Thursday, 6 November 2008

Richard Dawkins’ Surprising Acknowledgement

Image from Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

”A serious case could be made for a deistic God.” This was an unexpected acknowledgement, coming from the lips of none other than Richard Dawkins. He said this during a debate with Mathematics professor John Lennox at the Natural History Museum in Oxford on October 21.

Dawkins has a track record of regarding the existence of God as extremely unlikely. He has said that we are able to explain all life, intelligence and design in the universe with the help of ”Darwinian” natural selection and that design does not have anything to do with the birth of the universe.

Richard Dawkins’ recent book The God Delusion is a severe attack on religion in general and Christianity in particular. Recently, fellow evolutionist Francisco Ayala criticised Dawkins for his aggressive ridicule of religion in Scientific American.

Dawkins’ new approach seems to refute his earlier views. The design that is evident in the universe caused Anthony Flew, once regarded as the chief spokesman for atheism, to reject his godless worldview. The hopeless improbability of a naturalistic origin of life made an end of Sir Fred Hoyle’s atheism. C. S. Lewis realised that the evidence favoured theism and Monty White, the former CEO of Answers in Genesis (Great Britain/Europe), also gave up atheism having noticed that creation explains reality much better.

So, is Richard Dawkins about to change his views on origins issues? It may be good to keep in mind that when Ben Stein interviewed Dawkins for the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Dawkins acknowledged that aliens could have seeded life on earth. Later, when the news of this spread throughout the blogosphere, he explained that he had meant it as a joke.

Melanie Phillips interviewed professor Dawkins after the Oxford debate. Dawkins denied that he had changed his views on the supernatural but said that life on earth could nevertheless be the result of design. He still regards aliens a more likely source of life than God.

During the interview, Dawkins acknowledged that some of his views, such as the origin of life, cannot be regarded as being scientific. It is not possible to study abiogenesis or the birth of life from non-life scientifically so that science is unable to solve this problem.

Phillips said that although Richard Dawkins “insisted over and over again” he wanted to hold on to the truth, it was conspicuous that he “seems to be pretty careless with historical evidence”. Anthony Flew for instance has criticised Dawkins for claiming that Albert Einstein was an atheist although Einstein explicitly denied this.

Usually Deism is understood as a belief in a watchmaker type of God who created the world but has not since then actively taken part in the life of His creation, and does not answer prayer. In contrast, the God of Christianity is both transcendent (“there” or beyond our realm) and immanent (“here”). Unfortunately, Richard Dawkins’ ”deistic God” seems to live on another planet.

But it is a beginning.


Philipps, Melanie. 2008. Is Richard Dawkins Still Evolving? The Spectator (23 October)