Apologies for this but I can't let it go. As many of you will know my personal favourite in a long catalogue of Bêtes noire
is Richard Dawkins.
I suppose virulent opposition often indicates a deeper affinity which one wants to repudiate - one of my arguments against Dawkins in the past: that he is in fact as literalist and fundie as those he opposes which is why he does so - and the same possibly applies to me.... I am more 'spiritually' an atheist than a believer as atheists tend to be more radical, humanist, rational and liberal and they oppose religious lunacy of which there is massive amounts. The only problem is I'm a sort of Deist.
But I digress. My criticisms of Dawkins in the past has been that he paints with too broad a brush and 'protests too much'....I've long had a suspicion that he will undergo some sort of conversion. In fact I think it's inevitable.
So...is it happening?
On Tuesday evening I attended the debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox at Oxfords Natural History Museum. This was the second public encounter between the two men, but it turned out to be very different from the first. Lennox is the Oxford mathematics professor whose book, Gods Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? is to my mind an excoriating demolition of Dawkinss overreach from biology into religion as expressed in his book The God Delusion -- all the more devastating because Lennox attacks him on the basis of science itself. In the first debate, which can be seen on video on this website, Dawkins was badly caught off-balance by Lennoxs argument precisely because, possibly for the first time, he was being challenged on his own chosen scientific ground.
This weeks debate, however, was different because from the off Dawkins moved it onto safer territory and at the very beginning made a most startling admission. He said:
A serious case could be made for a deistic God.
Starting to like him..... but there's more:
For example, I put to him that, since he is prepared to believe that the origin of all matter was an entirely spontaneous event, he therefore believes that something can be created out of nothing -- and that since such a belief runs counter to the very scientific principles of verifiable evidence which he tells us should govern all our thinking, this is itself precisely the kind of irrationality, or magic, which he scorns. In reply he said that, although he agreed this was a problematic position, he did indeed believe that the first particle arose spontaneously from nothing, because the alternative explanation God -- was more incredible.
That's a stunning position and one which I could adopt easily. I don't find 'God' more incredible as such but certainly 'equally' incredible so we are in the same ball-park now and it's Dawkins who has moved there.
But wait....this is the clincher. Dawkins has here in this next one come close to adopting one of my favourite stances and is now only a step away from full enlightenment (hahahah):
Even more jaw-droppingly, Dawkins told me that, rather than believing in God, he was more receptive to the theory that life on earth had indeed been created by a governing intelligence but one which had resided on another planet. Leave aside the question of where that extra-terrestrial intelligence had itself come from, is it not remarkable that the arch-apostle of reason finds the concept of God more unlikely as an explanation of the universe than the existence and plenipotentiary power of extra-terrestrial little green men?
The author is being disparaging here and for once Dawkins is by far the more rational. It is also not such an unusual position among scientists these days but let's leave 'little green men' out of it. The key concept is the 'creation' - depending on what is meant by that the alien intelligence could well have the characteristics of 'God'.
Or put another way; the concept of 'God' could be a primitive interpretation of the alien intelligence involved.
Then observations at the end of the article about Dawkins' own treatment of truth and facts is revealing but I don't want to debate them as such as I am in the flow of a new found admiration for the man.Article