Monday, January 7, 2008
Dawkins vs McGrath Uncut
The preeminent atheist in the world today is Richard Dawkins. The media and his critics tend to depict him as an angry polemicist, and that is an easy impression to get from the sound bytes that have come to be associated with him. But it is also possible to see a very different side of him under more relaxed circumstances.
Dawkins has been featured in a TV documentary entitled "The Root of All Evil?" He has publicly criticized the title, which he did not want, but the producers would only consent to the addition of the question mark. And this is precisely the problem. He is not as radical or as polemical as the side that gets filtered through to the public. The media want him to be an extremist. He has insisted that it is just plain stupid to think that anything, let alone religion, is the root of all evil.
What I want to do here is call your attention to an online interview between Dawkins and Alister McGrath, an evangelical theologian who had criticized Dawkin's The God Delusion in Dawkin's God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life. The video of the interview is long and uncut. It lasts well over an hour. However, if you have ever seen one of my favorite movies, Louis Malle's My Dinner with Andre, then you will definitely be interested in this conversation. I would recommend Louis Malle's film over this, obviously, but the Dawkins-McGrath exchange is well worth it for anyone who has been in dialogs and debates between Christians and atheists on the internet. This video covers many of the same themes and arguments, but it is done with style, grace, and intelligence. For me, Dawkins was the clear winner in the discussion, but I suspect that my Christian friends will have the opposite impression. It is an excellent example of how the dialogue between Christians and atheists ought to be carried out.