I expect that many believers would dismiss Dawkins' opinion here… though honestly, how can they?
I would, dear AK-Jeff (peace to you!), on the basis that his premise (following) is flawed, at least as to me, when he asks:
Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment?
For me, this is not only NOT the only reason… but not EVEN the reason. While it’s true that I want God’s approval, it is only in the sense of a child wanting to please a parent… because they LOVE that parent and esteem their opinion of them. I do not try to be good; I am NOT good. But… I love God and I love Christ. And THAT is what compels ME. I don’t care if I am granted resurrection or life in the end. It is not for me to say… and there is nothing I can DO to gain it (hence, UNdeserved kindness and mercy). I don’t care if I am a pillar in the temple of God… or grout. A king… or a chamberpot emptier. I would be happy just to be IN the kingdom. Because of my LOVE for God and Christ. If, however, their choice is that I DON’T have a place… how can I take issue with that? It’s their decision. And because I have come to KNOW them… I know that their decisions are JUST, whatever they are. And so, if they decide that I lose out… the decision is the RIGHT one. That, however, does not stop my love for them.
And my love for them will not fail because, unlike a lot of people, it is not based on what I’ve read about them, or what others have told me, or what others think/feel. It is because I have come to KNOW them… and knowing what I do ABOUT them I cannot help BUT love them. I am sure you understand this, because that same love many of us have and show toward PEOPLE. There are certain people whose qualities literally FORCE you to love them, if you have any decency in yourself. It is the same way for me as to God and Christ – they ARE good… really good, not just abstractly so... regardless of what you may have read… or heard… about them. I know this… due to PERSONAL knowledge.
Mr. Dawkins’ statement, however, shows the inability of folks like him to separate believers… from religion. And that’s understandable, totally: religion is the reason most DON’T believe in God and have turned, instead, to worshipping the creation (the physical world). Or why those who claim to believe have such a hard time LIVING that belief… and walking by FAITH (vs. by sight). And who can blame them? As Mr. Dawkins also said:
Religious culture is saturated with the good/evil, right/wrong, black/white stereotyping. And the end of day for them is that god will find more on their scales that is good/right/white than he will find evil/wrong/black - and reward will follow.
This is TRUE… and one of the reasons, among many, why religion has already been condemned, particularly "Babylon the Great": it... and particularly, SHE... is rife… with HYPOCRISY (“leaven”).
But not all who believe in God believe in religion. Indeed, a TRUE believer CAN’T believe in religion… on the bases, among others, that:
(1) There is no “true” religion. Christ brought an end to that when he said, of Jerusalem, “Your ‘house’ is abandoned to you.” Ancient Judaism was the religion established by God through the establishment of the Law and priesthood. But they continually rebelled against the “religion” HE set up. The final destruction of the temple was the manifestation of that abandonment… and no institution was ever raised up to replace it… and won’t be… until Israel says, “Blessed is he that comes in the name of JAH.” So far, that hasn’t occurred. Until then, worship of God CANNOT be done through a visible organization… of ANY kind… but through in spirit… through the Truth.
(2) Religion’s track record, especially “christian” religions… is in opposition to the True God. There is NO way that their conduct and false prophecies are approved by Him, regardless of their excuses. It is because of them that people turn AWAY from God, not TO Him. And while some would argue “Look at the numbers streaming into the churches/religion,” I would counter that they are streaming to the LEADERS of such churches/religions… not to God. There is a HUGE difference. Because one cannot GET to God by going to/through a church/religion; one can only get to God by going TO… and THROUGH… Christ.
(3) Religion, and particularly “christian” religion, attempts to convince people that they have God’s “approval” manifested in their physical prosperity. Look how many “successful” ministers have huge followings! The people aren’t following God and Christ, however; they’re following… the MONEY! They reason that if a minister (or person) is financially successful, then SURELY God must be BLESSING them! What the frick??? When was Christ financially prospered? Which Apostle was rich? True, some disciples started OUT rich, but didn’t those give their belongings AWAY… so as to help those who weren’t rich?? What “nice” house did Christ have? Is he not recorded to say that he had NOWHERE to lay his head? What fancy clothes? ONE garment of good quality? What fancy car? He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass… not even a pony, let alone a horse; a humble donkey.
But so many are looking for “blessings” in a physical way, a financial prospering. Even if they say, “I don’t want to be rich; I just want to be ‘comfortable.’” However, physical comfort is not a promise of the NEW Covenant (which is why SO many prefer the OLD, which did make such promises). The NEW Covenant is about… SPIRITUAL prosperity! It is not about “things on the earth,” and thus as to the flesh, but things in the SPIRIT realm, and thus, as to the SPIRIT. They don’t get this, though, because their minds ARE on the things… on the earth. Such ones don’t see, however, the very temporary… and limiting… “value” of such things. Because we want it NOW… and we want it HERE. To rule as/live like kings… here and now.
But that wasn’t the promise of the New Covenant and, unfortunately, most cannot see that. Because they are looking to the wrong gods… or to One they don’t know.
I will stop here, though, because I don’t want to overtake your thread… and I have much to do today and need to get to it. But I felt compelled to respond because, like many others, Mr. Dawkins is basing his view, and thus his opinion, on a very limited understanding of things, particularly "believers". He only sees one side… and that is the side presented by religion. Which is a loud… and “boisterous” woman.
Some may ask, “Well, okay, then, if God is out there, why doesn’t He speak up?” The answer is because He is NOT loud or boisterous… and the One whom He has granted to speak FOR Him speaks… in LOW tones. Quietly. (Proverbs 8:1-4) Why? Because it is not up to God or Christ to speak loudly; it is up to mankind… to be still... and LISTEN. Because it is through obedience of THIS kind… listening… that one HEARS… and so comes to KNOW… personally… the One(s) speaking: the Most Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose name is JAH... of Armies... and His Son and Christ, the Holy One of Israel and Holy Spirit, my Lord and King, JAHESHUA MISCHAJAH... who is the Word of God and there is no other.
Again, I bid you peace!