Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The signs of a Christian - BBC fashion

The Radio Four Today programme this morning fielded a debate involving that darling of the Anglicanettes, Canon Giles Fraser and the man who is doing more to bring Christians back to their faith than any other, the jolly atheist, Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins claimed that we (the UK) were not Christian in any real senses as, although figures showed that X number claimed the title, most could not display any knowledge regarding the faith.

He intimated that, given the question: "What is the first book of the New Testament"there?" Most would respond with a shrug of the shoulders.

If then, we knew nothing of our creed, how could we lay claim to be part of it?

Canon Giles had obviously consumed more than one Weetabix for breakfast as he threw down a challenge, there and then, to the Prof.

"Tell me" he said "As a Darwinian could you please state the full title of 'The Origin of the Species'.

"Of course" blustered Dawkins, "It's....um....er...it's....."(all dissolve in fits of giggles). He could not recall it and, hoisted by his own petard, he could of course, by his own argument, no longer refer to himself as an atheist.

However, I do find myself grudgingly agreeing with the point made by Professor Dawkins. If we know nothing about Christianity - what does that say about our personal faith?

It says that we ignore it, we regard it as a tab that we can call on at times when we are feeling righteous. It says that our belief is about as strong as a glass of watered down skimmed milk.

There is, as always a balance. There is absolutely no requirement for us to be erudite about matters theological, to be able to frame an argument based on the hypostatic union.
What God requires of us is Faith in Him, Charity in our dealings with our fellow man and Hope in Christ's promise of redemption.

But, in the context of western society today we do need to know more about our Faith other than just the basics. There are so many secular influences and influences of another kind that surround us from day 'A' and stay with us until day 'X'.
We have to have knowledge in order to survive, to stand up to those in society who glibly make a case for abortion or euthanasia or IVF treatment.

I wonder how many Catholic Year 11s could answer the following questions:

1. How many Sacraments are there and what are they?

2. Why did God make you?

3. What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

4. To whom did God give the Ten Commandments to and in what form were

5. Who is the Father of Jesus Christ?

I may appear cynical but, unless the student was studying at The Oratory School, The Cardinal Vaughan or Coloma Girls' School (or, indeed, was a homeschooler) I don't think that many others beyond those boundaries would score five out of five.

And the answer to the Darwin question?...The Origin of the Species By means of Natural Selection - give yourself a gold star if you got that.


  1. Excellent post, Richard. I hope to blog about this soon - especially referring to the fact that reading Scripture is one of the signs of being a Christian according to Dawkins... One wonders where his notions of Christianity come from?

    By the way, I think the fuller title is: "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life." He stumbled over the last bit, but think he managed to get the 'by means of Natural Selection' bit.

    Until I was 15, I, too, was quite a Darwinian! Thankfully, I saw the light before it was too late...

  2. Sorry... Just listened to it again and realised that Dawkins got it completely wrong! He make a real mess of it! lol.