Friday, December 30, 2011

The First Commandment

Many of you will laugh at my cluelessness, but nevertheless, here goes.

Until yesterday, I didn't know the difference between Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking. In my self-defense, I point out that both are scientists known as scientists, both atheists, both professors at those distinguished British universities, and (most importantly) both have A-W-K-I-N in their names. (Hey, I'm more of a big-picture person. That little detail of the name starting with an H or a D ... yeah, well, sometimes I fail to take note of those things.)

So yesterday I figured out the differences between the men. Dawkins is from Oxford; Hawking is from Cambridge. (Yeah, like that's gonna stick in my brain??) They have different first names! Hawking is the physicist whose books Rachel read in high school; Dawkins studies animal behavior. And Dawkins is the militant "missionary" for atheism. I was prodded to figure this out when a friend linked to an article about Dawkins's fervor to spread the message of atheism.

This one clip from the article intrigued me.
Dawkins once told me that he found the first of the Ten Commandments — "You shall have no other gods before Me" — to be the most personally offensive. At the time, I was not sure what he meant. Since then, however, it has become clear that Dawkins, having aspirations of his own, did not like this exclusivity clause. Something of an object of worship himself, ...
He found the First Commandment most offensive. You know what? That man has a better bead on Christianity than a lot of Christians. How often do Christians think their religion is a set of rules on how to behave, how to love, how to be nice, etc? And yet, every single command in Scripture (whether in the Ten Commandments or elsewhere) is subsumed under the First Commandment. If we fear, love, and trust in God above all things, we will not steal or commit adultery, because we trust that the goods and the spouse God has provided us are the very best, and that we lack nothing. If we fear, love, and trust in God above all things, we will not insist on having our own way, asserting our rights, but will be willing to sacrifice in love for others.

The main message of the Christian faith is that all my righteousness is filth before God, utterly useless to make Him like me or to earn me anything good, and that Jesus is my righteousness and that He has done everything to save me, paying for my sins and giving me all His holiness. That means He's God, and I'm not.

Apparently Richard Dawkins understands that. He rejects it. But he understands it. And he's right about its exclusivity and its offensiveness.

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