Saturday, 4 February 2006

Guardian of the faith

As Richard Dawkins plows on religiously in his anti-religion polemic and as British media continue to give him air/viewing time to do so, a critique comes from a surprising source - a column for The Guardian, by Madeleine Bunting. It was a month ago, but it drew my attention as I'm currently reading Total Truth - which goes into Dawkin's subject a lot more carefully than Dawkins does [edit: with respect to the relation between Darwinian science and worldview]. There are new articles dealing with Dawkin's recent programmes on part 1 and part 2.


Caleb W said...

Ah, yes, Total Truth is a good 'un to read. A Christian friend who I met on the Navigators summer conference sent me a copy.

But there are some flaws - some of the generalisations and details of the overview are rather crude. Pearcey often seems to assume agreement with its basic view of truth being something unified and doesn't go into depth on showing why a unified view of truth is true, on demonstrating, rather than just asserting, that we can't take that approach. Which is fine when talking to Christians who will accept that, but that aspect could do with developing.

In particular, the section on origins and intelligent design collapses together Darwinism as a science and Darwinism as a philosophy. But although some scientists such as Dawkins use the science of evolution as a basis for their aggressively atheistical worldview, there are both scientists and theologians who dispute the link. This runs the risk of the fact/value divide, but many would acknowledge the interrelation of facts and values, yet say that the science of Darwinism is not incompatible with the worldview of Christianity (or at least, doesn't necessitate a Darwinian worldview).

For example, Alistair McGrath doesn't argue with Dawkins' science as such, but with the philosophical conclusions that Dawkins draws. (See his lecture "Has science eliminated God? Richard Dawkins and the meaning of life"). And if one takes a non-literal interpretation of the stories of creation and fall (and I think it's perfectly possible to make an evangelical case for such a view, though how good a case I'm not entirely decided), then it's not a case of facts and values being divided, but a disagreement on what the facts being said by the Genesis accounts actually are.

So while the call to proclaim the truth of the Gospel in every area of life is vital, the book felt to me incomplete.

étrangère said...

Haha, a book titled 'Total Truth' turns out incomplete? How COULD that be? Perhaps more when I've finished it - only halfway through. Interesting thoughts though, thanks.