BreakPoint Blog

Alister McGrath on Dawkins

Pooh Fellow bloggers Martha and Kim and I had the privilege to hear Alister McGrath speak on Dawkins' God Delusion last night. It was wonderful. If you're not familiar with him, McGrath is an Oxford professor of theology, and head of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall

In these situations, I feel a bit like a bear of very little brain. (I had the chance to attend summer school at Wycliffe a couple years ago -- I highly recommend it -- Dr. McGrath would speak for an hour and I felt like my brain just couldn't hold any more.)

There were two main points that stood out to me, though. They're related:

1 - Atheism is a faith (I know this is being debated under the post about the Lennox/Dawkins debate)


2 - Science is agnostic -- meaning, science cannot one way or the other answer the question of God, or for that matter, any questions of meaning (why are we here, etc.).


Science is provisional knowledge; it changes almost daily. We never know with certainty most data because new measurements may bring to light additional knowledge presently not available. Thus, science never has last say even in its own fields. Science is proving what we believe today to be true, to be false tomorrow, and we call it progress. That is how science works, and it works very well.. Science is "universal experience now." Universal, because any data supporting a particular position must be able to be duplicated by others. It must be reproducible. Experience, because it must take place in space and time; within our experiences. Now, because measurements take place in the present. We cannot measure yesterday nor tomorrow, but today only. All this to say that, science speaks to the here and now, and says nothing about that which is outside its jurisdiction. True, we can postulate all sorts of possibilities concerning the existence of God, or lack of, but science can only speak to what it can measure. And although it can collect data to support or reject the hypothesis of a particluar theory, it then requires a "jury" to decide the circumstantial evidences collected. Bear in mind that juries review the residue of past events, they do not review present data. They can be wrong. However, it might be important to note that science can actually "prove" something: it can prove that one event is more likely to occur than another. Probability theory is useful here. And if one uses logical inferences pertaining to our world and its operations, using both information theory and its partial offspring, the New Generalized Second Law of Thermodynamics, one should be able to easily see that a super intellect had to have been involved in all that we see and measure. Indeed, the NGSL demands that the intellect not only be greater in 'information' than the totality of the entire universe itself, but it must transcend it. And that, in itself, is the kiss of death to any materialistic philosophy that wishes to assert itself against a theistic philosophy. One can disbelieve the statement, "In the beginning, God ..." but not using the mind he gave them!
Unfortunately, looks like it's not yet available. I know they're planning to offer it.
Is there a way to access the audio of this debate online?? Thanks.