On 21st October 2008, a debate was held between Professor Richard Dawkins and Dr John Lennox in Oxford’s Natural History Museum.
An earlier debate between the two of them can be downloaded here, and a talk by Lennox can be downloaded here.
The subject of the recent debate was Has Science Buried God? – echoing the title of a recent book by Lennox.
Melanie Phillips has a piece in The Spectator in which she notes, among other things, that
Dawkins now concedes that ‘a serious case could be made for a deistic God.’
And this in the light of his previous pronouncement that
…all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection…Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.
I put to [Dawkins] that, since he is prepared to believe that the origin of all matter was an entirely spontaneous event, he therefore believes that something can be created out of nothing — and that since such a belief runs counter to the very scientific principles of verifiable evidence which he tells us should govern all our thinking, this is itself precisely the kind of irrationality, or ‘magic’, which he scorns.
In reply Dawkins said that
although he agreed this was a problematic position, he did indeed believe that the first particle arose spontaneously from nothing, because the alternative explanation – God — was more incredible. Later, he amplified this by saying that physics was coming up with theories to show how matter could spontaneously be created from nothing.
But, says Phillips,
as far as I can see – and as Anthony Flew elaborates – these theories cannot answer the crucial question of how the purpose-carrying codes which gave rise to self-reproduction in life-forms arose out of matter from which any sense of purpose was totally absent. So such a belief, whether adduced by physicists or anyone else, does not rest upon rational foundations.
‘Even more jaw-droppingly,’ writes Phillips,
Dawkins told me that, rather than believing in God, he was more receptive to the theory that life on earth had indeed been created by a governing intelligence – but one which had resided on another planet. Leave aside the question of where that extra-terrestrial intelligence had itself come from, is it not remarkable that the arch-apostle of reason finds the concept of God more unlikely as an explanation of the universe than the existence and plenipotentiary power of extra-terrestrial little green men?