“Gunning for God” Review, Part Five

Chapter 5, “Is God a Despot?” considers the hatchet-job which the New Atheists attempt on the Christian religion in particular.

Early in the chapter, Lennox gives further telling examples of Dawkins’ abandonment of proper academic procedure. Firstly, he counterpoises a statement from Dawkins, “No one takes their morality from the Bible” against one from the atheist intellectual Jürgen Habermas, “Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it” – cited in (Lennox, 2011, p. 117).

Is Jürgen Habermas a “no one”? It seems that Dawkins dismisses anyone who has an opinion contrary to his own as a “nobody”. This is not a good advertisement for his academic integrity. Nor is it if he has simply never heard of Habermas – a sweeping statement like “No one takes their morality from the Bible” needs to be supported by a rigorous survey of pertinent sources if it is to have academic validity.

In the second example, Lennox considers Dawkins’s argument that Leviticus 19:18, “You …shall love your neighbour as yourself,” was simply a command for Jews to love other Jews. In support, Dawkins – who is not a Bible scholar – cites another man, John Hartung, who is not a Bible scholar either but a doctor of medicine, an anaesthetist. If either man had taken the time to read to the end of Leviticus 19 or had consulted an expert scholar, they would have discovered they were wrong, because verse 33 says, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.” (Lennox, 2011, p. 118).

Lennox comments, “There is no doubt that moral questions do arise in connection with the Bible that need to be addressed; but it will not help us in the least if that analysis is based on unscholarly, ill-informed, and incorrect views of what the Bible actually has to say” (p. 119). In the remainder of the chapter, he discusses some of those moral questions and suggests answers.

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