Friday, May 25, 2012
Richard Dawkins Channels Jacques Ellul
While I was out wading streams and communing with trout, Richard Dawkins, whom I have mentioned in these pages in the past, had a piece in the Guardian under a headline some atheists may consider surprising. Why I want all our children to read the King James Bible.
The reason Dawkins states for wanting children to read the King James Bible is articulated as follows.
The good book should be read as a great work of literature…
Dawkins’ stated reason is correct, and he also offers more substantive reasons for reading the King James Bible, such as the historical facts contained therein.
But what I am most interested in addressing in Dawkins’ piece is the following comment.
Whatever else the Bible might be – and it really is a great work of literature – it is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite.
I am uncertain if Dawkins has just arrived at this supposed enlightening conclusion, but if he has, it does not speak well in regards to his alleged intellect, as his concluding thought, that the Bible is not a moral book, is simply a paraphrased regurgitation of an insight of French philosopher Jacques Ellul’s.
Similarly, what Jesus says in the Gospels is not morality…Second, there is no moral system in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. There are no moral precepts that can exist independently in some way, that can have universal validity, and that can serve the elaboration of a moral system. Third, the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is against morality. Not only is it honestly impossible to derive a moral system from the Gospels and the Epistles, but further, the main keys in the gospel—the proclamation of grace, the declaration of pardon, and the opening up of life to freedom—are the direct opposite of morality. For they imply that all conduct, including that of the devout, or the most moral, is wholly engulfed in sin.
Source (see page 70).
Link to Dawkins’ piece via Keith Burgess-Jackson.