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!]
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 simplebeginnings 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?