“Before Richard Dawkins Was…I Am.”

I think that is what Our Lord would say anyway, much to the consternation of “bright,”militant atheists everywhere. Of course, that is after He spit coffee out on His keyboard laughing. Go read Dawkins attempt to make sense of his brilliant idea over at The Blaze. Truly a more hilarious title (I added a few words) for an article has never been written,

“Jesus Would Have Been An Athiest If (wait for it) He Had Known What We Know Today”

It doesn’t get much funnier than that, does it? Guess how Oscar Wilde (a death-bed convert to the Church) defines a cynic?

A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing (“Lady Windermere’s Fan,” 1891).

Of course, Oscar went on to realize that Truth was worth more than a pittance. There’s still hope for Richard too. Way back in 2006, though, he held forth completely on this subject at his website. The nutshell version?

Of course Jesus was a theist, but that is the least interesting thing about him. He was a theist because, in his time, everybody was.

See how easy that was? Groupthink is power! For the other side of the story, perhaps you’ll enjoy this selection I reached up and pulled down from the ever-ready YIMCatholic Bookshelf. This is from Cardinal James Gibbons classic, Our Christian Heritage.

The Divinity Of Christ, Attested By Himself And His Disciples.

The Divinity of Jesus Christ is asserted or at least implied by Himself, as well as by His disciples, in almost every page of the New Testament.

Certain attributes are ascribed in the Gospels and Epistles to our Saviour, which cannot be predicated of human or angelic nature. His eternity is again and again proclaimed. St. John in the opening words of his Gospel, says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) It has never been questioned that the Word here refers to Jesus Christ. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8) “I am the first and the last, . . . and I was dead, and behold I am living for ever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of hell” (Rev 1;18, see also Rev 22).

By these words not only His own eternal life, but His Sovereignty over death is declared. “Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.” He does not say: Before Abraham was made, I was, but I am, thus not only claiming pre-existence, but asserting the consciousness of eternal Being by assuming the incommunicable name given to Jehovah in the book of Exodus.

St. Paul says of Christ: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. . . . Thou, O Lord, in the beginning, didst found the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou shalt remain, and they all shall grow old as a garment. And as a vesture, Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the self-same, and Thy years shall not fail.”

Our Saviour says of Himself: “Father, I will that where I am, they also whom Thou hast given Me, may be with Me, that they may see My glory which Thou hast given Me, because Thou lovedst Me before the creation of the world.” And to His disciples He says: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” It is impossible to express in stronger language, the existence of our Lord before the creation of the world, His survival after its destruction, and His co-eternity with His Father.

The creation of the universe is ascribed to Him. “All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. . . . He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” “In Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him and in Him; and He is before all, and by Him all things subsist.”

He is acknowledged to be the Source of all intellectual and supernatural life: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” “He was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.” “I am,” He says, “the way, the truth and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “l am the light of the world. He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “My sheep hear My voice; . . . and I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever.” St. Peter reproaches the Jews for having killed the Author of life.

He legislates with the conscious power and the absolute independence of Divinity. The people remarked that “He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their Scribes and Pharisees.” He modestly, yet firmly declares Himself superior to prophets and kings, even to Solomon himself, the wisest and most gifted of royal legislators.

Moses and the Prophets are accustomed to use the phrase: “Thus saith the Lord.” Jesus speaks thus: “Amen, I say unto you.” They are the representatives of a higher name: He speaks in His own name. Keep the Commandments of God, is their exhortation: Keep My Commandments, is His injunction. They point out the way; Jesus proclaims Himself as the way. They give out some glimpses of truth; He declares Himself to be the truth. They bear the torch of light. He presents Himself as the source of all light. They announce the law to one nation; He commands His disciples to teach His truth to all nations of the earth.

The legislation of Christ is enforced by the most solemn sanction. He declares that the willful rejection of His Gospel will be avenged by a more awful retribution than was visited on the licentious inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon the acceptance of it, depends the eternal salvation of mankind.

Read the rest over on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. And please, try to keep a straight face.

  • Quid est veritas

    So what Dawkins is saying is that Jesus didn’t believe in Himself very much? The irony is priceless!

  • http://tonylayne.blogspot.com/ Anthony S. Layne

    My definition of a cynic is a person who questions all motivations but his own, as opposed to a skeptic, who questions all beliefs but his own.

    Dawkins may be a good, even brilliant, biologist, but as an atheist he’s an embarrassment to other atheists.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Mark Erickson

    If Wilde was a death bed convert, I suggest you deal with why he waited until his death bed to openly convert before you cast stones.

    • Frank Weathers

      You go first.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      I would imagine it had something to do with those lousy Jesuits at Brompton!

  • Meggan

    Dawkins is an anti-theist, not an atheist. He is not without a god. God is his business and recently, his bread and butter.

    • Frank Weathers

      Not sure what you mean.

  • enness

    Thanks, I know exactly what to bring up next time somebody I know starts nattering on about how this guy is hot pancakes.

    • Frank Weathers

      I was kind of surprised by the level of ignorance, actually, in Dawkins’ musings.

  • Nick

    You know, it really helps when you understand what someone is talking about before criticizing it. Here’s the point: if we assume that Jesus truly existed, he was a moral figure that used the preexisting beliefs of his target audience to justify his moral scheme. The fact that he had an idea of morality is without a doubt, as the Golden Rule exists in one form or another throughout history; it can and does exist without the superfluous religious attachments that we find in the Bible. Dawkins’ point is that, if Jesus as a moral teacher existed today, he would not be a theist – he would be intelligent enough to understand that his moral teachings do not need a religious structure, and that religion tends to muddle the issue of the Golden Rule. After all, do Christians proselytize to others as they wish others would proselytize to them? The very notion is ridiculous. All of the claims of divinity that Jesus makes – or at least, that the authors of the Bible (who wrote the book well after the characters portrayed were dead and gone) attribute to him – exist purely to justify his morality to the moral structure that existed at the time.

    Was that truly so hard to understand? For belonging to a religion that commands you to be charitable, you’re remarkably judgmental about Dawkins.

    • Frank Weathers

      Then, in all charity, ask yourself this question: if Jesus just claimed divinity “to justify his morality to the moral structure that existed at the time,” why did “the moral structure that existed at the time” plot to kill him, and succeed in crucifying him, in league with their hated Roman occupiers?

    • http://www.carmelsundae.org Christina Martin

      Why, yes, Christians DO hope that others will help them to get to heaven.

  • Nick

    1: You’re judging a claim to original intent based upon results, which clearly could not have been known at the time of forming said intent. You know what they say: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Also, it clearly did work, as his moral teachings became the foundation of one of the largest religions in history.

    2: Arguably, he aimed to ingratiate himself within the moral structure of the common people, which – generally speaking – were not the ones that most sought to kill him. The Pharisees were his biggest enemies, and they would have stood against anyone that had a chance of undermining their claim to power.

    3: Whether the statement is true or not does not change the fact that this is what Dawkins was talking about. Your entire point here is to deride him for saying something that you feel is ridiculous – that Jesus genuinely believed himself divine but that, even with such a belief, he would be an atheist. That notion is indeed preposterous, but that’s not the claim that Dawkins made. You don’t get to support your misinterpretation by attempting to refute the validity of the claim itself.

    4: In saying that Christians want others to help them get to Heaven, that was not what I was discussing – that would be more akin to behaving charitably, with an eye toward seeing entry into Heaven as the greatest charitable act. I’m talking about trying to convert people to your religion. Do you as a Christian convert people to your religion, as you wish others would convert you to their religion? Alternatively, if you really want me to get sharp, are you deriding Dawkins as you wish others to deride you? Are you misunderstanding him as you wish others to misunderstand you?

    This is what I dislike about anyone that’s so infatuated with their own belief system that they have to paint the other side as incapable of ever making sense. I’m an atheist and I’m very critical of religion, yet I respect and admire a great number of religious individuals, thinkers, and leaders – even about their beliefs. What I get from this little exercise is that your problem isn’t with the claim so much as the fact that Dawkins, a known anti-theist, is the one that made it. This is an attack against him and his beliefs, not against what he said. You’re using your misinterpretation of a fairly clear excerpt to justify your attempt to discredit someone that you perceive as an enemy, and frankly, it’s saddening. I thought that Christians were supposed to be above these sorts of things?

    • Frank Weathers

      That’s not the case at all Nick. In fact, your reply runs on erroneous assumptions, and runs longer than my original words on the subject. For all I know, Dr. Dawkins is ignorant of the scriptural claims of Jesus’ divinity. His thoughts on the subject led me to believe this. That is why I used the opportunity that arose from the article in The Blaze to share Christ’s claims to divinity that are readily referenced in Cardinal Gibbon’s classic.

      I have no doubt that if Christ never arrived until our own present day and age, he would have met the same fate (death at the hands of the powers that be), and the same miraculous Resurrection, and Way would follow. Thankfully, he came 2000+ years earlier, so we’re still not groping in the dark, as Tolkien helped his friend Lewis discover.

  • sliver1935

    Jesus’ Mother foretold the plight of Dawkins and his spiritual ancestors, Marx, Lenin and an insufferable string of Anti Christ intelligentsia when she proclaimed, “He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.” (Luke 1:51) The towering conceit of those who attempt to intellectualize and then dismiss Christ’s divinity are like the proverbial fools who build their houses on sand. That is true for much of our society today.