Dawkins recentlydebated the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney on public television. I don't think there was any knock-out blow by either contestant (even though both men have PhD's from Oxford) but what surprised me was the tetchiness and vulnerability of the Dawk. At various points he retorted "what is that funny?" when the audience giggled at his incredulous views. The other surprise was that although he believes “passionately” that natural selection explains the origin of life, he was utterly opposed to its application to everyday life. A Darwinian society would be according to Dawkins "very unpleasant” "Thatcher-ite" even! Why he was happy for Darwinian philosophy to explain our origins but not govern our everyday existence, he could not explain. Neither could he say what the ultimate basis for an Atheist morality should be. One last thing: Dawkins literally is a killjoy. At about the 12 min mark of the debate, he responded to the Archbishop's question “why do we exist?” by declaring:
Why? is a silly question. You can ask what are the factors that led to something coming into existence. That's a sensible question but what is the purpose of the universe is a silly question - it has no meaning
Golly! I wonder what he'd say to those parishoners I know who are going through immense suffering - the young lady who has just lost her husband, the man who is in the throes of acute depression, the mother caring for her severely disabled child and so on. Would Dawkins respond to their heartfelt why’s? with a ‘you’re asking a silly question dear? What a picture of untrammelled bleakness he offers contra the Biblical story of a God who is full of love and good purpose and who will one day put the world to rights. As the Archbishop put it with some insight:
If I get a chance to say to ask a question when I die I think I will ask the good God why is there so much suffering. That’s a problem for us… [But] I think it’s a much greater problem for the atheist to explain why there is goodness and truth and beauty. Our problem is to cope with suffering. One of the unique… features of Christian teaching is the value of redemptive suffering and that is the significance of Christ suffering with us and dying on the cross. That helps people.
All in all Christianity rather than atheism is the philosophy most fit to bring us through the challenges of the 21st century and if Professor Dawkins really is the ‘high pope of Darwinism’ then the their future is very grim indeed.