Let’s Discuss: Richard Dawkins and the Average Christian

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
― Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion

If you’re a Christian, the above quote probably makes you feel a range of emotions from shocked and angry to completely dumbfounded. So, let’s discuss how you would respond. Best response gets my praise.


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I’m Tracy

11 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Richard Dawkins and the Average Christian”

  1. Let’s look at the God of the Old Testament from the perspective of the Israelites. It’s almost odd that the Israelites even follow this God and consider the Old Testament the sure Word of God – nearly every book is full of condemning indictments and prophecies against the Israelites. So why do the Israelites even follow this Bible and this God?

    Because the God of the Old Testament is jealous for the Israelites and happy to be that way; he is unjust in how often He forgives and attempts to redeem the Israelites over their petty idols; He is an almighty protector, saving His people from many wars and giving them victory in many bloody battles that the Israelites should have lost; He is a God that gave many children to barren women, gave important roles to women like Ruth and Esther, would establish a bloodline from King David leading to a young girl named Mary; He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah not for their sexual sin but for their selfishness; He let most families prosper more than they deserved and promises and fulfilled abundance for many families; He often gave favor to the second-borns over the firsts; He often brought His people out of exile and slavery; He regularly showed His divine power through mass providence for His people; He found pleasure in keeping His people out of harm; and He loved them all so much that He ended up jumping in front of the bullet and dying for them.

    Why the Israelites? When God created the universe, he decided the Milky Way would be the most holy galaxy; He decided that Earth would be the most holy planet; that Israel would be the most holy land; Israelites, the most holy people; Levites, the most holy tribe.

    So now, with the way the God of the Old Testament treated His holy people, why would we be complaining that the God of the New Testament (which is the same god, mind you) wishes to turn the whole world into Levites, turn the whole world into His favored and forgiven people?

    1. That’s a very good response, but the one I’m looking for is a question. If you ran into someone at the bus station and they accosted you with that quote, you would never get all those words about before they lose interest and stop listening. In the best case scenario, they’ll keep interrupting you.

      This is a tactics issue. This person has, in one sentence, completely put you in a bad spot. All they did was spout a bunch of words knowing full well that you could never answer them all thoroughly and in time to keep your audience’s attention. They’ve unbalanced you such that no defensive move can save you. So, if you get defensive, you lose, and losing means the audience leaves thinking that the person is right and God is all those things. You need to go on the offense. The correct answer is a question.

  2. A question, eh? You must have been listening to the Master. 🙂
    Let’s see, how to draw them out without allowing their opinion to be the standard of judgment….
    You know, I like alexandermachine’s question, maybe with the added, “how do you decide whether these are good or bad things?” Because at some point it’s what *they* think good is they’re using. God doesn’t cooperate too well with such people (James 4:12)

  3. That’s still being defensive. You’re trying to justify God’s actions. By so doing, you have taken on the job of proving that the person is wrong – something which we’ve already established you cannot do. You can get the answer in Greg Koukl’s book ‘Tactics’.

    This might help: The Columbo Tactic

  4. Cheri, you’re pretty close, but you need to neutralize their words, not just draw them out. The main point here (in my opinion) is defending God’s honor, not teaching them about the moral law.

    The question I’m thinking of is ‘What makes you think that?’ or ‘What evidence do you have for that’. That question effectively turns the tables on them. Just like you wouldn’t have been able to refute all those claims, he won’t be able to defend them all. By doing this, you point out that just saying God is evil doesn’t make it so. He has to defend his claims and if he can’t defend them, they have no merit.

    With one sentence, you’ve basically cleared God of all the charges. In order to make the charges stick, they are going to have to defend them. Whether they have evidence or not, at most they’ll be able to defend two of the claims. They are now on the same level as you and you don’t have to try to defend God against all those assertions in 30 seconds.

    It’s important not to take the bait. Anyone can say there is gold on the moon. There’s no point trying to convince them otherwise. Just ask them for evidence, and be ready to respond to any they do provide. The person being defensive does more work. There’s no point going through the trouble of trying to disprove something that hasn’t been proved in the 1st place.

    Sorry, this isn’t very coherent. I’m kind of tired

  5. I knew my answer wasn’t nearly good enough; it’s been niggling at me ever since. My 1st thought was to ask what you just did, Tracy, but there are passages many God-haters are aware of supporting their claims, they could easily come back with answers that look mighty convincing.
    The reason I checked in just now is because I’m listening to Ravi Zacharias and he opened with Jesus’ response to Pilate’s question, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” and Jesus’ answer, “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?”
    It would seem to connect to our skeptic by asking them, “are you only saying this because Dawkins et al. taught you this, or did you study the Bible and make these judgments on your own?”
    At the end of the day I’m not sure there is a good answer to the question. Look at how God responded to Job’s accusations. All He did was ask Job questions about his knowledge and power with creation. God has the right to decide what is truly good and evil because it’s His game, He made it, He sets the rules.

  6. I think most of these responses aren’t getting to the heart of the matter. There is a reason men like Dawkins who was a christian believe as they do now. In fact there are many very loud voices in the atheist movement who are former evangelical christians Dan Barker for instance. Who not only have read the bible but read it in depth with great fervor. You won’t be able to just fire back at them with anything that will be effective.

    The last thing Cheri said is just adding fuel to the fire because if god sets the rules then there is not objective morality and God becomes a tyrant not a benevolent creator. There is no easy one line zinger you can fire back at a comment like Dawkins. All you can do is draw them into conversation. Discussion is the only way to find the meat of the matter and solve the issue. If you are looking for a one line solution then you aren’t trying to do anything other than play their game, and frankly thanks to the old testament they have a lot of plausible ammunition.

    Quote mining bible verses always makes them feel superior so try to engage them to challenge their contextual understanding, and don’t look for a single short cut.

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