Dawkins to Christian Writer Ross Douthat: Are You Saying What You Really Believe?

Over on the "Evolution is True" website belonging to Jerry Coyne, author of "Why Evolution is True," guest writer Richard Dawkins takes issue with conservative Catholic columnist Ross Douthat for bracketing "Biblical fundamentalists" with atheists and accusing both of making the same mistake, "...of thinking that the correct way to read the Bible is literally, as do Ken Ham or Al Mohler." (Ross Douthat doesn’t understand atheism, Richard Dawkins, Oct. 5, 2011, whyevolutionistrue.com)

Douthat criticizes New Atheism said Dawkins, "for thinking that we go after only the fundamentalist version of religion, ignoring the sophisticated versions propounded by sophisticated theologians like John Haught and sophisticated intellectuals like himself" who see much of the Bible, particularly the Genesis account, as metaphor as Douthat makes clear:

"It was a peculiar spectacle, to put it mildly: An atheist [Coyne] attacking a traditionalist believer [Shea] for not reading Genesis literally. On the merits, Coyne is of course quite correct that some of the details of the Genesis story seem to contradict what science and archaeology suggest about human origins. (For instance, the claim that Adam and Eve were formed from the dust of the ground and a human rib, respectively, not from millennia upon millennia of evolution, the suggestion that they lived in a garden near the Tigris and the Euphrates, not a hunter-gatherer community in Africa, and … well, you get the idea.) But then again some of the details of the Genesis story seem to contradict one anotheras well, in ways that should inspire even a reader who knows nothing about the controversies surrounding evolution to suspect that what he’s reading isn’t intended as a literal and complete natural history of the human race." (Why Atheists Need Fundamentalists, Douthat, Oct. 4, 2011, New York Times)

Dawkins is quick to spot the contradictions in Douthat's argument, and points out that if Ken Ham, Dr. Albert Mohler, and other faithful believers, or 'fundamentalists as Douthat labels them did not take the,

"...stories pretty literally, including the tales of Noah and the flood, the Genesis stories, the tale of Adam and Eve and their Original Sin, and, of course, the whole Jesus mythology (then) we’d have no creationism in America, and the story of Jesus would be a convenient fairy tale, like that of Santa Claus, rather than an object of universal veneration." (ibid)

Zeroing in on Douthat's contradictory reasoning, Dawkins argues that while much of the Bible is dismissively relegated to the category of fanciful metaphor by Douthat, "I’m sure that when he goes to Mass each week he recites the Nicene Creed, affirming his belief in these “truths”:

■Jesus is the son of God ■God is the creator of heaven and earth ■Jesus was the product of a virgin birth ■The crucified Jesus was resurrected ■Jesus will come again to judge us all ■Our sins will be remitted through baptism ■There’s an afterlife for the good folks

Dawkins then asks, "Tell me, Mr. Douthat: are those allegories, too? When you mouth them in Church each week, are you saying what you really believe? If not, why do you call yourself a Catholic?" (ibid)

In other words, unless the events of the first chapters of Genesis are a true historical record of what actually happened, then the rest of the Bible is reduced to an elaborately fanciful way of expressing something, a myth or story perhaps, and Jesus Christ is either a lunatic or a liar.

For example, when Jesus Christ God incarnate referred to the creation of Adam and Eve as a real historical event (Gen. 1:27 and 2:24) and also referred to Noah as a real historical person and the Flood as a real historical event (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27) He could only be insane or an incomparable liar if Genesis is nothing more than allegory.

In complete contradiction of Douthat's contention that Adam and Eve were the product of "millennia upon millennia of evolution" from pre-existing creatures, Genesis 2:18–25 shows that there is no kinship whatsoever between Adam and the animals:

"Adam had not evolved from them, but was ‘a living soul’ whom God had created ‘in His own image’ (Genesis 2:7 and 1:27). This means (among other things) that God created Adam to be a person whom He could address, and who could respond to and interact with Himself. Here, as in many other places, the plain statements of the Bible confront and contradict the notion of human evolution." (Should Genesis be taken literally? Russell Grigg, creation ministries international)

Rather than evolution, Scripture teaches that the living God brought the universe--matter, energy, time, space, and all life into existence from nothing. Support for this truth-claim of historic Christianity can be found throughout Scripture, from Genesis through Revelation: Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 3:19, Psalm 90:2, John 1:3, Colossian 1:16, Romans 4:17, 2 Tim. 1:9, Acts 4:24, Hebrews 11:3, Titus 1:2, Revelation 4:11. (Creation Ex Nihilo, Kenneth R. Samples, reasons.org)

In 1907 Pope Pius X declared Modernism and its' principle doctrine evolution as heresies in his Encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. The Pope observed that according to the law of evolution everything is,

“…subject to change, and must in fact be changed (for to) the laws of evolution everything is subject under penalty of death — dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself affirmed that our most holy religion, in the man Christ as in us, emanated from nature spontaneously and of itself. Nothing assuredly could be more utterly destructive of the whole supernatural order.”

Even our Lord Jesus Christ God incarnate, must be subject to the laws of evolution:

“..then Christ, according to what they call His real history, was not God and never did anything divine, and that as man He did and said only what they, judging from the time in which He lived, consider that He ought to have said or done.” (ibid) (PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE MODERNISTS, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X, SEPTEMBER 8, 1907)

In his recent best-seller, "Bad Religion," Catholic writer Douthat provides a critique of heresy in a country where "traditional Christian teachings have been warped into justifications for solipsism and anti-intellectualism, jingoism and utopianism, selfishness and greed." But hasn't Douthat done what he has accused others of doing? Has he not reduced most of God's Revelation to metaphor in order to accomodate it to the evolution heresy? By reducing the truth-claims of the Genesis account to allegories, heresy has no meaning.

In conclusion, if the heresy of evolution is true rather than the truth-claims from Genesis through Revelation, then the historical record concerning the first Adam is also untrue, making what God says in His Word about the last Adam (Jesus Christ) untrue, and so as Dawkins correctly points out, what sense is there in reciting the Nicene Creed and affirming belief in “truths" which are not truths? When you mouth these truths in Church each week asks Dawkins, "are you saying what you really believe?"

@Linda Kimball