Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Questions for Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins in currently in Australia for the Global Atheist Convention, and so attracting some media attention. Last night he was on a popular public television (ABC) show, Q & A, where he debated the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. There is a new website DoubtingDawkins.com which asks some questions to Dawkins. It includes a video interview with me.


  1. I love how "God" is the creator of all things and then humans go and make "God" a man. Where's the humility now?

    The bible, particularly the New Testament, is inconsistent across stories; it was written by men who wanted a different faith; it has been rewritten over the centuries. Science allows questioning, verification, correction, old theories to be thrown out etc. Christian faith is static with its unending belief in the stories in ONE book.

    Jesus doesn't do a thing. People love and work to set others free.

    I do agree there's evil, but men make evil..and they've done it separate from religion but also they've made evil with religion.

    It's not at all ironic that Richard has strong moral convictions. Again, men make evil or don't make evil. Humans DO NOT need religion to be moral and just.

    #4 is just pure nonsense. You argue that atheists who do/did bad owe their actions to their atheism. Poor logic.

    Honestly, I would have expected more from you. You profess to be scientific and Christian yet you associate yourself with the kind of website that just perpetuates this ridiculous fight between religion and science. Humans are capable of so much more and yet we allow ourselves to get caught up in a senseless battle.

    These "debates" with Dawkins, posts like yours here and all the other arguing just annoys me.

  2. This is an interesting response, and just want to make clear that I respect your right to have your own opinions. Whatever you believe, I firmly agree is your choice, and I would not have it any other way! However, as an interested Christian, I would like to respond to your thoughts:
    - God made God a man. That is the point: God made Himself a man, just like us except for sin! He did this to share our suffering with us, so that we could be sure that He knew exactly what our lives are like. And for some reason that only God knows fully, He chose to take our sin and put it on Himself as a man so that we could be redeemed.
    - Men do make mistakes: if the Bible were perfect, why would we need new translations? But this is something for each person to reflect on themselves. This is a highly sceptical view of the people who follow God, too; Christians believe that the Holy Spirit helps those who love God to do what God wants. This means that the Bible hasn't been written by men who wanted to emphasise their own beliefs (as I suggest you imply), but rather written by men who had been inspired and guided by God to write down what He wanted them to. They may have made mistakes (I wasn't there to check on them) but God forgives them anyway. Another point you have overlooked is that when someone reads the Bible, they don't instantly gain knowledge of the truth of things. If it were that obvious, there would never be any misinterpretation! There is a questioning, verification, correction, removal of old (and false) theories! The Bible is not like a theory in itself; it is much more like an experiment which is complemented by our daily lives. Though this is a thorny issue, the correct interpretation (which for Christians means 'knowing an infinite God better') is never easy to come by.
    - Christians believe that Jesus taking our sins and forgiving us is an eternal consequence of one event! A living, doing God is perfectly in cohesion with Christian belief, and is, in fact, centrally important! It is true that people love, but Christians believe that only God can set people free. But this point is the Christian interpretation of the evidence given to us; each person is free to choose how they interpret the evidence.
    - This webpage suggests nothing about the cause of evil or the presence of evil. Of course there is evil in religion! Look at the Crusades, Islamic militants, the caste system in India. Did Jesus say "Go forth and kill thy neighbour! Steal from them, murder them and make them desolate!"? If you have a source from the Bible that has this, then perhaps you should share it. Instead, Jesus said, (43) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' (44) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (end of verse 44)" (Matthew chapter 5, versus 43 and 44). I think it is clear that men are what put evil in religion, not God. The issue here, I suspect, is that the definition of 'religion' has been confused; this is why many Christians prefer to avoid the term. The webpage is not referring to this evil in religion though! It is referring to the fact that Dawkins suggests there is no evil in the universe but that he also says religion is a force for evil. If there is no evil in the universe, how can religion be a force for evil? This is the point I believe the webpage is attempting to make.
    (Continued next comment)

  3. (continued from above)
    - The webpage suggests that Dawkins' belief is ironic because if he truly believes his theory (that in the universe, there is 'nothing but blind pitiless indifference [sic]', quoted from the webpage, as I confess I have no other source; please enlighten me if you do have a primary source!) then he should not have strong moral convictions if those convictions are not directly related to increasing efficiency. The webpage is not saying that he cannot have moral convictions, but that it is ironic that a universe without any morality intrinsic within it should develop morals in us. In other words, what is justice if the universe does not have it? Is there a justice force field that can be quantified physically? At least if there is, then our science is nowhere near advanced enough to measure it! Therefore, it can be seen as ironic that a man who professes to use science to test everything in the world utilises something that is unquantifiable scientifically. Incidentally, Christians believe that everyone has their own 'religion' of sorts, that everyone has their own 'god', the thing that they prize the most. This could be wealth, family, justice or, even, God. This is why 'idolatry' is such an important topic in the Bible.
    - The webpage may imply this but it does not state this. It is true that many regimes which have pursued an atheist state have resulted in great suffering for the people they rule. The important logic here is that atheism, the argument for the non-existence of God, is a theological field by necessity: it is an argument against theism, and to rebut it scientifically, it must first consider the possibility that the other side is correct—otherwise it would just be opposition for the sake of opposition. Thus, scientific atheism must admit the possibility of theism being correct. All of this is still a theological debate. The webpage is suggesting that if Dawkins was truly atheistic, the presence of God would not be an issue and he would not need to attack theism (aggressively, as the webpage suggests), or at least that he would be calm and present his viewpoints unambiguously without emotive language. Dawkins' atheism is biased because it asserts one side of the debate rather than the other.
    - It is also ironic that you have debated here and yet you are annoyed by these debates. Would it not have been kinder to you and to others to refrain from speaking? I am glad that you have given me the chance to express my faith in a (hopefully) sensible manner, though. I think it is a good thing to critically discuss this topic (for both atheists and theists) and I believe that the original post was designed to elicit such reasonable discussion. In the end, though, I believe that every person must decide for themselves what they wish to believe; these discussions simply help one to decide.

  4. Josh.

    thanks for the comment. I think you have highlighted well the irony of Dawkins' belief in truth, justice, and morality.