The Cambridge debate between Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams

The Christian Post reports on the debate:

Brian made this picture while Rowan Williams, ...

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, defeated prominent atheist professor, Richard Dawkins, in a debate at the University of Cambridge in England on Thursday night, as a vote taken at the conclusion of the debate ruled that religion does have a place in the 21st century.

The debate motion that „religion has no place in the 21st Century” was well-defeated at the event held in front of an audience of about 800 people, mostly students, at the Cambridge Union Society’s chambers, according to the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.

Dawkins lost the debate by 324 votes to 136, as he failed to convince the house that religion has no place.

„Religion has always been a matter of community building, a matter of building relations of compassion, fellow-feeling and, dare I say it, inclusion,” Williams, who stepped down as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion on Dec. 31, said in his address. „The notion that religious commitment can be purely a private matter is one that runs against the grain of religious history.”

Williams pointed out that respect for human life and equality was inherent in all organized religion. „The very concept of human rights has profound religious roots… The convention of human rights would not be what it is were it not for the history of philosophical religious debate.”


New Video of yesterday’s Oxford debate between Dawkins and Archbishop of Canterbury

If you haven’t heard; last night Richard Dawkins admitted that he can’t be sure that God does not exist. You can read more in my previous post here.

Someone has already uploaded the full debate here:

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


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.

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