C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Richard Dawkins’ “Scarlet Letter”

When I was growing up, we had to read and watch the story entitled, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850.

In this story, “The scarlet letter "A" represents the act of adultery that she has committed and it is to be a symbol of her sin for all to see.” “She will not reveal her lover’s identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy.” “Dimmesdale, leaving the church after his sermon, sees Hester and Pearl standing before the town scaffold. He impulsively mounts the scaffold with his lover and his daughter, and confesses publicly, exposing a scarlet letter A seared into the flesh of his chest.” “When Hester dies, she is buried in "a new grave near an old and sunken one, in that burial ground beside which King's Chapel has since been built. It was near that old and sunken grave, yet with a space between, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle. Yet one tombstone served for both." Even though the tombstone was decorated with a letter "A", the text does not indicate whether Hester is buried next to Dimmesdale or Chillingworth.”

So my question is this. Why did Richard Dawkins choose this similar marking to be the mark of his "The OUT Campaign" for Atheists?

The Scarlet Letter attained an immediate and lasting success because it addressed spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American standpoint.”

Is this the point that Dawkins is trying to make? Is Atheism a “spiritual and moral” issue? I highly doubt it, since I have been told Atheists do not believe in spirits [the supernatural] or morals [relative with no absolutes]. I am not saying that Atheists cannot or do not act moral, as to what they consider to be right and wrong, but their idea of morals is somewhat different than Christians. *If I am wrong, please correct me.*

As for Christians, we do see this as a “spiritual and moral” condition, as we do also from the story of adultery in Hawthorne’s book. I realize Atheist starts with the letter ‘A’, but to also color it red and have it posted completely noticeable across the chest, I can’t help but ponder if there is more meaning behind the choice. Maybe the meaning has already come about; please share with me the story behind the mark. Note I am not comparing Atheism with Adultery, for it is not I who has chosen the scarlet letter ‘A’, which already carried the meaning.

So, why do I consider this a “spiritual and moral” issue?

1. A person that does not put their faith in Jesus Christ is spiritually dead. Meaning they are a lost person in need of the Savior.

2. A person that does not believe in God is immoral in this point, for God’s law has said that we are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and might.



I am thinking about printing myself up some of these... Any orders?
or

14 comments:

BEAST said...

http://atheisthaven.blogspot.com/search/label/Morality

Read the first three articles on morals. I explained, very succinctly, how morals may not be enough as a guide to human behavior.

Anonymous said...

He (Richard Dawkins) probably chose the red A because of The Scarlet Letter. The statement that he's making (I think) is that if one person is out there wearing a huge red letter on their chest that stands for something "morally wrong" (adultrey or atheism), then they are an outcast. But if more and more people do it, and are more open about it, than it is easier for these people (or their idea) to become accepted. I don't know for sure if that was his intention, but it's my best guess. Also, I am not saying for a minute that I would equate atheism and adultrey directly - I am an atheist and I am absolutely against adultrey, and believe it to be "morally wrong" - but I would equate them in that they are both largely unaccepted by society (one rightly so, one because of a great deal of misinformation).

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

anonymous,

"But if more and more people do it, and are more open about it, than it is easier for these people (or their idea) to become accepted."

By this logic, would this also mean that adultery should/could be acceptable if enough people expose that they take part or accept adultery? Or any other thing that is "morally wrong" (I'll quote as you did) and for the sake of argument, that which is "morally wrong" by the majority of society.

Since you are "absolutely against adultery", how would you feel about that?

What I am saying is... When something is "largely unaccepted by society" and "morally wrong", why should the idea that "more people do it, and are more open about it" make something acceptable and no more "morally wrong"?

Tim

BEAST said...

Majority doesn't make things right. All those white christians who once owned slaves.......doesn't make them right.

The basis of what is right and wrong should be based on ethics, not mere morality/tribal morality.

In the case of Dawkin's Out Campaign, its aim is to encourage atheists to come out of the closet. Ethically, there is nothing wrong with the campaign. No one is hurt, no one is being killed, and the campaign does not encourage terrorism.

And I am all for the Out Campaign (Already have the logo on my blog).

Anonymous said...

Hi (I'm the same anonymous from the previous post).

I'm sorry, I really didn't make myself as clear as I meant to. Basically, my point was supposed to be that adultrey is bad, always. Atheism isn't bad or immoral, but a lot of people THINK it is. By encouraging more and more atheists to come out and be proud of their atheism, maybe we can remove the "immoral" or "unacceptable" stigma that some other groups of people feel comes with atheism. We feel like we're being compared to people like adulterers (hence the use of the scarlet letter), when in reality we are nothing like them, and we have every right to be proud. Wearing the letter proudly on your chest is kind of like saying "We're not ashamed, because what we do is not anything like something terrible, like adultrey."

Oh dear... I'm still not sure that was terribly clear. I guess basically adulterers wouldn't want to wear a big red A to tell the world what they've done because they are ashamed of their social stigma (as they should be). We WANT to wear the big red A to fight ours, because we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Anonymous,

When it comes to Christianity, atheism and adultery is grouped together with other things that Scripture determines to be ungodly, immoral, and sin. I know that you realize this, because you mention that you feel as though you are being compared to adultery, but you see adultery as wrong but atheism as right.

I realize you may not adhere to Scripture, but for the moment I am simply explaining the thoughts of Christianity, or at least my personal convictions of Scripture and the topic.

One key difference is in your statement, “We feel like we're being compared to people like adulterers (hence the use of the scarlet letter), when in reality we are nothing like them, and we have every right to be proud.”

Remember, I noted above, that Christians see both as sin because they go against God and Scripture. I realize you may disagree, but please here me out.

Christians realize people sin, even though we sometimes act or portray ourselves as “less” sinners or “better” sinners, the fact is we are only “saved” sinners, because of the work of Christ. Pride can well up inside of a Christian to put themselves above other Christians and non-Christians as easily as it can overcome a non-Christian.

As you noted, with one that commits adultery there is usually felt a sense of guilt (even if not a Christian) and a desire to hide the sin, with atheism (which is a sin against God, although I realize you may not agree) there is not a feeling of guilt, but of pride.

**Therefore we see one sinner as feeling sorry for their sin and another enjoying and proud of their sin.**

I also acknowledge that Christians sometimes fail to forgive and help the one who has been found to have committed acts against God, according to Scripture, and we do need to work on that.

I realize that you will totally disagree with me concerning God, Scripture, and sin, but I wanted to share with you the difference of how we see the individuals that act against that which is contained in Scripture. And yes, we should judge ourselves and each other by the same standard we judge those from without.

BEAST said...

How condescending, my dear Timothy.

You actually compare atheism with adultery???

How about me comparing Christianity with Nazism? How does that make you feel?

Don't make unnecessary assumptions, Tim. Trying to be smuck and hiding under your God radar won't get you very far.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

My intent was not to be condescending, but to point out as to how Christianity views both atheism and adultery as both being acts against the laws of God; therefore labeling them both as sin, while an Atheist can see adultery as wrong, but atheism as not.

I fail to see what assumptions you believe I have made. It is no secret that Christianity views both adultery and atheism as wrong (and I also made the note they are “grouped together with other things that Scripture determines to be ungodly, immoral, and sin”), and the anonymous Atheist writing admits they believe adultery is wrong, but are proud to be an Atheist. I acknowledge that they may not agree, due to the use of God and Scripture, but point out I am making the Christian view point.

I also make a point to include, “Christians realize people sin, even though we sometimes act or portray ourselves as “less” sinners or “better” sinners, the fact is we are only “saved” sinners, because of the work of Christ. Pride can well up inside of a Christian to put themselves above other Christians and non-Christians as easily as it can overcome a non-Christian.”, so I fail to realize how I am coming across as condescending.

Christianity views adultery and atheism as sin. I did not say that I or Christians are sinless. Before one was a Christian they sinned and needed to repent of sin and put faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As a Christian, we still sin, and must repent and confess our sin or we will be chastened of the Lord as children He loves.

When we see an adulterer, we either see one that has never trusted in Christ and needs to repent and trust in Christ, or one that has trusted in Christ, but still needs to repent.

When we see an Atheist, we see one that needs to trust in Christ and repent of sin.

Remember I said Christians are to repent of sin also, so I am not saying we believe the Atheist needs to do something we don't or haven't done also.

BEAST said...

Your bible is not a universal standard of morals.

If we were to live under the veneer of religious morality, we will all be sinners. You will be a sinner in the eyes of the dewy-eyed muslim; the muslim will be a sinner in yours, and we will be heaping upon the tag of sinner on every person of this planet simply because he or she does not believe.

The idea of "sin" is so vague, that even morals have nothing to do with it. What kind of a "sin" or mistake does a man make for not believing in your god, or gods? Does not believing in God tags one a bad dud?

Again, I find the lumping together of atheist and the adulterer quite insulting, and I am here to state my displeasure and non-justification of such stereotyping.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Remember Beast, it is not I who has chosen the “Scarlet Letter”, which already carries the idea of adultery (sin). And the anonymous Atheist claims also to believe the use of Dawkins’ “A” references the “A” for adultery in “The Scarlet Letter”, with both cases being society seeing them as “morally wrong”.

Remember, as the anonymous Atheist seems to note, that society sees atheism as, “stands for something "morally wrong" (adultery or atheism), then they are an outcast.” This is society “setting a standard of morality” and not simply Christians using the Scripture alone (for Muslims don’t use Christian Scripture).

Although I do recognize the harmony whereby society sees some things as morally wrong as they are equally equated as in Scripture, I wouldn’t say that all of society’s morals are personally founded in each person by their acknowledgment of the authority of Scripture. Prime example is the anonymous Atheist which writes here that they believe adultery is wrong, but we know they do not hold to an authority of Scripture nor draw the conclusion that adultery is wrong from it.

Again the act of adultery is one sin, and the act of atheism is quite another one. The one thing they do have in common is, they are both counted as sin. I completely understand that both you and the anonymous Atheist will not agree with me here, and that is why I continue to say I am giving the Christian thought here. You are free to disagree.

To answer your questions (if per chance you really wanted one):

1. What kind of a "sin" or mistake does a man make for not believing in your god, or gods?

Jesus Christ was asked what the great commandment was. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:36-38]

One that claims they do not believe in God is breaking this commandment by not loving Him.

One that claims to believe but does not obey God is breaking this commandment by not loving Him.


2. Does not believing in God tags one a bad dud?

I am not sure what you mean, but not believing in God simply makes one a sinner that needs to repent to God that they do not love Him and do not trust in Christ.

This does not mean the person is as bad as they can possibility be or that they cannot do things that man would see as good, kind, etc. It does mean that they are still a lost sinner in the eyes of the holy God.

BEAST said...

Society setting up rules that says atheism is "morally wrong"? Who says so? Your good friend, Phelps?

So, by what standards are you going to punish me, the infidel? A good crack of the whip? Or a bullet in my skull?

Pray, tell me, before I quiver and piss into my trembling boots!!!

Beast

BEAST said...

I definitely disagree with immorality being equated with Atheism. I find immorality more equated with religion, particularly Christianity, but I will not argue about it here, because it has been written over my blog, which you have already been made aware of anyway.

If being an atheist makes me a sinner, then its fine with me. I will simply add it up with another blasphemy against the holy spirit, which you are so fearful off.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Am I to punish you for being an Atheist? No.

I am to witness to you, if you will listen, and pray for you that the Spirit will open your eyes to the Truth that God is and that you are in need of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Tim

BEAST said...

Tim:

Apparently your Holy Spirit is weak and impotent.

I was raised as a Baptist when I was five, went to a Catholic high school at 13 and became and atheist at the age of 17.

I know most of the christian jargon you so virulently spew in Sunday Schools. "Witnessing", "backsliding", "Born agains" and all the rest of the nonsense, all of which are remnants of an ancient Judean religion which tends to be dogmatic, intolerant and divisive.

So, the next time you want to "witness" to me, try someone else. If I wanted to toe the line that you do, I would probably be a senior pastor by now.

Beast

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.