Skip to main content


Are Believers Delusional? (Part 2)

10/25/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

Advertisment

Richard Dawkins vs. David Quinn

DUBLIN, Ireland, OCT. 25, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is Part 2 of a transcription of a debate between Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," and David Quinn, columnist at the Irish Independent, on the existence of God, free will and the effect of religion on the world.

The debate took place Oct. 9 on the "The Tubridy Show," hosted by Ryan Tubridy, and was broadcast on Irish public radio station RTE Radio 1. Part 1 of this debate appeared Tuesday on Catholic Online.

* * *

Tubridy: What evidence do you have, Richard Dawkins, that you're right?

Dawkins: I certainly don't believe a word of that. I do not believe we are controlled wholly by our genes. Let me go back to the really important thing that Mr. Quinn says.

Quinn: How are we independent of our genes by your reckoning? What allows us to be independent of our genes? Where is this coming from?

Dawkins: Environment, for a start.

Quinn: But hang on, but that is also a product of, if you like, matter, OK?

Dawkins: Yes, but it's not genes.

Quinn: OK, what part of us allows us to have free will?

Dawkins: Free will is a very difficult philosophical question, and it is not one that has anything to do with religion, contrary to what Mr. Quinn says.

Quinn: It has an awful lot to do with religion, because if there is no God, there is no free will, because we are completely phenomena.

Dawkins: Who says there is no free will if there is no God? That is a ridiculous thing to say.

Quinn: William Provine for one, whom you quote in your book. I have a quote here from him. Other scientists as well believe the same thing, that everything that goes on in our heads is a product of genes, entity, environment and chemical reactions, that there is no room for free will.

And Richard, if you haven't got to grips with that, you seriously need to, because many of your colleagues have, and they deny outright the existence of free will, and they are hardened materialists like yourself.

Tubridy: OK, Richard Dawkins, your rebuke to that note if you wish.

Dawkins: I am not interested in free will. What I am interested in is the ridiculous suggestion that if science can't say where the origin of matter comes from, theology can.

The origin of matter is a very -- the origin of the whole universe -- is a very, very difficult question. It's one that scientists are working on, it's one that they hope, eventually, to solve.

Just as before Darwin, biology was a mystery, Darwin solved that; now cosmology is a mystery. The origin of the universe is a mystery, it's a mystery to everyone. Physicists are working on it, they have theories, but if science can't answer that question, then it's sure as hell theology can't either.

Quinn: Forgive me if I can come in here. It is a perfectly reasonable proposition to ask yourself, Where does matter come from? And it is perfectly reasonable as well to posit the answer: God created matter.

Dawkins: It is not reasonable.

Quinn: Many reasonable people believe this. It is quite a different category to say, "Look, we will study matter and we will ask how matter organizes itself in its particular forms," and come up with the answer: evolution.

It is quite another question to ask, Where does matter come from to begin with? And if you like, you must go outside of matter to answer that question, and then you're into philosophical and theological categories.

Dawkins: How can you possibly say God did it if you can't say where God came from?

Quinn: Because you must have an uncaused cause for anything at all to exist.

Now I see in your book, you come up with an argument against this that I frankly find to be bogus. You come up with the idea of a mathematical infinite regress.

But this does not apply to arguments about uncaused causes and unmoved movers, because we're not talking about math, we are talking about existence and existentiality. Nothing exists unless you have an uncaused cause, and that uncaused cause, and that unmoved mover, is by definition, God.

Dawkins: You just defined God as that. You just defined the problem out of existence. That's no solution to the problem. You just evaded it.

Quinn: You can't answer the question where matter comes from, you as an atheist.

Dawkins: I can't, but science is working on it. You can't answer it either.

Quinn: It won't come up with an answer. And you invoked a "mystery argument" that you accuse religious believers of doing all of the time. You invoke it for the very first and most fundamental question about reality. You do not know where matter came ...

1 | 2  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:14-21
This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from the honest. ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:49-53
'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 23 Saint of the Day

St. John of Capistrano
October 23: St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a ... Read More