The Nature of Human Beings and the Question of their Ultimate Origin - Archbishop Rowan Williams (RoW) and Richard Dawkins (RD) Dc Tue 15th May 2012 at The Blue Mugge pub
Notes based on the Youtube recording of the above discussion and debate in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 2012. The lecture theatre was packed and so were two other lecture venues in Oxford same time with the proceedings broadcast simultaneously across the globe. Following links on the web, typing in a summary of the above, reveals a wide range of options for viewing and listening to commentary on the issues. Everyone recommended to look and listen to at least the first 20 minutes. We may have a recording in this in the Mugge… but probably not - yet.
The debate was very urbane, respectful, and ‘civilised’ throughout - just as discussion in the Mugge is, and should be!?
Introductory positions - a) RoW said ‘human beings are the only beings who talk about the Universe… as ‘language-users’ a key issue for him is ‘the relation between language and consciousness’. ‘We live in a Universe that has produced us… how do we understand that?’
b) SD quoted a Christian Hymn (to ripples of laughter…) “It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be.” He went on ‘The laws of physics conspired, through a collision of atoms, to produce plants, insects, kangaroos and Us - an astonishing thing to happen… ‘almost too wonderful to be’, conveying the illusion of design… but since 1859 we know how life has developed from simple beginnings. Darwinism is a triumph of science’. He then added ‘We will end up understanding everything’. Is that a kind of atheistic, scientific Fundamentalism?
The Chairman, an Oxford Philosopher, wanted initial agreement on ‘three simple things’:
The Truth - recognition ‘mainly that there is such a thing as objective truth - it is not just an idealogical construct…’. That was quickly agreed.