Richard Dawkins – Debating The Morality of the Old Testament

Dawkins

Richard Dawkins has described the God of the Old Testament as (among other things) a „capriciously malevolent bully”. The world’s best known atheist joins Justin Brierley to discuss the morality of the Old Testament in light of the Bible TV series airing in the UK on Channel 5. Rabbi Josh Levy and Christian lecturer Chris Sinkinson discuss with Dawkins whether the events of the Old Testament are historical and how to interpret the so-called „terror” passages. What about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, or of Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac?

For an MP3 of this show: click here. –  VIDEO by officialpremiertv· See more at: http://www.premier.org.uk

Richard Dawkins: I can’t be sure God does not exist (via) The Telegraph (UK)

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Richard Dawkins & Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury)

Image via the BBC.UK

One perplexing thing I noticed in this discussion is that the Archbishop of Canterbury (who speaks on behalf of Anglicans as the Pope speaks on behalf of Catholics worldwide) does not believe in literal Creation or a historical Adam. He actually believes that the writers of the Bible did not know physics and so they wrote in their own understanding, yet even more troubling is the fact that he believes that „human beings had evolved from non-human ancestors but were nevertheless “in the image of God”. Dawkins pointed out to Archbishop Rowan that the Pope does take a literal understanding of Creation. Given the relationship between a literal belief in an Adam and Eve which affects the way one looks at the entire Bible, is it a wonder that the United Kingdom  slips into secularism more and more?

The video has now been posted here on Youtube:

Story by By , Religious Affairs Editor from the UK’s Telegraph Newspaper. Read entire story here.

He is regarded as the most famous atheist in the world but last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted he could not be sure that God does not exist.

He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that he preferred to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.

The two men were taking part in a public “dialogue” at Oxford University at the end of a week which has seen bitter debate about the role of religion in public life in Britain.

For an hour and 20 minutes the two men politely discussed „The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin” touching on the meaning of consciousness, the evolution of human language – and Dr Williams’s beard.

For much of the discussion the Archbishop sat quietly listening to Prof Dawkins’s explanations of human evolution.

At one point he told the professor that he was “inspired” by “elegance” of the professor’s explanation for the origins of life – and agreed with much of it.

Prof Dawkins told him: “What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing – that is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?”

Dr Williams replied that he “entirely agreed” with the “beauty” of Prof Dawkins’s argument but added: “I’m not talking about God as an extra who you shoehorn on to that.”

There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.

The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.

An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”

Prof Dawkins said that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs.

“I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low,” he added.

He also said that he believed it was highly likely that there was life on other planets.

 Watch a short clip from the debate (so far the only available video) and read entire story here.

Ravi Zacharias and Friends

Apologetics Beyond the Pew: A Conversation with Ravi Zacharias and Friends
Source http://tiu.edu/ Carl F.H.Henry’s Center for Theological Understanding on April 12, 2010. This lecture was given before Ravi Zacharias’s trip to  Romania and Armenia (2010).

  • When you look back upon the landscape of  the last 25 years, or 30 years, there were voices, sounding forth at that time,  of the changes that were coming. I remember listening to Everett Coop and Francis Schaeffer in the 1980’s sounding the alarm of what were then being seen as the moral underpinnings from which extensions would be made and decisions would be made. Who would have ever thought that you would hear ethical theories that we now listen to from the voice of Peter Singer and others. Not just liberal in their thinking, but radically so. At the end of a spectrum of thought, where we not only do not know how to define human life, but, we define it in ways that could actually be stunning and shocking. And, once the shock value is gone they become common ideas and carried into ramifications.
  • We no longer can define what life is. We cannot define what sexuality is. We do not know how to define what marriage means. I remember when Chuck Colson had invited me and a few others to New York some months ago, from which emerged the signing of the Manhattan Declaration, I remember phoning my wife from New York and saying, „I never dreamed of the day when you would have a room full of men and women trying to define a thing like life, marriage, sexuality. Things that you thought would be self evident or that would have some input of the sacred…now totally desacrilized and almost defying any kind of definition or any kind of parameter. But people like Schaeffer warned us of this.
  • Zacharias lists 4 changes he believes have come about in the last 25-30 years:
  1. The popularization of the death of God of the atheistic mindset and the willingness (popularizations) to live with its ramifications a la Hitchens and Dawkins and Dennett and Harris who say what Huxley said, „I want this world not to have meaning because a meaningless world frees me to my own exploits of sexual and political freedom. (Hypocrisy is the charge that vice brings to virtue …deep in their own thinking they know some things are wrong)
  2. It is the third world’s attack upon Western ideas with the pantheistic and postmodern underpinnings to it that has actually made the ideas that shaped the West look juvenile and everything else that comes from abroad look very sophisticated. I have a question for people like that. „Why did you come to the West?” Because there were some moral assumptions that were a quest of the Judeo-Christian framework; even if you didn’t want to give credit to the world view  that framed them, you liked what you saw in the outworking. Do you know that the Chinese government has just commissioned writers to rewrite the history of missions in China because the leadership in China recognized that Missions has not been given a good and fair name? They want to acknowledge the benefit that Missions has done in the last century, principally in two arenas: in education and health and well being for the Chinese people. Think of this statement, „We take these truths to be self evident that we are all created equal…with inalienable rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Let me ask you this question, „Do you know of any other world view that would have framed that statement, other than the Judeo-Christian faith?” There are ideas in the Gospels that are not presented anywhere else. Take for example that no where else is there an offer of sacrifice, or of forgiveness,  such as the cross of Christ.
  3. The power to inform through the visual. We now take truth through the eye gate not through reason and so it comes through the back door of the imagination. We’re intended to see through the eye with the conscience. Most people see today with the eye, devoid of a conscience. We’ve got a visually conditioned culture. On the movie Avatar- brilliant in cinematography and now English movies are just beginning to resemble Hindi movies. That’s all it is. Bollywood was 30 yrs ahead on this kind of stuff and 30 yrs ago we would have sat and laughed at this kind of stuff and now it is so engaging. Isn’t it interesting? A Hollywood technocrat, who sees the military as the culprit for destroying lives has never bothered to ask how many souls and consciences Hollywood has destroyed.  We’ve got a generation raised with the visual that has never cerebrally addressed these issues of systemic contradiction.
  4. A youth oriented world as a culture molding point, which means the young ought to really be an audience to whom we speak and how we speak to them. The question is how we reach a generation that thinks with its eyes or listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? That’s the challenge.
  • I’ll give you 3 simple responses
  1. We are going to need an apologetic that is not merely heard, but is also seen. If the Christian life is not seen, it will become nothing more than theoretical.
  2. An apologetic that is not merely argued but that is also felt. You cannot have a persuasive preacher if the preacher is not coming through as being persuaded. woe be to me if I preach not the Gospel. Passions are very real, therefore the passion for the Gospel will also have to be real, if it is to appeal to a generation that lives so much with the pathos and the reality of the felt word.
  3. It is an approach that rescues not only the ends of bringing them into the knowledge of Christ, but the means where we do not compromise the Word in process. The Word has a lasting, abiding value as a carrier of truth.

The New Atheism and the dogma of Darwinism by Albert Mohler

From Albert Mohler’s blog. This article was also featured in the current issue of  EX NIHILO Magazine.

We can draw a straight line from the emergence of evolutionary theory to the resurgence of atheism in our times. Never underestimate the power of a bad idea.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The New Atheism is now an established feature of the intellectual landscape of our age. Thinkers such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris are among the figures who most regularly appear on the front tables of America’s bookstores and the front pages of our newspapers. And, along with their vigorous defense of atheism, we most often find an equally vigorous defense of evolutionary theory. This is no accident.

Atheism has appeared in some form in Western cultures since the midpoint of the last millennium. The word “atheist” did not even exist within the English language until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The earliest atheists were most often philosophical and theological skeptics who denied the existence of any personal God. Nevertheless, the God they almost always rejected is the God of the Bible – in other words, a specific rejection of Christianity.

The early atheists were usually notorious, as were well-known heretics. Their denials of God and the Christian faith were well-documented and understood. But the early atheists had a huge problem –- how could they explain the existence of the Cosmos? Without a clear answer to that question, their arguments for atheism failed to gain much traction.

As even the ancient Greeks understood, one of the most fundamental philosophical questions is this: Why is there something, rather than nothing? Every worldview is accountable to that question. In other words, every philosophy of life must offer some account of how we and the world around us came to be. The creation myths of ancient cultures and the philosophical speculations of the Greeks serve as evidence of the hunger in the human intellect that takes form as what we now call the question of origins.

For some time, atheists were hard-pressed to offer any coherent answer to that question. Once they ruled God out of the picture, they had virtually no account of creation to offer.

Of course, all that changed with Charles Darwin.

Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the larger dogma of evolution emerged in the nineteenth century as the first coherent alternative to the Bible’s doctrine of Creation. This revolution in human thinking is well-summarized by Richard Dawkins, who conceded that an atheist prior to Darwin would have to offer an explanation of the Cosmos and the existence of life that would look something like this: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.”

Dawkins, who is perhaps the world’s best-known evolutionary scientist, argues that the explanation offered by a frustrated atheist before Darwin “would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied.”

But then came Darwin. In a single sentence, Dawkins gets to the heart of the matter: “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

His point is clear and compelling. Prior to the development of the theory of evolution, there was no way for an atheist to settle on any clear argument for why the cosmos exists or why life forms appeared. Darwin changed all that. The development of Darwinian evolution offered atheism an invaluable intellectual tool – an account of beginnings.

The New Atheists have emerged as potent public voices. They write best-selling books, appear on major college and university campuses, and extend their voices through institutional and cultural influence. The movement is new in the sense that it differs from the older atheism in several respects, and one of these is the use of science in general, and evolutionary theory in particular, as intellectual leverage against belief in God.

Dawkins, for example, not only believes that Darwinism made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, but he also argues that religious belief is actually dangerous and devoid of credibility. So, he argues not only that Darwinism made it possible for an atheist to be intellectually fulfilled, he also argues that the theory of evolution undermines belief in God.

In other words, Dawkins asserts that Darwinism makes it impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled Christian.

Daniel Dennett, another of the “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheism, has argued that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a “universal acid” that will burn away all claims of the existence of God. His confidence in Darwinism is total. He looks back longingly at his own childhood belief in a divinely-created world and argues that, eventually, his experience of moving from belief in creation to confidence in evolution will be shared by a humanity that grows into intellectual adulthood.

Dennett is honest enough to recognize that if evolutionary theory is true, it must eventually offer an account of everything related to the question of life. Thus, evolution will have to explain every aspect of life, from how a species appeared to why a mother loves her child. Interestingly, he offers an argument for why humans have believed in the existence of God.

As we might expect, the theory of evolution is used to explain that there must have been a time when belief in God was necessary in order for humans to have adequate confidence to reproduce. Clearly, Dennett believes that we should now have adequate confidence to reproduce without belief in God.

Sam Harris, also a scientist by training, is another ardent defender of evolutionary theory. Pushing the argument even further than Dawkins and Dennett, Harris has argued that belief in God is such a danger to human civilization that religious liberty should be denied in order that science might reign supreme as the intellectual foundation of human society.

The last of the “Four Horsemen,” author Christopher Hitchens uses his considerable wit to ridicule belief in God, which he, like Dawkins and Harris, considers downright dangerous to humanity. Though Hitchens is not a scientist, his atheism leaves no room for any theory other than evolution.

The Dogma of Darwinism is among the first principles of the worldview offered by the New Atheists. Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms. The New Atheists are not merely dependent upon science for their worldview; their worldview amounts to scientism – the belief that modern naturalistic science is the great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life.

As Richard Dawkins has recently argued, they believe that disbelief in evolution should be considered as intellectually disrespectable and reprehensible as denial of the Holocaust. Thus, their strategy is to use the theory of evolution as a central weapon in today’s context of intellectual combat.

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism. With it, they intend to malign belief in God and to marginalize Christians and Christian arguments. Thus, we can draw a straight line from the emergence of evolutionary theory to the resurgence of atheism in our times. Never underestimate the power of a bad idea.


This article appears in EX NIHILO, the current issue of The Southern Seminary Magazine. Read the entire issue here.

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