Dawkins Criticizes Rome and Original Sin

In a recent speech (link), Dawkins has attempted to criticize the Roman Catholic Church.

Dawkins began by pointing out that contrary to the implications of Ratzinger in his recent speech in Edinburgh, Adolph Hitler was more Roman Catholic than Atheist, at least by the standard that is used by Rome when saying how many members her church has (namely those baptized persons who have not renounced their baptism or been excommunicated).

Dawkins then asserted that there is no link between atheism and evil. Of course, there’s obviously a connection between atheism and violation of the first table of the law, the relation between men and God. There’s also an intuitive link between atheism and the second table, though we expect the correlation to be muted both by the influence of conscience (atheists have consciences too) and the presence of large numbers of members of false religions, as well as hypocrites and the self-deluded (Hitler would fall in at least the latter category, and probably in some sense in both categories), who themselves also have consciences.

Dawkins continues by trying to attack original sin. This was interesting to me, because my friend Dr. White recently debated an atheist on the topic of “is the New Testament evil,” in which the atheist’s primary argument was about original sin.

After the attack on original sin, Dawkins declares that Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity, identifying children (on account of the sex abuse scandal and making them feel “guilty” in general), “gay people” (one presumes he means sodomites), women (because it won’t let them be priests), truth (because he denies the usefulness of a common barrier protection device against AIDS), poor people (because he encourages large, unaffordable families), science (because of opposition to stem cell research), an enemy of the Queen’s church (on account of his assertion that Anglican orders are null and void, even while trying to poach Anglican vicars), and education (because of the teaching that “evidence” is less reliable than revelation, faith, tradition, and the pope’s own authority).

I’m sure that many of Dawkins’ criticisms would be equally or at least similarly applicable to the Reformed churches. Some portions would not be applicable, such as the sex abuse portions, the opposition to the Queen’s church, as such, or the portion about denying the truth about the usefulness of barrier protection against infection. Dawkins, however, does not elaborate on the relevant criticisms to much extent, except briefly with respect to original sin.

With respect to original sin, Dawkins’ complaints seem to be these:

1) The doctrine of original sin is taught to young children.

This is only a valid objection if the doctrine is false, but the doctrine is true.

2) The doctrine of hell is also taught to them.

The doctrine of hell is also true.

3) The doctrine of original sin is based on an historical Adam, but Romanists now acknowledge that there was no historical Adam.

This criticism is not applicable to us, the Reformed, who affirm that Adam was an historical person. Additionally, there are conservative RCs who continue to affirm that Adam was an historical person.

4) The doctrine of original sin is a “disgusting theory.”

This is not really an argument, just a statement of preference (and one that, in the mouth of an atheist, is wholly consistent with the doctrine).

5) The doctrine of original sin leads people to presume that it is godlessness that led Hitler to do what he did.

Perhaps it does lead to that. If it does, then this is only an objection insofar as the doctrine of original sin is false, but the doctrine of original sin is true.

6) The doctrine of original sin indicates that “we are all monsters unless redeemed by Jesus.”

Actually, the doctrine of original sin does not entail rejecting the idea that depraved men still have consciences. Thus, while there is a sense in which they are “monsters,” they do not all behave monstrously.

7) The doctrine of original sin is a “revolting, depraved, inhuman theory”

This is just a stronger statement of item (4), addressed above.

As for the remainder of Dawkins’ complains, we are happy to acknowledge that Divine revelation is more reliable than extrapolations based on the assumptions of contemporary scientists. We affirm the high value of children, and consequently consider those with large families wealthy even if they lack significant financial assets. Our affirmation of the high value of children also motivates our concern about attempts by science to destroy the very young in an attempt to extend the lives of the old. We note that the reason for male leadership is God’s design and gifts of leadership to him, the woman being the weaker vessel. We condemn fornication among all those who commit it. Finally, returning again to children, our care for them also motivates to be concerned for their souls, even from a young age.

On these grounds, while we may join with Dawkins in recognizing that the pope is evil, we cannot endorse the significant misguided portions of his criticism.


6 Responses to “Dawkins Criticizes Rome and Original Sin”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    That was awesome! :D

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Oh and to be fair, the bible says we all sinned *in* adam. So it's perfectly right and just.And furthermore can these people say they would have done differently in Adam(man) and eves (woman)s place?Great blog :).

  3. john Says:
  4. john Says:

    On these grounds, while we may join with Dawkins in recognizing that the pope is evil . . .And why is the Pope evil?JM

  5. Turretinfan Says:

    Where should I begin? Opposition to the gospel;Exalting himself over the people of God;Sitting in a palace on a throne, to be venerated;And, of course, there's the matter of his cover-up of paedophilia and his continued support of Cardinal Law and others.-TurretinFan

  6. Turretinfan Says:

    That wasn't an invitation to debate all sorts of other topics.

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