Religion ‘hijacking’ the word… and the world [repost]

21

March 16, 2013 by theguywiththeeye

Would anyone like to defend “Dickie” Dawkins and/or challenge this post? Is the author of this post willing to defend it?

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Christ the Truth

Below you can watch Richard Dawkins speaking in advance of the 2011 KJV celebrations. He makes the case for being steeped ‘to some extent’ in the King James Bible.  If we don’t know the KJV we are ‘in some small way barbarian.’  But he ends by saying:

it is important that religion should not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource.

Notch it up as another Dickie Dawkins classic.  But before we laugh and point, let’s make sure there aren’t three fingers pointing back.

You see, because he’s talking about the bible the stupidity of his position is obvious.  Of course it’s ridiculous to view the bible as first a cultural resource that religion then hijacks.  Any fool knows that the bible is originally, purposefully and most meaningfully a religious text (or if you don’t like ‘religious’, say ‘spiritual’ or ‘theological’ or even ‘Christian’).  It is evident (but not to…

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21 thoughts on “Religion ‘hijacking’ the word… and the world [repost]

  1. Glen says:

    I’m the author. Just signing into notifications in case people want to comment.

    • Awesome! If this becomes an active debate, you can give me a charity to promote in the sidebar, on the audience comments page for this post … and, you are also welcome to include it in your own comments as often as you like.

  2. I’ll take this one if that is acceptable… 😉

  3. Glen says:

    Let’s see what happens with this – I guess we’re all new to it.

    Obviously I’m prepared to “defend my post” which is why I have a blog and why I open up comments. I’m not sure why debate should happen on this site rather than my own but I’m grateful for the link to my chosen charity (which is Love Africa by the way: http://revivalmedia.org/loveafrica/donate/).

    It occurs to me that, since my post is mainly objecting to Christians (accusing them of reasoning from atheistic foundations, rather than Christian ones) I question whether atheist-Christian dialogue is the most fruitful in this particular instance. We might well find ourselves agreeing on a whole host of issues. And that’s no fun!

    But I’m game to try something new if you are…

    • Yes, let’s see where it goes. Not everyone is so ready to defend their posts. I appreciate your openness.

      Aside from being a place to “call out” those who are less willing than you are, having the conversation here, instead of your blog …

      -We can make it one-on-one and more focused.
      -We can pool traffic to give the charities more exposure. When I read a personal blog and see authors sparring over this & that — I think … it would be nice if we could work toward a common goal with all of this energy.

    • I don’t see anything wrong with highlighting some common ground.

      But … if you and myatheistlife seem to become friends too quickly, then he can pass the debate to a backup. Perhaps we can find a christian who would like to step in and challenge.

  4. The Christian bible in particular has been “hijacked” many times, by the likes of:
    Jewish Christians, Constantine and the council of Nicaea, King James, Martin Luther, and when Gutenberg was done with it we can fairly say that it was no longer the property of any group, but of all people. A cultural resource. It has been used, quoted, referenced, and part of cultural language since it was made available to the people.

    The argument of theological nature of a holy text is invalidated by any opposing religion’s holy text. To every other religion it is just a book of myths. To conflate supposed theological nature of a book with supposed theological origin of existence is to claim the book is true .. which cannot be proven. The true nature of this book is hotly debated among the 30000+ sects of Christianity. It is not a settled matter even among Christians never mind all of humanity.

    The Christian bible is a history of the Jewish people as much as it is a holy text, and in this sense, it is a cultural item owned by nobody and to say it can only be appreciated as a theological text is to discount every interpretation of it that does not fit your notion of theology.

    When we talk of the Christian bible we talk of a collection of books which was canonized by the council of Nicaea from many books found across the globe. It was never monolithic until hijacked to formalize a religion.

    Further, Dawkins does not suggest that it should not be looked at theologically, rather that it’s contents have been infused into our cultures and thus not knowing this book leaves you not fully prepared to understand our culture and in this way somewhat barbaric. Because of this, to say that it should not be used by culture is to deny the impact the book has had on culture.

    One wonders if the author of this post looks at the Koran for its theological nature, or perhaps the Bhagavad Gita or the Homeric Hymns. Is the Christian bible to be special among texts, or is it more appropriate that it be treated for what it is – a cultural resource.

    ==You’ve got to begin by treating the Word theologically. And you’ve got to begin by treating the world theologically. And it’s best you do so in that order. It’s those who fail to see the world according to its essentially theological character who hijack it.==

    There is the crux of the matter then. Everything is theological in nature and any who do not treat the world this way are wrong. So it’s not really about hijacking, it’s about telling people the are not doing it right. So what I’m hearing is this: If you don’t think of the bible the way that I do, you’re wrong. If you don’t hold my world view, you’re wrong.

    Did I miss something?

    • Glen says:

      Hi myatheistlife,

      Probably a definition of “hijacked” is in order. I take it Dawkins meant that the bible is properly treated as a cultural artefact and thus it is used against its nature (hi-jacked) when it’s treated as a theological text. I am using “hijack” in that same sense – to hijack is to use a source to further your own ends and to use it contrary to its intended use.

      In this sense neither Jewish Christians, nor Nicea nor Luther “hijacked” the bible, but all treated it according to its original intent – the word of Christ.

      You say:

      The argument of theological nature of a holy text is invalidated by any opposing religion’s holy text. To every other religion it is just a book of myths. To conflate supposed theological nature of a book with supposed theological origin of existence is to claim the book is true .. which cannot be proven.

      Not at all – the Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, etc are theological texts because they are intended, first of all, to be read as divine revelation. I think the latter two are untrue (you think all three are untrue). But that’s not the issue, the issue is how to read the texts. Of course you can read them as cultural artefacts if you want to. And there’s much to be gained from that. No-one’s denying that. It’s just ridiculous to claim that reading them as theological texts is “hi-jacking” them. But that’s the ridiculous claim Dawkins makes. Hence the post.

      You say that the 30000+ “sects” of Christianity disagree about the nature of the bible. Completely false – every Christian denomination thinks the bible is the word of God, if they don’t think that, they’re not Christian!

      You say

      Further, Dawkins does not suggest that it should not be looked at theologically, rather that it’s contents have been infused into our cultures and thus not knowing this book leaves you not fully prepared to understand our culture and in this way somewhat barbaric. Because of this, to say that it should not be used by culture is to deny the impact the book has had on culture.

      Read my post again and you’ll see I don’t deny for a second that you can read the bible as a cultural artefact. What I object to is Dawkins’ nonsensical comment that reading the bible theologically is “hijacking” it.

      Finally, you say:

      So what I’m hearing is this: If you don’t think of the bible the way that I do, you’re wrong. If you don’t hold my world view, you’re wrong.
      Did I miss something?

      We each think the other person is wrong – that’s the nature of debate. Now I’m thinking I must have missed something?

      • Hi Glen,

        There is more than one definition for hijacking. I don’t think that you understood Dawkin’s use of the term as I do:
        When asked for advice to the trust (trying to open windows onto the world rather than close them).

        Whatever you think the origin of the book, or even it’s author’s claims or intents, it has become a cultural resource. To remove it from the culture or claim that it should not be used by the culture is to hijack it from the culture. It can’t be hidden in the temples and treated as sacred any more. It’s part of the culture and the language. Trying to remove it from that context by reading it only theologically is to hijack it. Likewise, to teach that the bible or other holy texts are not relevant and should not be taught or explored by the non-believer is to hijack the texts from the culture.

        The value of the book is no longer strictly theological. To claim it is would be to hijack it from the culture it now belongs to. Dawkins advised that this should not be done, that it should be shared and known by all, that it is necessary to understand English culture. That not knowing the bible puts you at a disadvantage. Reading the bible only theologically would be hijacking it in the context of its current cultural relevance.

        • Glen says:

          No-one is denying that the bible is a cultural resource. I’ve never even hinted at denying that. I have no reason to deny it – I love to point this truth out every chance I get. The man interviewing Dawkins in the video is certainly not denying it – the whole point of the interview (the whole point of the year of KJV celebrations he was organising) was to show off the KJV as a cultural resource.

          You write:

          To remove it from the culture or claim that it should not be used by the culture is to hijack it from the culture.

          I don’t know a single Christian who’s wanting to do that! (Neither does Dawkins!) The reverse – we want the bible out in the culture as much as possible! You then say:

          to teach that the bible or other holy texts are not relevant and should not be taught or explored by the non-believer is to hijack the texts from the culture.

          What Christian on earth would say the bible shouldn’t be taught or explored by non-believers!? Christians are thrilled when this happens. Again, Dawkins knows this too.

          You give your whole position away when you say:

          [the bible] has become a cultural resource.

          and

          The value of the book is no longer strictly theological.

          So you agree that originally the bible was, most strictly, a theological text. But if its original intention is theological then anyone reading it theologically is not hi-jacking it. That’s the very simple point I’m making. Dawkins was wrong and foolish to say that reading the bible theologically is hijacking its true nature for religious ends. And I don’t think anyone would be trying to defend the stupidity of the comment if it weren’t Dawkins saying it. But there it is.

          By the way, he says many other fascinating and true things. But this is not one of them.

        • Okay, Glen. I’ll try once more. The book is now part of the culture. To read it only theologically is to hijack it from it’s place in the culture. This is nothing but a quibble over how the word hijack was used by Dawkins. You seem to take a sense that religion using the text as theology is not hijacking it but this is not what he inferred. He is saying that denying the text to the culture is hijacking it from its current place in culture and as such reading it strictly theologically is wrong. It does not matter the original purpose. It’s value is in a cultural context such that even if Christianity went the way of Norse pantheon it is still a valuable document. Reading it as only of theological value is to hijack it from the culture it has so influenced. In other words Dawkins was encouraging the group to share the bible, to help others learn of it and it’s contents – not in a theological sense but in the sense that understanding the English culture is a tough task without understanding what the bible has contributed to it. Not sharing the bible and telling people of it’s contents would be hijacking it from the culture. You have taken what seems to be a very narrow stance that implies the book is belonging to religion and thus culture has no say in how it is used or why.

          Will you attempt to reclaim the words gay or queer or fag? I don’t think so. Likewise the bible cannot be reclaimed as only a theological text. It is a cultural resource and to thus reclaim it as only theological is to hijack it – Dawkins warns against such action and wholly supports the trust in their effort to share the bible, and even explains why he thinks this is important thus why it would be like hijacking it otherwise.

        • Glen says:

          If you “try again” try dealing with the objections that were raised the first time around. There simply are no Christians who are trying to get the bible out of culture and back into the churches. None. Anywhere. You define hijacking above as keeping the sacred texts locked away in temples or “to teach that the bible or other holy texts are not relevant and should not be taught or explored by the non-believer”. Name me a single Christian who is arguing *anything* like that! There aren’t any. I know that and Dawkins knows that.

          For the Christian, the argument is not whether the bible is *either* theological *or* cultural. We are very happy that it’s both. It’s Dawkins who wants it to be either/or and he makes an audacious power-grab by saying it’s the theological sense that is hi-jacking the proper, cultural, sense.

          In defending Dawkins you actually make him out to be stupider than I think he is. You have to imagine that Dawkins is dumb enough to fear Christians retreating from the public square and taking their precious bible with them.

          Can you imagine picket lines outside schools with placards saying “Keep Scripture out of our schools” and the picketers are Christians!? Can you then imagine Dawkins manfully carrying bibles through that crowd of angry Christians and taking them into schools? That’s the kind of thing you’re suggesting and frankly I don’t think Christians or Dawkins are as ridiculous as that.

          Anyway – that’s enough fussing over a single point. I’ll leave it to you if you want to raise anything else of interest from the post.

          God bless.

        • Apparently you just want to argue, Not willing to see that other people will use the word hijack in a way that you think unfit. You’ve worked hard to see Dawkin’s remarks as inflamatory. I am beginning to think that you will simply argue because you like it. You have misread all I said, all that Dawkins said and the only purpose I can see for this is to be contrary.

          His entire point was that the Christian bible should be shared and public. To not do so is hijacking it from it current value.

          Argue semantics all you wish, you have no point… or none that I can discern.

        • Glen says:

          Hi myatheistlife,

          Sorry, I have misjudged the tone of this forum. I’ve looked around at the gladiatorial setting (two pugilists, mano e mano, the crowds looking on) and I’ve come out swinging. You’re right that I’ve been very contrary, sorry about that. There are substantive points in all my posts, but I can see that I’ve made it hard to engage at points. My apologies,

          Glen

        • Glen, it’s all good. I do see your point. I just don’t think that is what Dawkins was saying.
          Until next time. Thanks

  5. Thank you both for keeping your responses under 500 words.

    It will be interesting to see if this conversation leads to an agreement.

    Audience, please check out myatheistlife’s cause http://www.heifer.org/ or Glen’s cause http://revivalmedia.org/loveafrica/donate/

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