Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Notes on the Christian Delusion: The Bible-bashing chapters

Having read through The Christian Delusion, I have some comments. I have given some a few posts back, and I have some now.

I must admit that the target of the book is somewhat confusing. It seems to target "evangelicalism" primarily, though its claim is that all Christianity is bunk. A number of the chapters are what I would call Bible-bashing chapters. The trouble here is that these chapters seem to me to have paid no attention to attempts on the part of Christian theology to read Scripture in a nuanced way. It is hardly the case that atheists are the ones who have discovered difficulties with the Old Testament, or the New Testament for that matter. Even if we restrict ourselves to those who hold to "inerrancy" or "plenary inspiration" there were no references, so far as I could see, to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which is where that doctrine was clarified and developed in a sophisticated manner. And then there are other attempts to come to terms with the Bible as in some sense God's word while distancing oneself from inerrancy. C. S. Lewis is a certainly a highly respected figure amongst evangelicals, but he didn't accept inerrancy, and he also raised questions about the moral character of the Old Testament in Reflections on the Psalms. Lewis is a profoundly orthodox Trinitarian Christian, but certainly not a hard-line inerrantist.

In Tobin's essay, you get a brief treatment of "liberal" theology, as if the only deviations from the evangelical hard-line is going to a full-blown liberalism. Stephen Davis's book on inerrancy and infallibility represents a moderately conservative view, as would Pinnock's The Scripture Principle. There's no attempt, in the Christian delusion, to grapple with people like this.


PhysicistDave said...

You said:
> C. S. Lewis is a certainly a highly respected figure amongst evangelicals…

Well… actually, quite a few of the more thoughtful evangelicals see Lewis as a surreptitious pagan, if not an outright Satanist, out to destroy Christianity.

See “C.S. Lewis Was No Christian!” : (the site has lots of anti-Lewis stuff)

or, I love this line:
> Clive Staples Lewis has been perhaps the single most useful tool of Satan since his appearance in the Christian community… (“C. S. Lewis: The Devil’s Wisest Fool”

A bit of Googling can find a lot more.

I myself wish all this were true, but of course it is not.

On the other hand, Lewis is, in my experience, by far the most popular Christian apologist amongst my fellow atheists. When the first Narnia movie was in the works, I found out about it on an atheist BBS: all the atheists were looking forward to it, and when it came out, we took our kids with a couple other atheist families to see it.

While Lewis surely did not intend to be a tool in the arsenal of us anti-Christians, just maybe all these evangelicals are on to something. Lewis certainly does encourage a not-entirely-literal reading of Scripture, and, indeed, in places I felt he had an almost allegorical view of the Resurrection.

So, perhaps there really is a natural progression: Lewis to Bishop Spong to Don Cupitt to Richard Dawkins. In fact, Dawkins briefly, though positively, mentioned Narnia in his book “Unweaving the Rainbow.” I have a sneaking suspicion that he may be a Lewis fan, like so many atheists.


muddleglum said...

"uite a few of the more thoughtful evangelicals"
Either PhysicistDave is being highly ironic, or needs to define "evangelical."

Note the first site he references is to a KJV only site. Nuf said.

The 2nd site is to a piano service man. I think he is a Fundamental Baptist, and his "against" list has just about every evangelical group in it.

The fact that PhysicistDave didn't bother to bring this out makes one wonder how thoughtful he was when he wrote "more thoughtful."

Just lurking by.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, is a great site. Aside from the anti-Lewis stuff, a few additional articles from it include an article on why Martin Luther is evil, Obama is a communist, conspiracy theories (believing that Obama is a tool of the Illuminati), and I've seen articles promoting easy-believism, KJV Onlyism, the Rapture (okay, so I'm the minority of believers who think that's false doctrine), and the coming of a police state to America.

Credible site? I think it's a Poe--a satirical website run by unbelievers who are parodying the worst sort of fundamentalist Christians. Like Landover Baptist Church.

Either way, they need to hire a better web designer--quick!