Pell Vs Dawkins #qanda

Those of us who heard about the Easter Monday special presentation on the ABC much loved and much despised question and answer show, Qanda, were at least interested in what was to be shown. Representing Christianity on one side was well known Sydney Cardinal George Bell. Known for being well spoken and intelligent representation of the Catholic Faith.
In the other corner is well known and outspoken atheist…or agnostic…depending on the time of day, Richard Dawkins.

You know what you will get with Dawkins. Acid tongue, personal attacks, appeal to the populist. Dawkins loves the crowd.

As a Baptist Pastor my cards are pretty well on the table. What I expected was a vigorous debate featuring a Christian who at least would represent the orthodox nature of my faith. It started well. Pell nailed it when he described the ridiculousness of believing that there was nothing, then it exploded. Whatever your view on evolution and the world, there is a design aspect behind what we can observe, and it will not matter to me how much you argue your point…I see the beauty and order in the universe…and it did not just happen….nor did it come from nothing. You may not like my conclusion of that pointing to a God, but you won’t convince me it is more rational or logical to think that it ‘just is’. That is to come to the same problematic conclusion that I have come to…’He is’. So then I look to faith.

What did disappoint me was how the discussion deteriorated from there. Pell disregarded the Biblical text and narrative account of Genesis, particularly the story of Adam and Eve. Why? Presumably because it seemed preposterous to him. But hardly as preposterous as believing in the Roman Catholic theology of transubstantiation. (the belief that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ during the Eucharist) Don’t hear me criticizing that, what concerns me is the inconsistency.
If you don’t want to believe in the miraculous nature of the scriptures, that is your choice. But you can’t have a bet each way. You can’t pick and choose. Dawkins was quite right to point out the inconsistency of his position when it came to the issue of original sin.

While there is plenty about the biblical account that confuses me and that I don’t have answers for, there is plenty I am sure about. I don’t see that as a problem anymore than science has many questions it cannot, and will not, answer. It comes down to who is your God.

For me, believing as I do in a supernatural, interventionist God, there is no issue logically with miracles. If God created the universe, He can do what He likes. He can intersect into the laws of nature as He desires. Those same laws then kick back into effect when He has finished.

It is a shame that Qanda goes for the popular representative of Christianity, rather than finding someone that represents a more orthodox and intelligent approach to our faith.

Just as a postscript I wrote on my facebook wall… ‘Just answer the question Pell. Stand up for something. Follow your Master and be crucified if necessary”.

7 thoughts on “Pell Vs Dawkins #qanda”

  1. I agree with your post Mark. I actually enjoyed listening to Dawkins to be honest. Pell started well but when he drifted from Scripture and used that preposterous line, “I was in England preparing some young boys…” – Oh My Grandmother…!!! Plus he added an answer to the questions, “Can atheists go to heaven”? To which he answered “Yes”. Ludicrous! Heaven is wherever God is…and for a person to go through their life not wanting anything to do with God, it would be abhorrent for that atheist to be forced by God to spend eternity together!
    As you alluded to in your post, the debate was unfair – Pell is a minister (as am I) and Dawkins an academic scientist. It’s like a debate between a car salesman & a mechanical engineer…with the topic being the engineering of motors! Bring on John Lennox to debate Dawkins and the match would be fairer.

  2. Wowee. I was pretty disgusted too. Since when are we meant to bow our knee to favouritism of the crowd instead of in service to the King of Kings? Just been studying the book of Daniel and although God does not call us all to face literal fiery furnaces, He does ask us to stand up for the truth of His saving grace; to believe in His ability to save or not just as He chooses. And to trust Him regardless. I had to turn the show off

    1. Pell is not the head of Catholics in Australia. He is often mistaken for the head of the Catholic Church in Australia. This is incorrect. He is the Cardinal and Archbishop of Sydney, but being a cardinal does not give him jurisdiction over other bishops, or the church in general outside his archdiocese.
      Furthermore my point was that his views are not representative of an orthodox view of Christianity. I well and truly stand by that point.

      1. I stand corrected, but I guess if you were to choose a Protestant representative you’d then have every other denomination saying he’s not part of their orthodox, so maybe the ABC just went with the biggest.

        I was astonished to hear him say that Adam and Eve was just a metaphor (as well as trying to lecture Dawkins on evolutionary biology!). So do I take your post to mean that you believe Genesis to be literal truth? Ie that the world is but 12,000 years old? How about evolution?

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