At least The Guardian titled the essay for what it is, “A Shameful Thought for the Day.” Dawkins slams the Vatican’s “obscene indulgences” and then goes after original sin, a foundation of Christian faith:
We’ve already had what little apology we are going to get (none in most cases) for the raped children, the Aids-sufferers in Africa, the centuries spent attacking Jews, science, women and “heretics”, the indulgences and more modern (and tax-deductible) methods of fleecing the gullible to build the Vatican’s vast fortune. So, no surprise that these weren’t mentioned. But there’s something else for which the pope should go to confession, and it’s arguably the nastiest of all. I refer to the main doctrine of Christian theology itself, which was the centrepiece of what Ratzinger actually did say in his Thought for the Day.
“Christ destroyed death forever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross.”
More shameful than the death itself is the Christian theory that it was necessary. It was necessary because all humans are born in sin. Every tiny baby, too young to have a deed or a thought, is riddled with sin: original sin. Here’s Thomas Aquinas:
“. . . the original sin of all men was in Adam indeed, as in its principal cause, according to the words of the Apostle (Romans 5:12): “In whom all have sinned“: whereas it is in the bodily semen, as in its instrumental cause, since it is by the active power of the semen that original sin together with human nature is transmitted to the child.”
Adam (who never existed) bequeathed his “sin” in his bodily semen (charming notion) to all of humanity. That sin, with which every newborn baby is hideously stained (another charming notion), was so terrible that it could be forgiven only through the blood sacrifice of a scapegoat. But no ordinary scapegoat would do. The sin of humanity was so great that the only adequate sacrificial victim was God himself.
That’s right. The creator of the universe, sublime inventor of mathematics, of relativistic space-time, of quarks and quanta, of life itself, Almighty God, who reads our every thought and hears our every prayer, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us than to have himself tortured and executed. For heaven’s sake, if he wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Who, after all, needed to be impressed by the blood and the agony? Nobody but himself.
The Pope’s Christmas message is here, and at The Telegraph, “Pope Benedict XVI delivers BBC’s Thought for the Day.” Plus, from a commenter at The Guardian:
What Dawkins says about the abuses committed by the catholic church is true enough, but reading him one cannot help getting the impression that, given access to the levers of political power, and given the right sort of regime or the right sort of period (eg Russia in the 1930s) , he would happily turn churches into warehouses and put priests in labour camps. Just an impression though. I may be wrong…
No, sir, I don’t think you’re wrong.
RELATED: How atheists celebrate Christmas.
Cross-posted from American Power.