Dawkins promotes heresy with Pell

April 18, 2012

Recently Cardinal Pell debated Richard Dawkins. What frustrates me about Dawkins is not that he makes good arguments (in my humble opinion, he doesn’t), but that many of his ‘arguments’ consist of telling people the wrong information, and then attacking that. Consider what he said in his opening remark about Christianity,

It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our since sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself.

No. Just no.

  • According to Christianity God forgives us, not himself. Jesus is sinless, and obviously doesn’t need forgiveness for that.
  • Jesus is not the Father’s alter-ego, or split personality. What Dawkins is arguing against here is not Christian belief, but is called modalism or Sabellianism and has long been rejected as heresy.

Now obviously Dawkins mangles Christian belief as a political ploy. I doubt he really doesn’t understand what Christianity teaches. And that’s what frustrates me. To me these arguments sound like a politician who doesn’t care about the issues, but just wants to misrepresent the other side no matter what.

For anyone who is seriously struggling with why God saved us the way he did, can I humbly suggest Athenasius On the Incarnation. It’s worth the read.

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12 Responses to “Dawkins promotes heresy with Pell”

  1. Austin 3:16 Says:

    Yeah silly ol Dawkins. It’s really more along the lines of “God creates people – people act like people – this annoys God – God then sacrifices God to God to make up for God’s creation annoying God. God then forgives God’s creation for annoying God when ever said creation asks Him to.”

    Makes much more sense doesn’t it.

    I think maybe the belief system here has more problems than Dawkins.

    Even if you alter Dawkins comment to

    “It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our since sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive MANKIND”

    It still doesn’t read in a terribly flattering light.

  2. Chucky Says:

    > Makes much more sense doesn’t it.

    No. That appears to be on pretty much the same level.

    > God then sacrifices God to God…

    It was mankind who crucified Jesus. Your version blurs the distinction between different persons of the trinity, and trivializes evil.

    Do you understand that it was mankind who killed Jesus? Did you understand what I said about modalism? Check out the link, if not.

  3. Austin 3:16 Says:

    Hey Chucky,

    Yep it was mankind that killed Jesus – as per God’s plan more to the point with God’s will and consent. Tell me how would it have been possible for mankind to kill Jesus without him allowing it?

    It’s a bit like saying that sculptors don’t make statues – chisels do.

    Did you read the article you linked? It says in part that “His part it was, and His alone,,,,,,.”

    So seems like God was solely responsible for the death of God to appease God.

    Whoops there’s me blurring that distinction between the different persons of the trinity, who are always and eternally the same person except when they’re not. In the beginning was the word yadda yadda

    You can split hairs and nit-pick as much as you like, but at the end of the day the problem isn’t really with either me or Dawkins. It’s with the inherent wackiness of the theology.

    I admire the intellectual gymnastics you go through to try and make sense of it all but at it is what it is.

  4. Chucky Says:

    > It’s a bit like saying that sculptors don’t make statues – chisels do.

    Unlike chisels, we bear moral responsibility for our actions.

    > “Did you read the article you linked? It says in part that “His part it was, and His alone,,,,,,.”

    Yes. I’ve read it one or two times, it’s one of my favourites. Here it is talking about why Jesus is the appropriate to reform our character, and be an ambassador for us with the Father.

    “His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.”

    It isn’t to do with who killed Jesus. Do you understand what Athenasius is saying here?

    > Whoops there’s me blurring that distinction between the different persons of the trinity, who are always and eternally the same person except when they’re not.

    They’re not the same person.

  5. Austin 3:16 Says:

    Hey Chuck,

    Still splittin the hairs huh? God’s plan of sacrificing God to God to appease God was thought up by God. It was his idea, the person who plans and facilitates the act bears as much moral responsibility as the person who commits the act.

    You seem to want to give God the credit for the sacrifice, but not any of the blame. A curious balancing act.

    And I hate to say it but a kind o clichéd balancing act too. “Look everybody something good has happened, let’s all give praise to God.” or “Look everybody something bad has happened, let’s all reflect on the sinful nature of man”

    Standard Christian excuse 101 isn’t it?

    > They’re not the same person.

    Oh yes they are, except when they’re not.

  6. Chucky Says:

    Hi Austin,

    > Still splittin the hairs huh?

    God is not mankind. That’s not exactly a small difference.

    The Son is not same person as the Father. That’s not a small difference.

    We are responsible for our actions, or God is. That’s not a small difference.

    You picked a random half sentence out of Athenagoras and tried to make him out to say something very different from what he does.

    You can insist all you like Christians believe things we don’t, but why? Why are you doing this? Do you genuinely not understand? Do you just want to pick a fight on the internet?

  7. Austin 3:16 Says:

    > God is not mankind. That’s not exactly a small difference.

    No kidding, what’s your next great insight that water is wet ?

    > The Son is not same person as the Father. That’s not a small difference.

    The father and I are one – that’s what he’s supposed to have said.

    I see though you’re struggling a bit with the inherent silliness of the theology. Happens to everybody. Think of it like the Hulk and Bruce Banner – they are still the same person. God’s essentially a three person multi personality disorder.

    >You can insist all you like Christians believe things we don’t, but why?

    Chucky I must have missed the disclaimer on the blog that tells us you are the official spokesperson for all of Christianity.

    Can you point out where that is?

    I would think that the notion that God sacrificed his only son is actually a fairly common theme in mainstream Christian belief. It’s certainly what I and others of the congregation got told for many a year while I sat in a pew.

    For God so loved the world etc.

    I’ve never heard that the sacrifice of Jesus was mankind’s idea before now.

    Jesus was God’s sacrifice to God. To make up for God’s creation acting in accordance with God’s design. Now God forgives God’s creation when asked. O course despite the sacrifice if God’s creation doesn’t ask God for forgiveness then it’s eternal torture.

    As I once heard Penn of Penn & Teller put it “God works in mysterious, ineffective and breathtakingly cruel ways.”

    Change but one word in the Dawkins quote and it’s an accurate reflection of Christian theology.

    It’s seems easier for you to confront the people who point out the flaws, than actually confront the flaws themselves.

  8. Chucky Says:

    > No kidding, what’s your next great insight that water is wet ?

    So now you say water isn’t dry, it’s wet? Atheists actually think water is dry, and I’ll go on national TV mocking you for that.

    > Think of it like the Hulk and Bruce Banner – they are still the same person.

    This isn’t right. That’s modalism as I said in the original post. According to Wikipedia (the link), modalism “is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons” (according to Wikipedia). How is what you (and Dawkins) saying any different?

    If you’re interested there’s a pretty good explanation of it [here](http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast)

    > Chucky I must have missed the disclaimer on the blog that tells us you are the official spokesperson for all of Christianity.

    All the major branches of Christianity are trinitarians, not modalists; Orthodox, major Protestant denominations and Catholics. Pell, who Dawkins was talking to is Catholic.

    > For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    Jesus willingly came to earth, making himself less than a servant, suffered the stigma and pain of a crucifixion to restore us to God. I agree that Jesus did it willingly and that God the Father allowed it to happen. What I don’t agree with is you implying that it was God the Father who actually killed Jesus, rather than mankind’s sin.

  9. Austin 3:16 Says:

    Hey Chucky
    > God the Father who actually killed Jesus, rather than mankind’s sin.

    It was God’s idea. It’s not just that God allowed it to happen he decided it would happen. Without God deciding to come on down for his own sacrifice it never would have happened. Sin didn’t decide to knock up a virgin, God did.

    And as to the sin thing, I already covered it “God creates people – people act like people – this annoys God.”


    “nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons””

    Not what I said. It’d be a trinitarian if I still believed.

    You seem to have some kinda unitarianism thing going on. Which I didn’t think was a mainstream Christian thing.

  10. M. James Says:

    I’m always waiting for Dawkins to slip up and accidentally appear to understand what he’s talking about.

  11. Chucky Says:

    Hi Austin,

    > Not what I said. It’d be a trinitarian if I still believed.

    I’ve been thinking how I should reply to you. I’m in a bit of a dilemma, because I want to end this in friendship, not in annoyance and hatred (of always having to get in the last word). Would now be a good time to agree we’ve both made our points? Would you like to make a final point? Or should we continue until one of us drops from internet exhaustion?

  12. Austin 3:16 Says:

    Hey Chucky,

    Well from my perspective we’re not in a competition. It’s just a chance to talk to somebody with a different view of the world.


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