NPR's Fresh Air featured Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins on their Friday evening (3/7/08) in a very interesting interview. Dr. Dawkins' interview made up about 45 minutes and Dr. Collings was about 15 minutes.
Dr. Dawkins is a evolutionary biologist and an outspoken atheist. Indeed if you look at his website you would get the feeling that he is the rock-star of atheism, Dr. Dawkins is the author of the book The God Delusin . Actually I am sure (having published a book or two myself and knowing how these things work) that the reason that Dr. Dawkins was featured on NPR last night was because his publisher arranged it since his book came out in paper back yesterday.
Presently I believe that Dr. Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science,Oxford University.
Dr. Francis Collins is a geneticist and is best known for his discoveries of genetic disease and leading the Human Genome Project. He is also an outspoken Evangelical Christian. However, he differs from the mainstream Evangelical apologist in the fact that he not only believes in an old earth (4.5 billion years old) but also believes in evolution and that all species had a common biological ancestor. This is very different from the Evangelical anti-evolution poster child Richard Ham. Mr. Ham not only believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old but suggest that anyone who does not believe that is at least in sin if not a believer.
I would like to share my impressions of the Fresh Air episode.
Although I had heard of Richard Dawkins I knew very little about him. The only time I had seen him was a brief video that Richard Ham used of him, taken out of context btw, which was in a series that I saw at our church. Richard Ham's point in airing this excerpt was to make fun of Dr. Dawkins and score a few points with his live audience. But that's another story.
First of all, I was very pleased to hear that Dr. Dawkins and I have a fundamental point of agreement and it is regarding classical logic. He says, which I agree with fully, that Science and Religion are asking some of the same questions but are coming up with some very different answers. Now the amazing point, was that he said that only one of two opposing answers can be right. For example, if the Bible clearly states that the earth is only 6,000 years old (which it does not) and science says it is 4.5 billion years old, then only one could be right. In the classic sense of logic, this makes sense.
However, in the Post-Modern age (and post rational) there is the popular concept of synthesis, which states that non A and A can both be true. Dawkins admitted that many scientist practice tis synthesis, saying that during the day when they are in the lab they can believe one thing, but in their religious life they can believe the opposite and the two are compatible.
So I am glad that Dr. Dawkins at least admits in the classical logic. It is so much easier to have a conversation with someone who speaks logically than some Post Modernist who do not. Now, I am not sure why Dawkins thinks logically. I mean, either he is an old hold out from the logical-positivist or he may be representing a new, actually very old, way of thinking . . . which is a positive step.
The other thing, and the host Terri Gross must have done her homework, is that some very important questions were asked of him (questions which most atheist fail to address) and this where he gets his basis of hope. His answer though was evasive. He says that the universe does not owe us any reason for hope . . . an Terri let him get away with that.
The problem with atheism is that a true atheist can not live consistently with their beliefs . . . life is meaningless, art is meaningless, hope is meaningless, ethics are meaningless etc.
There is much more I wish I could say but this is getting long.
Briefly, regarding Dr. Collins, it was a little interesting and refreshing to see that a true believer can have intelligent views apart from Ken Ham's and still consider themselves a Christian.
I may add more later, but I have three teenagers wanting to watch a movie. I would like to put these thoughts in the context of Evangelical Dualistic thinking and how we can improve the discussion by seeing the Universe as God intended.