Christ, who sacrificed his life for Adam's sin, is the Eternal Son, in whose image He Himself made Adam. He was not giving His sacred life for "a remote hypothetical ancestor He never knew anything about" but He knew from Paradise what Adam's sin was like. And, of course, how Adam's sons could be made to detest it properly without detesting themselves or their ancestor. But Dawkins is time after time interrupting, as an impatient schoolboy who cannot see why Latin has to have those bothersome six cases, and who therefore sets out to interpret a Latin text on the presumption that SVO or possibly SOV will get him right every time.
Adam's sin is inherited by all humans (except the Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Son, Jesus). What kind of doctrine it is? The most easily observable of any Christian docrine. Even evolutionists see such traces of Adam's sin that they are quite willing to put it down to the primitive herd mentality of Apes./HGL
It is not usually for me to preach the Gospel about the Resurrection. The witnesses were most often the twelve minus Judas the Traitor, thus the eleven. Matthias was added to them and on Pentecost they preached, most specially St Peter, who went on when the others were silent. Their successors are the bishops and the bishops delegate the task to priests and deacons, and I am neither bishop, priest, nor deacon. I usually limit myself to this: when you and people like you calumniate either Creation or Resurrection accounts as untrue, I answer that by reasons for believing these accounts. Here we are dealing with something else, not "untrue" but "immoral and horrible if true". I am provoked to say my mind about it.
And in order to make that point, Dawkins takes part of the story and leaves out the rest. It is not as if he were taking the story and leaving out the theology, which as an atheist he thinks erroneous, which is how I as a Christian think we may (if at all) reasonably read Iliad and Odyssey. It is not as if he were taking only one part of the story as such, what he can believe possible, while leaving out what he calls impossible, though he obviously may be doing so on other occasions, and that being done in a way as to treat the story told with a real double standard about the evidence. No, he is not only doing that, but dealing with part of the theology of that part of the story, while leaving out other parts of the theology.
Now, as I wrote yesterday, dying for the sin of Adam and Eve was to Christ not like dying for a stranger. He was the God who both created them and forbade them to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He died to free people he loved.
In every story that is about freeing captives that is really great, the deliverer walks himself into the trap to break it. In the Franco and Moscardó story, it is actually Moscardó we admire most, even if Franco did him a due homage by freeing him. But now to stories where the deliverer is great: Ulysses to free his wife Penelope walks in among her unwelcome suitors who are dealing with his and her home as with their own robber's den. He walks in and gets treated like a beggar by people who do not treat beggars very well. Conan walks to the castle of Thulsa Doom to free king Orlik's daughter. Mankind admires even Schwarzenegger for just acting out Conan, even Homer for making fine verses about Ulysses. And you think it is "bad news" that God is behaving like a brave man, like the men to whom Schwarzenegger and Homer did homage? Orpheus gets down to Hades and fails to free Eurydike, and you complain about God loving men as Orpheus loved his wife, you complain about God being the true Orpheus who succeeded in freeing his Eurydike?
Oh, if you wonder about Christ as "helpless victim" of such a decision, it is precisely because he is in His Divine Nature equal to the Father that He is rather a free volunteer.
Which is perhaps the most urgent reason, apart from the truth itself, why Nicea affirmed Trinity, affirmed full divinity of CHrist, and condemned Arius.
God could have - as you said - just said to Adam and Eve: "I forgive you, nothing changes, as far as I am concerned you did not eat the fruit I forbade you". And spontaneous human death and spontaenous animal death would have been non-occurrences. He preferred to say: "You shall truly die" - and then to get down to Hades to free them himself. What sense of story do you have if you think that is a "horrible story if true"?
It is a bit like reading the story of King Solomon's Judgement and stop at the order of parting the baby in two with a sword. "What a horrible story, King Solomon killed a baby" and that is it. And then to cling to that idiotic misunderstanding even when learning about the rest of the story. I presume you know it, otherwise it is in III:d Kings.
Now, Christ dying for us is in two different ways like the Solomonic Judgement.
First of all, the fall of Adam was a kind of paternity test. "Whom does the baby obey?" Disobeying God and obeying the suggestion of the old snake gave a very bad outcome to the paternity test. God makes a second paternity test, quite in line with Solomon's maternity test. "Who wants the baby to live?"
Satan who did not directly control all about the region of Hades where Adam and Eve were waiting four thousand years for their child and saviour, but who was still ruler of Hades and at least had the power to shut these souls out from Paradise and from Heaven above, had such power because of Adam's sin and on top of that because of personal sins. In Christ he found neither. He was quite willing to kill a man - and his virgin mother, St Mary's heart would have broke on Calvary but for a miracle - who was innocent. After all it was a man, and he as angelic being was superior to men. He forgot about the guilt part. He lost the paternity test quite as clearly as the "mother" who said "go ahead, part the child in two and we each will have half".
God died so as to give us back life - now who won that paternity test?
You know the answer. It is as clear to you as to St Irenaeus and to C. S. Lewis (when he wrote about the White Witch and her deal with Aslan), as to Shakespear whose Shylock plotted for more than the due pound of flesh, as to me and to everyone else.
If the story as we receive it is true, God did. He won mankind back for a very dear price, his flesh and blood on Calvary.
Are you still calling it a horrid story? God should maybe have - on your view - done better to "just forgive and forget about retributive justice"?
There can be said to have been in Heaven another Solomonic Judgement about exactly that proposition. Mercy and Truth, Peace and Justice come before the King of Heaven. Now, in this case none of them is a deceiver. None of them can just be pushed off. Each of them is a true daughter of the eternal father, a true aspect of the eternal son, of the wisdom of the father. St Bernhard tells the story of how Incarnation, Calvary and Resurrection were planned in Heaven.
Oh yes, this is interpretation, it is not in the Bible itself. But it is obviously well founded in it.
I will start with a story. It was told by the twelfth century preacher, Bernard of Clairvaux. The sermon has this intriguing title: The Four Daughters of God. They are Truth, Justice, Mercy and Peace. In the sermon the Four Daughters come before God after our first parents fell, that is, after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. The held a kind of trial:
Truth spoke first. She pointed out the obvious: Adam and Eve had every advantage, but they turned their back on God. Next came Justice. She said that the man and woman did not deserve a second chance. They knew the rules and they deliberately broke them. But Mercy said, "Yes, I agree they do not merit a second chance, but, still, I plead for them." Finally Peace said that if God did not do something for Adam and Eve, there would only be enmity between heaven and earth.
God faced a dilemma. He loves all of his daughters - but how can he affirm one without losing another? Strict justice seems to exclude mercy. Keeping the peace seems to require hiding a bit of the truth. Here on earth we sometimes fudge the truth in order to keep the peace. But it cannot be that way in heaven. How does God keep his daughters together: Justice with Mercy and Peace with Truth?
God came up with a this solution: He would himself become man.
Cited after another sermon, The Four Daughters of God which beyond St Bernhard adds that the Beatitudes - which Christ himself lived to the full - show him as bringing precisely these four. By the way - as I recall the story, which I read elsewhere, part of the reason is His saying in essence: "it is my fault, I have to fix it" (He being, as Council of Nicea said, obviously God the Creator, not just subordinate to Him). The story gives a Bible reference to the words before He produced the Flood and shortened human life span.
I am not sure that believing the moral of this story comes easy to you. To me it is actually the "god" you prefer who seems a horrid distorted shape of the old betrayer Satan.
The fall was a corruption of free will. Not a total corruption, as Calvin pretended, but a corruption. Now, let a cancer patient live a thousand years with a cancer, and after a thousand years you bet he is miserable because there is more cancer than healthy body in him. As to Adam and Eve, yes, they could live nearly a thousand years and still not corrupt all that much, because they were sorry for their deed and because they were waiting for the promised saviour. Nearly thousand years on earth and then in its entrails more than four thousand years - as a French Christmas carol makes clear - for the saviour. People like Cain or his latter descendants in Nod took such a lifespan in a worse fashion. Imagine what they would have done if granted an immortality continued despite the fall! But now we are talking free will rather than tissue. If cancer is bad, what about the unchecked ongoing corruption of free-will?
You may deny there is free-will. In that case you are, as Chesterton noted about Shaw, a Calvinist minus the remains of Christianity that there are in the usual Calvinist. And in that case you are no longer dealing with "what if the story is true, is it a good or a bad story", you are simply denying part of the story. And a very relevant part for all that.
If we were automata and God an administrator whose task was to make us happy automata, yes, you could argue that God was pushing the wrong buttons. Or that he was pushing exactly the right ones. One part of being happy is being conscious of not being an automaton.
But we are not automata, on the terms of Christianity. We are endowed with free will, with the duty of using it to love God - really love and not just appreciate as a decent administrator - and to love our neighbour as ourselves, and whatever rights we are endowed with (indirectly enumerated in the Decalogue, if you want the correct enumeration) are founded in that endowment fo our nature.
The kind of "god" you seem to prefer, who forgives without any measure of justice, because he is omnipotent, reminds me of certain modern trends in administration (perhaps because many of it agree with you about how you would like a god you could find it decent to believe in). Offenses traditionally punishable by death - well, pardon from death penalty is an many modern administrations automatic, because the state is "almighty" (or thinks itself so) and because "mercy rather than justice" is a kind of "duty" for any "almighty" according to that philosophy: so these offenses are just not punished by death. Does that mean that the offender is happy about being parodned death penalty and now he can go and do something else, and let's hope he has learnt a lesson? Ah no. Such mercy to him would have (in more than one case, especially with relapsed offenders of heinous crimes) been cruel to other citizens. So he is usually locked up. Now, that is merciful to other citizens, because they are spared a dangerous man, but also to him because he has not been killed.
Is it all that merciful to him? Look at the lives of people who are spending life time in prison. Look at the lives of people who have come out after twenty years in prison. And especially, at locking up way beyond the usual prison sentence fora certain crime!
So, why is a "merciful rather than just" administration doing it to him? Out of mercy (and not exactly justice: some would perhaps deserve to be in danger) to everyone else.
But if it is not a question of justice, purely of mercy, why stop at keeping dangerous criminals in prison? Why not do the same with people who might be dangerous in the future, even if they have so far not committed any crimes?
Well, the society you get with that is pretty much described in the SciFi story recently a film with Tom Cruise: Minority Report. That is a film with an unusually happy ending for such a scenario. Take A Clockwork Orange, see the end from where he is caught up to the point where he is crying because he can no longer enjoy Beethoven. THEN assume that he is considered cured and let free. THEN turn on the film from the beginning anbd assume that is how the story continues after the end. Now, that is a very realistic view of what happens if people are by pure mercy going to be cured of potentially dangerous to society tendencies, against their will, even before they do any ill. People submitted against their will to therapies get angry and feel anguish, and there is no medicating away the possibility that some crimes are committed by the objects of such "mercy" who would otherwise have lived perhaps if not totally straight at least more or less decent lives.
That is what comes from preferring the kind of "god" you pretend to be ideally a better guy than the one we Christians believe in. As lukewarm Christians agree with it and atheists and certain other non-Christians push it, society is getting worse and worse by the day.
I was in prison. I had not beaten up any fellow citizen. I had not resisted arrest for suspicion of any crime. I had resisted - only on the third occasion - getting locked up with "merciful" shrinks and with their other objects of "mercy" by taking the gun of the policeman who helped doctors bring me there. In first trial I was freed. Putative self defence. In second trial I was condemned, the assessment of first judge being overturned since I admitted being fully aware that the police officer was a police officer. He got a flesh wound that ought to be healed by now (10 cm in the hip). I got, nominally, three and a half years. People who think that what he police officer was doing for me was merciful are still trying "mercifully" to subject me underhand to treatments of the type "behavioural therapy". My so called offense was 5th of February 1998, Anno Domini. I was out for three weeks after first trial. I got back to liberty last of June 2000, after serving 2/3. The other third would have brought us 14 months later, 2001, last of August. I have been condemned for no offense after that. And there are still today people who "mercifully" are giving me lessons, and which lessons are doing to my life about as much happiness as being with fellow inmates does to a prisoners life. Except being out of prison I am not around those all of the time. Justice does not demand it. The ordinary acceptation of mercy does not demand it. It is only in the logic of a system where "mercy" is seen as ultimately far above justice. Where mercy is no more itself, because it is a label tacked conveniently on to punishments that reach a level of uncontrolled revenge because they are not checked by retributive justice. Again: retributive justice would have set me free at the latest last of August 2001. We are dealing with 14 years of my life rather than 3 and a half.
And it was also "mercy" uncontrolled by justice which put me in position to defend myself in the first place. Defending myself I got nominally 3 years and 6 months. Not defending myself I would have gotten life time in and out of that unhappy kind of institutions, at least it is what I thought I had valid reasons to fear.
If you see flying saucers and are taken to hospital and they ask you after a week whether you are still seeing flying saucers, and you say no, then if you are not a Roswell believer, nor think such views are the devil's work even before sane eyes (but in that case you might not have been telling your experience carelessly enough to get shut up), but you think they were patological as much as your shrinks do, you can feel a hope of not getting back in such "merciful" places again. They will tell you to hope to see no more flying saucers and you will believe them.
If you are being put there, as was my case, for either doing nothing in particular or for doing what you thought and still think right, then you are not agreeing that psychiatry locked you up for what was really your own good. If you think you are not ill, and are locked up "until better" by people who thereby indicate that they disagree with you, you may legitimately feel concern about psychiatry as a kind of mafia.
In my case, either psychiatry itself has been, or some other network has been acting underhand, "mercifully" of course, since for "my own good", which apparently I am "not well enough to understand". If mercy without justice provokes what it terms a crime and then replaces the 3 and a half years of justice with 14 years of "mercy", then you bet I prefer a God who gives justice its due.
BpI, Georges Pompidou, Paris
Sunday, St Catherine of Alexandria