The Archbishop of Canterbury tells some lies on Easter

As reported in Sunday’s Guardian, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given his Easter Speech (called by some bloggers “Facepalm Sunday”), which is notable for containing two big whoppers:

  • New Atheism is dying off and a fruitful dialogue is emerging between faith and unbelief.

“Recent years have seen so many high-profile assaults on the alleged evils of religion that we’ve almost become used to them; we sigh and pass on, wishing that we could have a bit more of a sensible debate and a bit less hysteria. But there are a few signs that the climate is shifting ever so slightly,” he said at Canterbury cathedral. . .

Contrasting the “hysteria” of “aggressive polemic against religious faith” with an increasing recognition among “serious and liberal-minded commentators”, he said faith was no longer seen as “a brainless and oppressive enemy” but recognised as a potential ally against a greedy and individualistic way of life that feels “increasingly insane”.

Although perhaps the Archbishop isn’t required to adduce evidence in an Easter homily, I don’t believe this for a moment.  It’s pure wishful thinking—which of course is what he’s trained in.

But he then raised the mllion-pound question, one blithely ignored by many “liberal” theologians who emphasize that all scripture is metaphorical:

But he said Christians could not be satisfied with this. “Easter raises an extra question, uncomfortable and unavoidable: perhaps ‘religion’ is more useful than the passing generation of gurus thought; but is it true?”

Indeed.  Faitheists and accommodationists, when extolling the virtues of faith, often overlook this crucial question. Is it true?  For if it wasn’t, and believers actually found that out, religion would vanish. It’s more than just a bonding mechanism, or a chance to admire the stained glass in the company of confrères.  Ergo the second lie:

  • Jesus really rose from the dead. I was of the impression that Williams had equivocated on this in conversations with Richard Dawkins, but I may be wrong. At any rate, he makes no bones about his belief:

The archbishop concluded that Christianity was true and the resurrection was a fact, not “a beautiful imaginative creation that offers inspiration to all sorts of people” nor merely a way of saying that “the message of Jesus lives on”.

He added: “Even if every commentator in the country expressed generous appreciation of the church (and we probably needn’t hold our breath …), we’d still be bound to say, ‘thank you, but what matters isn’t our usefulness or niceness or whatever, it’s God, purposive and active, even – especially – when we are at the end of our resources.”

On what basis, I wonder, does Williams conclude that the resurrection was a fact? If it’s just because Scripture says so, then he’d better get his methodology in line with that of Archbishop Pell. But pay attention to what Williams said: what matters isn’t the usefulness or niceness of faith, but the truth of scripture and the existence of God.

h/t: Grania

67 Comments

  1. Jacob
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    The constant predictions of new atheism’s demise strike me as an example of how it has had such a significant effect on the religious dialogue. Theists greatly outnumber atheists throughout much of the world, and new atheism as a group hasn’t been around for very long, yet the archbishop appears desperate to get rid of it already, as if it has been a significant force for decades. It is amazing that a religion that operates from such a position of strength is so eager to declare victory over a group that is only in its nascent stages. That is how one knows new atheism is getting to them.

    • Sajanas
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      You have to wonder… is this a Potemkin Village Speech, trying to put a good face on something he knows is significant problem, or a delusional denial of the problem. One would think, given that Archbishop, only a year or two ago, was suggesting that combating New Atheism was priority #1, that the former might be more likely. Cause I think the only reason that the New Atheism might not seem as hot right now is that they’ve made a lot of their arguments, and that the people of the UK are already starting to get past that nonreligious tipping point where the people that don’t care are surrounded by so many nonreligious people they don’t think its a big enough deal to bother with. Just looking at Julian Baggani’s articles makes me think that is somewhat the case.

  2. Chris
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    The most liberal, woolly-minded, bend-over-backwards, my-faith-is-devoid-of-content Christian still believes in the literal resurrection. It is the very last piece of baggage a Christian will jettison before losing their faith.

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

      Of course. Isn’t it the crucial belief of True Christianity™?

      /@

    • Tulse
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      It’s not clear to me what it would mean to be “Christian” without believing in the resurrection. Otherwise Jesus is just some guru, kinda like Gandhi, Ram Dass, or Oprah.

      • Sigmund
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        I think the resurrection is a practical issue rather than a theoretical one.
        In theory a Christian could say that Jesus’ soul went to heaven after his body died and that he promises the same to those that follow his teachings. In that case there is no need for a bodily resurrection.
        In practice the bodily resurrection is the minimum ‘proof’ required for those who are prepared to accept Him as Lord.

        • Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Following through on this idea, you end up with Christian atheism: “an ideology in which the belief in the God of Christianity is rejected or absent but the moral teachings of Jesus are followed.” [Wp]

          I’ve come across one such (on this website, iirc), who still maintained that he as a “Christian”, without qualification.

          /@

          • Tulse
            Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            Of course, that makes “Christian” nothing more than a term like “Keynesian” or “McCarthyite”.

          • Stonyground
            Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            The problem with an atheist approach to the ethics of Christianity is that the teachings of Jesus are nonsense. The positive parts are fairly obvious to any thoughtful person. The negative parts are legion. Mutilate yourself by cutting your hands or feet off, you can avoid going to hell if you have sinned by cutting the naughty sinful bit off. Give all of your money away, don’t just be generous to charities, give away all of it, every penny. He places a lot of emphasis on making your life as wretched as possible, as that way you get the best bits of Heaven. In fact, without belief in Heaven and Hell and an imminent apocalypse, most of Christian teaching makes no sense.

            • Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

              Oh, yes. I wasn’t defending it.

              /@

        • Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          And just how does the resurrection prove he is lord? (And not Lazurus, or Jarius’ daughter, or the Good Friday zombie army of Jerusalem?) Oh yes, because St Paul said so.

      • Sajanas
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        Yeah… I mean, there are certain teachings of Gospel Jesus that are more philosophical, live your life sort of things, but I think the bulk of his teachings are more ‘worship me and God’ kind of stuff. If you don’t believe in God, or Jesus’s divinity, then there isn’t a whole lot left, and its not the sort of thing that requires a church to do.

      • Posted April 11, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

        Search Youtube for Peter Rollins. Supposedly ‘atheistic’ Christianity. Basically mind boggling theo-speak. Totally crap. But does he believe it himself? Who knows.

        • Dermot C
          Posted April 11, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          Photius (c. 810 – c. 893), Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, approvingly tells the story of Synesius (c. 373 – c. 414), who became Bishop of Cyrene before he had accepted the doctrine of the Resurrection,

          ‘…by reason of his goodness and purity and in the conviction that a man of such holiness of life could not fail to be illuminated by the light of the Resurrection. Nor were these hopes disappointed. For as soon as he became bishop he readily assented to that doctrine…’

          These Christians can surprise you.

  3. Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    “But there are a few signs that the climate is shifting ever so slightly.”

    This sounds like a different kind of climate change denialism.

    /@

  4. Marella
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    “But pay attention to what Williams said: what matters isn’t the usefulness or niceness of faith, but the truth of scripture and the existence of God.”

    See he’s right, we are finding things to agree on!

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Sastra
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      “And how do we know that scripture is true and that God exists? Why, just look at how useful and nice faith is! That could only happen IF scripture is true and God exists!”

      They don’t really want to separate the issues. They think it’s all a self-affirming loop.

    • Dermot C
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      I don’t actually see where Williams denigrates the “usefulness or niceness of faith“; in fact I can’t see how JAC has concluded that Williams is jettisoning faith from his Christianity.

      From my reading of Andrew Brown’s original article, there is no indication to me that the Primate says anything of the sort about ditching faith. Unless someone can see something I can’t, Williams is merely restating the standard Christian line on the need for faith; and yes, I understand the difference with Archbishop Pell.

      • reboho
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        snort, chuckle… you said the Archbishop is a primate

        • MadScientist
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Sure – but so are all other humans and many non-human animals for that matter – so what’s so funny?

          • Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            Actually “primate” (“of the first rank”) as a descriptor of apes is a relic of the wretched Great Chain of Being which is pre-evolutionary, and contrary to evolution as an undirected and objectless process. We should leave it to the Archbishops.

    • Treadmore
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      An unfortunate ‘quote’ – he never says those exact words. I couldn’t even find ‘scripture’ in the text.
      http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2440/archbishops-easter-sermon-2012-god-raised-jesus-to-life

  5. Claudia
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    No, he didn’t tell any die. Atheism is dying. It has no argument, no philosophy, no principles to defend.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Atheism is dying.

      “Fifteen percent of respondents to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey did not identify with a religious group, up from 8 percent in 1990.” (source)

      It has no argument, no philosophy, no principles to defend.

      There is probably not a god, for numerous reasons that various thinkers have set out.

    • Tim
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Atheism is dying.

      As Tulse has pointed out, that’s empirically false.

      It has no argument,

      If the debate were judged by rational standards, atheism won the argument long ago.

      no philosophy, no principles to defend.

      Of course, to not believe the the tenets of any particular religion isn’t a philosophy.

      Of course, there is a philosophy to which most atheists subscribe: To apply reason and demand evidence as a means of arriving at one’s beliefs. The application of that philosophy is superior to use of faith because it works, it is self-correcting, it yields truths that don’t depend of whatever mythology one is brainwashed with as a child.

    • raven
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      No, he didn’t tell any die. Atheism is dying. It has no argument, no philosophy, no principles to defend.

      That is a feature, not a bug. The world has been drenched in blood for thousands of years by religionists “defending” their mythology. Do you remember what happened to the World Trade Center on 9/11? How about the perennial Israeli-Arab conflict, going on since before I was born.

      A lot of us are sick of religious violence. It’s all mass murder on the basis of fairy tales.

    • raven
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      What is dying is US xianity.

      According to the polls, 1-2 million people leave xianity every year. It is projected that xianity will fall below 50% of the population in a few decades.

      The RCC alone has lost 22 million US members in the last few years, 1/3 of their numbers.

      Worldwide the major religious trend of the 20th century has been the rise of atheism. In 1900 there were very few. At the end of the century there were a billion atheists. If atheism was a religion, it would be the third largest in the world.

  6. Achrachno
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    “faith was no longer seen as “a brainless and oppressive enemy” but recognised as a potential ally against a greedy and individualistic way of life that feels “increasingly insane”.”

    In the US faith is the best friend insane, greedy individualism has. Brainless and oppressive does seen like an appropriate description from where I stand: the science deniers are seldom atheists or rationalists.

    Is it really all that different in the UK?

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      +1

      • Dermot C
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        In response to Achrachno, who I assume is American, I’ll attempt to characterise what I, living in Birmingham UK, know of the British C of E. I think that socially and politically the C of E, being the Established Church, occupies a different position to the competing Christianities in the US.

        Its default modern stance is to act as some sort of liberal and paternalistic Christian mouthpiece against the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism (deregulated financial markets, emasculated Trades’ Unions, attacks on the Welfare State). Remember, a lot of the C of E’s top echelons are very well-educated, perhaps even Oxbridge graduates, and see their rôle as attenuating the social ills and continental gaps between the classes generated by unrestricted capitalism; their social criticisms are like family disagreements between siblings.

        Despite their common complaint that their influence is waning, they retain a certain self-confidence, borne of the relative security of their established and establishment status; unlike the many American sects who jostle for domination and for some measure of control of the State – hence their tone, more strident than the C of E’s sleepy and smug Trollopianism.

        The C of E probably fears the spread of evangelicalism, seeing it as the invasion of American-style Baptist emotionalism. This does not go down well with a Church which owns a huge amount of property – and with a lot to lose – and which prides itself on its intellectual clout.

        Yes, its social and political position is different to the American churches. It seems, from over here, that your Christian churches have far more influence over the general population than the British C of E (vide: Dawkins’ recent survey on British religious attitudes); but the British Established Church has far more influence on the levers of power.

        That said, if Rowan Williams were not Head of an Established Church, he would be far more prepared publicly to talk as much books with three added consonants as Craig, Hovind, Graham…

        • Achrachno
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Thank you, Dermot C. You put a lot more thought and effort into that than my little comment probably deserved.

          I was feeling a bit cranky and discouraged about my country when I wrote that. I can hardly believe the degree of absolute insanity we have over here. I know it’s not as bad in Europe, but sometimes I guess I don’t want to face the fact that where you folks have “paternalistic liberals” like Rowan Williams we have Rick Santorum,John Hagee, Pat Robertson, and all sorts of more obscure but similar authoritarian hate peddlers. I’d like to think the religiously deluded are all about the same — but really they’re not.

          I hope your country never gets infested with Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and all the other flavors of nutty we have here in such ample supply. I know you have some, but I hope you appreciate how lucky you are not to have the numbers we do.

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

            I think we do appreciate how lucky we are, but we can’t afford to be complacent, particularly as long as we have (in England) an established church with the right to have unelected members in the upper house of parliament.

  7. Sigmund
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Just as population genetics killed the respectability (!) of claiming Adam and Eve as the only human progenitors, I think we need to add a few facts about cell biology to the resurrection story.
    I suspect that the reason it is still acceptable for even educated Christians to think Jesus came back to life after being dead for – let’s say 36 hours- is due to the lingering historical notion of a ‘life force’.
    All it takes in this hypothetical situation is a divine jump-lead in the tomb, sparking the life back into Jesus and he’s up and running again. In the mind of the believer it’s the equivalent of a drowned person, whose heart has stopped beating, getting a jolt of the defibrillator.
    But 36 hours of bodily death is enormously different from someone whose heart needs a jolt. 36 hours in the Jerusalem heat with no circulating bloodstream oxygen will result in the death of every cell in the body. Membranes will disintegrate, specialized compartments will leak, loosing destructive enzymes throughout the tissues. Within a matter of minutes, rather than hours, irreversible destructive changes will render every organ of the body into a non recoverable state. The type of intervention needed to bring Jesus back to life after crucifixion – unbaking the cake – is equivalent to that required if he had instead been burned at the stake and his ashes collected in a box.

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      But it is, after all, a miracle. And with God, all things are possible! ;-)

      /@

      • Achrachno
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        And miracles need no supporting evidence. You can just make them up as needed.

        • Ken
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

          And why do Jesus nutters carry on so much about a three day old corpse supposedly being brought back to life?

          For the supernatural creator of everything in existence-every heartbeat, every neuron-for him to bring a three day old corpse back to life would be the equivalent of the worlds greatest magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat!

          I saw illusionist David Blaine bring a dead fly back to life on T.V. once. That was more impressive than the supposed resurrection of Jesus’ stinking corpse.

    • Achrachno
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      The miracle of the divine ash!

    • Kevin
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Same with Lazarus.

      Lazarus wasn’t merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead.

      And Jesus sprung him back up, brain fully functioning, eyes and ears still working.

      Helluva miracle.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I think the resurrection is a different kettle of fish than Adam and Eve. A liberal Christian can quite easily dismiss A&E as a metaphor or myth that speaks some sort of deeper truth — while it may make understanding the notion of salvation a bit tricky, that can be finessed (at least if not thought about too much). The only people who really get worked up about a literal A&E are fundamentalists. For non-literalists, it’s no big deal to say science doesn’t support the Biblical A&E story.

      On the other hand, if Jesus didn’t really rise, then the whole salvation story itself is bogus. And since salvation was supposed to be special and divinely provided, of course it involves a miracle, and no amount of biology is going to undercut it. That’s what “miracle” means, right, something that wouldn’t happen naturally?

      • Kevin
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        I routinely say that I don’t discount the possibility of a supernatural being bending the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology…that’s what they’re supposed to do, after all.

        My problem with the alleged miracles is that they SCREAM “primitive understanding of the laws of physics”. Plus, given the massive power inherent in the miracles, they’re profoundly stupid.

        Ability to change one element to another without so much as a wave of a hand or an “abracadabra”? Well then, let’s just change water into wine. … Wait, what? That’s IT? You have that amount of power and that’s the best demonstration of it you can provide?

        Same with personal control over gravity. The best demonstration is walking on water? Seriously? You have that power over the fundamental forces of nature, and all you can do is walk on water in front of a few unreliable witnesses? Why not do it in front of Pilate or the Sanhedrin?

        And no missive about miracles would be complete without the observation that in addition to being primitive and stupid, they also left behind not a trace of evidence that they actually happened. They’re all “the dog ate my homework” miracles.

        Where’s the wine? We drank it.
        Loaves and fishes? Eaten.
        The healed sick? Dead.
        Lazarus? Dead again.
        The risen Jesus? Invisible in heaven.

        Riiiight. How could I be so blind as to not accept those as proof-positive of the divinity of Jesus? [cough-bullshit-cough].

        • Tulse
          Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          You have that amount of power and that’s the best demonstration of it you can provide?

          To be fair, I always had the same problem with transporter tech in Star Trek (“hey — instant cloned army! Reproduction of any object desired!”), and for that matter with magic in D&D (e.g., why aren’t all towns lit with continual light stones, and use golem-powered pumps for fresh water?).

          But I suppose one should expect these kind of inconsistencies in fantasy-ficti…hey, I see what you did there!

          • Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            “Reproduction of any object desired!” » Replicators. D’uh!

            See Algys Budrys’s Who? or Christorpher Priest’s The Prestige (actually, Christopher Nolan’s film is better) for the true perils of “transporters”.

            /@

            • Tulse
              Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

              “Reproduction of any object desired!” » Replicators. D’uh!

              I’m old school — it’s ST:TOS or nothing.

              And even granting replicators, it never seemed as if they worked out the full consequences of being able to make literally whatever you want whenever you want.

              See Algys Budrys’s Who? or Christorpher Priest’s The Prestige (actually, Christopher Nolan’s film is better) for the true perils of “transporters”.

              And see Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons for how such technology would in fact radically change our notion of personal identity, and thus ethics (among other things).

              • Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the recommendation – that looks v interesting!

                /@

        • Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          “You have that power over the fundamental forces of nature, and all you can do is walk on water in front of a few unreliable witnesses? Why not do it in front of Pilate or the Sanhedrin? ”

          “So if you are the Christ
          Yes the great Jesus Christ
          Prove to me that you’re no fool
          Walk across my swimming pool
          If you do that for me
          Then I’ll let you go free
          C’mon King of the Jews”

          - Tim Rice, King Herod’s song, from Jesus Christ Superstar

  8. ftfkdad
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    The lie within the lie : “a fruitful dialogue is emerging between faith and unbelief”. We should have a policy of making sure to correct anyone who says something like this : the dialog is between faith and evidenced-based reason, not between faith and unbelief.

    • Don
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Yep, absolutely.

    • Kevin
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      …Of course, he means “Templeton is going to give me big bucks”.

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Nice.

      /@

    • Nerwal
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Also: “high-profile assaults on the alleged evils of religion”. I don’t know how anyone’s supposed to find time to assault the alleged evils what with all the actual evils.

    • reboho
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      It’s always the same, the statement that we’re going to have a dialog implies that the unbelivers will come to see the error of their ways.

  9. Sunny
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I am sure the followers of other religions will be happy to know that it is Christianity that is true.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Religion must be respected, unless it’s one different from yours.

      • Sunny
        Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        One would think that if it were the case that there is a true religion, then near-death encounters with God that one hears about occasionally would converge to the ‘correct’ God across religions and over time. Instead all one gets are encounters that are correlated one hundred percent with one’s ‘chosen’ faith (or worse one’s denomination.)

  10. Veroxitatis
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Canterbury said also that “the high water mark of polemic against religious faith might have passed”. Perhaps this was intended as an allusion to the passing of Christopher Hitchens. But there again, maybe not, for such a thought would be uncharitable!

  11. justiceforall2
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    They really are scared arnt they. Power on people ,getting their money, ignoring the question of child abuse by the Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis.
    On the internet you find many priests ,coming out,.

  12. Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Well! He derserves this at least:

    Farewell to the passing Archbishop
    although clever he let himself down
    his Canterbury tales are fables indeed
    just give him a new cap and gown

    I once felt a pang for this primate
    his intellect worthy of praise
    I’m certain he knows that no God bestows
    but a Lordship the government pays

    His days at the pulpit now over
    no more any poetic preaching
    I’ll miss the old sod who now says that God
    is a fact that he doesn’t mind teaching

    Amen

  13. Matthew Jenkins
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of the comment by Roland de Vaux, vatican archeologist in Palestine/Israel:

    “If this summary of ‘sacred history’ is contradicted by ‘history,’ and if this confession of faith does not correspond to the facts, then the faith of Israel is void and so is our own.”

  14. Stonyground
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    It is a sign that the Gnus are winning that the CofE and the ABofC keep changing tack. Unable to defend the absurdities of Christianity they tried to convinced the world that without people at least pretending to believe it we were all doomed. Unable to sustain that lie against the Gnus calmly pointing out that it was bollox, they are now trying to claim that Christianity is true. Not the whole of that creed thing that we recite, oh heavens no, just the one bit that isn’t totally absurd, that a guy was dead for three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning and then came back to life. Why this part is any less absurd that the rest of it is yet to be explained.

  15. stevenjohnson
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    The popularity of atheism is hardly relevant. Christianity didn’t become a widespread religion by relying on popularity, but by converting the powerful, who then imposed Christianity. By the pragmatic standard, there is in fact reason to believe that Christianity is rebounding in power. President Obama’s climbdown in the face of Roman Catholic opposition is a notable instance. The recent New Scientist issue puffing religion was seen as good business. There are numerous books that pander by attacking the so-called Four Horsemen in the first chapter. True, these are anecdotes, but, again, scientific polling of individuals is irrelevant.

  16. MadScientist
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Of course Jesus really rose from the dead – the archbishop would never equivocate on that, not even in Dawkins’ presence. This is one of the “pillars of faith” of any Jesus sect – the anglicans, catholics, Lutherans, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and others all agree on this.

  17. hyperdeath
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Contrasting the “hysteria” of “aggressive polemic against religious faith” with an increasing recognition among “serious and liberal-minded commentators”, he said faith was no longer seen as “a brainless and oppressive enemy”

    Translation: Let’s disregard all the difficult critics, by denouncing them as hysterical and aggressive, and then pretend that the long-established opinions of our token opponents are in fact the recent achievements of a wonderful dialog.

  18. FastLane
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Maybe he really wants to be the archbishop of Cadbury.

    I hear he really digs cream eggs.

    What?!?!!!? :p

  19. Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Following the debates between Williams and Dawkins, I had actually developed some respect, if ever so slight, for the Archbishop. Reading what he said in his Easter Speech, this tiny piece of respect has vanished in an instant, and its place has been taken by contempt.

    After all these years I have spent studying religions and faith in general, I have come to the conclusion that there can be no fruitful dialogue between religion and atheism. Any attempt has been, and will be, futile, since there is no point in arguing with those who have dismissed reason and evidence, or engage in compartmentalizing their lives according to wishful thinking.

    Indeed, organized religion remains as a means of controlling, misleading, abusing, and exploiting the masses. There is absolutely no argument – and believe me, I have heard and refuted them all time and again – to compensate for this fact.

    It remains, therefore, now more than ever, for the reasons given above as well as many others, necessary to speak out against religion and faith in general.

  20. Mike Lee
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Well, I don’t think you could expect him to say anything else about “Jesus” – could you? After all it is a business and it depends on donations to exist, so the very basis for its existence would be threatened were he to admit that the story was a myth and miracles like “walking on water” and “rising from the dead” were dreamed up by his “desciples/followers to increase the numbers of the “flock”.


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