Sunday, October 22, 2006

Prior Aelred Speaks!

Well, actually, he sent me a link, and a review. Since it is available on-line, I'll just give you the review. It's a very good one, from the London Review of Books, on Dawkins' The God Delusion.

It's also an excellent review of mainstream Christian theology. I'd like to clip a copy of it and just attach it to my blog, for the rest of left blogistan to peruse.

UPDATE: Fresh straw from Dawkins (or probably just recycled). A prime example:

[Dawkins speculates on the impact of "scientific evidence" that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, as if such could exist, then goes on:] You can bet your boots that not just the fundamentalists but every professor of theology and every bishop in the land would trumpet the archeological evidence to the skies.

Either Jesus had a father or he didn't. The question is a scientific one, and scientific evidence, if any were available, would be used to settle it.
First: no, they wouldn't. We settled this issue in seminary, actually. The statement that Jesus was born of a virgin is a confessional one, not necessarily and essentially an empirical one (which is different from a scientific claim; Dawkins blurs distinctions with abandon). So, like "proof" that the Shroud of Turin was real, or rather the proof that it wasn't, wouldn't change the church at all.

As for his second claim, if he asserts that is a scientific claim, then he's a poorer scientist than I thought, and I stand even more firmly beside my critique of his "selfish gene" theory. Clearly the man doesn't even understand science, much less either religion or theology. But if he wants to base his argument on Gould's "NOMA," I'll see his NOMA and raise him Wittgenstein's "language games," a much more penetrating analysis of how we talk about things, and whether or not we can denigrate another person's beliefs based on not sharing their understanding of what the words refer to. As Terry Eagleton says: "Only positivists think that ‘rational’ means ‘scientific.’" Considering how thoroughly Wittgenstein (and Godel) ended the logical positivists (described as the only philosophical school that actually came to an end. Russell abandoned it for anti-war protests, Whitehead followed Wittgenstein into quasi-mysticism, the rest faded away in to obscurity), it's little surprise Dawkins doesn't take on one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century.

Or a real theologian, for that matter.

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