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October 12, 2007

8

Dawkins vs Lennox 5 – final remarks and scorn

by quaesitor

OK, I know I’m beginning to sound a bit obsessed with this – but i’ve just listened to the concluding remarks of the debate again (it sort of fits in with a talk I’m giving this Sunday) and was taken aback by the derision and scorn in Dawkins’ voice at the end when talking about the resurrection – having been pretty civil and neutral all the way through. For sure this is off the cuff and not necessarily carefully considered. But notice how there is little defence or argument for his position – merely a string of rhetorical dismissals and insults (which i’ve highlighted in red). I include his final paragraphs or so for the sake of completion and to give a feel for the rest of the debate.

John Lennox (after giving various arguments about God’s existence, he concludes:)

I would remind you that the world Richard Dawkins wishes to bring us to is no paradise except for the few. It denies the existence of good and evil. It even denies justice. But ladies and gentlemen, our hearts cry out for justice. And centuries ago, the apostle Paul spoke to the philosophers of Athens and pointed out that there would be a day on which God would judge the world by the man that he had appointed, Jesus Christ, and that he’d given assurance to all people by raising him from the dead. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a miracle, something supernatural, for me constitutes the central evidence upon which i base my faith, not only that atheism is a delusion,but that justice is real and our sense of morality does not mock us. Because if there is no resurrection, if there is nothing after death, in the end the terrorists and the fanatics have got away with it… [The moderator cut his final remarks off there because he had gone over time!]

Richard Dawkins

Yes, well that concluding bit rather gives the game away, doesn’t it? All that stuff about science and physics, and the complications of physics and things, what it really comes down to is the resurrection of Jesus. There is a fundamental incompatibility between the sophisticated scientist which we hear part of the time from John Lennox – and it’s impressive and we are interested in the argument about multiverses and things, and then having produced some sort of a case for a deistic god perhaps, some god that the great physicist who adjusted the laws and constants of the universe – that’s all very grand and wonderful, and then suddenly we come down to the resurrection of Jesus. It’s so petty, it’s so trivial, it’s so local, it’s so earth-bound, it’s so unworthy of the universe.

In a garden (with its beautiful birds and bees etc)… of course it is natural to think there is a gardener. Any fool is likely to think there must be a gardener. The HUGE achievement of Darwin was to show that this didn’t have to be true. Of course it is difficult. Of course it had to wait until the mid 19th century before anybody thought of it. It seems so obvious that if you have got a garden there must be a gardener who created it and all that goes with that. What Darwin did was to show the staggeringly counter-intuitive fact that this not only can be explained by an undirected process (it’s not chance by the way, it is entirely wrong to say it is by chance – natural selection is the very opposite of chance)… that it has an explanation that can derive from simple beginnings by comprehensible rational means. That is possibly the greatest achievement that any human mind has ever accomplished. Not only did he show that it could be done. I believe that we can argue that the alternative is so unparsimonious (whatever that means!?), so counter to the laws of common sense, that reluctant as we might be because it might be unpleasant for us to admit it, although we can’t disprove that there is a god, it is very, very unlikely indeed.

So there you have it – at least he concedes that there is tiny, tiny possibility that there could just be a god. Which is not exactly the same as saying that there definitely isn’t, is it? Or am I perhaps missing something here?

 

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 12 2007

    Found this Augustine quote that I thought applicable:

    Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

    Reply
  2. Oct 12 2007

    I assume it follows that if you believe nothing, you will see nothing…

    Reply
  3. Si
    Oct 12 2007

    “It’s so petty, it’s so trivial, it’s so local, it’s so earth-bound, it’s so unworthy of the universe.”
    He also refuses point-blank to answer the point about Jesus’ resurrection. He doesn’t say it didn’t happen, it just says that ‘the greatest day in history’ beneath him (though covers it up with pretending it’s unworthy of God).

    “so counter to the laws of common sense, that reluctant as we might be because it might be unpleasant for us to admit it, although we can’t disprove that there is a god, it is very, very unlikely indeed.”
    compare the above quote with what he said almost in the same breath.
    “In a garden (with its beautiful birds and bees etc)… of course it is natural to think there is a gardener. Any fool is likely to think there must be a gardener.”
    “It seems so obvious that if you have got a garden there must be a gardener who created it and all that goes with that. What Darwin did was to show the staggeringly counter-intuitive fact that this … can be explained by an undirected process”
    so it is common sense that any fool can think to believe in a creator, then Darwin came along with a staggeringly counter-intuitive (which surely means against common sense) fact that said that the obvious thing isn’t the only way, and then – all of a sudden – having the original, common-sense and obvious viewpoint is against common sense and irrational. He’s completely incoherent. He flip-flops quicker than either Brown or Cameron do!

    Reply
  4. Marion
    Oct 17 2007

    At last, all those years spent reading logic and medieval philosophy at Oxford are good for something. “Unparsimonious” in this context means that the existence of God would not be the simplest possible explanation for the existence of our universe. I reckon the term refers primarily to William of Ockham, whose lex pasimoniae states that “entitia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem”. Funnily enough, the triune God was a simple enough explanation for good old William. Seems to me as if it rather takes a lot of “ifs” and “shoulds” (not to mention spin) to argue away what so many people have experienced as the basis of their exstence throughout the ages …

    Reply
  5. Oct 17 2007

    Marion – you are a genius! And have trumped even the shorter (ie 2 huge volumes) of the Oxford English Dictionary since they couldn’t muster a definition.
    Thanks for this – if only others realised it as well…

    Reply
  6. ben hastings
    Feb 26 2008

    Im no genious infact im pretty young and a terrible speller so i will apologise now however it all seems prety simple to me! Look around, look at everything in the room you are sitting in, what is the one denomenator that links the diverse selection of items, They all have been made, they all have a creator. If i were to place my hand infront of you with a fone in it and tell you the fone just appeared in it you’d consider it such gentle comedy you wouldn’t even warrent it a smile. Why is this? the complexity of the fone, mabey, i mean yes their prety complicated however mabey its just because of the stupidity of such a statement. But then how can grown oxford graduate students belive that the world, so ridiculously perfect, so wonderfully presented just happened by chance. As a small example the earth just happens to be exactly the correct distance from the sun. If it were 100m closer or futher away it would not provide a liveable enviroment. Or look at the humen body.Look at the compexity of genetics, look at mitosis and mesosis(the cell division which is practally the cloneing of chromosomes in cells of the humen body), Its far two brillant to have just poofed out of nowere. How can someone belive the universe can just appear out of knowere if you cont even belive a pathetic fone just appeared. its so simple just think about it. And considering the complete lack of evidence presented by evolution it is unraveling to be more of a faith than Christanity. People need to revew, if you refuse to think spiritually then think scientifically. It just dosn’t add up!

    Reply

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  1. ELF08 - The Dawkins-Lennox Debate Revisited « Quaerentia
  2. Dawkins is now saying more than ‘probably not’ « Quaerentia

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