People are being rather tough on Richard Dawkins over his latest statement.
“I wrote [an] article called ‘Atheists for Jesus,’ I think it was… Somebody gave me a t-shirt: ‘Atheists for Jesus.’ Well, the point was that Jesus was a great moral teacher and I was suggesting that somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”
When you have a restricted viewpoint allowing no possibility of God than you are limited to only having certain opinions that flow from it. Plus all of us have some degree of belief in what we accept and think our apprehension of truth to be truth. So an atheist saying someone, even Jesus, would come to the same conclusion they had is to be expected. The problem is not with what Dawkins said, but with his underlying philosophy. The joke goes as a philosopher Dawkins is a good biologist.
When I first heard Dawkins’ statement I thought of C.S. Lewis’s famous alliteration that Jesus is either Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. Update: Actually the source is Josh McDowell and as Steve Greydanus pointed out “The traditional formulation is a dilemma, not a trilemma. (either God or bad man)”
Creative Minority Report thinking along the same lines quotes in full the relevant passage from C.S. Lewis.
Now from the famous alliteration Dawkins is limited to two options. So if he says Jesus would be an atheist that means he would either be a lying atheist or a lunatic atheist.
This type of nonsense also reminds me of the meme liberal theology explored where Jesus did not know he was God. By their perspective I guess they would also allow Jesus to be a fleeting agnostic or atheist. Pretty bad when you don’t believe in yourself or are not convinced of the evidence relating to yourself. Liberal theology gives us an amnesiac Jesus more fitting for a soap opera plot. In Jesus’s case finding yourself and finding God are the same thing. I would recommend Fr. Most’s “The Consciousness of Christ” for a thorough-going refutation of this idea and the magisterial teachings that totally contradict it.