Saturday, October 21, 2006

Taking Dawkins seriously

Apparently a link to my post on the debate between crusading atheist Richard Dawkins and Catholic journalist David Quinn was displayed over at (a web address that should explain itself).

I suppose it would be good web manners to return the favor and direct readers over to their site where you can find the transcript of the Dawkins/Quinn debate. They can't be all bad over at The Raving Atheist: a G. K. Chesterton quote is prominently displayed on their home page. I'm sure G.K.C. would have found it amusing that he would be approvingly quoted in an atheist publication.

The result of the post has been quite a few hits on this blog, several, apparently, from cheerleaders for Dawkins. I thought Quinn clearly bested Dawkins, and I explained why in a comment on the earlier post. That doesn't mean atheism has been vanquished; it just means he didn't acquite himself well on that particular occasion. The cheerleaders don't see it that way, but then again, it's not the job of cheerleaders to engage in substantive critiques of their own side. They're just there to wave the pom-poms.

I thought, on the other hand, that Dawkins was smooth and competant in the exchange with Stephen Colbert. Colbert was funnier, but that's his job. Dawkins job is to be persuasive, which in that interview, I think he was.

I posted the links to the debate not because I think Dawkins is to be dismissed; quite the contrary. I posted the link precisely because Dawkins cannot be dismissed and any Christian who does so needs to have his head examined.

I think Dawkins is the most dangerous living opponent of Christianity. He is smart, articulate, and--to many people--convincing. That doesn't mean he's right; it just means he's persuasive. So when someone does as well as Quinn did against someone as formidible as Dawkins, it's an event.

It is because he is so capable at defending his position that his new book, The God Delusion, is such a great disappointment, and it is a great disappointment because Dawkins himself has failed to fully appreciate the strength and persuasiveness of the arguments he attacks. It is his fatal flaw.

I will have more to say on that in a review of the book that will be posted here next week.

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