Tuesday, October 17, 2006

McGrath v Dawkins - live

Last night I went to a talk by Alister McGrath about Richard Dawkins' latest book. Dawkins had been invited too so they could have a debate, but as is his usual style, he declined.

McGrath was generally very good - most of his points were the same as in his book on Dawkins, with a few changes reflecting Dawkins' slight changed to his argument.

I could do a write up of McGrath's talk - I made fairly extensive notes - let me know if you want that.

Here are a few things I thought were interesting though:

  • McGrath comes across as being far more interested in the truth than in being right. He's quite happy to admit when Dawkins has a good argument and some of the good work Dawkins has done. He's also willing to admit when he doesn't know something. Neither does he push for knockdown arguments - he's much happier just showing that Dawkins' claims don't work
  • Dawkins seems to be heading more and more into what McGrath calls an "atheistic fundamentalism" - his books are getting less and less scientific and more and more anti-religious polemical
  • Dawkins seems more interested in point scoring than in the truth. For example, his assertion that atheists don't do nasty stuff like religious people do. Has the man never heard of Stalin or Mao?

ETA - I've added my notes on the debate here.

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