Why Dawkins is not the Devil

Devil Dawkins

Devil Dawkins

This is the text of my presentation at the FSI / IHEU Conference.

Why Dawkins is not the Devil: A Christian Appreciation of The God Delusion

INTRODUCTION

Todd was a bright and popular boy. He lived in a good neighbourhood with his happily married parents in a modest, but comfortable home. He was on the football team at his high school, and did well enough at school to make him a prospect for a College scholarship. He was also involved in leading the local Christian youth group down at the church every week. He had a bright future ahead of him, with the world at his feet.

At some point, Todd’s parents noticed that his attitude had changed. He seemed troubled. He no longer took pride in his schoolwork, and he had started skipping church some Sunday mornings because he claimed not to be feeling well. Then one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, Todd was found hanged in a grove of trees near to his house. In his possession there were only two items. One was a suicide note that explained that he had lost his faith and couldn’t go on like this anymore. The other item was a copy of The God Delusion. Continue reading

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God Hates ‘Fags’ but not the Hateful?

Funeral Protests

I came across the website of ‘Westboro Baptist Church’, which has the charming address: ‘godhatesfags.com’ (which they claim is a profound theological statement — they are short of real ones over there). It is the work of the unlikeable Reverend Fred Phelps, who has made it his mission to expose the ‘greatest lie ever told’, i.e. that God loves everyone. He has organised a whopping 41,000 protests since 1991, all with the aim of telling homosexuals that God hates them. A favourite protest site is any funeral of gay people. His followers even attended the funeral of a young man who was beaten and strung up to die on a barbed-wire fence, where they happily announced that he had ‘split hell apart’ and is burning under the hatred of God.

His motivation is that homosexuality is a sin, and therefore to let it persist unabated is consigning people to hell. People need to hear the truth so that they can be saved. That’s fine, but what makes it the only sin worth mentioning (so much so that his entire church is covered by this hateful banner, and so much so that he blames September 11 – and virtually every other major tragedy, it seems — on God’s judgment upon homosexual sin)? What makes it OK to abandon the core Christian ethic of love, and instead to actively hate? What about him would make anyone want to be saved by what ‘saved’ him? Continue reading

Spanker, Spank Thyself

My four-year-old got her first official spanking today (I smacked her hand once when she was one, and quickly realised that she had no idea what it meant to be naughty, and so I was effectively just being cruel — I felt terrible). Her favourite game is ‘making mixtures’, which has recently involved raids of the baking cupboard. The first warning came after half a tub of custard powder, which she then escalated to flour and cocoa powder, and now the mess involved a medium bowl of oil.

I’m not especially in favour of spanking as first choice punishment. I don’t oppose it per se, as long as it’s within certain limits. Too often people hit because they’re angry, and of course it’s a small step after that to child abuse. I don’t think that it should be anyone’s default punishment. Nevertheless, my daughter’s ears haven’t been listening, so I hope that her bottom might. Continue reading

We Don’t Need No Education Minister

Recent outrages in the Department of Education have demonstrated again that there needs to be more regulation and accountability with regards to the way in which officials handle our tax money.

Education is absolutely essential to the rebuilding of our country, yet over decades of comedic management errors, there has been little improvement in quality, least of all for the disadvantaged who were most abused by Apartheid education bias. The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, admits that the quality of education is substandard.

Yet we have had recent reports of tens of millions being wasted or defrauded from this department in the Free State alone, including R25 million on ‘performance bonuses’ for staff. Performance?

And what is the Minister pouring her budget into in response? She’s bought two cars for her use at nearly R1m each, and she’s ordered the last-minute reprint of all senior certificates in order to make the government logo bigger. This apparently couldn’t wait until next year. The expensive imported paper on which they’re printed will ‘not go to waste’, because the paper company can use it for other things, they say. They’ve found a use for paper with senior certificates on the back? I would love to ask the Minister whether she’d have insisted on the change if it cost her performance bonus this year, or would the wastage then be unjustifiable?

It is unsurprising that government is so ‘generous’ with our tax money. They don’t have to earn it, and there’s so much of it! As the DA in the Western Cape said after mysteriously giving one of the education officials a R2m package to resign, when seen in the context of the tens of billions that the department spends in the year, it’s not all that much. Seen in the context of the US deficit, most figures are a pittance, but that is not to say that a R2m we-don’t-like-you fee is small change!

Government so often seems to have the least sense of urgency about our country’s plight, though they are the ones tasked with addressing it. Sure, it is legal for the Minister to buy a R1m Range Rover for when she’s visiting Cape Town, but as the head of a struggling department in a poor country, couldn’t she settle for driving a Jetta, and use the balance to employ another teacher for the 3-year lifespan of her car?

Government positions are far too lucrative. We seem to encourage those who view government as a means to get rich. I say pay Ministers well, but give them no car allowance or other benefits and no performance bonuses. If they happen to love expensive cars, let them purchase them out of their salaries like most of us must. If a Minister will only work when there is the prospect of more money and not for the good of the country alone, then I say find a new Minister.