On reading Frank Mobbs' rebuttal of the attack on the Bible aired by Richard Dawkins during his televised debate with Cardinal Pell, I am left wondering whether we are being offered a cure that is worse than the disease.
According to Dr Mobbs, "no one has ever believed" in the God depicted in Numbers 31:7, who ordered massacres, and who had a man put to death for gathering wood on the sabbath (Numbers 15:35). He has his facts egregiously wrong. I believe God did those things. So did the early Fathers (except perhaps Origen), St Thomas Aquinas, other holy Popes and Doctors of the Church, and countless millions of other orthodox Catholics over two millennia - not to mention Orthodox Jews.
We believe God did those things because the Church solemnly teaches that the books of the Old Testament as well as the New, "entire, with all their parts", were written "under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit" and so "have God as their author" ( Catechism of the Catholic Church (105), quoting Vatican II's Constitution on Divine Revelation and various New Testament teachings about biblical inspiration). God, of course, can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Dr Mobbs, however, thinks that even though the Old Testament's "dominant concept" of God is benign, it also presents God as giving "obviously immoral commands", so that "Christians can deny that these events [i.e., the giving of such commands] ever took place". This theory seems perilously akin to the ancient Marcionite heresy which, on similar grounds, rejected the divine inspiration of the Old Testament.
With friends like Mobbs, the Bible scarcely needs enemies like Dawkins.
FR BRIAN HARRISON OS
St Louis, Missouri, USA