Read Part 1.
Is meaningful engagement with Richard Dawkins about the existence of God possible?
A thoughtful Christian response begins with the realization that Dawkins’ claims are being made from within a worldview, or frame of reference, that is quite different from a Christian worldview. A Christian’s frame of reference includes, not the possibility of God, but the actuality of God. The life of a Christian has been redefined by their relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thus, a Christian is a person who is learning to think within a worldview that has been defined by God in the person of Jesus Christ.
This radical difference between the believer’s and the skeptic’s belief system creates a challenge for communication. A “gap” exists between their worldviews, creating a situation that resembles other forms of cross-cultural communication. Because of this “gap,” the believer and unbeliever do not actually communicate as directly as they might assume.
With today’s fascination for “coming out” as something, many have decided to “come out” as atheists all over the world. Atheism is a phenomenon that surrounds us whether we realize it or not. We all likely have classmates, neighbors, or co-workers who are atheists. This situation should remind us that having atheists in our life means having people in our life, who also claim to be atheists.
Recently, I saw a woman shock her former church by announcing online: “I am an Atheist.” For her and her former church, the challenge of atheism is not just a philosophical challenge. It is a personal one. Atheism is a challenge to men and women, many of whom are young, and some of whom may even read these words.
The following apologia is my response to a particular version of modern atheism, the one recently popularized by English scientist, Richard Dawkins. In his massive polemic against God, The God Delusion (2006), Dawkins filled 374 pages with denunciations of “the pernicious delusion” of God. Dawkins summarized his claims in a much shorter piece published with the release of his book. My response to Dawkins will be based on his shorter article: “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God.”
"If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might conclude that Prof Dawkins secretly converted to Christianity decades ago, and then asked himself: 'How can I best win souls? By straightforward argument, or by turning myself from a respected academic into a comic figure fulminating against religion like a fruitcake at Speakers' Corner, thereby discrediting atheism?'" Telegraph
Read Part 1.
There are of course gaps in the fossil record. In the case of the Turbellaria, a large, flourishing and beautiful group of free-living flatworms, the fossil record is one big gap—there are no fossils—and not even a Young Earth Creationist thinks they were created yesterday. But although there are gaps in the fossil record, it is a very telling fact that not a single fossil has ever been found in the wrong place in the time sequence. To paraphrase JBS Haldane, not a single fossil rabbit has ever been found in the Precambrian.1
Dawkins’ argument is an abbreviation of an argument that appears in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, and it is not a scientific argument at all. Rather, it is a logical one. Creationists have critiqued evolutionary theory in part because of gaps in the fossil record, concluding that if evolution were in fact happening there would be a fairly steady fossil record—a predictable trail of bread crumbs, if you will. But there isn’t such regularity. Dawkins admits this inconsistency, but he downplays its significance by emphasizing another fossil anomaly: the absence of a substantial fossil record for the (4000 varieties of) turbellarian flatworms.
I appreciate Dr. Richard Dawkins’ impassioned arguments against creationism, as he challenges his listeners and readers to think through their positions and to offer sound reasons for their conclusions. My focus here is not to argue against his atheism, but is to answer his arguments that creationism is not a plausible understanding of our origin history. Sadly, it appears that Dawkins won’t be debating any creationists in the near future, as he is reluctant to give “wingnuts the oxygen of publicity and the respectability of being seen on a platform with a real scientist, anywhere.”1 Nonetheless Dawkins, in the context of discussing the Ken Ham, Bill Nye debate on creationism, offers five points of candid and insightful advice to “anyone who, for one reason or another finds him/herself debating one of those idiots.” In this series I, Wingnut, consider Dawkins’ five-pronged critique of creationism.
Physical scientists (such as Bill Nye) should play to their strengths in physical science and call the wingnut out on the age of fossils, and cosmological evidence on the age of the universe. Radiometric dating of rocks is solid, irrefutable science. The agreement between different isotopes with overlapping time spans is so strong, it is impossible for anyone to wriggle out of the conclusion that the world is billions of years old, not thousands. Astronomical evidence of the expanding universe agrees.
“a vote taken at the conclusion of the debate ruled that religion does have a place in the 21st century”