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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Learn to debate ...

Seems to be the message of an article from The Spectator this morning. Written by a self professed atheist he takes Richard Dawkins and his fellow militants to task. It must be a bit of a shock for Dawkins to learn that his refusal to acknowledge the good that stems from faith and religious beliefs is now annoying fellow unbelievers. Under the title "Atheists vs Believers" Douglas Murray writes a very good case for a lot more discussion and perhaps some 'listening' from the Dawkins camp. Ironically several of the comments make his case even stronger. Some comments cannot get past Genesis and Adam and Eve. They dismiss everything about faith and religion because, in their view if Adam and Eve didn't exist then all of the Bible is a lie and a deceit to "blind people' and 'prevent them thinking for themselves."

Dawkins and his supporters display an arrogance that I find offensive. I'd find it offensive even if I weren't a committed Christian, which, because I have a faith, is something I have to spend a lot of time finding answers to deep philosophical and sometimes physical questions. This is, apparently, something some of the comments attacking Douglas Murray's article seem to be incapable of themselves. Frankly I find Dawkins and his fundamentalist supporters, many of whom are not, as he is, scientists, as bad as those of a 'militant' religious mindset. Neither is capable of growth, neither is capable of looking outside of their 'received' positions and asking questions about why they believe as they do. This is, essentially what Douglas Murray is saying about Dawkins latest debate in the Cambridge Union where he was pitted against ++Rowan Williams and the Mulsim Scholar Tariq Ramadan. His petulant and sneering - and one gathers simplistic assault - drove Mr Murray to join with the Archbishop and the Muslim to challenge that view.

I have to quote -

The more I listened to Dawkins and his colleagues, the more the nature of what has gone wrong with their argument seemed clear. Religion was portrayed as a force of unremitting awfulness, a poisoned root from which no good fruit could grow. It seems to me the work not of a thinker but of any balanced observer to notice that this is not the case. In their insistence to the contrary, a new — if mercifully non-violent — dogma has emerged. And the argument has stalled.
These new atheists remain incapable of getting beyond the question, ‘Is it true?’ They assume that by ‘true’ we agree them to mean ‘literally true’. They also assume that if the answer is ‘no’, then that closes everything. But it does not. Just because something is not literally true does not mean that there is no truth, or worth, in it.
Schopenhauer said that truth may be like water: it needs a vessel to carry it. It is all very well to point out — as Dawkins did again the other night — that Adam did not exist. But to think that this discovery makes not just the story of Eden but the narrative of the crucifixion and resurrection meaningless is to rather startlingly miss a point. You can be in agreement with Professor Dawkins that Adam did not exist, yet know and feel that the story of Eden speaks profoundly about ourselves.
In my view Dawkins and the militant secularists and atheists in our society cannot bring themselves to debate any longer, so they resort to dogmatic denial and a refusal to 'debate.' They are, in fact, simply manifesting the type of behaviour VC and I wrote about on this blog not that many days ago under the headings "Keep calm .. and admit your don't know the answer," and "The Lost Art of Debate." I commend to my readers, the reading of Douglas Murray's full article. There is a great deal of food for thought therein for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. Once again Didymus finds himself humbled by the Monks faith. Having lost all faith himself Did does and will continue to respect those who retain it. Religion is as responsible for all the positive aspects of our evolving society as it is as responsible for some of the worst atrocities. In a post religious world we must adapt those positive lessons of faith to continue to enhance our societies and life - the alternatives are either anarchy or fascism.