Check out the free downloadable debate between Profs Dawkins and McGrath at this year’s Oxford Literary Festival.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ross Hendry

    Not sure if you have also seen a report on the following debate last night:
    You don’t strike me as a Guardian reader Mark (more a Torygraph person I suspect!) so it may have slipped passed your radar undetected (I never know whether I should in fact say RADAR as it is an acronym isn’t it?)
    The blog is worth reading right through as the battleground the debate seems to have hinged on is very interesting – whether atheism or ‘religion’ has a more optimistic world view.
    It’s also a very frustrating read. Just some of the deeply flawed aspects of the debate that struck me as old chestnuts that always appear in these types of events were, that:
    1. there seems no distinction between ‘religions’ (e.g I would suggest Christianity has very little in common with Islam, Hinduism, etc.)
    2. who on earth do they get to take part in these debated to represent ‘religion!’ – it always seems skewed in favour of the ‘atheists’ (mmmn, I wonder if that could just be a coincidence?)
    3. why is atheism never considered a religion and faith based belief?
    4. how easy it is to pick on religion as a stick with which to beat faith and the focus of our hope which is Jesus. It’s far easier to make a selective pick of ‘human’ behaviour and institutions rather than take on God himself!

  2. Kyle Walton

    First ever entry on a blog anywhere- maybe my last! I listened to the McGrath v Dawkins debate. Frustrating as these kind of debates are, I thought (dissapointingly) that Dawkins had McGrath on the run a few times and had the better of it. I sometimes think Dawkins sees consequences more clearly than Christians do. Take these quotes:

    1. (Dawkins in response to Alastair McGrath saying he believed in the virgin birth): ‘No, no…you are scientist, you are a biologist and you believe in the virgin birth on… on scriptural grounds… you actually elevate scripture above science in this case’. Wouldn’t it have been great if McGrath had gone on to talk about the Word of God and why it is authoritative. That is the issue really- where is authoritative truth to be found- Dawkins say science.

    2. During his intro: ‘The universe with a God would be a very different kind of universe from a universe without a God. If there is a creative intelligence at the root of the universe, who started everything off, that designed the law of physics, who anticipated the consequences- namely life and perhaps us- then that is a totally different kind of universe than one that just happened and in which all the complexity, the beauty and the elegance we see around us just evolved by slow, gradual, incremental degrees. Now most respectable theologians now days agree that life at least did evolve by slow, gradual, incremental degrees but they prefer to smuggle the Creator in as well, somewhat superfluously one might have thought, if natural selection and evolution is God’s way of designing life, why would he choose the one way which makes it look as though he doesn’t exist, which makes his own role completely superfluous’.

    He is right. Most respectable theologians have sold out on creation and the Genesis account because it conflicts with the prevailing scientific opinion making them look foolish. I’m not saying this is an easy issue, but Dawkins senses the schizophrenia of Christians picking and choosing which parts of the bible they believe. Last month during his “Reasonable Faith” address at All Souls, William Lane Craig had some good stuff to say, but I was dissapointed when he said the particulars of how God created the world wasn’t an important issue. Dawkins for one sees how embarrassed Christians are by the Genesis account in the bible.

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