Rowan Williams defeats Richard Dawkins in religion debate

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has defeated the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins in a debate on religion at the University of Cambridge in England. Students voted 324-136 against Dawkins’ argument that religion has no place in the 21st century.

“Religion has always been a matter of community building, a matter of building relations of compassion, fellow-feeling and, dare I say it, inclusion,” said Williams, who stepped down as the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion on December 31.

He pointed out that respect for human life and equality was inherent in all organised religion. “The very concept of human rights has profound religious roots…. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights would not be what it is were it not for the history of philosophical religious debate.”

Dawkins, an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, told the audience his main concern was simply whether religion was true, and described religion as a “cop-out”.

“It is a betrayal of the intellect, a betrayal of all that’s best about what makes us human,” he argued. “It’s a phony substitute for an explanation, which seems to answer the question until you examine it and realise that it does no such thing….

“It peddles false explanations where real explanations could have been offered, false explanations that get in the way of the enterprise of discovering real explanations.”

Williams argued that the writers of the Bible “were not inspired to do 21st-century physics; they were inspired to pass on to their readers what God wanted them to know.

“In the first book of the Bible is the basic information — the universe depends on God, humanity has a very distinctive role in that universe, and humanity has made rather a mess of it.”

“I am baffled,” responded Dawkins, “by the way sophisticated theologians who know Adam and Eve never existed still keep talking about it.” God, he said, “cluttered up” his scientific worldview.

“I don’t see clutter coming into it,” Williams replied. “I’m not thinking of God as an extra who has to be shoehorned into it.”


Christian Post

The Times

Image: The Guardian

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