On Friday morning (28th Dec) I opened the Shetland Times where on page four I saw something that made my heart race.
At first glance it seemed that I had received yet another answer to prayer as there in the corner were the words ‘Feather’s splutter and teeth gnash for Dawkins’ visit’. Yes it has been a rather ongoing prayer of mine that this giant of atheism would one day visit Shetland, but as I reached the end of this wonderful article my joy soon turned to mourning, as it was clear that I wouldn’t be getting to grips with him just yet.
However, in that initial moment of exhilaration, at the thought of engaging him in discussion, a few things came to mind about those men and women of atheism, who tend to gather at such meetings (for some much needed reaffirmation and I was reminded of a scene from the original Planet of the Apes movie. We learn very quickly in the film that the apes were using humans for experiments, then they would stuff them and put them on display as they were thought of as ‘dumb animals’, until at the very end it was discovered that humans were at one time far more advanced than the apes, and just as disturbing was that some of the ape scientists knew that but for generations this truth had been suppressed. And it’s a bit like that for Dawkins and his ilk, who are well aware of the absurdities of their beliefs, but disregard all evidence to the contrary as its implications are unthinkable to them.
As a scientist (which is a rather flattering term in Richard Dawkins’ case) his arguments for atheism are largely based on the Darwinian theory of common descent. Of course Richard will debate on the existence of God alone, although he largely cherry picks his opponents (he rather embarrassingly publicly ran away from a debate with Dr William Lane Craig, an act of cowardice that even his most ardent followers condemned , but his greatest strength is without a doubt ‘evolution’. So, what would I bring to the table if given the opportunity to debate such a legend? Well, it seems that not all scientists are agreed on what ‘evolution’ can do, for instance it can change the beak sizes of finches, but it cannot explain where birds came from in the first place. It can also explain how a Pekinese dog was derived from the wolf, but it cannot explain why the horse shoe crab in comparison has remained unchanged for over 300my (millions of years).
There is no question however that Richard would tear down my arguments (mostly by trying to ridicule me, and my narrow mindedness on the subject) as he is an excellent, and extremely eloquent, speaker, but the bare bones of his argument are there for all to see – life came about by chance and each creature evolved over millions of years to its present state. But there lays the problem – when looking for the truth of this – the hard evidence is virtually non-existent. As it says in the article Richard believes that the modern day whale evolved from the hippopotamus (again something not all scientists are agreed on). The story goes that 50my ago some hippos stayed in the river while some gradually ventured out into the sea and eventually became whales (believe that if you will) – but the fossilised jaw bone belonging to a modern-day whale was discovered last year that dates it to having lived prior to this supposed transition. And then there is the long held belief that all tetrapods (four legged land animals, which eventually gave rise to birds, hippos, humans etc) came from the sea via an amphibious fish called Tiktallic, however this long-held belief has also been blown out of the water as a recent discovery of fossilised foot prints belonging to a group of unidentified tetrapods was made which predate Tiktallic by over 50my. I could go on and on giving counter examples to what Richard sites as evidence for ‘evolution’, but it looks like I’ll just have to bide my time a little longer.
If anyone would like to hear more about this, however, I am excited to announce the arrival in February of Dr Alastair Noble (Centre for Intelligent Design) who will be holding a discussion on this very subject. It will be a great opportunity to hear from such an expert in this field, and also for any members of the public who fancy a crack at pitching their wits against him (dates and venue to be confirmed).