Posted tagged ‘Richard Dawkins’

Is Belief Merely the Product of Geography & Culture?

September 14, 2018


Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist turned Christian minister and apologist, was interviewed on Justin Brierley’s podcast, Unbelievable!, with Peter Atkins, the famous Oxford professor of chemistry and avowed atheist. If you haven’t listened to Justin Brierley’s podcasts, I heartily recommend them. He handles very difficult subjects with people on opposite ends of the spectrum in a very gentlemanly, informed and thoughtful way.

The Hugh Ross/Peter Atkins interview (debate) was no exception, though Peter Atkins was a bit less civil in his discourse than Hugh Ross and the host. Brierley, who seems unflappable, didn’t miss a beat, but I was particularly impressed by the kind patience of Hugh Ross, though disappointed that he was often interrupted and not allowed to finish what he was saying.

I recently read a post interview statement from Hugh Ross that puts things in perspective. It provides some background and insight into the interview and the reason, perhaps, of the hostility evident in Peter Atkins demeanor. But first, let’s consider the position that Peter Atkins takes before we consider why he was so hostile.

Peter Atkins takes the position, that Richard Dawkins also takes, that people largely believe what they are conditioned to believe. People’s religious beliefs, therefore, are dictated by where they grew up, the culture and tradition to which they are exposed and other conditions that have nothing to do with the truth of the particular religious or philosophical proposition. Belief, according to them, is entirely an accident of external circumstances and conditions.

Both Atkins and Dawkins claim to base their worldviews entirely on the scientific evidence and on the scientific evidence alone. Both claim that Christians believe what they want to believe, ignoring the actual evidence or in spite of the actual evidence (“in the teeth of the evidence” as Dawkins puts it). If we know a little bit about their own stories, though, we see an immediate disconnect. And, if we think about the story of Hugh Ross, and others, that disconnect gets even more pronounced.

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Integrity and Authenticity in Belief

December 8, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 13127659 Copyright: creatista

I’ve been listening to a lot of Tim Keller lately. Today I listened to an old interview in which he said something that got me thinking. He asserted that, for many or most people, whether they are religious or secular often depends on their social influences. I suppose this would mean parents and family as well as peers. Richard Dawkins, the famously vocal atheist has said similar things: what religion we are depends to a large extent on the society in which we grew up.

Keller supported his thesis with anecdotal evidence from his own experience. He says, for him, he was religious initially because he wanted to gain the favor of people closes to him. What does that say about the power of social interactions? What does it say about our beliefs? If Richard Dawkins and Keller are right, how authentic are anyone’s beliefs?

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The Ends of Science and Beginning of Faith

October 12, 2017

Photo by Ted Wright near Grandfather, NC

I recently listened to a conversation between Ravi Zaccharias and Professor David Block. Professor Block is currently the director of the Cosmic Dust Laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and a Professor in the School of Computational and Applied Mathematics. His accomplishments speak for themselves.

David Block was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London when he was 19. Block had a paper (on relativistic astrophysics) published by the Royal Astronomical Society in London when he was 20. Block has a Master of Science degree in relativistic astrophysics and a PhD that focused on the morphology of spiral galaxies. He has participated as a visiting research scientist at Australian National University, the European Southern Observatory in Germany, Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology and the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and other places.

And there is more. Professor Block has been featured on the cover of the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, twice. He won the NSTF-BHP Billiton award in 2013 for “outstanding contribution to SETI through Communication for Outreach and creating Awareness over the last 5 years – sponsored by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA)”. He wrote a book for which two Nobel Laureates wrote the preface.

US astronomer, John Kormend, says, “David Block is to South Africa what Carl Sagan was to American astronomy – his pioneering discoveries are reshaping astronomical paradigms….” David Block was the person to accompany Stephen Hawking and introduce him when he met Nelson Mandela.[1]

These things are relevant when considering the conversation he had recently with Ravi Zaccharias. He isn’t just some self-important Internet pundit. He is highly respected for his science, and he is a Christian.

In that context, Block says, “A great scientist, even like Stephen Hawking, if he had to admit a creator, it would be unavoidable, he would have to seek him because he is a great scientist.”

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Who Created God?

September 9, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 10605683 Copyright: kevron2002

One of the showing stopping questions posed by atheists is this one: If God created the universe, who created God?

It is a clever question, and has stumped many a person who believes in God, but the question, itself, is flawed. Let me explain.

In my response, I am indebted to John Lennox who’s answer to this very question is embedded at the end of this blog article. John Lennox, is a Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and a frequent speaker on topics of science, philosophy and religion. He has twice debated the vocal atheist, and Oxford professor, Richard Dawkins, who wrote a book, The God Delusion, using this question as a centerpiece.

The flaw of the question is that it is loaded with the assumption that God was created. The response of the Christian (or theist generally) is that such a notion (that God was created) is not a notion about God at all, but a notion about a god – a created thing. Another word for such a thing is an idol.

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One Too Many Gods

September 3, 2016

A.C. Graying, in The God Argument, the Case Against Religion and for Humanism, claims that religious belief is really just wish fulfillment. The book accepts the premise that many atheists and agnostics assume, which is that people believe in God for psychological reasons. I would add that people believe for emotional reasons as well, but generalizations usually belie a different truth.

The wishful thinking premise is a common assumption and is often used to undermine the basis of faith. But does it really support the point it boasts of making: that faith is the product of wishful thinking? (more…)

Evidence, Love and Faith

July 25, 2016

Pat, Don & Mulligan 4 - Copy


The 2010 debate between Richard Dawkins, and John Lennox, both professors at Oxford University in England, is interesting to consider if you have the time and inclination. Dawkins is famous for his books supporting atheism and opposing religion. Lennox is a mathematician and philosopher of science who is an outspoken Christian.

The debate uses The God Delusion, a book by Richard Dawkins, as the backdrop. The outline consists of six points (theses) from the book to frame the debate whether science and faith are compatible. Richard Dawkins famously maintains that science and faith are not compatible, and Lennox takes the opposite position.

At one point in the debate, Dawkins attempts to define faith to exclude evidence or reason. Faith is commonly defined as “strong belief or trust in someone or something”. The dictionary definition does not make any reference to evidence. Faith could mean strong belief or trust, with or without evidence. The definition of faith does not necessarily include or exclude evidence or reason.

Dawkins’ definition of faith is loaded – his definition of faith is belief without evidence, or “belief in the teeth of the evidence”. Lennox defines faith as belief supported by strong evidence, and robust faith supported by robust evidence.

In this context, Lennox asked Dawkins a question: he asked, “I assume you have faith in your wife. Is there any evidence for that?” Grinning nervously at the personal nature of the question, Dawkins responded that he had “plenty of evidence” regarding his wife,  and proceeded to give evidence for how he knows his wife loves him.

Dawkins clearly misunderstood what Lennox meant. Lennox was only asking about faith that Dawkins’ wife existed. Dawkins assumed,  however, that Lennox meant whether Dawkins’ wife loved him. This assumption made for an interesting twist to the debate. (more…)

Ten Quick Responses to Difficult Questions on Faith with the Help of John Lennox

July 1, 2016

john-lennox-houses-of-parliament


The ten statements and responses suggested below are inspired by a presentation by John Lennox, the famous mathematician, philosopher and Christian theist. Neither the statements nor the responses are comprehensive in the least, but they offer a quick look into the richly rational world of faith through a theistic (and Christian) lens. At the same time, they expose the shallowness of many atheistic objections to the idea of God.

                1)   Christians are really just atheists regarding Zeus and other gods. True atheists go one god further and reject the Christian god.

Statements like these reveal a willful ignorance. The Christian God (as with Allah of Islam and Yahweh of Judaism, for instance) is an exclusive claim: there are no other gods. That Christians, Muslims and Jews cannot all be correct in their understanding of that exclusive God does not negate the possibility that such a God exists. (more…)


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