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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Richard Dawkins, and the Bible.

One of this morning's items in the Sunday programme, to which I listen, concerned a project to celebrate, next year, the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible. This project, apparently, involves people from all over the U.K., both the 'famous' and the 'ordinary' recording the reading of specific passages from the A.V., that they find particularly meaningful. All well and good, one might say!

However, the surprising bit of information was that the so-called 'high priest of humanistic atheism', Richard Dawkins - a man who is one of today's most vocal critical antagonists of Christianity and the Bible, has recorded a passage as part of this project! The passage that he has chosen is a few verses from the Old Testament book, The Song of Songs. Of course, being Mr Dawkins, he still has to get his little dig in! So, as was broadcast this morning, he commences by casting doubt on the Solomonic authorship of Canticles (the alternative title for the book), and in referring to it as a piece of "erotic poetry".

It so happens that I am currently reading the Song in my private devotions, so am in a better position, than I might have otherwise been, to comment thereon! First of all, the allegedly erudite Mr Dawkins should note that the authorship of Solomon is not only accepted by any of the Biblical scholars whom I have consulted, but is specifically stated in the opening sentence of the Song: "The Song of Songs, which [is] Solomon's" (1:1, A.V.). I am unaware of any available evidence that would suggest the contrary - but am always open to enlightenment!

As to the content of the Song it is true that, on the surface, it may be viewed as a song of physical love (Dawkins' description of it as an erotic poem, and his choosing a passage from it as having some special meaning to him, may suggest more about him than about the Song!). Indeed, a couple of the early Church leaders stated that the Jews forbade its reading by anyone less than forty years old! It is certainly a part of Scripture that requires a certain spiritual maturity (which, I would suggest, has not been attained by Richard Dawkins!) to understand. It is wholly allegorical, and is only fully understood as a very beautiful description of the relationship between the believer and the Lord Jesus.

Of course, as someone has said, "To the pure, all things are pure". It seems not unreasonable to suggest that the opposite may also be true - Mr Dawkins, please take note! Another old adage is that, concerning the Bible as the written Word of God, "The New [Testament] is in the Old [Testament] concealed; the Old is in the New revealed."

Richard Dawkins is one of those who would happily state that people who believe in the Bible as inspired by the Almighty God Who is the Creator, and Sustainer, of all that is, are simpletons; and that the [visible] church is full of hypocrites. Well Mr Dawkins, we always have room for one more, and your very willingness to be involved in a project that seeks to honour the very Bible that you so vociferously despise and attack, indicates that you are well qualified to fill that place.

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