Original Research - Special Collection: Eben Scheffler Festschrift

Richard Dawkins, Philip Kennedy and the Augustinian paradigm of Christianity

Izak J.J. Spangenberg
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 3 | a5084 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i3.5084 | © 2019 Izak Jacobus Spangenberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 May 2018 | Published: 18 February 2019


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Abstract

Both Richard Dawkins’s book The God Delusion and Philip Kennedy’s book A Modern Introduction to Theology: New Questions for Old Beliefs were published in 2006. This article aims to compare the two books and to argue that Kennedy does not oppose Dawkins’s views but, in fact, debates along similar lines. Kennedy is adamant that the Augustinian paradigm of Christianity no longer makes sense, because it is based on an outdated cosmology and anthropology. He firmly maintains that Christianity requires a new paradigm, which is informed by our current knowledge and worldview. Thomas Kuhn’s ideas of paradigm and paradigm changes in the history of natural sciences are utilised in comparing the books, seeing that Dawkins accepts and works within the Darwinian paradigm of evolutionary biology, and Kennedy argues that Christians and Christian theologians adhere to the Augustinian paradigm of Fall-Redemption-Judgement. It is argued that Dawkins should have referred to the paradigm change in the study of the Bible, which occurred towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, and the plea of theologians, like Kennedy, for a paradigm change in theology. The article concludes that only a paradigm change in Christianity, which is in line with the modern worldview, will enable Christians to keep the tradition alive.

Keywords

Grand narrative of Christianity; Augustinian paradigm; Fall-Redemption-Judgement; Richard Dawkins; Philip Kennedy; Paradigm changes; Historical-critical methods; cosmology; anthropology

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