Last post I looked at one way the evidence for Christianity, or theism as Lennox prefers to label it, is obviously insufficient for the majority of people. I’ll continue on the topic of evidence, but this time tint it with faith. Lennox will return to faith in greater detail later in the book, so I’ll leave the real examination of it until when we get to there.
Lennox keeps on insisting that faith and evidence are intertwined. He claims that when Dawkins’ says that all religious faith is blind faith that:
It takes no great research effort to ascertain that no serious biblical scholar or thinker would support Dawkins’ definition of faith. Francis Collins [Christian] says of Dawkins definition of faith that it ‘certainly does not describe the faith of most serious believers in history, nor most of those in my personal acquaintance… Alister McGrath [Christian] points out in his recent highly accessible assessment of Dawkins’ position that Dawkins has signally failed to engage with any serious Christian thinkers, whatsoever. (17)
My favorite answer to this is PZ Myers’ The Courtier’s Reply. In The God Delusion Dawkins lays out quite clearly why theism has failed to achieve enough evidence to be taken seriously as a viewpoint. As he believes theism has failed to acheive that, then there is little point in him engaging in the multifarious (and often conflicting views) that theists hold. Unravelling interpretations of Genesis 1 could be a lifetime work that need never even touch on the observable natural evidence.
So let’s take a brief and admittedly unfair look at the beliefs of the above quoted Francis Collins. To make a much fairer assessment of Collins you should check out his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. In brief, Collins is a moderate who encourages a middle ground and a dialogue between science and religion, which are admirable goals in themselves. But in doing so he ascribes to sweeping statements of faith that go well beyond any evidence. Here are some quotes from the BioLogus Foundation founded by Collins:
We believe that God typically sustains the world using faithful, consistent processes that humans describe as “natural laws.”
We believe that God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth, but also as spiritual beings.”
There is no observable evidence at all that God sustains the world or that that God created humans as spiritual beings, and so the “believe” used in “we believe” is exactly the blind faith that Dawkins describes. When Lennox says that “Collins’ point is important for it shows that the New atheists, in rejecting all faith as blind faith, are seriously undermining their own credibility” (17), I instead think that Lennox, in refusing to acknowledge that religious faith is opinion writ as evidence, is seriously undermining his own position.