The case against Richard Dawkins: Challenging anthropological bigotry

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It may shock most of my fellow Christians when I say, ‘I believe Richard Dawkins is one of the greatest intellectuals of the past 20 years. I’ve enjoyed reading Dawkins’ literature, he simplifies science in an easy to read manner and I’m fascinated by things like atoms, relative movement, and the genetics of life. Yet reading through his book The Magic of Reality, it isn’t his blatant scientific grudge against God that deters me from taking his pro-Darwin stance seriously; rather it is his biased assertion that cultural narratives belonging to the full spectrum of human diversity are nothing but primitive myths.

I get the whole thing about science vs. religion but what I don’t get is his overt bigotry towards other stories other than the ‘Gospel of Natural Selection.’ With the same tunnel vision that justified the Church’s exploitation of indigenous cultures, Dawkins too affirms a ‘one-law-for-all’ approach with his science of modern-imperialism. Name dropping Darwin like the Messiah, it is evident that the religious supremacy he denounces in Christianity is contradicted by his soap-box preaching of science as the only ‘Truth.’

For me, ‘Truth’ is subjective, nothing is unbiased nor is anything objective – history is written by the victor. Truth in one cultural milieu is foolishness in another, yet it seems like at times we all fall prey to the human syndrome of playing God; we all have moments of asserting ‘our way’ as the ‘right way’ or ‘the only way’ to make sense of the world around us. Dawkins is a literary and scientific genius but what he lacks is the will to step back from his Darwinian discipleship and acknowledge the universal relevance of ‘Worldviews.’

I’m not saying that ‘true truth’ is beyond us all, all I’m saying is that we are all blind mice grabbing different parts of an elephant, with one asserting that an elephant is a trunk, another proclaiming it as an ear and another a tail. Truth is culturally loaded, that includes the ‘non-culture’ culture of science, and we must all realize that subjectivity should never be elevated to objectivity. If I assert ‘my’ truth over another’s, I cease being part of the family of humanity; rather I essentially become a god onto myself. We need to remember that everyone has threads of truth to offer to the tapestry of human history, progress and social politics.

“The self cannot be self without other selves” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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The hypocrisy of Obama’s thin ‘red-line’

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Regardless of what Congress vote, it is evident that the force of George W. Bush is strong within Obama, and he will declare another US-led ‘intervention’ that will lead to more deaths of innocent lives. The ‘red-line’ of moral disgust by Obama and friends is a blatant double-standard, given the history of U.S-led and influenced wars:

  • Japan 1945 – Three words: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Vietnam 1961-1971 – The inhumane use of Agent Orange that maimed thousands and led to generations of babies being born with birth defects
  • The U.S led invasions of Iraq – The U.S used more than 1000 metric tons of depleted uranium in 1991 and 2003
  • Fallujah and Gaza – Both the U.S and Israel have used white phosphorus chemical weapons to shell both the Iraqi (2004) and Palestinian (2008) people

Evidently, the American president isn’t the only international leader to parrot a former political idiot. The U.K’s PM, David Cameron seems poised to follow the folly of Tony Blair. Nevertheless it is apparent that the British people are not going to be duped a second time with talks of ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ Ironically, 10 months into Syria’s civil war, Britain permitted multinationals to sell chemicals to Syria “capable of being used to make nerve gas”. (1) Arguably, the real terrorists reside not in Middle Eastern caves, but in lavish billion dollar mansions, funding world leaders to stir the pot of conflict and to gain control of 1. land and resources; 2. the political & military protection of the ‘in crowd’; and 3. the mass-media endorsed title of ‘heroes’. Double-standards continues to silhouette the politics of the U.S and friends, and the world keeps revolving around the idea that the West is ‘civilized’ and ‘righteous’ and that the East is ‘untamed’ and ‘barbaric’ – it’s high tide for us to wake up and realize that nothing should be taken at face value.

So then, can we as a global community resist the outdated rhetoric of justified terrorism from the West or are we still lemmings lead by the geopolitics of mass-media and the economic will of the U.S administration and friends? Hopefully one day, the world’s biggest nations would rather spend the billions allocated to military prowess, on humanitarian aid and democratic justice.

“Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete”. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or we will all perish together as fools – MLK

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There seems to be a problem with interpreting Jesus as a religious line in the sand, in which one side gets flights and accommodation to paradise, and the other side…well, you get the drift.

Re-reading John 14:6 in the context of the whole account of John, which in turn is situated within the context of the Bible, which in turn is situated within the context of the existential metanarrative of divine love; Jesus’ so-called assertion as ‘the way to the Father’ looks a lot different than the norm of dominant church culture.

Indeed, Jesus is in the middle of a long conversation with his followers, they’re concerned that Jesus (after 3 years of telling his disciples to follow him) is now telling them that he’s going somewhere and they can’t come. Here are 4 exegetical points that end up portraying John 14 as a call to love others not a call for religious exclusion.

‘Where I am going you cannot come’ – Here Jesus is talking about his suffering and death, in which he will destroy ‘the temple’ and raise it up again in 3 days (remembering that the temple has moved from being a structure to being people-in-loving-communion-with-God-and-others through the leading character of Christ). Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, EVERYONE can commune with God (not just a select few worshipping in an exclusive building);

‘My Father’s house has many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you’ – Jesus isn’t talking about gaping it to heaven and building mansions for the elect few (remembering back to John 2 when Jesus went berserk in the temple because the religious authorities had turned the building into a shrine of exclusion and exploitation of ‘the other’). Here Jesus is ‘preparing’ himself for his death and resurrection (namely the destroying of the old temple of exclusion and the re-building of the re-newed temple in which it shall be a house of prayer for all nations). Through the passion of Christ, Jesus prepared a community (not just for ‘Christians’) in which everyone is invited to join and build a society of loving ‘the other’.

‘I will come back and take you to be with me…’ – This isn’t a reference to Jesus’ second coming and that he’s going to ‘rapture’ the elect and take them to their heavenly mansions, meanwhile destroying everyone that ‘doesn’t know the way.’ Jesus is talking about his resurrection, in which after three days he will reunite with his disciples before his ascension.

‘You know the way…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ – this has nothing to do with post-mortem travel arrangements or religious supremacy, rather it is a reflection back to Moses and the Levitical law (in which the Israelites used the Torah as the way to interpret life as a Jewish person living in the post-exodus era). Jesus’ giving of the great commandment to love others is a parallel to Moses giving the Israelites the 10 commandments. Basically Jesus is saying that without love and acceptance of ‘the other’, one ends up with the opposite of God (which could be termed ‘exclusive selfishness’ – I must stress that non-adherence to ‘the way of love’ doesn’t condemn people to hell, rather I believe that God is forever chasing people with his love, patiently waiting for them to embrace the embrace).

Jesus quite pointedly IS the way, the truth and the life because he is the perfect expression and character of the greatest commandment: love others. In the character of Jesus, we find the embodiment of what it means to love God and love people. Over his 3 year ministry, whether it was by his deeds, his words or through his character – over and over again, Jesus reminds us that God (‘the way’) is inclusive love and the will to embrace ‘the other’ in all their diversity. “When you are kind and respectful to followers of other religions, you are not being unfaithful to Jesus; you are being faithful to him” (McLaren, 2010, p. 285).

With this in mind, I dare propose that ‘the kingdom of God’ isn’t exclusive to the Christian saved, rather it is a global house with many rooms, inhabited by differing people, all unified through the mission of transforming the world into a society of ‘loving the other’.

“We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or we will all perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Works Cited

McLaren, B. (2010). A new kind of Christianity. London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.