Richard Dawkins : Planting God More Firmly on His Throne, part 3 of 10

Who is My Neighbor?, part 1 of 2

Prof. Richard Dawkins was kind enough to saturate a certain portion of his book with un-contextual, misinterpretations and misapplications of the Bible:

Who is My Neighbor?, part 1 of 2

Prof. Richard Dawkins was kind enough to saturate a certain portion of his book with un-contextual, misinterpretations and misapplications of the Bible:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”[fn] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 31[/fn]

This coming from the man who thinks that Prof. John Hartung is too blunt. Setting aside Prof. Richard Dawkins’ vociferous cacophony of condescension any true believer will mourn for him. This is because if Prof. Richard Dawkins really feels this way about God why would God force him to spend eternity in heaven with Him? Considering Prof. Richard Dawkins’ lazy scholarship we presume to assume that most, if not all, of these besmirchments are based on his misunderstandings and lack of basic discernment.

John Hartung

Prof. Richard Dawkins is perplexed as to how we go about reading and understanding the Bible. For example, he asks “By what criterion do you decide which passages are symbolic, which literal?”[fn] Ibid., p. 247
[/fn] When we read a text with the purpose of understanding it rather than in order to a priori discredit it this is not a very difficult task. It is nothing less than astonishing that on a daily basis we constantly deal with symbolic, parabolic, metaphoric, proverbial language both spoken and written without the slightest second thought. But when people such as Prof. Richard Dawkins begin to read the Bible all common sense, all basic discernment, all knowledge of linguistics, literary devises, modes of speech, etc. suddenly disappear and all that is left is cynical, pessimistic emotionalism.

Let us now get a taste of Prof. Richard Dawkins’ scholarly acumen as he makes his comments and refers to the above mentioned anesthesiologist’s article published in Skeptic magazine (Vol. 3, No. 4, 1995):

“Before leaving the Bible I need to call attention to one particularly unpalatable aspect of its ethical teaching. Christians seldom realise that much of the moral consideration for others which is apparently promoted by both the Old and New Testaments was originally intended to apply only to a narrowly defined in-group. ‘Love thy neighbour’ didn’t mean what we now thing it means. It meant only ‘love another Jew’_all those commandments that make reference to ‘thy neighbour’ are equally exclusive. ‘Neighbour’ means ‘fellow Jew.'”[fn] Ibid., p. 254

Prof. Richard Dawkins does not cite the verse to which he is referring, which is convenient in that it makes it more difficult to check his citation especially for those unfamiliar with the Bible. Not referencing quotations is most certainly lazy scholarship; Prof. John Hartung does provide them (for those who need them).
The text in question is Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
There you have it then, Prof. John Hartung and Prof. Richard Dawkins are justified in their determination. After all the text does state, “the sons of your people”-Jews. Yet, if you do not have as much faith as Prof. Richard Dawkins, if you are a skeptic and you question everything you will not take Prof. John Hartung’s and Prof. Richard Dawkins’ word for it but actually open up the Bible and read it for yourself.

In Acts 17:10-11 the Bereans are considered more noble, or fair minded, than the Thessalonians because they not only heard Paul’s teaching but checked the scripture every day to see if what he claimed was accurate. But we have just seen that the verse implies just what they infer. However, a careful researcher will not simply open the Bible read one verse and close it since that would mean making ginormous assumptions based on scant evidence. Nay, one ought to consider the context: historical, cultural, grammatical, etc. In this case one would keep reading the text/paragraph from which the verse was wrenched and would find that Leviticus 19:33-34 states, “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” A stranger is as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself.

The Old Testament provides further reason for being empathetic towards the “strangers”:

“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).
“Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).
The LORD “administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

What of the Moabite Ruth? This gentile and woman is the center character in the book of the Old Testament that bears her name. Racism and male chauvinism?

Prof. Richard Dawkins also wrote:

“Hartung puts it more bluntly than I dare: ‘Jesus would have turned in his grave if he had known that Paul would be taking his plans to the pigs.'”[fn] Ibid., p. 257

But what is this about Jesus turning in His grave (a sideswipe at Christianity’s core doctrine-the resurrection) because Paul took the gospel to “the pigs” the non-Jews? Jesus’ mission was initially aimed at His fellow Jews but even then gentiles were included in His ministering. Eventually, and long before Paul, Jesus augmented His missions so that it would specifically include gentiles. The Temple, the Jewish Temple, in which Jesus worshipped included a portion specifically dedicated for gentiles to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see John 10:23, Act 3:11, 5:12). The Old Testament is replete with references to God’s outreach to gentiles: one such example reads as follows,

“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7 which is quoted in Mark 11:17).

Jesus told the apostles to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

The New Testament succinctly summarizes the whole of Biblical teaching regarding Jews and gentiles-all nations:

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring'” (Acts 17:26-28).


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3 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins : Planting God More Firmly on His Throne, part 3 of 10”

  1. Who is My Neighbor?
    Your citings from Bible do not disprove Hartung interpretation.
    Not mistreating a strangers is just a hospitality law. Hospitality law does not mean global love, just that stranger should be treated temporarily as neighbor.

  2. Hello, Mr. Anonymous
    Umm, Mr or Mrs. Anonymous whose subject line reads “Who is My Neighbor?”. Did you actually read the entire article? He more than proved the fact that the Bible extends God’s love and inclusion of the world’s nations into its message. You must have stopped reading after the first third of it and jumped to a fallacious conclusion…..much like Dawkins’ approach to interpreting the Bible.

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