October 22, 2007

A Thought For My Christian Friends To Contemplate

I'm not saying that this guy is right, because I'm really in no position to do so. But I think it's a telling and thought-provoking comment on why Christians should take Richard Dawkins' attack on religion seriously:
...theological writers and others can point out at length that what Dawkins does is to set up a straw man – or rather, a straw God – and then demolish it; they can show that Dawkins has not really got to grips at all with a true understanding of God and the religious dimension; but the straw God that Dawkins sets up and then demolishes is often uncomfortably close to the notion of God that we Christians all too frequently seem to talk about, pray to and worship.

What Dawkins demolishes in this book may well be a misrepresentation of God, but it is a misrepresentation, an idol, that we Christians all too have often set up and espoused as the real thing. We should listen to Dawkins because doing so can help us reflect on what we claim to believe, or think we believe, or imply that we believe. His views can act as an acid to eat away the false and phoney elements of our faith.

I'm not a believer at all, of course, and while overall I agree with Dawkins that it is better to accept the truth of the nontheistic nature of the universe, I also recognize that a lot of very smart people nevertheless believe otherwise. The author is right that it's particularly easy to attack the notion of the "magic man in the sky," and I'd be interested in learning more about the deeper, more complex and subtle vision of God that the author contemplates. (I presume, perhaps incorrectly, that the author rejects the idea of a passive creator God.) Bear in mind that you probably won't convince me that such a God exists, but I would nevertheless be interested in hearing others' points of view.

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