moses, he must have taken a massive cocktail of drugs to believe that he came down that mountain with the Ten Commandments! And the people actually believed it too! Oh, but sorry, that's just a fairy story isn't it.

Christians believe that God is One and yet God is three distinct Persons. I've never read anything by Dawkins which even mentions the Incarnation - the central belief of the Church.

He just starts out from his own position and thinks that everybody who believes in God is a fool. Yet, are we fools, really? 2,000 years of Catholic monks, nuns, priests, musicians, writers, (that Dante was a bit dumb wasn't he, and that Mozart and Michaelangelo was demented) and not to mention the Saints and martyrs who have died for the One, Holy and Catholic Faith.

All of this is disregarded because Dawkins is a like an emperor of reason. Yet, the Saints of the Church themselves loved reason. Reason enlightens Faith and Faith enlightens Reason.

He behaves as a man who has some amazing esoteric truth, ascertainable to him, the World and to even believers, if only they would wake up and shake themselves out of their faithful torpor. But, they don't, because faith doesn't just give them a reason to get up in the morning, but it motivates their entire existence.

He behaves like a religious fundamentalist - he even tries to make converts - just like religious fundamentalists do. Then he writes books about it - just like religious fundamentalists do. Then he makes loads of money - just like religious fundamentalists do.

He's no different to a religous fundamentalist. The only difference is that they, to a point, though usually they are not Catholic, have as their reference the testimony of Scripture.

As Catholics we believe in the weight of Authority. That Authority, for us, is the Holy Catholic Church. What authority does Mr Dawkins have? None. No more, that is, than your average Catholic layman. Yet his views are meant to be listened to because he is 'Professor Richard Dawkins', but your average layman, or even Priest, or Pope is to be mocked openly as a 'sky fairy myth' believing cretin.

I don't mind atheists, I really don't. If they don't want to believe that is their affair, but, with Richard Dawkins, I do wonder just why we should have atheism rammed down our throats like we are at some Baptist prayer meeting and Bible study group. He's a one trick pony with a one track mind.

The Bones said...

Why is the onus upon those who believe to produce 'evidence' when Dawkins (and you, his acolyte) cannot produce 'evidence' of His non-existence?

If 'evidence' emerged, what would it look like?

And, surely, if evidence emerged, evidence that convinced sceptics, then it would no longer be a matter of 'faith' for those who believed.

Faith is at the heart of the matter, since it is only by Faith (and not without the help of Reason) that God can be known.

If God can only be known by Faith, which we freely admit is a supernatural gift of God, then what is the point in being so angry with us, just because we believe, or for our proclamation of our faith.

If you cannot prove His non-existence and we cannot prove His existence, then why is it us to put up, shut up and be 're-educated' in atheism? You have no authority, but yourself, to back up what you say. We claim a higher authority, an authority higher than ourselves to back up what we say and for us this authority is Jesus Christ and His Church that He founded on St Peter around 2,000 ish years ago.

Why should it not be the other way round? Why should not the 'proving' element be your responsibility. After all, you atheists are really quite relatively new on the scene. Just look at your local Cathedral. Its older than Richard Dawkins, isn't it?

It is unjust, were we starting out with a blank piece of paper, to assert, with no good cause that God does not exist as the starting statement, especially in the light of over 2,000 years of Christian civilisation and to then assert that if any evidence comes to light that He does, then this position can be changed.

The Bones said...

In fact, from the dawn of mankind, the opposite has been the case. Man, born with a soul, has yearned to know his Creator. That man desires to know his Creator is, in fact, a part of our being - a part of human nature. Is it there by accident, or is the desire to know our Creator, to pray, just a blip of evolution?

Then, we have nature, and by looking at nature we can see the beauty of God's creation. The sun, the moon, the stars, the beauty of landscapes, coasts, mountains, the other animals, trees, beautiful flowers. All of this somehow speaks of a Creator and suggests that He is benign. Then we have man, 'made in His image and likeness' who can be both beastly and yet at times angelic, and resemble in some beautiful way, his own Creator.

Then we have the problem of suffering and evil. We can see that within ourselves and in others, evil exists. Even Dawkins himself is prone to using the word, 'evil' in describing religion and other things. Well, by what standard does he use this word? This is a word that belongs to a religious framework.

Evil can only be evil in the light of good. Evil can only be evil if good exists, otherwise, we should have no standard to measure it against. How can good exist if there is no God who is the perfection of Goodness? The presence of evil in the world (I'm sure you can think of things which you describe as 'evil') then supports the Catholic Doctrine of Original Sin and the Fall of mankind. Therefore, more discernible evidence is there to reason for God's existence than there is for his non-existence.

Atheists still appeal to a sense of justice. "This is right, this is wrong". Well, an appeal to justice requires there to be Justice, otherwise, as atheists say of religion, justice itself is both arbitrary and, more importantly, a man made concept.

Well then, one man's justice can differ to another's, so if I rob your Grandma of all she has you can say, 'that's wrong' but I can say "Stuff you and your Grandma, there's no God, so who are you to say what is right and what is wrong. I didn't make an arrangement with you. This is survival of the fittest." If it is not a universal law, then to what law can you appeal, except some community law or law of the country? Then, we see under Nazism and Communism (both atheistic ideologies) how very terribly wrong laws can be when concepts of justice are not applied universally and in the light of both God's justice and reason.

The Bones said...

Atheists appeal to justice and to a point to faith because they do not just 'not believe', they, in a sense, 'believe'. Science itself then becomes a 'faith' even though science and empiricism cannot answer the real questions of why we are here, nor assert any evidence against the First Cause as to our existence.

I would suggest that the onus is on non-believers or atheists to come up with the evidence of His non-existence, since, without wishing to sound childish, we were here first. Hence the Cathedrals, churches, monasteries, the Vatican museums, the relics of saints and martyrs, etc. You wish to tear all this down and you shout loudly that it is all worthless, yet you yourselves cannot come up with evidence that it should be torn down. You just shout, 'WE DON'T BELIEVE, WE HAVE SCIENCE,' while independent Vatican scientists investigate another Miracle which defies the laws of nature.

All you do, really, is say, that Christianity cannot be true because "I DO NOT BELIEVE IT". You do not beieve it, that is your affair, but there is no objective reason why you should have the monopoly of opinion in the UK or in fact, anywhere.

The Body of teaching that you wish to tear down, well, you have to tear it down one by one, each side to it, and, in so doing, prove that neither the Incarnation or Resurrection took place.

Yet, you cannot prove that neither took place, since a Miracle is by its nature against the natural order, defying, by its own power, the laws of nature.

You have faith in science, but it is a dictatorship of reason, or rationalism. Something is missing, that is why you cannot abide those who believe. That is why our presence infuriates you. That is why you cannot (and you cannot) enter into discussion without resorting to insult.

That is why you wish to tear down Christian civilisation - because you despise that which is an affront not just to your reason, but to your conscience, for there, in your conscience is where you will find God. All the evidence you require for God is there within your conscience. Because you do not wish to come face to face with your conscience, you must assert that God does not exist. This is what will be laid bare when you die at your tribunal before God. This is what will be laid bare when Christ returns. This is when you will know that God exists.

The Bones said...


You've made your points, I've made mine.

That's enough, I think, but if you want to continue the discussion, send me an email.

The Bones said...

The Four Last Things are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Yes, that is ultimately what our lives are about, saving, or not, our immortal souls.

It was Plato, btw, who said that "if a truly just man came into the World then he would be crucified."

How right he was. The Vatican has the highest respect for the Greek philosophers, hence see The School of Athens at the Vatican museums.

The Bones said...

That was by Rafael by the way, another stupid, cretinous, sky-fairy myth believing fool, obviously.

The Bones said...

The basic point in the Republic is that "righteousness" must be produced under compulsion or forced since no man will be righteous of his own accord. This recognition has tremendous implications for natural law.

The next section worthy of considering deals with a hypothetical situation. To test whether a "just" or "righteous" man is truly "just" and "righteous", everything of value in his life will be stripped from him. Ultimately, his life will be taken from him in cruelest of manners to see if he can remain "righteous" until the end. After all, if he had good things in this life, perhaps he was "righteous" in order to the good things in his life. The only way to test "righteousness" is to give this man every "injustice" the world can inflict. Plato writes in Republic 2.361c:

"We cannot be sure in that case whether he is just for justice' sake or for the sake of the gifts and the honors. So we must strip him bare of everything but justice."

The stripping bare of the man culminates in his death by crucifixion. Republic 2.361e - 2.362a:

"What they will say is this: that such being his disposition the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified, and so will learn his lesson that not to be but to seem just is what we ought to desire."

So according to Plato, a truly "righteous" or "just" man can only be found after he is stripped of all, made to suffer, and then crucified. Therefore, most men only desire to appear "righteous" rather than become or be "righteous". In Plato's words: οὐκ εἶναι δίκαιον ἀλλὰ δοκεῖνδεῖ ἐθέλειν -- "not to be righteous but to desire to seem (righteous)." Now a note on the word Plato uses for "crucify." Plato's word is ἀνασκολοπίζω (anaskolopizo) which means "to fix on a pole or a stake, to impale". So it is not the same word that the New Testament uses for "to crucify" but it is within the semantic domain.

The fact that Plato's "righteous man" ends up crucified did not escape the early church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata, Book IV, chapter 7. Tertullian notes that the devil "copies certain things of that be Divine."

It is ironic that Plato concludes "justice" or "righteousness" is only found on the cross. In the end, it seems that for Plato, the cross is still foolishness, since man only desires to appear righteous. Plato's Republic shows that people have been struggling with the concept of "righteousness" and "justification" for a long time.

The Bones said...

The point is that there are laws at work in the universe which every scientist agrees with and says, 'this is a law'. There is the law of gravity, of motion, there are laws of nature. Aquinas is too clever for me, however...

Aquinas picked up on the law of motion, saying that nothing happens without there being a mover giving energy to something. So, for example, if I don't type, nothing gets written, by me, at any rate. If you don't put a battery in a clock, or indeed wind it up, it won't work. Nothing happens without motion.

Aquinas thought was that in order for the world to be in motion (and there is no doubt that it is) or the universe, there has to have been a first cause or a prime mover to start the chain in process, since if it is a universal law of nature that for something to be in motion, something else has to move it, or energise it to move, somehow then it is a law. How, then, could this not be applicable to everything? He would say that this prime mover is exactly that. He didn't even say this is God. He said, "This is what we call God".

It has to be said that Christ's miracles sometimes contained power over nature, so that the laws of nature were, somehow, suspended. So, walking on water is one. Man cannot walk on water, but Christ could. He could even suspend this law for Peter. He calms the storm. He can raise the dead, like Lazarus. He can change the substance of a thing from water, into wine. He can multiply loaves and fishes. He can heal leprosy, when the leprosy is a condition which by its nature at that time is incurable.

He is man, fully man, but He is also God. Only God can suspend the laws of nature. That is why a miracle is a miracle - because in a certain instance the laws of nature and the universe have been suspended, if only briefly, for an instant. God has intervened, as the Vatican knows, most often because of the intercession of a Saint.

I would say that, yes, you are right that towards the end of the video (final one) the assessment is made that this cannot work as a final proof. Still, four out of five isn't bad, is it? He wasn't made a Saint because he proved the existence of God. He was made a Saint because he was a Saint.

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