Re: [asa] Grains among the chaff (skimming the 'God Delusion')

From: <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Mon Mar 31 2008 - 16:55:15 EDT

I've faced most of the litany of discrepancies (genealogies, empty tomb
scenarios, chronology problems, etc.) & become settled about literary devices or
other accommodations even if I haven't settled where interpretive lines should
fall in all cases. Thanks. (It's the old 'jumbled eyewitness testimonies so
it must be genuine' argument like Lewis used. I think it particularly realistic
even though the Dawkins crowd detests that line of reasoning and loves to say
so. But that isn't the heart of our faith anyway.)

--Merv

Quoting Michael Roberts <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>:

> Merv and Charles
>
> That is why I yawned. I will yawn again as I consider that Dawk went to
> Oxford where the college structure enables or even makes it unavoidable for
> students to mix extensively with students studying other subjects. Hence any
> Oxford undergrad, unless a total recluse or hopelessly tied up with chicks*,
> would be part of a group and partake of intellectual discussion across the
> subjects, and learn what others were doing. It was a simple way of giving Gen
> Ed courses. That meant for me that I learnt from those studying French and
> German literature, philosophy, classics, theology, history, economics,
> psychology, metallurgy, chemistry, music etc. Despite my then lack of belief
> I picked up much basic theology from 3 theology undergrads, - 2 American one
> an atheist ex RC monk, and the other a budding Episcopalian priest. That in
> combination with chapel groups gave me wide knowledge. Dawk not only went
> through that but for 40 years has been a don at New College, and could hardly
> have avoided discussions in the Senior Common Room with theologians. Hence I
> have little tolerance for his attitudes and studied ignorance of
> Christianity.
>
> Dawk doesn't even seem to have read the Gospels. and his description of Matt
> and Luke is poor.
>
> I am aware many flounder on these questions and a major part of the problem
> is the popular literalism, which I have often found in the Anglican church
> among members. The Bible has been presented as uniform either all literally
> true or all myth, but the "official view" being the former. Hence problems
> rise over birth narratives, revelation, the prophets and Genesis. Teaching at
> all levels helps but sadly many don't see this as relevant and prefer a
> simple faith. This may seem patronising but I have found this among all
> levels of ability and in Britain it comes out every Christmas when
> journalists suddenly discover that there weren't 3 wise men etc.
>
> Undoubtedly Peter Enns would help and much basic biblical interpretation of
> the past
>
> Michael
>
>
> * Dawk's D Phil thesis was on the pecking order of chicks.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Charles Carrigan
> To: asa@calvin.edu ; mrb22667@kansas.net
> Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 5:15 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Grains among the chaff (skimming the 'God Delusion')
>
>
> Merv-
>
> It's no mystery that the stories in the various gospel accounts, even the
> three synoptic gospels, cannot be combined into a single coherent historical
> account without some very difficult problems. If Dawkins thinks this is a
> problem that's just silly. Try "combining" the 4 resurrection stories
> sometime. To think that the Church fathers were unaware of this seems kind
> of ridiculous. It is surprising the poor understanding of scripture that
> people can develop by not reading it. Rather than being a problem, I think
> it instead gives the gospels even more historical credibility.
>
> Best,
> Charles
>
> >>> Merv <mrb22667@kansas.net> 3/31/2008 12:16 AM >>>
> At our public library, finding its two A. McGrath's holdings ("D.Delusion &
> Twilight of Atheism), I also saw Dawkins' "God Delusion" (three shiny
> copies!) right next to them and couldn't resist.
>
> Now, after having skimmed it (Dawkins' book) at home looking for anything
> that might be interesting or genuinely insightful, I did find one question
> that provoked me to look into something in Scriptures. He finds in the
> Matthew and Luke accounts of Jesus' childhood obviously contradictory
> accounts regarding childhood travels. Here, any such interest as Dawkins may
> have purported to have stops, since to him this is only one more
> 'incoherence' of scripture. But my interest is piqued. Here is what
> Dawkins' said that caught my attention (p. 93) I'll just summarize it.
>
> Dawkins writes to this effect:
>
> ...that Luke has Mary & Joseph living in Nazareth, traveling to Bethlehem,
> fleeing to Egypt, and then returning to Nazareth after Herod dies. Whereas
> Matthew has the family living in Bethlehem all along. (I guess D. gets this
> from Matt 2:19-23 which seem to suggest that Nazareth was an unplanned
> arrival point rather than a home returned to.)
> Dawkins also states that Luke's claim about the Roman census, which can be
> independently verified, shows the whole Luke account to be a fabrication
> since the only census that occurred was a local one, and was too late for
> Luke's purposes, being in AD 6 after Herod's death.
>
> All this made me wonder how theologians have answered (or not answered)
> some of this, or if Dawkins' facts are just plain wrong (His other assertions
> about Scripture that I ran across were light weight --- he can pontificate on
> how, even in the N.T., Jewish morality and decency towards 'neighbors' meant
> only 'fellow Jews' with nary a mention of Jesus' teaching of the good
> Samaritan so far as I could find.)
>
> But sorting out the childhood travels of the holy family I find more
> interesting:
> Matthew states that immediately after the magi visit (to the house in
> Bethlehem), the holy family fled to Egypt. So why does Luke never mention
> the flight to Egypt, but makes it sound like they return forthwith to
> Nazareth after the circumcision (eighth day) and purification rites in
> Jerusalem? What are the developed answers theologians have given to these
> over the ages?
>
> I don't raise these questions in the same spirit as Dawkins does (indeed,
> to him they are not questions at all) Unlike him, I am actually interested
> in the truth. So are his challenges actually real ones here? I should
> probably go and review the astronomical Star of Bethlehem project again, if I
> could find it. It seemed he had quite a bit to say about some timelines
> that may have answered this.
>
> (I pasted in Dawkin's actual paragraphs on this below for the curious.)
>
> --Merv
> p.s. Dave Opderbec, thanks for the A.McGrath suggestion; he looks like an
> excellent author, and I'll be reading his work now too.
>
> p.p.s. (from a 'Pontius Puddle' religious cartoon):
> Said parishioner to Pontius: "How was Sunday school this morning?"
> Replied Pontius: "Great! I scuttled two shallow convictions, exposed
> three misconceptions, and crushed one individual's entire belief system!"
> Parting remark of parishioner: "I had no idea religion could be such a
> contact sport!"
>
>
> Actual paragraphs from Dawkins' (er - excuse me) "God Delusion" p. 93
>
> Matthew and Luke handle the problem differently, by deciding that Jesus
> must have been born in Bethlehem after all. But they get him there by
> different routes. Matthew has Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem all along, moving
> to Nazareth only long after the birth of Jesus, on their return from Egypt
> where they fled from King Herod and the massacre of the innocents. Luke, by
> contrast, acknowledges that Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth before Jesus
> was born. So how to get them to Bethlehem at the crucial moment, in order to
> fulfill the prophecy? Luke says that, in the time when Cyrenius (Quirinius)
> was governor of Syria, Caesar Augustus decreed a census for taxation
> purposes, and everybody had to go 'to his own city'. Joseph was 'of the
> house and lineage of David' and therefore he had to go to the city of David,
> which is called Bethlehem'. That must have seemed like a good solution.
> Except that historically it is complete nonsense, as A.N. Wilson in [...&
> others ...] have pointed out. David ... lived nearly a thousand years before
> Mary and Joseph. Why on earth would the Romans have required Joseph to go to
> the city where a remote ancestor had lived a millennium earlier? It is as
> though I were required to specify [...yada yada yada..]
> Dawkins continues in the next paragraph:
> Moreover, Luke screws up his dating by tactlessly mentioning events that
> historians are capable of independently checking. There was indeed a census
> under governor Quirinius - a local census, not one decreed by Caesar Augustus
> for the Empire as a whole -- but it happened too late: in AD 6, long after
> Herod's death.
>
> --end of quote from Dawkins' book.
>
>
>

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Received on Mon Mar 31 16:56:13 2008

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