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Scott P. Richert

Is Richard Dawkins a Secret Christian?

By December 16, 2010

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Is Richard Dawkins a "Christian double agent"? That's the claim a friend of mine made on Facebook after reading the latest story of the English celebrity atheist's "bad arguments and silly antics." I hasten to assure you that my friend's tongue was firmly planted in his cheek—although, to be frank, his humorous explanation for Dawkins' actions is perhaps the most charitable one that can be made.

You see, Richard Dawkins has declared that "it is important that religion should not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource.” What resource might that be? Brace yourself: He's talking about nothing other than the King James Bible.

My own reaction to Dawkins' declaration didn't go quite as far as my friend's. I will admit that it briefly crossed my mind that Richard Dawkins' public persona is nothing but an act. After all, I thought, no man who is even half as smart as Dawkins' admirers claim him to be could make such a ridiculous remark. Unless, of course, his hatred for Christianity is so extreme as to be—dare I say it?—irrational.

But then I tracked down the source of Richard Dawkins' comment, and found that there's more. Dawkins made his remark to the King James Bible Trust, an organization "established to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible." As part of the trust's YouTube Bible project, Dawkins agreed to read a chapter from the Song of Solomon and to be interviewed on the importance of the King James Bible.

Most of what Richard Dawkins says in the course of the interview is unexceptional. He emphasizes the great influence that the King James Bible has had on the history and literature of the English language—a point on which Christians can certainly agree. It's when Dawkins switches back into full-blown atheist mode that he runs into trouble:

I think it is important to make the case that the Bible is part of our heritage, and it doesn't have to be tied to religion. It's of historic interest; it's of literary interest. And it is important that religion should not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource.

Of course, the Bible, generically or in the King James Version, isn't "tied to religion"; it both flows from and underlies Christianity. To speak of the King James Bible as a "cultural resource" begs the question. It is a document created by a Christian culture—a document that is itself a translation of a document created by a Christian culture. And just as the New Testament is a living record of a Christian church that preexists the writings of the gospels and epistles, and yet is shaped by those very same gospels and epistles, the King James Version has a similar relationship to the English-speaking Christian world.

In other words, the King James Version is the product of a Christian culture—a product that also shaped the future course of that particular Christian culture. To regard it as merely of "historic" and "literary" interest and to attempt to untie it from the very real Christian culture that shaped it and was shaped by it is to do what Dawkins accuses believers of doing: "to hijack this cultural resource."

Faith without works is dead; but if we might invert this phrase and take Saint James' words in a more mundane direction, without faith works such as the King James Bible are dead as well. The literary and historical influence of the King James Version did not flow merely from the lyrical quality of the translation's prose; it arose from the faith that created the King James Bible and was sustained by it.

Strip away that faith—"hijack this cultural resource" for merely secular ends—and the literary and historical interest and influence of the King James Bible will disappear as well.

Of course, Richard Dawkins is no fool (except for the kind who says in his heart, "there is no God"); he knows exactly what he's doing. Convince Christians that the Bible "doesn't have to be tied to religion," and you give them a convenient excuse for falling from the Faith, yet maintaining its cultural artifacts. You can have your King James Bible and your abortion, too.

No, Richard Dawkins isn't a secret Christian. But at least we know that he does occasionally read the King James Bible. And maybe, just maybe, the faith that created that masterpiece might also work its way into his life through its words.

Stranger things have happened.

More on Richard Dawkins:

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Comments
December 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(1) Scott Messinger says:

I dare say that mores atheists read the Bible than Christians. Why do you think they became atheists?

December 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm
(2) Scott P. Richert says:

How droll, Mr. Messinger! Did it take you very long to come up with that?

December 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm
(3) Mike Gantt says:

There is a sense in which Dawkins has a point, albeit unwittingly. That is, all people – of all faiths and of no faith – can read the Bible and derive moral truth. This is independent of whatever meaning a church, denomination, or religion may give it.

Dawkins derives literary and cultural value from the Bible. Would that he would seek moral value from it as well. If it leads him to God without leading him to church, denomination, or religion then he (and we) will be the better for it.

http://bit.ly/hIgJQs

December 16, 2010 at 4:35 pm
(4) Jason says:

Clever riposte, Mr. Richert. Mr. Messinger has a point, however–the evidence is clear that atheists and agnostics are more well-informed with respect to religious belief and doctrine than are religious adherents.

December 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm
(5) Levon says:

Mike, I just finished reading Richard Dawkins book, “The God Delusion” he has a whole chapter in there that explains why people do not get there morals from the bible, and talks about all the horrible things mentioned in it and while nobody actually gets any of there morals from the bible.

December 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm
(6) Marshall says:

You are entirely missing the point. All he means to say is that we shouldn’t confuse reading and studying the Bible with an endorsement of Christianity. As others point out, you can study the Bible and know plenty about it while maintaining strict atheism. He just doesn’t want Christians to demand that the Bible only be associated with their religion, instead of being recognized as piece of literature with wider cultural importance.

And I should note, as well, that theists always seem to confuse attacking a proponent of atheism with attacking atheism. Who cares what Richard Dawkins thinks? Do you have any evidence for your god or not?

I didn’t think so…

December 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm
(7) Mike Gantt says:

Levon, Dawkins is simply misreading the Bible. Jesus read the same Old Testament that Dawkins did and it led Him to a life of kindness, generosity, power, self-sacrifice and – summing it all up – love…that has not been achieved by any other human being before or since.

When Dawkins walks on water, heals the sickk, feeds hungry crowds, and lays his life down for people who spit on him, then I might be interested in why he thinks the Bible is morally worthless. Until then, I remain intensely interested in how Jesus used it to shape His life.

December 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm
(8) Mike Gantt says:

Marshall, your challenge is fair and my evidence is the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I don’t know much about science but I do know how to read history. It was reading the Bible, particularly the gospels, as historical documents that led me to a conviction that Jesus was a genuine historical figure. From there I have simply paid attention to the things He said. It’s from His teachings that I get my ideas about God.

December 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm
(9) Jane Lebak says:

What’s next? The idea the the US government shouldn’t hijack the cultural resource of the Constitution?

December 17, 2010 at 1:51 am
(10) No God says:

Did the Bible fall from the sky? Of course, not. In fact, we should say “Bibles” instead of “Bible”.

Watch this Youtube view delivered by Dr. Bart Ehrman in Stanford University, and we will understand more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cK3Ry_icJo

This is only part 1, be sure to view all 10 parts. At times, this lecture is even funny.

Dr. Bart Ehrman was a fundamentalist Christian. After going through a serious reflection, he finally realize how wrong he was.

December 17, 2010 at 2:01 am
(11) No God says:

“… without faith works such as the King James Bible are dead ..”

As the King James Bible is a book, it cannot die no matter what.

December 17, 2010 at 9:58 am
(12) Ken says:

Mike gantt:
What gives you “conviction” that Jesus actually walked on water and healed the sick?
Because the bible says so?
Why do you believe in the teachings of the bible and not the teachings of the Koran, or the teachings of the Torah, or the teachings of Buddhism? Or the teachings of the ancient gods of Zeus, Thor, vishna, apollo, Odin, Ra, or any of the thousands of other faiths? I wager that you were born into a family or society that was of Christian denomination.
Do you believe your faith out of knowledge or of ignorance of other ways of thinking? Do you believe your faith because it helps you fit in with your community? Do you believe your faith because it is comforting to believe in a big sky daddy always watching over you and going somewhere really nice after you die? I recommend you google “why won’t God heal amputees” it is an interesting read. (unless you are fearful that knowledge may challenge your faith).

December 17, 2010 at 10:46 am
(13) Mike Gantt says:

Ken, you’ve asked more questions than can be individually addressed here, but if you’ll ask them on my blog (link below) I’ll answer each one thoroughly. For here and now let me give this summary answer:

I believe what the Bible says about Jesus because it’s logical and persuasive. By contrast, I’ve read “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” and do not find it logical or persuasive. As for all the supposed motivations you think I have for believing in Jesus, none of them apply. I hasten to say that I reject organized religion (yes, this includes all churches) as unrepresentative of God. Instead, I am motivated by a healthy regard for truth whenever I encounter it.

I believe Jesus takes everyone to heaven at death – you, me, Hitchens, Dawkins, the Dalai Lama, etc. This does not mean, however, that there is no judgment for our sins. On the contrary, it matters very much how we live.

Ultimately, everything I believe rests on the personal veracity of Jesus of Nazareth. And with that stance, I am quite comfortable.

http://bit.ly/dSt5Ry

December 17, 2010 at 11:15 am
(14) Ken says:

So in other words, you are a christian because you hold too strong a desire to believe in heaven for the majority of your life that facing the alternate reality of no heaven would be too life changing for you to face… No matter the facts surrounding it. Many people maintain their faith this way (too much time and life invested to completely re-invent your mind and way of life).
And if that works for you, so be it. After all, for many it is impossible to reverse their childhood indoctionaration of their parents religion.

December 17, 2010 at 11:34 am
(15) Mike Gantt says:

Your paraphrase is as if you didn’t read a word I wrote. You must be working from preconceived notions.

In any case, our dialogue is stalled so no point continuing it…at least not now. We each believe what we believe and neither of us is persuading the other.

Thanks for engaging and now let’s let Scott have his blog back.

December 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm
(16) rob says:

Mike, although some of Ken’s comments were a bit undiplomatic (e.g. the “sky daddy” thing), he made a very good point which you rather avoided. It says in the bible that Jesus lived this oh-so-perfect life, and you assume this to be true…..why again?

Obviously the writers of the bible had a bit of a vested interest in having you think that Jesus lived a perfect life. Even so, how do you know that no one before or after did the same, but just didn’t attention for it? There’s been 20-billion-some people on the planet, and you’re willing to state that Jesus lived a “better” life than any of them?

All you’ve said is “it is logical,” but with nothing whatsoever to indicate why you think so.

I would not worry about letting Scott having his blog back, I’m sure he is happy to have people commenting. Especially if they are making intelligent comments to help make the case for Christianity.

December 17, 2010 at 7:18 pm
(17) Mike Gantt says:

Rob, I thought I addressed that but I’ll be happy to elaborate. I accept the story about Jesus in the Bible to be true because it’s logical and persuasive – the same basis on which I accept news reports, weather reports, history books, and anything else I read. Some things we hear are credible and some are not. I find the gospel accounts to be credible history. As for His disciples having a vested interest in making Him look good, I’d say quite the opposite. They had a vested interest in forgetting the whole thing, and indeed they all forsook Him at the crucifixion. Only when He was raised from the dead was their zeal restored. Even then, they knew that their zeal would only lead to the same fate He had experienced. When Dawkins and Hitchens find acceptance for their message it leads to financial rewards and worldly praise – and I don’t begrudge them that at all. But the fellows you think had a vested interest in fudging the story of Jesus had no such hopes. For them, a job well done meant shame, disgrace, and death. They wouldn’t have done it unless the resurrection were the truth.

Yet another strong corroboration is the Old Testament. When you read its prophecies of the Messiah, you see that ONLY the life Jesus lived could fulfill them all. Until Jesus, these prophecies were considered contradictory (“How could you have a Messiah who both suffered and triumphed?”). It was a riddle to which Jesus’ life was the only answer.

December 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm
(18) Mike Gantt says:

Rob, there’s a space limitation on comments here so I had to break up my response. Here’s the remainder of my response to you:

I’ve read and loved books all my life. When I began reading the Bible in my late 20′s I approached as I would any other book. I did not consider it sacred. I only considered it historic. I still read it today as I would any other book. The difference is that it rewards me more than any other book.

Oh, and as for the possibility that some other human life was as great as His, I suppose that could theoretically be possible. However, that point is moot because no other life could have been the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

By the way, Ken was gracious enough to continue the dialogue on my blog – the first exchange of which has already started: http://bit.ly/dSt5Ry

December 18, 2010 at 12:11 am
(19) LouiseCA says:

The answer to your question, Marshall, is YES. We do. Tons of it. Miracles of healing. They happen. We see them. Appearances of angels and visions of Jesus. They happen. Spiritual dreams, prophetic experiences, supernatural experiences that cannot be explained by any other means than that the God of the Universe broke through Time an Space and intervened in our lives. They happen. The revealing of the Creator through nature. It is happening constantly and is obvious to those that love Him and have discernment. But the greatest miracle of all is the miracle of a changed life. A life that was dying was changed into a life of meaning. I know because I was one of those lives. And I would have died if He had not supernaturally intervened to pull me out of the pit I was in. NOTHING can explain that away and NOTHING can take it away. It happened. I am one of His miracles.

December 18, 2010 at 12:33 am
(20) rob says:

Ok Mike, well I guess my standards for credibility wouldn’t include unverifiable ancient texts, but to each his own. At least other things from history (say, Julius Caesar) are corroborated by a lot more sources.

As for the “vested interest,” well, they wouldn’t have written it down if they didn’t have an interest in getting people to follow it. Even if they thought their reward comes in the afterlife.

But maybe even “vested interest” was the wrong term. A better way to look at it is probably almost Darwinian….those religions which were NOT documented in a way that made their founder look particularly impressive, aren’t around today because people weren’t as likely to follow them. So, any religion around today would be expected to be similar in that respect to Christianity….whether it is true or not.

December 18, 2010 at 12:41 am
(21) rob says:

“”How could you have a Messiah who both suffered and triumphed?” It was a riddle to which Jesus’ life was the only answer.”

Well, ok. And you don’t think that it’s possible….just possible….that someone might have altered the story of Jesus to make it fit the prophesy? (as many think they did having him born in Bethlehem, rather than Nazareth)

And… don’t you see the circular reasoning? He only “triumphed” if he really is a supernatural savior. If the atheist point of view is correct, he was simply a guy who was executed in a cruel way, like so many others of his time.

December 18, 2010 at 5:21 am
(22) Mike Gantt says:

Rob, you and I seem to agree that it comes down to this: the followers of Jesus who wrote the New Testament documents were either fabricating the resurrection or telling the truth. I find the latter infinitely more logical than the former.

To believe that the apostles were lying I’d have to believe in a conspiracy involving more people than have ever been involved in a conspiracy…and that they all plotted to put forth a fiction about someone whose chief claim was that He was nonfiction (“I am the truth”).

As the adages go, “truth is stranger than fiction,” and “you can’t make this stuff up.” The New Testament documents are the personal testimonies of His followers about Him. I challenge you to read these documents for yourself with an open mind and come away with the conviction that they made it up.

December 18, 2010 at 6:41 am
(23) rob says:

“…the followers of Jesus who wrote the New Testament documents were either fabricating the resurrection or telling the truth. I find the latter infinitely more logical than the former.”

Hmmm, really? There is this notion of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” that would seem to apply. If a few people say they saw a car accident, I am inclined to believe they are not lying. If those same people say they saw space aliens come out of a flying saucer, I want a little more than hearsay to back it up. I consider my approach pretty logical, if I am really interested in knowing the truth.

“To believe that the apostles were lying I’d have to believe in a conspiracy involving more people than have ever been involved in a conspiracy”

Are you basing this on simply reading the Bible, or have you followed any of the scholarship on the historicity of Jesus?

(to be continued)

December 18, 2010 at 6:42 am
(24) rob says:

(continuation)

Because it wasn’t many people that would be involved in the “conspiracy” at all. It wasn’t written down until decades later, and it was then circulated in lands far away from where it supposedly happened, where it was impossible for anyone to fact-check the original story or corroborate with any witnesses. Sure, supposedly a bunch of people witnessed the resurrected Jesus, but this is simply what a few (unknown) authors wrote much later, after most of those people would be dead….and their readers had no ability to verify it one way or the other. Lots of witnesses” doesn’t count for anything if the information, via retelling, gets bottlenecked through a much smaller number of people.

“…and that they all plotted to put forth a fiction about someone whose chief claim was that He was nonfiction (”I am the truth”).”

Oh dear, I don’t know even what to do with this. Because the story says that Jesus said “I am the truth,” that’s really good enough for you? Are you suggesting that, while people might lie, they sure wouldn’t go so far as to lie about someone claiming to be telling the truth….? I’m losing you here. If someone said he saw Elvis in a 7-11, would you give it more credence if he mentioned that Elvis said “it’s really still alive”?

December 18, 2010 at 6:51 am
(25) rob says:

Oops I meant to have Elvis say “I’m still alive” not “it’s still alive”.

Anyway, since I’m posting one more, I’ll address this:

“As the adages go, “truth is stranger than fiction,” and “you can’t make this stuff up.” The New Testament documents are the personal testimonies of His followers about Him. ”

Yes, you can make stuff like that up, and history shows many cases of people making up stranger stuff. (and actually, a lot of very similar stuff) And no, the New Testament was probably not written by his direct followers, it was probably written by unknown people many decades later.

December 18, 2010 at 8:20 am
(26) Mike Gantt says:

Rob, I take the New Testament at face value – that is, that the documents are simply what they present themselves to be (Occam’s Razor, if you will). By contrast, you believe that they are fabrications produced decades after the fact by people who were not Jesus’ direct followers…and that they did this at the peril of their lives because they believed God would reward them in the afterlife for doing so. Talk about extraordinary claims! Where’s your extraordinary evidence?

If someone told me that Elvis appeared and said, “I am the truth,” I would reject the idea because it is inconsistent with what I know of Elvis’ life and sayings. When Jesus says “I am the truth” I read the four accounts we have of His life and sayings, and I see consistency. And His claim to be the truth is one I cannot logically reject.

I should tell you that I began reading the Bible in my late 20′s and did so as a skeptic. At that point, I only considered the Bible as having literary value. It was the text itself that convinced me otherwise. Until you read the New Testament for yourself you are depriving yourself of the opportunity to make an informed decision about the claims Jesus made for Himself.

December 18, 2010 at 10:25 am
(27) Mariano says:

Indeed, Dawkins has actually referred to himself as a “cultural Christian”:
http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/richard-dawkins-%E2%80%93-rare-moment-clarity

Sounds like a spiritual and psychological band-aid upon a rebellious soul.
Let us pray for him.

December 18, 2010 at 11:17 am
(28) Wayne says:

Mike,

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I will go one step further though, I am absolutely thrilled that Richard Dawkins believes that all of humanity may benefit from the word of God, not just Christians… and so do I. Of course Christianity has not hijacked the word of God, but I will gladly hand it over to anyone who will read it.

My prayer is that people of All religions, including atheists would be so interested in the bible as a book of historical significance.

Unless they have a heart of stone toward Christ, they will see the truth of Christ as the Savior. If not, then they will begin to have an inkling of what Christians live for and believe. God’s work is accomplished through his word. If through reading they begin to have the one thing missing that is Faith, then they will undoubtedly come to Christ.

Pray for those who read the Bible to come to a Faithful belief in Jesus Christ as their savior.

December 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(29) rob says:

Mike, all I can say is that is a strange application of Occam’s razor. You take an ancient document at face value because it is simpler to assume the magical claims of the document are true, than that the author might not be fully truthful? People lie/exaggerate/spread myths all the time. Come back from the dead? We don’t see that so often.

I seriously doubt the authors of the gospels put themselves at risk by writing it. People later put themselves at risk by spreading it around, sure. But that happened with numerous other religions, which you presumably don’t accept the truth of. Do you think those who flew airplanes into skyscrapers were “correct”? If you apply Occam’s razor as you have, you’d have to assume they must have been. No, reasonable people would assume they were deeply misguided. Just because someone puts themselves at personal risk in the name of some religion does not bolster the truth.

December 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm
(30) rob says:

(continued)
And I think you missed the point on the Elvis thing. Substitue Harry Houdini if it helps. If Houdini came back from the dead, it probably would have been consistant for him to communicate that he really is him. Regardless, hearing second hand (or third or fourth hand), that he said “I am really me,” does not in any way strengthen the claim that he came back from the dead. It is bizarre to me that you would quote someone’s claim of being truthful, as if it somehow strengthens the case that they indeed are.

And trying to demonstrate that a work is not fictional simply because it is internally consistant (not that the Bible is known for consistency, but whatever!), makes no sense at all. I’m sorry you don’t see the problem there. You need to look outside the Bible (or Harry Potter, or the myths of ancient Greece, etc) to be able to make any inferences as to its truth. And there is little outside the Bible to back its claims (other than the most basic, such as that Jesus probably did live, get some followers, and was executed … none of which was particularly remarkable).

Thankfully our judicial system has doesn’t use such illogical means of establishing truth.

December 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm
(31) Mike Gantt says:

Rob, you so frequently misrepresent my positions when you argue with them that I have to assume you are not thinking through what I am saying.

December 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm
(32) rob says:

Mike, you are welcome to clarify. I don’t think I unfairly represented your opinion as being that you believe what the Bible says purely based on the Bible itself, rather than based on any external corroboration. That sort of logic permeates everything you have said, and is incredibly weak evidence, if evidence at all.

If you have a different position, please do state it.

December 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm
(33) willypguts says:

Mike, a few things. First: historicity. There are several versions of the Christian Bible which include and exclude books from other biblical cannons. Over several centuries, biblical cannons determined what books would and would not be considered part of the Bible. Extensive editing and translating has occurred throughout the history of the Bible by hundreds and thousands of people (most notably monks) as directed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church (King James), Greek Orthodox, and the dozens of Protestant sects. Needless to say, taking the gospels at “face value”–that they are iReports of Christ’s life or something–requires a complete disregard for (or ignorance of) biblical history. You seem to appreciate historicity and verifiability, so if I were you, I would take a look at the history of the Bible.

On top of that, however, to call the gospels and the resurrection of Christ “logical and persuasive” undermines both logic and faith. Between the four gospels (in the King James Bible), there are dozens of events recounted where one gospel fundamentally contradicts the other. That is definitively illogical. But if we talk about the resurrection of Christ as logical, then you undermine faith. Faith requires suspension of reason, and the resurrection of Christ requires just that. It is not just illogical, it is, in fact, impossible. But the resurrection forms a crucial part of Christian faith–that the divinity of Christ was proved by this event because it contradicted the limitations of the natural world and logic.

I like your curiosity and I bookmarked your blog. Would enjoy some more discussion with you because it appears that you are an out-of-the-box thinker with regard to Christianity, and that you appreciate historical background. I would advice you to engage the documented history of the Bible in order to build you understanding and knowledge on the subject.

December 18, 2010 at 10:34 pm
(34) rob says:

willypguts, can I ask something about what you wrote:

“Faith requires suspension of reason, and the resurrection of Christ requires just that.”

What, then, would I base this faith on? It seems like the only thing there really is, is that someone (or something) told me it was true, and I would be placing my faith in whoever it was that told me about it. Whether that be a bible, or more likely, parents, sunday school teacher, preacher or the like. I mean, it can’t happen in a vacuum….the only way to become a Christian is to have Christianity presented to you in some form, for you to accept or reject. Right?

If the bible isn’t particularly convincing given the illogicality and contradictions that you acknowledge, should I have faith just because my parents told me it was true? I love my parents, but I don’t consider them to always know what is true and what is not.

My observation is that most people have “faith” (in Christ, God, Catholic dogma, or whatever) simply because they were told it was true when they were too young to have the capacity to analyze it logically and make the determination for themselves. Then it just became a part of them, which they describe as “faith.” It can’t hurt if it is continually reinforced by their community. But this means they are having “faith” in other humans….whom obviously could themselves be mistaken.

Most of the rest, I suppose, are those rare people like Mike who read the Bible and somehow find it logical and compelling….but you reject that approach as “undermining faith.” So I am confused. Please tell me the way you imagine a person of integrity might arrive at faith in God.

December 19, 2010 at 6:09 am
(35) Mike Gantt says:

Rob, thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify. Since this comment exchange has taken on a life of its own, and because I think your challenges deserve response, I’ve moved our dialogue to my blog site. There I have added my response to your last comment here and it is now awaiting your next response.

It’s titled “Dialogue with Rob”

http://wp.me/p1eZz8-1d

December 19, 2010 at 8:11 am
(36) Mike Gantt says:

willypguts, I thought your challenge, too, was worthy of a continued dialogue and so have established a post on my blog with my response. You are welcome to respond there where we can continue. The post is called “Dialogue with Willy”
http://wp.me/p1eZz8-1F

December 19, 2010 at 8:14 am
(37) Mike Gantt says:

Ken, if you’re still here my response is still waiting for you on my blog. I’m also going to move it to its own post called “Dialogue with Ken.” Therefore, if you don’t find it where it last was, I’ll have a link there that will lead you to the new post (may be later this morning before I can do this).

December 19, 2010 at 8:17 am
(38) Mike Gantt says:

Scott, let me be quick to say that I am not trying to divert readers from your blog. In fact, in each of these dialogues on my site there is a link back to this page of your blog. Therefore, what I’m doing will lead to more people seeing your post – not fewer. Thanks for providing a good post and an open forum where these dialogues could develop.

December 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm
(39) rob says:

Mike, I will visit your blog and comment, although I hope I don’t have to register for yet another site. I’m not sure why you want to move the discussion elsewhere, but ok. At least you made stuff nice and readable.

However, I’d appreciate it if you could provide context for my initial post by noting that you had said the following two things , which were the specific comments my first post was challenging:

“Jesus read the same Old Testament that Dawkins did and it led Him to a life of kindness, generosity, power, self-sacrifice and – summing it all up – love…that has not been achieved by any other human being before or since.”

and

“I believe what the Bible says about Jesus because it’s logical and persuasive.”

December 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm
(40) Mike Gantt says:

Will do. And no one has to register at my site.

December 19, 2010 at 9:27 pm
(41) Matthew Hamilton says:

Willypguts said in part to Mike: “First: historicity. There are several versions of the Christian Bible which include and exclude books from other biblical cannons. Over several centuries, biblical cannons determined what books would and would not be considered part of the Bible. Extensive editing and translating has occurred throughout the history of the Bible by hundreds and thousands of people (most notably monks) as directed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church (King James), Greek Orthodox, and the dozens of Protestant sects. Needless to say, taking the gospels at “face value”–that they are iReports of Christ’s life or something–requires a complete disregard for (or ignorance of) biblical history. You seem to appreciate historicity and verifiability, so if I were you, I would take a look at the history of the Bible”

Willypguts – If you believe modern Bibles are the product of centuries of changes so you somehow don’t trust them as an historical source then it must be because you have gone to the effort of looking at the several hundred fragmentary manuscripts to see if there have been changes made. If you haven’t made this effort then why bother making your unsupported claims and I would suggest you take a proper look at the history of the Bible.

December 21, 2010 at 2:57 am
(42) rob says:

Matthew, I don’t get the impression Willy is coming back….but I’ll jump in. You suggest that he should go through all the old manuscripts to back his claims, but, what about consulting scholarly research on the subject? I mean, I consider myself pretty educated on dinosaurs but I have never gone and looked at every single fossil, or been to a paleontological site. But I have read the studies of a great many scientists who have, and who have published their findings in peer reviewed journals.

Maybe if you think he is incorrect, you provide some support for that? Otherwise, the appearance is that you just want to make an attempt to discredit the messenger rather than looking at the message (and all the other messengers of the same information).

December 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm
(43) John says:

Without a doubt, most Atheists have a better understanding of Christian beliefs than most Christians. How can only honestly believe in this hocus-pocus and write it off to faith? What a racket..!

December 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm
(44) Matthew Hamilton says:

Rob, you state “Maybe if you think he is incorrect, you provide some support for that?” Here very briefly is that support:
1 Monks are not known to have written manuscripts prior to the early 4th century
2 Prior to the early 4th century there was no organised church capable of forcing its text of the Bible on all the branches of the church and additionally neither the Catholic nor Greek Orthodox churches has much power in Israel and Egypt where all the earliest manuscripts have been found
3 Therefore any remains of Bible that predate the early 4th century should provide us with a text free of the changes Willy claims were made by “monks”, “Catholic Church”, “Anglican Church”, “Greek Orthodox”, and “dozens of Protestant sects”.
4 Of the over 400 known manuscripts dated to the early 4th century or earlier I have personally seen less than 20 but have seen the editiones principes of the rest – apart from just 30 or so fragments not yet published
5 There are all sorts of variants – things like explanatory glosses, scribal errors, and orthographic variants – but what there is NOT a substantive variant that can be pointed to as evidence that later churches have a different text so those churches must have made changes to the text of the Bible.

Now Rob, if you (or Willy) would like to go to check the editiones principes of the early manuscripts and find a substantive variant such as John 3:16 having God giving a bunch of flowers rather than His Son, please feel free to share the results with the rest of us – I await the “message” of your results and promise not to “discredit the messenger” as you allege that I did to Willy.

BTW: Please don’t bother with the usual sort of stuff where people trawl through a number of semi-scholarly books (eg: books by Bart Ehrman) and then quote them as if their claims are decisive as you will find with a little more effort (eg: read scholarly book reviews) that these books are flawed

December 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm
(45) Matthew Hamilton says:

Comment 1 (Scott Messinger) was a typical attack on Christians (Christians are ignorant, atheists are not) which Comment 4 (Jason) repeated – but neither provided evidence. Hard to prove or disprove the validity of the attack.

Comment 6 (Marshall) was another typical attack – to ask a question about the supernatural (“Do you have any evidence for your god of not?) for which any answer by a Christian (eg: Comments by Mike Gantt and LouisaCA) will not surfice to atheists. Again hard to prove or disprove the validity of the attack.

Comment 10 (No God) was another tyical attack – to try to undermine the historical sources. Comment 33 (willypguts) furthered this attack on the historical sources with mention of “monks”, “Catholic Church”, “Anglican Church”, “Greek Orthodox”, and “dozens of Protestant sects”. Because we are dealng with tangible objects that may be located in historical contexts it is possible to prove or disprove the validity of the attack – and note that “willypguts” made reference to “historicity and verifiability”.

In Comment 44 I basically asked “willypguts” to put forward his evidence – he didn’t. In Comment 42 (rob) asked me to put forward my evidence – I did (within the 2000 character limit). Since there has been no further reply from either “willypguts” or “rob”, nor any throw away attacks by “Scott Messinger”, “Jason”, or “Marshall”, does this mean the atheists and agnostics are moving towards accepting the “historicity and verifiability” of the Bible? Somehow I doubt it and suspect all they will do is move their focus to attacks where it is difficult to prove or disprove the validity of those attacks.

December 26, 2010 at 11:10 pm
(46) Paul Hannah says:

“Mike Gantt(7)
Levon, Dawkins is simply misreading the Bible. Jesus read the same Old Testament”

You have some evidence that Jesus
1. Existed? Outside of the Bible, everything re him was written a couple of hundred years afterwards.
2. Could read?

Paul Hannah

December 27, 2010 at 4:25 am
(47) Mike Gantt says:

@ Paul Hannah

1. Why are the 27 documents of the New Testament, and the many witnesses they reference, insufficient evidence for you?

2. How do you know there were not other things written about Him in His own generation? The New Testament testifies that there were indeed other documents – the 27 are the ones that survived.

3. Thus the evidence we have is quite abundant for a convicted criminal from an obscure Roman outpost whom both Roman and Jewish authorities were more than eager to forget.

January 3, 2011 at 9:36 am
(48) No God says:

Before moving on any further, please read my previous message.

Did the Bible fall from the sky? Of course, not. In fact, we should say “Bibles” instead of “Bible”.

Watch this Youtube view delivered by Dr. Bart Ehrman in Stanford University, and we will understand more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cK3Ry_icJo

This is only part 1, be sure to view all 10 parts. At times, this lecture is even funny.

Dr. Bart Ehrman was a fundamentalist Christian. After going through a serious reflection, he finally realize how wrong he was.

January 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm
(49) Mike Gantt says:

@No God

Indeed Ehrman has switched uniforms and now works to discourage what he once sought to encourage. Yet there is nothing in his research that supports his rhetoric. For example, in this Stanford lecture he says that textual variants can alter major doctrines regarding Christ, but none of the example he gives sustain that notion.

December 23, 2012 at 12:38 am
(50) concerned citizen says:

Remember that Satan also knows scripture. He does not derive from it morals, faith, or virtue.

As for non-believers knowing and studying the Bible more than believers:
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, [a]haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; 2 Timothy 3: 2 – 5

The importance of the Bible is not what we have to say about it, but what it has to say about us. The reason why so many despise the Bible is because it “reads” us. But, if you can get past your pride and actually get the real message, you will gain what is most important in life and no one will be able to take it away from you.

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