Saturday, September 08, 2007

The God Delusion #31: The McGraths & Martin Luther

In GD we see that Dawkins does not understand Martin Luther. Dawkins quote-mines from Luther to supposedly show “Luther’s anxieties about reason in the life of faith.” (DD, 23) McGrath points out that “no attempt is made to clarify what Luther meant by ‘reason’ and how it differs from what Dawkins takes to be the self-evident meaning of the word.” (DD, 23)

What Luther believed is that human reason could never be a central theme of Christianity. God would not give humanity the gift of salvation on the basis of their reason. On Christianity one does not first have to do something in order to earn God’s favor.

McGrath writes: “Dawkins’s inept engagement with Luther shows how Dawkins abandons even the pretense of rigorous evidence-based scholarship. Anecdote is substituted for evidence; selective Internet trawling for quotes displaces rigorous and comprehensive engagement with primary sources. In this book Dawkins throws the conventions of academic scholarship to the winds; he wants to write a work of propaganda and consequently treats the accurate rendition of religion as an inconvenient impediment to his chief agenda, which is the intellectual and cultural destruction of religion. It’s an unpleasant characteristic that he shares with other fundamentalists.” (DD, 24)