the agnostic, the atheist and the Christian

Today I went to the debate between Rowan Williams and Richard Dawkins at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre chaired by former Priest, now agnostic philsopher, Sir Anthony Kenny.
Richard Dawkins began the debate by saying he sang the first part of a hymn in the shower this morning “It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be” saying that the hymn went downhill after that point! Of course it doesn’t continue with an ode to the wonder of natural selection but rather to the wonder that the creator God broke into creation and saved his rebellious children (I did think that the Archbishop missed a good opportunity to talk about revelation and the cross).

It is a thing most wonderful
Almost too wonderful to be
That God’s own Son should come from heaven
And die to save a child like me!

It was a very amicable debate which concentrated on some complexities related to the origin of the universe and issues relating to matters of evolution.  Some of this was quite technical and obtuse.  Both men spoke passionately about the wonder and marvel of the natural world, although one praised evolution the other praised a creator!

Rowan Willians made some good points about human consciousness and the eternity of the soul, which were quite persuasive.  Overall though discussion was rather obscure and not entirely satisfying.

Having said that, all credit to Dr Williams for being prepared to engage in the discussion and all three men took some of the heat out of the debate.


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