Skip to comments.Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist (Is world's foremost atheist an agnostic now?)
Posted on 02/24/2012 10:12:20 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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. Last week Baroness Warsi, the Tory party chairman, warned of a tide of militant secularism challenging the religious foundations of British society. The discussion, in Sir Christopher Wrens Sheldonian Theatre, attracted attention from around the world. As well as being relayed to two other theatres, it was streamed live on the internet and promoted fierce debate on the Twitter social network.
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 Williamss beard.
For much of the discussion the Archbishop sat quietly listening to Prof Dawkinss explanations of human evolution.
At one point he told the professor that he was inspired by elegance of the professors explanation for the origins of life and agreed with much of it. Prof Dawkins told him: What I cant understand is why you cant 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?
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(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
At one point he told the professor that he was inspired by elegance of the professors explanation for the origins of life and agreed with much of it. Prof Dawkins told him: What I cant understand is why you cant 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 Dawkinss argument but added: Im 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 dont you call yourself an agnostic? Prof Dawkins answered that he did.
I’ve never met an atheist face to face. Every single person that claimed to be, eventually admitted that he just didn’t know for sure. Which makes him agnostic.
But they are trying to redefine the words. They now try to say that Christians are really “Christian agnostic” since they are not “sure”, and atheists are “atheist agnostic”.
Don’t buy into it.
Why this reads pretty much just like what that serpent told Eve.
Even atheists don’t believe that life started from “nothing,” but that it evolved by natural processes from something; i.e., the primordial soup.
I actually prefer atheists to agnostics, and especially to dumb people who just don’t think or care. All the professed atheists I know at least have read the bible and wrestle with the question of the existence of God, the possibility of his presence on Earth in the form of Jesus Christ, etc... At some level, I sense they want to believe.
Too bad over history and all the people that have come and gone, no one has figured out a way to prove or disprove God’s existence to all agnostics without requiring a leap of faith. If there were such a way, I imagine the world would be way different than it is now.
Yes. but I see them as agnostics.
Then you’ve never met a militant atheist.
But how do we know that Richard Dawkins even exists?
For a Friday chuckle go to Youtube and type in “The Dawkins Delusion”.
I see the staggering, elegant, beautiful thing - the anatomy of the eye, the germination of a seed, the ocean tides, the water cycle, the construction of a cell - any number of countless beautiful things -
as evidence of a great Designer, a Designer of unfathomable wisdom and perfection.
hardly as “messy.”
I know someone who reads Dawkins’ stuff. They said he acknowledges in his books that he can’t prove a negative, that his books are a lot more logical than his public persona.
If I were to tell the folks at SETI that I knew for certain that there was not only no intelligent life in the universe outside earth, but there was ABSOLUTELY no life at all anywhere in this vast universe outside Earth, they would ask me if I was the omniscient God, making a statement like that.
There is no difference with an atheist saying there is no God.
My reply would be:
“What, are you omniscient? If so, I guess that makes you a god. Ergo, there is a “god” (you) and atheism is an untenable position.”
I find that idea not beautiful, but sad.
You are dead on the money. The Scriptures report of many who would like to believe, but cannot. But, nearly everyone in the world thinks that the "will" to believe lies in the hands of each person, so they think that these folks are just being stubborn, willful, or rebellious.
They are that, but the Scriptures report that if you are able to trust Jesus Christ (as the Rescuer sent from the God of Heaven and Earth, the God of Israel), then you have been granted that belief, that faith. What Dawkins doesn't realize is that he, and all unbelievers, are being managed (at least heretofore) to remain in darkness until God grants them rescue.
This radically biblical message is not welcome by unbelievers, and often is denied by believers. The human species just likes to believe they are autonomous from their Creator.
Ive never met an atheist face to face.Hi! Nice to meet you.
Do you know that leprechauns don't exist? If you answered "No", then does that make you "agnostic" about leprechauns? And, if you can't reach a conclusion about leprechauns, how could you reach a decision about anything?
There's a big difference between "I can't be metaphysically certain that God doesn't exist, but I see no evidence of him" (atheist) and "I don't know" (agnostic).
You’ve never met me, then.
What a HOOT!
Speaking of all those people that have come and gone, why is it that man's "deliverance" didn't happen earlier?
I don't see a whole lot of difference between "I can't be metaphysically certain" and "I don't know". The word "metaphysical" is beside the point.
Most agnostics also say they see no evidence of God.
I find that their definition of "nothing" varies according to what conclusion they are trying to support.
If the third human on this planet DIDn’T come from two other ones..
WELL THEN.. you are forced to concoct/make up/compose a BIG Yarn.. a Story.. a Tale.. to explain it..
Dawkins is quite good at it.. call it Science Fiction.. or Creative Factoids.. or Academic Fund Raisers..
Fiction must believe believable else whats the point...
Reality need not BE logical at all to humans..
What is.... IS... and What ain’t..... AIN’T..
Where did the third human come from?..
Aha! Exactly! And there you've swerved into the truth of it.
You *can't* reach a decision. You must have faith.
Whether it is the Christian in the pew or whether it is the scientist formulating a hypothesis, it all begins with "I believe". Once you believe, once you commit to an option and see where it goes, you can move forward. You can investigate. You can discover and learn.
Without faith, the world stops at the end of your own nose.
Pray for him. It’s the Judeo/Christian thing to do.
But, somebody had to cook the soup!
Faith determines belief in God. It is true that there can really only be agnostics without faith-—either in a God or in no God. Both take faith.
Dawkins is finally being honest— Atheism actually takes more faith than a belief in a Designer.
Prove to me that Leprechauns do not exist, and then I’ll be happy to prove that God doesn’t exist.
Are you a monkey? Wanna see a monkey? Go look in the mirror, you’ll see a monkey. Great ape, actually, the hairless ape.
That’s because everything requires a leap of faith.
Can you really prove your spouse loves you? No.
Can you really prove this all isn’t an illusion? No.
Can you really prove you are even alive? No.
Our whole lives are powered by little leaps of faith. To refuse to do so is to refuse to exist.
But it sure requires a leap of faith to me to believe that the universe "just happened".
Belief in God is in our DNA. We were created to worship Him. However, He has given each of us a free will. God gives us the choice to accept Him or reject Him.
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualitieshis eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:19-21
I don't care about proving either.OK.
But it sure requires a leap of faith to me to believe that the universe "just happened".
One of the problems I have with theism is the argument that nothing can exist without being created, so therefore there must be a God, who wasn't created, who created everything else.
"One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason-but one cannot have both." -"Dr. Hartley Baldwin" in Robert Heinlein's Friday
"About a thousand genes are shared by every organism, however simple or complicated. Although their common ancestor must have lived more than a billion years ago, their shared structure can still be glimpsed. It shows how the grand plan of life has been modified through the course of evolution."
From "Darwin's Ghost" (page 284) by Steve Jones ... a modern update to Darwin's work ... exact same chapter titles.
There doesn't seem to me to be any other argument for why the universe exists other than it "just happened".
I see the law of cause of effect in operation all around me. "Just happened", especially on such a grand scale, just doesn't cut it for me.
If I understand your question correctly, you're asking, "Why, through several millenia of human history, did Christ come to earth only 2,000 years ago?"
It could quite easily be argued that history had to be "ripe" enough to ensure Christianity became available to all of humanity. If you look at the belief systems that grew up prior to the time of Christ (i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, various animist/pagan religions, etc.) they have either died out, or remain relegated to very specific regions. Only the infrastructure and communications of the Roman Empire could ensure the spread and widespread institutionalization of the very same Christianity it sought to snuff out at the beginning. Christianity not only extinguished the gods of Rome, but served as the foundation of western civilization that would ultimately spread it around the world and make it accessible to all.
So the question, "Why didn't Christ and Christianity appear earlier?" is probably best answered simply by saying that It couldn't have, and still be what It is. Having said that, there were any number of prophets to let everybody know It was coming :-)
Who really knows if it has yet? For yourself, it just depends on what you believe.
Can you explain how someone can suddenly believe something that only minutes before, they required proof for? How does one go about making themselves believe the unbelievable?
You're thinking of God as if existence were simply one of His properties. But He IS existence. His very nature is to be: "I am who am". It is impossible for Him not to exist, for then existence itself would not exist.
I’ve met a lot of “atheists” on the internet. I’ve just never met one face to face. Every single one, after a brief question and answer will ALWAYS end up saying something like, “well, maybe I’m really more agnostic than atheist...”
Every. Single. One.
——One of the problems I have with theism is the argument that nothing can exist without being created, so therefore there must be a God, who wasn’t created, who created everything else.-——
The opposite is impossible, because it would mean that an infinite series of causal events, or moments in time, would have had to have been realized for us to exist now.
And an infinite series cannot exist in actuality, because any actual series must be finite.
—Youve never met me, then.—
Nope. Not in person.
It is IMPOSSIBLE for a scientist...or someone who says they are...to be an atheist. Agnostic it must be...
—Dawkins is finally being honest Atheism actually takes more faith than a belief in a Designer.—
Precisely. He may not know it, but he is destroying the mythicism about atheism.
A true atheist would make Stalin and Hitler look like pikers. A true atheist is his own God and realizes that even society’s norms are mere rules to follow to keep from spending time in prison.
A true atheist sees himself as the sole source of any moral code. There is a great Dean Koontz book where the lead character is a True Atheist. It’s called From the Corner of His Eye. And the character is evil personified.
As far as believing in your heart goes, which I think you are asking about, in Christianity we call it "grace". It's a free gift of God that cannot be forced. It's like that first moment you realize you are falling in love, the flash of inspiration that scientists often have.
But you can also believe in the will without the heart.
I am a skeptical person by nature, so I analogize it to the scientific method. Before you run an experiment, you have to have a hypothesis. You can believe the hypothesis or not. You can be trying to prove it or disprove it--doesn't matter. But if you abandon it and then don't run the experiment, you can never ever find out the truth. You have to run your experiment as if the hypothesis were true, then see how the data shakes out.
How do you suddenly believe? You say, ok, I dunno if there's a God or not, but I am going to find out one way or the other. You run the experiment. You say "Ok, let's suppose that God DID exist. Then what? Who is He? Has He communicated with man? Does He still?"
A little less than 20 years ago, as an agnostic, I ran that experiment. I am happy to call myself a Christian today.
We have no idea what it is or how it works.
Pretty colors on an MRI screen when you think of the word "cat" are just pretty colors on an MRI screen.
Quantum mechanical phenomenon require a conscious observer, meaning that consciousness and the very existence of matter are intimately intertwined.
Dawkins and Hawking and other atheists/agnostics are blowing smoke out of their wazoo apertures when the pretend that science now explains everything.
The following was a comment on one of the articles:
Dawkins has said repeatedly that it's impossible to disprove God, just as it's impossible to disprove the Celestial Teapot or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He has mentioned his position on the scale of disbelief many times. This is not news.
It's certain that any and every faith-based organization will quote mine this article in an attempt to diminish Dawkins' work and words (as Ben Stein so dishonestly did for his film, "Expelled.")
You're thinking of God as if existence were simply one of His properties. But He IS existence. His very nature is to be: "I am who am". It is impossible for Him not to exist, for then existence itself would not exist.Or man made up God to explain scary lightning and why people die.
I find my version much more reasonable than yours.
But don't let me stop you from believing whatever you want to believe.
Every single one, after a brief question and answer will ALWAYS end up saying something like, well, maybe Im really more agnostic than atheist...Nope.
I DON'T believe in God, any more than I believe in the Tooth Fairy. And, the Tooth Fairy has a better track record than God does, since I used to actually receive money under my pillow when I left a tooth there. God never came close to providing that much "proof".
If you want to believe in God, go right ahead. Have a good time. Just leave me out of it. I have better things to do with my life.
‘But you can also believe in the will without the heart.’...how would that be valid? Doesn’t a belief have to be all or nothing? Can we sort of believe?
If we do get belief from the heart that can’t be forced, then we really don’t have much to do with the process of believing, do we? All we have to do, is wait for God to provide it? Why do you think He lets some people spend their whole lives, without believing?
You must have received the free gift.
I had written this earlier:
"... the simple will never produce the complex... "
In that case, for God to be able to do all the wondrous things God does, God must be complex and intelligent. Who designed God? How can God's complexity arise from nothing?
If God is eternal, how does God choose a moment to begin Creation? The Infinite Regress becomes a problem, if it truly is a problem.
Another poster mentioned: Since we cannot describe the past or the future using a finite number of causal events going backwards or forwards in time from the PRESENT, then the past and future must be eternal. You cannot traverse the past in a finite number of cause/effects to show Existence as VANISHING into nothingness. You cannot traverse the past and ever hope to find a point of Creation. Nope! No freakin way! Therefore the Universe is eternal - it had no beginning and will have no end. There is no "beginning" of time because to have a beginning would mean to have a universal reference point which would destroy the idea of relativity. In fact, we perceive the expansion of time as the passage of time.
If God is outside Time, then how could God produce a change in the circumstances, given that change requires Time to pre-exist and elapse, in order to allow the change in the circumstances? If Time were a "created" thing, then the situation changes from one without Time to one with Time operating it. How can a demarcation exist to separate the two situations, if Time were yet to be "created"? In other words, without Time, the situation without Time and the situation with Time running in it would be super-imposed, in other words, the two situations would be simultaneous, which is a self-contradiction. You cannot do something and not do the same thing, simultaneously. Likewise.
Points to ponder, no doubt.
RE: He has mentioned his position on the scale of disbelief many times. This is not news.
Dawkins said in the above article that he prefers to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.
Does the above comment tell us that he ALWAYS WAS an agnostic?