I am currently listening to the audio recording of the “debate” between Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams. Actually, debate is hardly the word for it. One person who attended the event described it more like “afternoon tea and muffins”. It was really more like a polite conversation on erudite matters between a couple of Oxford dons – which it was, I guess. Dawkins can be very polite when he is talking to someone he doesn’t think is a dolt, or at least has the sense to realise that most people don’t think is a dolt.
The topic was not your usual “Does God exist” debate. It was on “The Nature of Human Beings and the Question of Their Ultimate Origin” – which is interesting because I am currently reading Fr Brendan Purcell’s “From Big Bang to Big Mystery”, which is on the same topic. Fr Brendan actually once entered into debate on the matter with Professor Dawkins on English television – you can read a transcript here.
Williams seems to have taken the tack of trying to persuade the eminent atheist of the rationality of belief in God by presenting “God” in rather erudit terminology: “Let’s call him a combination of love and mathematics,” or an “unconditional creative energy”. Which is all very well until you ask yourself just how the good Archbishop believes he is able to offer prayer to such an entity, or what is actually happening when he does.