Thursday, 30 August 2012

A change of heart?

Someone drew to my attention an interview with Dr Dawkins in which he apparently backed off from calling himself an Atheist and adopted the term Agnostic. In fact this isn't a "new" revelation, it is simply a restatement of the position he has set out in his book. What it does do though, is raise the point that he does believe - because he can't 'prove' the contrary - that there 'might,' after all, be a 'Creator God.' He certainly twisted and turned on this point in a debate between himself and the Archbishop of Canterbury back in February.

The Archbishop took the sting out of the doctor's attack on belief by pointing out that the Church of England does not and never has officially taught that the first chapter of Genesis is anything other than an allegorical 'story.' As His Grace said, the writers of Genesis did not have a 21st Century education in Physics. Had they been so educated they might have written the story differently. He then went on to agree with Dr Dawkins that the Big Bang was an extremely elegant theory - having everything created out of 'nothing,' and somewhat stole the thunder by adding, "which is what Genesis says."

Dr Dawkins represents a militant form of atheism, one which seeks to undermine and destroy faith, yet, every time I have seen them faced with a real theologian or someone who is articulate enough to respond to their very basic understanding of religion, they end up looking slightly foolish. I found the Archbishop's handling of Dr. Dawkins and his arguments and attempted slurs both enlightening and deeply Christian. Not once did the Archbishop attack his antagonist, much of the time he was saying, "I agree" or "there is nothing in what you say that challenges faith." Even in the final exchange, when Dr. Dawkins declared that the Pope had a different stance on whether Genesis was 'fact' or allegory, His Grace responded with a smile, "I shall ask him when I next have the opportunity."

I cannot help wondering though, what it is or was that has driven men like Dr Dawkins and Philip Pullman to take such an extreme and rather rabid stance against any form of religion, but particularly Christianity. It must have been something very traumatic indeed ...

I do feel that Dr. Dawkins accepting the label of Agnostic is an important one. An agnostic is one who accepts the possibility that there may well be, as Josephus reminded us, a "Supreme Architect" behind the apparent chaos of creation and the universe. It is a first step toward actually exploring that more fully to acknowledge that.

1 comment:

  1. Slim Jim says:

    I too, considered myself to be an atheist for many, many years. However, with age comes a degree of wisdom. I have confronted my lack of faith with a great big 'WHY?' Why do I not believe? How did the universe come into being? I have been doing much reading about religion, philosophy and cosmology, and I have concluded that it is more preposterous to say it all began from nothing, than to believe that there may be a Creator. I doubt if it can ever be proven, but science and religion are not immiscible. There is Hope, and I believe that how we live our lives is so important, and religion (or more specifically Christianity, from my own perspective) is a good template for our lives. We have to accept that there is so much that we don't know, but we will find out one day...