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Dawkins, Canterbury, and the Baroness—Agnosticism, Compromise, and Tolerance

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on March 3, 2012
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Telegraph: “Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist Dawkins, Canterbury, and the Baroness—agnosticism, compromise, and tolerance

During a public “dialogue” at Oxford, “the world’s most famous atheist,” Richard Dawkins, told the Archbishop of Canterbury he couldn’t be sure God didn’t exist. Asked “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Dawkins said he does but is “6.9 out of seven” sure, adding “I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low.”

As Dawkins and the Archbishop discussed creation, Dawkins said, “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?” The Archbishop clarified his own belief that (according to the newspaper report) “human beings had evolved from non-human ancestors but were nevertheless ‘in the image of God,’” adding the account of creation in Genesis “could not be taken literally” because, he said, “The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, they were nonetheless not inspired to do 21st Century physics.”

This public discussion came after a week of debate about the role of religion in British public life. Debate was touched off when Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim Cabinet minister, warned against “a tide of ‘militant secularism’ challenging the religious foundations of British society.”1

Despite statements by some that Dawkins has doubts about his doubts, Dawkins’s remarks are consistent with his worldview. And he made similar statements in the documentary Expelled. Dawkins simply means he sees no evidence for God’s existence. Whether he’s “sure” or just “pretty sure” amounts to the same thing.

The existence of God cannot be “scientifically proven” any more than the non-existence of God.

The existence of God cannot be “scientifically proven” any more than the non-existence of God. Both beliefs are just that—beliefs, positions of faith. The Christian and even those with other religions (in the ordinary sense of the word) choose to believe there is a divine “Someone” to believe in. Atheists choose to believe there is no divine “Someone.” Both sides examine the same evidence and draw conclusions and interpretations based on their worldviews.

Creation scientists note that models based on the events in Genesis (like the global Flood and the fact that living things reproduce after their kinds and only vary within those kinds) explain the geology and biology we see in the world. Not even “21st century physics” can make experimental observations in the past. Because even evolutionary atheism (and agnosticism) is a position of faith, espousing an interpretation of the past based on untestable belief, we often point out that those are “religions” of a sort.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s position on Genesis is likewise one of “faith”—compromised faith. Though representing the church in a country with deep roots in the Word of God, his position compromises the eyewitness account provided by the Creator of the universe. Jesus Christ—who is the Creator (Colossians 1:16), the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), and “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3)—affirmed the Genesis account Himself many times during His earthly ministry.2 Jesus spoke of the Creation of man and woman in the beginning,3 the fact that suffering4 began soon after Creation in Mark 13:19, the Flood5 of Noah in Matthew 24:38–39, and many other events recorded in Genesis. Jesus connected the writings of Moses to a correct understanding of His own mission when He said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46–47). Those writings of Moses include Exodus 20:11 which clearly states, “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.” When any church leader denies the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, he undermines the foundation of the Christian faith and calls His Lord a liar.


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Footnotes

  1. Warsi has stated, “For me one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes. . . . Too often there is suspicion of faith in our continent hinging on a basic misconception – that to create equality and space for minorities we need to erase our religious heritage.” (www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/13/militant-secularisation-christianity-lady-warsi)
  2. Did Jesus Say He Created in Six Literal Days?
  3. “The Search for the Historical Adam” and Population Genomics
  4. Why Does God’s Creation Include Death and Suffering?
  5. Global Flood

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