Comments on the Dawkins/Lennox debate
Regis NicollRegis Nicoll is a Centurion of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He spent 30 years as a nuclear specialist, and is now a freelance writer who writes on current issues from a Christian perspective. His work regularly appears on BreakPoint online and SALVO magazine among other places. Regis also teaches and speaks on a variety of worldview topics, covering everything from Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern Generation to String Theory. He currently serves as lay pastor of Hamilton Anglican Fellowship (www.hamiltonaf.org) in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- 2007 Oct 05
This week two Oxford dons went toe-to-toe on Moody Radio: the Christian apologist Dr. John Lennox and atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins. Although I missed their exchange, here's what a few people I know had to say about the debate:
"What I thought was so devastating to Dawkins’ position was how Lennox turned the tables on him and sent him reeling with respect to the sense of right/wrong, good/bad. Lennox made it clear that the sense of right and wrong is neither genetic nor the outworking of group dynamics over generations, but something we simply all possess. Dawkins couldn’t deny this..."
"Lennox was persuasive, and was devastating on the topic "Do you need religion to be good," demonstrating that you don't need religion to be good, but without religion it's a moot argument as to what is "good" or "bad" since there is no objective standard. Thus Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and Islamic terrorists have/could be doing the right thing in their own eyes with impunity in the afterlife. He offered very strong rebuttals to Dawkins on all of the topics, particularly showing how Dawkins' views are decidedly one-sided and devoid of thoughtful engagement of the things he so staunchly criticizes. He even got Dawkins to back off his assertion that religion in and of itself is universally dangerous."
"I heard ~45 minutes of the debate and thought Lennox did a very good job. Dawkins was polite and thoughtful, but I can't imagine anyone being persuaded by his presentation. He represented his position about as good as one could, but it was uphill for him."
"Dawkins was stumped in several places but especially when Lennox questioned him on "how anyone could act in opposition to their genes?" Dawkins really eluded the question by saying that it was just true that humans do act in a way contrary to Darwinian evolution every time someone uses birth control measures. Dawkins never gave a reasoned basis for that action.”
"My wife listened and her comment was that she was embarrassed for Dawkins…just a terrible performance that would have convinced no one."
"I was there last evening. My sense of the crowd was that there was no dramatic shift of opinion toward Lennox’s arguments, though I thought them all extremely powerful and I am certain that seeds of doubt in Dawkins’ atheistic faith were planted in the minds of many secular humanists in the audience. Lennox’s position was bold and unrelenting. I DID find it interesting that Dawkins’ seemed willing on a couple of occasions to smuggle in tacit acceptance of a deistic God, which is not I suppose too surprising since that would be God no one had to meaningfully deal with anyway. The long line of UAB students eager for Dawkins’ book after the event, however, shows that all of us have a great deal more work to do esp. on our campuses."
If you caught the broadcast, what were your impressions? Tell us here.