I usually manage to find something interesting to read while waiting in doctor's offices, even if I have to resort to something I put into my briefcase that day. This morning, I found something on the doctor's "coffee table" (of course, no coffee in sight). It was the recent issue of Time Magazine about God versus Science (He's against science?), and it featured a debate, of sorts, between Francis Collins, a Christian, and Richard Dawkins, an atheist evangelist.
I took notes (no laptop on hand):
Time: Could the answer [to what's behind the Universe] be God?
Dawkins: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.
Collins: That's God.
Dawkins: Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Maritans or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishing small--at the least the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that's the case.
If anyone has read Dawkins' latest best-selling evangelical tract for atheism, The God Delusion, perhaps you could tell me if Dawkins demonstrates why Jesus's claim to be God Incarnate should be rejected as resting on a vanishing small chance of being true.
Dawkins: [later] I don't see the Olympian Gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial. If there's a God, it's going to be a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.
Dawkins, here, I submit, is really making a theological argument, though I doubt he would admit it. What's worthy of grandeur? Is there something he knows about "godness" that tells him a God would never die on a Cross? Well, actually that idea strikes many people as unreasonable. Except that: 1) We know something is terribly wrong with us, a tilt toward evil, outbursts of cruelty 2) We know that death seems outrageous. If a god wished to deal with sin and death in the world, Dawkins may be asked, how would he deal with it? Apparently Dawkins knows, or just doesn't like the offer Jesus makes to him. Jesus said that the greatest love is shown by one laying down his life for another. Might not the most grand thing in the universe be a love that gives up its own prerogatives, its life for the other?
The God who is revealed in Christ "dwells in unapproachable light," whom no man can see or ever see. Classical Christian theology agrees that the One who made heaven and earth is beyond our comprehension, his name is ineffable. Dawkins has a problem with Jesus, an old problem, one he shares with the world as a whole.