Are there any good Christian writers who write about Christianity? I’m always astounded at what a confusing mess they generate when they try to explain their faith.
Case in point: some theologian named William Carroll has issued something he calls The Dawkins Challenge. I read halfway through it before I could puzzle out what it was about. He’s annoyed that Richard Dawkins (along with many other atheists I could name) has knocked the doctrine of transubstantiation.
Dawkins opined both in Australia and previously at the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. that people should be encouraged to confront Roman Catholics about transubstantiation. Do they really hold the “utterly nutty belief that a wafer turns into the body of a first-century Jew just because a priest blessed it?” Such a view is “barking mad.”
He goes on and on about Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, and I thought he was going to get around to issuing some challenge to them…but no, it’s completely different. He’s challenging Catholics to defend themselves against charges that their beliefs are silly. Fair enough, and a good idea; please do. I’d love to hear your sensible, rational defense of transubstantiation. Go ahead, be bold and open in your beliefs and explain them!
So this is what we get from William Carroll.
The body of Christ, present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, although real (neither symbolic nor metaphorical), is vastly different from the ordinary bodies subject to empirical analysis. It is sacramental presence and theology, aided by philosophy, that help to make intelligible what is believed.
Well, I guess you showed Richard Dawkins…that he’s completely right and that your beliefs are “utterly nutty” and “barking mad”.
I think Carroll recognizes that his explanation is pretty damned stupid, because he wraps it up in excuses, claiming that the conclusions of physics are also hard to comprehend and often defy common sense. But what he really doesn’t understand is that those conclusions are a consequence of mathematical reasoning and actual experimental observations — they aren’t just made up, but are derived from the real, natural world, and can be evaluated objectively no matter what your religious upbringing. The accreted natterings of Catholic apologists have no such virtues.
You can’t say something is “real”, and then claim it exhibits none of the properties of any other real objects, and can’t ever be examined or analyzed empirically. That’s pretty much a good definition of “not real”.