Richard Dawkins is world-renowned for his staunch atheism; so much that it eclipses his work in the field of evolutionary biology, his long, illustrious career with the University of Oxford, and his creepy, meme-worthy resemblance to Emma Watson. Indeed, if you know anything about Richard Dawkins, it’s probably that he’s an atheist. Maybe it’s a sign of old age (he’s pushing 70), maybe he was genuinely flattered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, his sparring-partner last night, or perhaps he was just feeling generous. Either way, last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted that he can’t be certain that there is no God.
Slow down there, we’re not talking conversion. But for the first time, Dawkins is actually admitting that he leans a little agnostic. Sharing an Oxford stage with Dr. Williams, Dawkins said he was “6.9 out of seven” certain of his atheism. “I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very, very low,” he said. Philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, asked: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” to which Dawkins answered that he did.
He shared with the Archbishop that his greatest frustration with religious folk is as follows: “What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing—that is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?” To which Dr. Williams “entirely agreed” with the “beauty” of the idea, but added, “I’m not talking about God as an extra who you shoehorn on to that.”
Now Dawkins has always played it safe regarding the existence of an all-powerful deity. While he has never believed such a being could have had a hand in creation or evolution, he generally does mask his assertions denying the existence of God with “almost certainly isn’t’s” and “while it isn’t very likely’s”. Despite this, he famously penned 2006’s The God Delusion, perhaps the most concise and well-written arguments against the existence of God, which inevitably caused a deluge of uproar as it sold 2 million copies and remained on the New York Times Best-Sellers list for 51 weeks.
In any case, let’s take the man at his word. He can’t be sure there is no God as much as the Archbishop can be sure there is one. Simple as that!
Do you think there’s a God?