I confess, I’ve just not made time to watch the recent headline-making Richard Dawkins-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury debate. Bad Angela. Bad militant atheist. Still, whatever Rick Santorum thinks, a good CPAC panel does a great deal more to radicalize my beliefs than Professor Dawkins ever, ever could.
While I can’t know this for certain, I doubt when I finally watch this that I’ll be very surprised by any of the content. I’ve seen these two men converse before — I won’t say debate. For all his reputed venom, there is no such thing as a Dawkinslap, and I’ve always found him to be very blunt, but also quite respectful. I’m pretty well read and YouTubed up on Dawkins and his Four Horsemen colleagues. Please partake if you’ve not seen these discussions, featuring Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.
One thing that would definitely NOT surprise me is the fact that Dawkins allows a scintilla of the possibility that there might be a God or a Great Something-Or-Other or FSM, whatevs. He’s said that before. He wrote a whole big long book about this. It’s called “The God Delusion.” And yet after this debate, like manna from heaven, gleeful headlines that Dawkins is an agnostic, not an atheist. Clearly a saucy headline. All he’s saying is there is a limit to his knowledge, and so of course he can’t say there absolutely is no such thing.
What I found more eyebrow-raising, unmentioned in most reports I’ve seen, although present in the Telegraph account, was the Archbishop’s admission that he believes that humans have non-human ancestors. Perhaps if I were a Christian, or one who doesn’t live in the U.S., that would surprise me less, too. I think it would be a very good headline. “Head of the Church of England Believes in Darwinian Evolution.” As good as “World’s Most Famous Atheist Isn’t Quite Strictly an Atheist”? Perhaps not. I still like mine though.
I leave you with one of my favorite Dawkins moments from the YouTubes: the look on his face when Deepak Chopra explains how scientists have hijacked quantum theory and what follows, what I suppose you MIGHT consider a Dawkinslap.