f The Wittenberg Door: Karen Armstrong: Fauxtheist

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Karen Armstrong: Fauxtheist

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting exchange on the topic, “Where does evolution leave God?” Representing the atheists is well-known protagonist Richard Dawkins. On the theist side is religion-author Karen Armstrong, whose new book is titled, The Case for God.

What makes this offering so interesting is that Karen Armstrong doesn’t realize that she’s not a theist. Here’s how she begins her case on the “God side”:

Richard Dawkins has been right all along, of course—at least in one important respect. Evolution has indeed dealt a blow to the idea of a benign creator, literally conceived. It tells us that there is no Intelligence controlling the cosmos, and that life itself is the result of a blind process of natural selection, in which innumerable species failed to survive. The fossil record reveals a natural history of pain, death and racial extinction, so if there was a divine plan, it was cruel, callously prodigal and wasteful. Human beings were not the pinnacle of a purposeful creation; like everything else, they evolved by trial and error and God had no direct hand in their making. No wonder so many fundamentalist Christians find their faith shaken to the core.

Ms. Armstrong’s theistic confusion, however, is apparently not lost on Mr. Dawkins, who ends his case with the following . . .

Now, there is a certain class of sophisticated modern theologian who will say something like this: "Good heavens, of course we are not so naive or simplistic as to care whether God exists. Existence is such a 19th-century preoccupation! It doesn't matter whether God exists in a scientific sense. What matters is whether he exists for you or for me. If God is real for you, who cares whether science has made him redundant? Such arrogance! Such elitism."

Well, if that's what floats your canoe, you'll be paddling it up a very lonely creek. The mainstream belief of the world's peoples is very clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. If sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the importance of existence, they should think again. Tell the congregation of a church or mosque that existence is too vulgar an attribute to fasten onto their God, and they will brand you an atheist. They'll be right.

I recommend that Ms. Armstrong’s publisher stage an intervention prior to her writing anymore “case for God” books.

You can read the entire exchange here.

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