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It looks like Dawkins meet his match in a debate that took place on Oct. 3 in Alabama of all places. He debated John Lennox, a professor of mathematics and philosophy at Oxford (Dawkins is also an Oxford Don). It looks like they kept each on their toes:
A highly publicized, sold-out debate on God at UAB turned into a lively joust Wednesday night between Oxford University scholars who took turns driving each other onto the defensive.
Scientist and atheist author Richard Dawkins came to the Bible Belt to debate the existence of God with his fellow scholar John Lennox, a professor of mathematics and philosophy.
“We all of us share a reverence for the beauty of the universe,” Dawkins said. “You want to attribute it to a maker, a creator.”
But the feeling of awe can best be explained by science, he said. “Religious explanations are now superseded and outdated.”[…]”God, far from being a delusion, is real,” Lennox said. “What divides us is not science. We’re both for it. It’s world views. Which is a delusion? Atheism or Christianity?”[…]The exchanges were sometimes sharp and funny when the speakers were allowed to directly address each other. Lennox suggested Dawkins believed that his wife loved him, but it’s not scientifically provable. “Is there any evidence for that?” Lennox said.”Yes, plenty of evidence,” Dawkins said. “Never mind about my wife.”At another point, Lennox said, “Atheism is a faith as well.” Dawkins retorted, “It’s not,” and hung his head, shaking it.”I believe God created the universe; you believe the universe is all there is – those are both statements of belief,” Lennox said.
I think this is the most telling admission and one that Hitchens might want to keep in mind:
Dawkins ended the debate there. “Although we can’t disprove there is a god, it is very, very unlikely indeed.”
Ultimately that is the single most important fact: science cannot disprove God. That’s a fact and beyond dispute.Here’s another take on the debate:
“The point about teaching children that faith is a virtue is that you’re teaching them that you don’t have to justify what you do, you can simply shelter behind the statement ‘that’s my faith and you’re not to question that,'” Dawkins argued.He said what he objects is the convention that society has bought into, that religious faith is something to be respected and not questioned. “Faith is a terrible weapon because it justifies the performance of terrible acts,” said Dawkins as he imagined a world without religion.Lennox agreed with the danger of teaching children to be fanatics by not allowing them to question, but he asked the audience to imagine a world without atheism, without Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot and the thousands of churches that were destroyed.You contend that the teachings of modern religion are an open invitation to extremism,” said Lennox. “Well, that is not true of the teachings of Christ, I can’t speak for other religions but what about the modern teaching of atheism?”Clarifying his remarks, Dawkins said he was not trying to say all religious people do bad things. And atheism may have even been an integral part of the Marxism that led Stalin and other infamous atheist despots to do terrible acts, but Dawkins stressed that atrocities are never committed in the name of atheism while that’s not the case for religion.”If you really, really believe that your god, Allah, whoever it is, wants you to do something and go to heaven or go to paradise if you do it, then it’s possible for an entirely logical, rational person to do hideous things,” he explained. “I cannot conceive of a logical path that would lead one to say ‘because I am an atheist, therefore, it is rational for me to kill.'”