Dawkins’ Bible

Richard Dawkins has a section in his chapter “Arguments For God’s Existence” that deals with “The Argument From Scripture.”  There were so many errors in this section, I decided to give it separate treatment.

Dawkins calls into question C.S. Lewis’ trilemma of liar, lunatic or Lord by suggesting that Jesus could have simply been wrong in his divine claims.  I’m not sure the difference between that and lunatic.  Being wrong in thinking you are God is not the same things as being wrong about what day of the week it is.  If you really think you are God and you are not, there is something deeply wrong.

Dawkins claims that scholars reject the Gospels as having historical value and that they were written too long after the events (40-50 years).  Of course, people have no problem using Plutarch as a valuable historical source for Alexander the Great, writing four hundred years after the events.  Dawkins also tries to find problems with Gospel accounts of where Jesus was born.  Matthew and Luke deal with different aspects of Jesus’ birth and infanthood and do not deal with the exact same events.  John subtly acknowledges the raising in Nazareth and the confusion about the birth in Bethlehem.  There is no contradiction.  As for Joseph having to go back to Bethlehem, that was not likely because of a thousand year old connection.  He likely had family connections there and was returning to where his family was currently living.

Dawkins suggests that the canonical Gospels were arbitrarily chosen from a larger group of writings.  Not true at all.  The four Gospels were almost universally accepted very early.  In fact they are the only first century Gospels there are.  Even Marcion, chose from these four in coming up with his canon for his heresy.  Regarding the connection of the Gospel writers to Jesus, a good case can be made that they reflect eyewitness testimony.  Dawkins hints at the idea that Jesus may never have existed, citing G.A. Wells (a professor of German), but ends up acknowledging that he likely existed.

Dawkins’ critique of the New Testament is quite weak, more on the level of an amateur blogger (no offence to my fellow bloggers) than a serious scholar.  Dawkins’ does not even seem to attempt to produce a serious attack, relying more on the assumption that most readers will have already rejected the New Testament as having value.

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