Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A question of perspective

What a profound disappointment.

After numerous vituperative blog links to His Grace and chat threads all over the world concerning his 'spat' with Professor Richard Dawkins, the only response the eminent Professor could muster to His Grace’s most courteous and considered response to the Professor's list of questions (which even acknowledged that we agree on a very great deal, and even that the Professor is quite probably a better theologian than many), was to indulge in a number of those 'vitriolic side-swipes' he so objects to in others.

One wonders why he could not explain 'calmly and coolly, what is wrong with it', instead of indulging in puerile name-calling or regurgitating the crass opinions of others. But since 'nasty' is the best the eminent Professor could do by way of a response, His Grace has included it in his list of citations.

It says far more about Professor Richard Dawkins than it does about His Grace.

It is just such a pity that he didn't say 'bigoted', 'creepy' and 'disgusting' as well.

In this relative calm, here is an insight from another of His Grace’s curates (he appears to have a few) Thomas Becon:

'Our recent spat with Professor Dawkins and his followers put me in mind of a famous observation of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein that there are some things that cannot be explained - only shown.

He illustrated the point, with reference to a picture that could be either a duck or a rabbit, but the famous illusion of the old/woman/ young woman serves equally as well.

In a curious way this has a relevance to the old Christian teaching that God has revealed himself in two ways, Scripture and Nature, and it was this thinking that enabled the Church and its clergy to have played such a major role in the development of science. If God had revealed himself in the created order, then plants and creatures could be examined for what secrets they held of their Creator.

Yet anyone coming across such a picture for the first time is presented with a conundrum. What is depicted? Some may only see the Old Woman, others the Younger One. Most can see both, flipping between the two, whilst being unable to explain exactly how their interpretation changes. The image does not change, nor the eye, nor the brain that makes sense of the image.

Most Christians can see both. They can understand Scripture and Nature and do not insist on the irreconcilability of both. A few only see the one and of course Professor Dawkins and his crew only have a one dimensional answer to the evidence before them.

It is for this reason that they shout, abuse and get angry. Do not be under any illusion yourself; you cannot persuade them. If they cannot see it, then we just have to accept they cannot see it. They don’t want to, and shouting and getting angry must be very personally rewarding. A sense of superiority is a very comforting thing when there is nothing else to validate your existence.

So they deny that which they cannot see, and they call you “stupid” “illogical” “naive” , and they dignify themselves with the self congratulatory title of “Brights”.

“It’s and Old Woman everyone can see that. Even some of you can see its an Old Woman - so why deny that which is plainly before your own eyes?”

Yet some of us do continue to see the alternative. We know that the skill and vision of the Creator was greater than our critics are able to perceive, and we can only wait and hope that if they scale down the anger, the penny may drop for them just as it did for us.

Yet there is an almost comic (or do I mean cosmic?) irony in all this.

The same folk who insist upon the impossibility of reconciling the scientific and the theological, the physical and the spiritual, are also the ones who point us to the world of the particle physicist who routinely works in a near metaphysical world in which photons are in two places at the same time and the story is continuing to get “curiouser and curiouser.”

The religiously scientific are able to think in such ways. Like Alice’s Queen we can indeed sometimes “believe six impossible things before Breakfast” but that is because the more we learn of the complex topsy turvy world which we inhabit, the more we become lost in wonder at the outworkings of our Awesome God.

I fear it is the “ Brights” who are somewhat dim in this expanding universe of the mind and spirit. We can only smile and enjoy the irony that they appear to be the ones stuck in a rut of 19th Century Darwinian thinking that is fast being left behind.'


Anonymous Sean Robsville said...

The bleak, deluded view of Materialist/Physicalist Reductionism is not only a major obstacle to the spiritual progress of those who (often reluctantly ) suffer from it, but it also generates fear, aggression and denial in those who oppose it but don't know how to argue against it.

3 February 2010 at 10:24  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Your Grace, I share your disappointment and I take no pleasure in saying "told you so".

On the matter of this particular post may I share a perspective I often give when talking with the genuine enquirer.

When my children ask how they were made I say it is as a result of mummy & daddy loving each other very much that they were made. I could also say it is when a sperm fertilisers an egg they were made.

Both are true. One can be proved 'scientifically' the other can't. It is taken on faith. Some accept that. Some don't.

3 February 2010 at 10:26  
Blogger Ian said...

Thank you Cranmer for the last few posts/days. It has made this blog and its content most validating and illuminating.

You have delievered both an elequoent riposte to the 'angry' Darwinists and Dawkinites, while articulating a most Christian response. Thanks.

3 February 2010 at 10:28  
Blogger John.D said...

Bravo Your Grace. That picture is annoying, it took me a while to pin the young lady down, feisty thing she is.

3 February 2010 at 10:36  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, Dawkins is a closed mind to reason and a slammed door to opposing opinion. I don't have any time for him whatsoever.

3 February 2010 at 10:45  
Blogger Botogol said...

Your Grace is getting sadly side-tracked into an off-topic debate.

Back at the intersection of religion and politics (remember that?) the Pope has launched an attack on the UKs equality Laws. I wonder if Your Grace has had time to ponder the rights and wrongs of that? that is a topic where I expect you might be erudite and original?

3 February 2010 at 10:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

she's old... definately

3 February 2010 at 11:07  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Botogol,


His Grace addressed that very issue yesterday, but was derided for being 'too clever'.


3 February 2010 at 11:14  
Anonymous graham wood said...

YG Thank you for a considered, courteous, and reasoned response to Mr Dawkins.

Just as a further comment. The "Science v Religion debate will forever be largely sterile.
The Bible anticipates this and provides its own answer to the spiritual blindness of the Dawkins tribes.
Take the fact that God is the Creator, which they reject.
Their rejection is not based upon 'science' but upon philosophical or ideological pre-suppositions.
But Scripture's comment - is:
"Through faith we understand the worlds were made by the word of God"
Why cannot Dawkins and his fellow atheists not "see" this self-evident truth?
Agains Scripture provides its own answer:
"But the natural (i.e. unregenerate, independent of God) man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned"

3 February 2010 at 11:23  
Anonymous Old Dry Sherry said...

Your Grace

I have watched this exchange with immense interest. There are many powerful and disturbing (nb Mr Robsville above)arguments about the existence of the deity. Professor Dawkins does not seem to be very interested in making these arguments in the manner that the likes of Bertrand Russell for example might have done. In political terms he is appealing to his core vote rather than reaching out to the middle ground. Hence I think the disproportionate aggression to Christanity for that is the religion that his followers (and book buyers) encounter most often in the US and the UK. I believe the phrase is "dog whistling".

Your Grace you make an excellent point on the 19th Century nature of the thinking. The whole approach reminds me of arguments with hard line base-superstructure Marxists in my youth. The same absolute conviction that there was one simple key to everything, a similar contempt for any other perspective and the same willingness to beat and lop all human experience and learning to fit their self created intellectual procrustean bed.

3 February 2010 at 11:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Your Grace and Thomas Becon. The place which the esteemed Professor occupies is a very bleak one indeed. Sadly his influence and that of other enlightened 'truth tellers' such as Dan Browne is on the ascendancy and no amount of appeal to reason or scholarship will help. This is a sterile debate, however one thing that the esteemed Prof has not mentioned in his rantings is the Resurrection of Christ, without which the Christian Belief is pretty pointless and many of his comments justified. As a very recent devotee to your erudite style (yesterday), I would reflect the wishes of Bogotol for a debate on the Equality Bill.

3 February 2010 at 11:29  
Anonymous Faye Duttons said...

I still can't believe that this Dawkins fellow- who is he anyone??? - can get into a respectable newspaper such as the times.

3 February 2010 at 11:38  
Anonymous Fred Plattes said...

Your Grace, even worse, is the lack of understanding of writing under a pen-name. I really cannot see why this is a problem and why people think this is terrible? A lot of good writers have used pen-names. Also, I fear my Lord Archbishop, that not only are these people atheists but they are also left/liberal/socialists! That is the final nail in the coffin really.

3 February 2010 at 11:41  
Blogger Preacher said...

Old Dry Sherry
Interesting that you mention
Bertrand Russell, I believe that
when asked if he was prepared to
die for his beliefs answered "No,
I might be wrong!" Sensible man.
It's amazing that those with nothing to say about someone they don't believe in can make so much about it. Odd!

3 February 2010 at 11:41  
Blogger John.D said...

This off topic, but only a little. I got this off Ship of Fools and not everyone will have seen it, but it is so funny:

Empire Strikes Back

3 February 2010 at 11:52  
Blogger Ian said...

I've just got the photo!!

I couldnt see the old lady, only the nubile young thing.

Then pop.

I'm sure theres a message in there somewhere!

3 February 2010 at 11:53  
Anonymous Pause for thought said...

Your Grace, perhaps the times, in the spirit of balance, could afford you a regular column in said newspaper? That would really put the cat amongst the left/liberal elite.

3 February 2010 at 12:01  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Magisterial is your article!

Here is a portion from a Catholic writer that complements your piece.

‘Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency.

‘If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradictions along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man.

‘The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.

‘The determinist makes the theory of causation quite clear, and then finds that he cannot say “if you please” to the housemaid. The Christian permits free will to remain a scared mystery; but because of this his relations with the housemaid become of a sparkling and crystal clearness. He puts the seed of dogma in a central darkness; but it branches forth in all directions with abounding natural health.

‘As we have taken the circle as the symbol of reason and madness, we may very well take the cross as the symbol at once of mystery and health. Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travellers.’

G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936), Orthodoxy

3 February 2010 at 12:04  
Blogger Botogol said...

The Ayatollah skit? Yes, well evidently too clever for me. Or too cryptic anyway - I'd be interested to know what you thought in plain English, as it's a complicated and (IMO) very interesting matter.
- Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today is good.
- the chief Rabbi in the Times is of interest (although he sounds more and more like Rowan Williams these days)

Your Grace has long urged the Catholics to be more trenchant in their resistance to the ramifications of the equality bill - esp on adoptions - so one might think you welcomed the Pope's atack? But the ayatollah stuff seemed to imply you thought he was onverreaching himself.

3 February 2010 at 12:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I seriously wonder how pathetic one can get. "Your Grace"?? I actually think Dawkins should not have replied to him, in the same sense he doesn't debate creationists.

3 February 2010 at 12:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an army of us who took him on anyway. Some people are simply not worthy the debate from high profiles, such as Dawkins, no matter how eloquent their writing skills are.

3 February 2010 at 12:16  
Blogger John.D said...


Speaking of being away with the fairies, Try reading Adam Smith Wealth of Nations, and while eating magic mushrooms, and you end up with David Cameron and Geoerge Osborne and a government that is open to the four winds.

3 February 2010 at 12:17  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Ian said... "I've just got the photo!! I couldnt see the old lady, only the nubile young thing. Then pop. I'm sure theres a message in there somewhere!"

There sure is a message there Ian. Here's an illustration I use when I'm 'brain washing' children (and adults).

Once you can see what's in the picture you can never "unsee" it. I see it straight away all the time now. When the Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts we can never deny The Truth again. Which is why debates based on mere knowledge are so utterly futile.

Can't helping thinking of these words of wisdom whenever the 'enlightened ones' turn up to debate.

3 February 2010 at 12:22  
Blogger greenalien said...

And, of course, the religious have the monopoly on secrets of the universe. ONLY they see a deeper dimension to everything. ONLY they can see behind the immediate appearances of everything.

And they're guilty of putting us all in the same bag and being nasty while we're always reasonably and definitely nothing like THEM. They should always listen to us, because we're smart.

Those who insist things work in a scientific way, are stupid, because they can't comprehend the new depth that is given to the world by having a magical imaginary friend.

3 February 2010 at 12:33  
Anonymous The Hon Mary Smith said...

To Your Grace, Thomas Cranmer, The Most Rev and Rt Hon The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, or simply Tom, I salute you for another excellent post. I do not think that the atheists have any comeback or they are bored of posting on this blog. Keep up the good work and Gold bless.

3 February 2010 at 12:36  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Your Grace, you characterise "the brights" as saying,"It’s and Old Woman everyone can see that. Even some of you can see its an Old Woman - so why deny that which is plainly before your own eyes?"

Alas, a good many of them don't even concede that. "It's just lines & ink & light reflecting" ... everything else is simply an imaginary friend.

[PS - I do hope the last few days has taught people the futility of trying to respond rationally, intelligently or eruditely to greenalien and his cohorts].

3 February 2010 at 12:39  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Gold bless?

His Grace wishes...


3 February 2010 at 12:39  
Blogger greenalien said...

"Greenalien and his cohorts"

As if that would be a polite response. If you would read back my posts, I think you'd find them not to be very much out of line of the assertions of superiority the Christians (what with their doctrine of humility) have been throwing around.

And if you would read back my posts again, you'd find I've been responding rather politely. I have an aversion to being put in the same bag with "cohorts." While I do believe you're wrong, I think everyone, including Cranmer, should consider that internet will always attract scores of trolls, who do not necessarily speak for a movement as a whole - whether it is Ien who, with his evangelistic fervour, is trying hard to ram the religious, by asserting that X is true because X is presumed, or the numerous anonymous being often, indeed, nasty.

Cranmer's analogy is incorrect. The issue is not of seeing two or one face on the aforementioned picture. The issue would be better described by referring to "Superstition in a Pidgeon" experiment carried out by professor Skinner, but that would probably take a lot more space than comment box offers. After all, it's a bit more complex than simply blind faith. You're looking for patterns where there are none. Not that it's your fault, humans are pattern seeking animals, but to seek to explain the world by looking for patterns through emotion is a folly.

I am disappointed by Cranmer's epilogue. It's putting all atheists into one bag, which I don't really appreciate.

3 February 2010 at 12:55  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...


You really ought to read what is written.

You can indeed make out a perfectly rational argument for the "old lady version" - and the "young lady" - and both.

Most religious folk have respect for science and celebrate its achievements. We also like its challenges. What we find sad and sometimes offensive is its arrogance when articulated in the manner of Prof Dawkins and his flock.

It may help to offer the thought that to "understand" also connotes to "stand under" - to be a part of the smaller looking up at the greater, to that which cannot be reduced to our limited rationality. Christianity is at its best when it is humble. So is science.

3 February 2010 at 12:56  
Blogger Tadhg said...

Love the way that "cranmer is very nasty indeed" is now on your list of honours and citations. Coming straight from the angry one, it's an honour indeed. Shows you're doing something right.

Many thanks for your good posts, your Grace.

3 February 2010 at 12:58  
Blogger nicodemus said...

Dawkins is a clever chap, yet unless he is born from above he will never perceive the kingdom of God.

3 February 2010 at 12:58  
Anonymous Lord James Patrician, 3rd Viscount of netherweather in the country of Hereford and Baron of Wyre Piddle in the County of Worcester, MA(Oxon), PhD (London) PC said...

Your Grace, it would appear that the atheists are getting worked up about how "pompus" it is for you to write in the third person and that we call you "your Grace" and that there are people who post hear as Lords, saints of the rebellious types etc. Perhaps to make them feel better we could call you Thomas or Tom?

I'll call myself Jim.

3 February 2010 at 13:26  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

One difficulty in this debate is that often it is not a debate at all. The Dawkinsites seem mainly preoccupied with the non-existence of God (hence the tired old repetitions of Sky Fairy, Imaginary Friend, etc) whereas Christians never (as far as I know) go round asserting that God does exist.

3 February 2010 at 13:56  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Thankyou your grace and Mr Singh I had not given over much thought to the idea some matters can only be shown , I have always beleived that the scriptures are like food that the depivation from them would lead to obvious failings .

The personal experience of the christian faith is perhaps not somthing one can convey this is no excuse however for deeeming it a mental disorder.
I have lost count of the Dawkinesque programs that show a person in a brain scanner , where they compare a religous expereience (or attempted copy) and cite that in religous people one area of the brain lights up more than another or there is a different concerted pattern of activity . They useually mix in a few abnormal minds just to show that they really can tell what the scanner proves .

This kind of "all in the mind" approach is useually where the subliminal shcism occures , they have found somthing they can claim is scientific measurable and reasoned , throw in few medieval demon pictures and they quickly grow the asummption , that god is believed by uneducated people with somthing wrong with them .

I would not mind but for the sheer number of these types of programs that see the brain and throw out the faith , has given so many the idea that they are right , beyond doubt .

Christian faith has shaped and built our society , I very much doubt that non medical brain scans , posed as truth will acheive the same thing, even athiests enjoy mozart it is rather a shame that they cannot see that the christian faith is like mozart , but as though you are both playing and appreciating it , but not for applause , but for celebration .

3 February 2010 at 13:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace, the chap's from oxford- need we say anymore? It's clearly become a complete dump!

3 February 2010 at 14:15  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Is it OK in here now? Have the dawks gone? They are so boring (lifeless, uninspired)- no wonder they can't stand themselves! They remind me of Grendel and his inability to approach/commandeer the 'gift stol.'

Thank you, Your Grace, for seeing them off; and also for a series of brilliant posts. I especially like today's summing up of their limitations.

I have been trying to think while keeping an eye on the echo chamber. What reverberates through my own mind remains: God Is. God is Love, Truth, Light, Beauty; and He, through the Cross is, in addition, the Way and the Life.

Have been a bit busy anyway, what with the Church Fathers and the manifestation of the Divine through various aspects of Creation/creation --- so this explosion has highlighted for me the contrast between the puffed-up present day swarm and the brilliance of the men who developed our religion: the Evangelists...esp. John; and then Jerome, Augustine (Hippo), Origen, Gregory etc. And then their successors, who translated it into our language and our education and informed our rhetorical tradition: Augustine, Aidan, Theodore, Hadrian, Biscop, Bede, Aldred, Alcuin, [Boniface, Willibrord,] King Alfred, Aelfric, Wulfstan etc!

Oh yes, Your Grace: there's a lot to be said for rhetoric and who saved it. And it's fascinating to realize how few ever really developed the capacity to do so.

A necessary aspect of the topic is the Word-word, obviously ---> and so to materialization and action. But YG and communicants have touched on it all, today - one way or another. What a pleasure and a relief to read!!

Thanks again.

wv: seduccess. Is this robot playing with paronomasia?

3 February 2010 at 14:17  
Anonymous hingsm said...

This is a tricky picture at first YG, but I prefer the conundrum in the picture you have in your citations - " very nasty indeed."
Here we have a difficult puzzle where the eye flickers backwards and forwards between two old fossils.

3 February 2010 at 14:59  
Anonymous Ginro said...

That's one reason I rarely get involved with online 'debates', lol. It's a bit like being in the front line at a battle with both sides hurling insults at each other before the physical clash of arms.

One thing I have learned is that there are people that will never be convinced no matter what evidence you place in front of them. Their minds are made up. It's like the saying "You can tell a bigot but you can't tell them much".

Like for example some Wiccans that tried to convince me that Wicca is thousands of years old and all the rest of that nonsense they spout such as 'the burning times' and their 'persecution by the Christians'. No amount of calmly reasoning with them worked, attempting to have a rational discussion about history and something called 'proof', and the conversations always ended with them shouting insults at me. I finally gave up when they offered me a coffee in which they'd put some bleach.

I see the same attitude all around the Internet. Some people are open to hionest and rational debate. Others are simply content with hurling insults and making absurd claims about things which they clearly know nothing of. "I know it's true I read it in a book somewhere once!" LOL!

3 February 2010 at 15:01  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I have been chewing on this statement of your all day long:

‘A sense of superiority is a very comforting thing when there is nothing else to validate your existence.’

If I were a preacher man – that would probably supply me with at least a month of sermons.

What if Robinson Crusoe had been an atheist?

3 February 2010 at 15:07  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I don’t know if anyone else sensed this during the last two days of debate with the atheists. But I distinctly sensed that I was arguing with people who did not have a sense of ‘self’ and in consequence did not have a sense of ‘neighbour’. It was like speaking to men without chests.

Another observation I made was that they seem to believe that by demolishing Christianity they would be able to affirm their views. Which I found quite odd.

When I questioned one of them why s/he attributed the status of man to that of a mere machine - it was clear that s/he could not grasp the implications.

Last and least off all what I found irregular was that they could not critically evaluate why Dawkins is suggesting that it is possible that ‘an alien life source’ could have animated man (the statistical improbability of evolution occurring being too great). Dawkins clearly understands why that is required for his ’system’ to be credible to scientists such as the famous Fred Hoyle and the philosopher Flew.

3 February 2010 at 17:06  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

I 'll leave that one hanging D but you might be interested to know that John Tyndale speculated on the role of a woman washed up on a desert island and argued that there would be no lack of authenticity of her preaching the Gospel to those who had no other way of of receiving the word.

Thus the writer of 3/4 of the St James Bible was an early exponent of women's ministry.

3 February 2010 at 17:08  
Blogger Richard Burgess said...

Maybe Prof Dawkins does believe in God and the only one he's trying hard to convince otherwise is himself!

3 February 2010 at 17:20  
Blogger peter said...

dawkin's appaling arrogance doesn't serve him, or his position; but then, everyone else guards against it so assidiously

or do they?

3 February 2010 at 17:37  
Blogger Theresa said...


If you're still interested, I replied to your post to me, over at my blog.

3 February 2010 at 18:14  
Blogger Theresa said...

Have just realised,

I was looking for a duck instead of an old lady and couldn't understand why I couldn't see it. Doh...

3 February 2010 at 18:16  
Anonymous Thomas Becon said...

Thank you for generously giving me a good laugh "at your expense".

I hope you enjoyed the piece as much as I enjoyed your confession.

3 February 2010 at 19:36  
Blogger greenalien said...

Theresa: Thanks, I'm reading it right now, it's an interesting piece.

3 February 2010 at 20:25  
Blogger John.D said...


If this is any consolation, I could only see an old hag for a good six minutes and tried to find a duck as an alternative because of frustration. Somehow the young lady just popped up in the end. I am one of these people who does not see things like this. But having fallen into 3ft of water this evening and ripping my calf muscle to the point of not being able to walk, and then having to wring out my socks and underpants in the dark on the beach, and then limping home with the dog for half an hour, I put this down to being a dunder head; but I am sure it was just an oversight on your behalf. I would never imagine anyone but myself capable of falling into 3ft of water while out walking the dog. I am now a doomed invalid.

I had made arrangements to attend church for the first time in years tomorrow, and now I am in agony and the entire plan looks dubiously terminated. It all depends upon walking capabilities in the morning. It's all down to someone posting about courage on their blog today. I would still have fallen in the water tonight, but I would not feel such a degree of failure.

I must overcome this. Please feel free to laugh and joke. I probably deserve it.

Why is this relevant....IT ISN'T I just want the pain to be extended into the universe.

3 February 2010 at 21:14  
Blogger John.D said...

Sorry about that Your Grace, it's just so painful.. I will attempt to say something on topic and re thread the needle.

His Grace is a very academic and champion wordsmith that puts many of us to shame, but not everyone will attend Oxbridge and certainly many of us will never swim in the deep end of philosophy and theology, though we still hold very dearly to our faith.

I only wish it was possible to pass on what it is that feels so tangible and yet so illusive. My own fear is that if I attempted this it would come over as unintelligible and flawed waffle, but this would be because of the limitations of my own vocabulary and indeed of the limitations of language in general. Not to say that I should use this as a kop out in any way but sometimes it's best left to those who are more qualified and gifted to do so; especially in such places as these. I have given up arguing about the existence of God because there is in my own opinion all the evidence in the world to be seen just by opening up - and at the end of the day it is God who finds us if you like.

To declare that you have battled through a sea of confusion and discovered God through the powers of your own intellect is to declare that you are a fool.

3 February 2010 at 21:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John I have just been reading the first 2 chapters of 1 Corinthians about God bringing the wisdom of the world to nothing. He chose the foolish and even the things that are not to bring down to nothing the things that think they are so powerful
So if you're feeling stupid about your accident take heart. We're all just foolish people but God will raise us up if we have the awareness of our own inability and the openness to his love.
I do hope you find a way to get to church soon, if not tomorrow and that God will be present for you.

3 February 2010 at 22:47  
Blogger John.D said...

Update: Going on Friday instead.

Thank You

I am well in the mood for waffling anyways. It could be the half dozen cocodamols kicking in but who cares.

I think it is important to prefix what we say as Christians with "I believe". Just to make clear it is a personal belief that could possibly be very flawed in the light of empirical debate and theological argument. SO!

'I believe' that if God so wished then He could manifest Himself as a Ladybird - a ladybird-sized version of God on Earth. He would be God but also a Ladybird that eats aphids, and if He chose to He would walk on water and turn ants urine into wine.

The same 'logic' applies to Jesus 'for me'. Jesus was a man and he would have had 'psychology' going on. One of the ways that I came to believe that Jesus really was who He said He was, is by considering what it was that He would have 'thought' and prayed about. Jesus would have had thoughts, human thoughts about who He was. This would have been coupled with anything that God would have chosen to make additions to, but He was still a man nonetheless. So when CS lewis offers us the challenge that we either see Jesus as who He said He was or as insane - the choice is not so difficult for me. Jesus was a man sized manifestation of God, and this is who He said He was. He prayed and thought like a man. It gets difficult from here on in!

In many ways we are all God on Earth, and I would probably have gotten burnt at the stake at some time for saying as much, but Jesus WAS 100% God on Earth, living the man life, restricting himself to the human experience, while at the same time being everywhere else but without actually specifically being there in a more influential way that would interfere with free will. I wish I hadn't begun this.

I was going to delete all that above and give up, but I think I will leave it there for others to chew up and add to a and detract from.

It all makes perfect sense to me which is the more important thing at the end of the day, God came to earth and it was to be but a short visitation, or at least this time it was, and He said some of the most amazing and influential things as a man. His psychology was that He wanted to connect and say some things that would be everlasting and make monumental changes.....and He did, and it happened.

Jesus was God, and He was a man, and He is there to be approached in the form of contemplation and prayer, which are the two best ways to open up and let Him in, away from all the hustle and bustle of modern day distractions. There are two main obstacles that will distort your vision.
1. a blindfold.
2. eyes so wide open yet no focus. You need to see the world but put away the vanity and arrogance and throw the chains from the doors of perception.

How do I know all this, well, I have faith; not because I am some gifted guru; before I could even waffle to this level, it has taken many years of stumbling in the dark (falling into pits of watter).

3 February 2010 at 22:56  
Blogger Richard Emmanuel Jones said...

Fermi's paradox solved.

3 February 2010 at 22:59  
Blogger John.D said...

Richard E Jones

I am a fellow Welshman so if you are implying that I could be from another planet then Twll dyn ichi.

3 February 2010 at 23:32  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi John.D,

I know it was very unchristian, uncharitable and probably unladylike as well, but I laughed like a drain at your adventures on the beach, esp with the dog thrown into the middle of everything. As Confucius said, 'Man is very strange creature. He wander whole world to find one person more unfortunate than himself and then is happy..;)

Looks like we're both out for a duck then. I'm glad someone else had the same frustration as me. I've never been very good at those pictures either; I think I would be a psychiatrist's nightmare with those inkblot things.

Anyway, hope your leg gets better and you make it to church on Friday. Drinking tonic water is quite good for muscles; it's got quinine in it and tastes better with a dash of gin, but maybe you'd better stick to the tonic in case you fall under the affluence of incahol..

3 February 2010 at 23:48  
Blogger John.D said...

Thank you (they don't use them ink thing these days).

Richard E Jones

A Video for you (Us).

3 February 2010 at 23:59  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Thomas Becon,

I did enjoy your piece and glad you had a laugh as well. I think you got to the nub of the the whole problem here. Over the years, I've had to argue with people about what I believe, why I believe it. I've looked up the theology and read the history of early Christianity. I've been through the apochryphal gospels and the religions of the Canaanites. But the actual truth of the matter is that I believe in God, because he's just always been there. He's always been present to me and it would not occur to me to think that he wasn't there. And that is impossible to explain to someone who for one reason or another hasn't experienced that. It's like one fish trying to explain to another fish where the sea is. And it's not to do with merit either. Grief is a great barrier to finding God and I never berate anyone who is an atheist, because in my experience that is what is very often at the bottom of it; grief and suffering. I was on the Dawkins site and one of the avatars on it is a man standing in front of war graves in France, the crosses stretching out in never-ending line and I understand what he was getting at. My own grandfather fought at Ypres, Gallipoli, Mons and the Somme (he was in the Indian Army) and what faith he had died on the battlefield along with his men. The 20th century was a century of madness and we are still paying the price for it. Anyway, rambling on. Must get to bed..

4 February 2010 at 00:02  
Blogger francis said...

A most illuminating few days, Your Grace. Not much scope for doubt in the mind of an observer as to who, and whose acolytes, came out of the "debate" as the more clearly committed to reason and objective argument rather than vitriol and name-calling (and congratulations are due to you for not flinching in the face of such an assault.)

Somewhat ironically, this episode has shown Prof. Dawkins and his followers intellectually incapable of escaping the limitations of their own preconceptions: assuming a priori that all religious thought must be irrational, they do not feel the need to use reason in their own assaults upon it. Their opponents meanwhile do not suffer from the same conceptual constraints, and are happy to follow the dictates of reason in formulating their thought - as all serious theologians have for centuries. In a sense there is little new here; it is just that one has seldom seen it better exemplified.

4 February 2010 at 00:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they cannot see it, then we just have to accept they cannot see it.

Your Grace.

You are it seems working on the perhaps mistaken assumption that Prof. Dawkins is being wholly truthful about his own personal beliefs. Personally I don't trust the man. IMO he has repeatedly shown himself to be a man on a politically inspired mission, not a scientist in search of the truth.

He is clearly an intelligent and well read man. I am assuming at this point that Dawkins did not bribe himself through his entire university education.

Yet Dawkins is a paradox, and therefore must be either, not even half as intelligent as he, and others think he is, or being, shall we say, economical with the whole truth.

Dawkins problem is not the existence or otherwise of a planetary, or indeed universal creator, for example God. His real problem is organized religion.

We see a car, and conclude there must be a car manufacturer.

We see a garden, and conclude there must be a gardener.

We see a child, and conclude that there must have been a mother, and a father. Yes, even in Tower-Hamlets.

We see a planet with trees, cars, children, and a whole lot more all around us, and so the vast majority generally come to the conclusion that something or someone extra-terrestrial, or indeed spiritual, had something at some past time at least, to do with it.

Darwkins, and other atheists on the other hand, seem to conclude that it is all a highly fortunate, yet perfectly futile product of an almost infinitely long list of vastly unlikely accidents. None of which have had ANY intelligent extra-terrestrial input whatsoever. This in spite of the stark reality that they can not possibly know this to be the case.

With luck like Dawkins seems to believe he has, he certainly does not need next weeks lottery numbers.

No, Darkins is lying. He is not telling the truth even as he sees it. What he is doing is not undermining God, for that is of course impossible. Dawkins is on a mission to undermine all forms of organized religion.

Which he has every right to do.

IMO, organized religion richly deserves to get dumped by the same establishment on which it has so wonderfully enriched itself .

What Dawkins should not be doing is linking science with any type of ultimate understanding of the universe. Such understanding does not exist now, and very likely never will.

Therefore after 90 years of Walt Disney, people very much like Dawkins, and world capitalism working hand in glove, with world Communism. Still the vast majority of even The English speaking people, still believe in some kind of past and/or present divine intervention.

People like Dawkins can not rationally deny the Great Architect of the Universe. What they can try to do is convince many people that Science is the new religion, and that these days they are themselves the new GODS of the very soon to be here, New Age.

4 February 2010 at 01:16  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Having found myself reading through some of the posts and melancthons , "its a matter of perspective" is difficult question in that I feel it ultimately comes round to the individual being right with God , there is as Pauls writtings explain , a struggle, a wrestling. It is interesting to note that Paul did not make any case for becomming world leader to change things , he eluded to this burden and did not believe that one can hand over , ones own life to to be made godly by someone else .

Yet there is this communion aspect of shared perspective and learning and its resultant organisational structures .

I can see that perspective then becomes matters of personal choice/belief and it unravels and polarises.

I can also see how some may see the "viral" nature of it and treat it as just learning subject to debate , which is what must light athiests fires.

There is clearly somthing called order and somthing called chaos acting upon/within the individual and society perhaps even the universe , which you can then make generalisations on religion and it beomes an intellectual matter and a knowledge based arms race.

One christian I met many years ago still leaves a puzzle for me , she was a salvation Army lady maybee about 60yrs old going round the pubs , jingling her tin and selling war cry (in the days before religous objections were invented in pubs) .She was such a warm person , even to this day she stands out in my mind some 20yrs on , she touched my hand to thank me for my donation and I can neither explain what it was like to everyone , or see any benefit in analysing it . She had a uniform but no superioty, but she just shone in such a beautiful and complete way . These days we may well be more cynical and looking for the catch , but she was authentic is perhaps the best way I can describe it .

We are created and born , tolerance is perhaps endless and equality is not quite right as it defines the end product and misses the intriquices/inequities of growth, In christian terms perhaps tolerance is better understood in being or becomming authentic before God and within him/her/it.

Dawkins may wish to cite this as intuative intelligence and put it down to comprehending patterns which can be superimposed , this does not explain how peculiarly precise the Holy spirit can be in our search/struggles or why there may indeed be somthing that we can know is authentic.

4 February 2010 at 01:48  
Anonymous septimus said...

Man is not a machine.The artist and the poet has been supressed in us all.Imagination and creativity are the keys to unlocking the secrets of the universe. Science needs to be inspired by these.In isolation the truth will not be discovered .

4 February 2010 at 05:06  
Blogger OurSally said...

Mr. Cranmer, you are an example of a genuinely religious person who is also intelligent and virtuous. This spat with Dawkins is the first time I have observed you being childish.

Accept this as I have done: some people have an invisible friend, some don't.

Most people can't be bothered to think about it at all. But some of us do think about it, long and hard. We should respect fellow thinkers, even if they don't come to the same conclusion.

4 February 2010 at 07:03  
Anonymous GTGTWG said...

'The same folk who insist upon the impossibility of reconciling the scientific and the theological, the physical and the spiritual, are also the ones who point us to the world of the particle physicist who routinely works in a near metaphysical world in which photons are in two places at the same time and the story is continuing to get “curiouser and curiouser.”

'The religiously scientific are able to think in such ways. Like Alice’s Queen we can indeed sometimes “believe six impossible things before Breakfast” but that is because the more we learn of the complex topsy turvy world which we inhabit, the more we become lost in wonder at the outworkings of our Awesome God.

'I fear it is the “ Brights” who are somewhat dim in this expanding universe of the mind and spirit. We can only smile and enjoy the irony that they appear to be the ones stuck in a rut of 19th Century Darwinian thinking that is fast being left behind.'

Brill YG!!!!

Richard Dawkins! What of Quantum Physics?

4 February 2010 at 07:11  
Anonymous Jewish Bag Lady said...

John D., just ignore Richard e Jones- he is being factious and enjoying watching you attempt to argue with his tongue in check comments. He is from the dawkins site, but apparently likes a little giggle. Also his avatar on that site looked at first glance to be suebo, but then I realised it was Elvis looking dementedly at a bible.

4 February 2010 at 09:16  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

All debate here is pointless. There is no god.

Religion is only of interest in showing how primitive man attempted to find explanations for those things that he sought to understand.

That belief in god persists is due either to ignorance or to intellectual cowardice. For the latter there is no excuse. Intelligent believers place their faith behind a firewall that is impervious to reason and defend their childlike beliefs by citing the provenance of their religion and the culture that surrounds it, neither of which affect the truth.

That truth is that all the gods were invented by man. The few that are left remain because they are still embedded to a lesser or greater degree in most societies.

Why do atheists care? Because religion is a virus that restricts human development and because it is resistant to reason it cannot be challenged. 9/11 showed how dangerous faith can be and the catholic child abuse scandal has demonstrated how that religious virus subverted the political and law enforcement systems in both the USA and Ireland and probably many other places besides.

That folks here and elsewhere spend so much effort defending the indefensible shows how virulent the virus still is. Reason is the anti-venom and we need ever greater supplies of it so that future generations will never suffer from religion’s devastating effects.

4 February 2010 at 09:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graham Davis said...

All debate here is pointless. There is no god.

That, my dear sir, is a faith-based statement, and so unqualified, demands no respect whatsoever. Especially when it follows the posts of many who have a personal experience of God. So why should your proclaimed non-experience trump their own experience?

I could deny the existing of a thousand things I haven't personally experienced, but to do so in the face of millions who have and will tell me so, I must not only be arrogant, but wilfully ignorant.

You atheist guys have a breathtaking share of both, it seems. Have you never wondered what it is you seems to be missing out on, enough to humble yourself to ask some honest questions?

There's a party going on in the next room, but you won't get in if you pretend the door is a figment of everyone elses' imagination!

Be careful what you wish for - you might get it!

4 February 2010 at 10:27  
Blogger John.D said...

An interesting report if anyone has the time:

Darwinism and evolutionism "Doubting Darwin"

4 February 2010 at 12:26  
Blogger Theresa said...


Debate is not pointless and it's not about 'winning the argument'. It's about seeing things from another point of view, even if you don't agree with it. It's about broad mindedness and tolerance; the antidote to fundamentalism from both Christians and atheists. It's what we all need.

4 February 2010 at 13:06  
Anonymous len said...

Graham Davis,
There is no God? Everyone you talk to or get information from is deceived by the devil. When you watch television, you are watching and listening to people who are deceived, and who are passing their deceptions on to you. If you go to school, you receive instruction from teachers who are deceived. If you go to college, you are taught by professors who are deceived. When you read the newspapers or the news magazines, you are reading the opinions of authors who are deceived by Satan. The only hope we have of penetrating this wall of lies and deception which Satan has built around us is the Bible, the standard for truth in our world. Remember that God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2).

4 February 2010 at 23:58  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Says who?

Oh right sorry, you read it in a book didn't you. Must be true then.

Anyway, must be off, got a ring to return to Mordor.

5 February 2010 at 12:55  
Anonymous len said...

As I was saying the whole world is deceived ,take Mr Glovner for example he believes he is a hobbit?

The 'book' as Mr Glovner refer to the Bible is the word of God written through men by the power the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God is the only reliable source of truth in a world steeped in deception.

The Bible is a spiritual mirror, when examined it reflects a true image of the beholder. This is possibly why so many reject it because they find the truth unacceptable?.
But to find the truth is a good starting point in evaluating our true condition.

5 February 2010 at 19:31  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Nope, the bible is a collection books brought together in a bumper collection of stories from lots of different authors.

The someone at some point a long time ago said:

"See that book? It's true that is, all happened, the lot of it."

And here we are 1700 years later.

"That's a book and nothing more, just like any other book."

"No it isn't, some guy I know, knew a guy who had a brother or something that said it was true, big bloke in the sky told him what to right."

"Really? Wow, bugger me, must be true then. Oh well, catch you later."

"Where you going?"

"Got to get the number 44 bus to Mordor to drop this ring off don't I."

"Why's that then?"

"Reaad it in a book didn't I"

"Really? Wow, must be true then."

5 February 2010 at 23:22  
Anonymous len said...

Mr Glovner,
Calm down.

Methinks you do protest too much.

If the bible is only a book you have nothing to loose,
if its the Word of God, you have everything to loose.

6 February 2010 at 00:27  
Anonymous Grumpy Old English Teacher said...

I know that this is off topic, pedantic and twatish as well, but could I point out to everyone that the verb for misplacing something and being unable to find it is 'lose' as opposed to the verb for easing something that is tight or tied which is 'loose'? I am seeing this everywhere now..

Sorry, I'll go get my coat..

6 February 2010 at 00:52  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Hate to tell you Grumps but we don't see that here.Your education system along with everything else is down the tube.Believe me I'm not rubbing salt into the wounds.With your wonderful literary traditions it is heartbreaking to watch and I wish there was a way of stopping the downhill trend.Your decline affects many of us who live outside your country as well.

6 February 2010 at 02:53  
Anonymous len said...

Grumpy old English teacher,
I stand corrected,thanks

6 February 2010 at 11:37  
Anonymous Toby said...

And yet again we have parasitic clergy, whose only real job is defrauding gullible members of society, claiming victory over Dawkins. Like tarot readers and circus psychics, religions make grand claims and take the money. Not one single scrap of evidence in 2000 years of looking, whereby everything Dawkins asserts can be backed up with a wealth of evidence from widely varying sources. The church should be referred to Trading Standards as charlatans that sell false hope at a premium.


11 February 2010 at 10:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But the good Professor has been timing His Grace on the passing hours it has taken to respond (which is a little unfair, for His Grace does not have an abundantly-funded foundation behind him)."

You mean like the church?

"It is interesting that you are able to assert so dogmatically that Adam ‘actually never existed’.

It is an assertion that cannot be made other than by faith, for you cannot possibly know by any epistemology or method of science."
The same could be said of the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, Thor, Amun Ra, etc ad nauseam
And yet you and your followers seem to have no problem rejecting them. Out of all the millions of gods, sprits, ghosts and other things that don't exist, we largely agree, but atheists just go one step further and point out that if 99.99999% can be shown to be rubbish, we can round up to 100%.

"What is the source of your information that ‘all Christians believe...’? "
Apparently christians have some sort of instruction book, called the bibbel or something. We are constantly told how holy it is, that if not the word of god, certainly inspired by god. He uses your holy book to judge your cult. If you are saying the book is inconsequential and should be ignore, i heartily agree.

With respect (once again) if the sum total of your ‘understanding of Christian theology is set out in points 1 and 2 above’, the observation of a sub-GCSE level of comprehension may be fairly adduced."

How advanced must my easterbunnyist education be before i can confidently claim it's non-existance? How much must i study Thor before i am allowed to say he doesn't exist?

"His Grace does not wish to caricature either you or your views, and certainly not in the fashion that Howard Jacobson has recently done."
Really? How about this:"One wonders why you consider an accusation of ‘spineless hypocrisy’ or of the possession of 'a sub-GCSE level of comprehension' to be vitriolic, "

Very graceful, i'm sure. I'm sure jebus would approve.

I fully support Dawkins, or anyone, that stands up to your cannabalistic jewish cult, or any other religion. As it is apparent that it is a lying, stealing hypocritical cancer growing within our society.
Tell you what, want to prove me wrong? Then use the vast wealth of the church and give it back to the people you conned out of it, i might actually start to accept some of the things you say if you give up the hunt for material wealth.


11 February 2010 at 10:56  
Anonymous len said...

Dawkins is a puffed up, egotistical,windbag. Dawkins has fallen for the oldest deception in the world" You can be as God" Evolution “It is a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”

12 February 2010 at 20:25  
Anonymous len said...

How can you be anonymous and Toby?

As I have said elsewhere why are atheists so obsessed with God?

12 February 2010 at 20:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because if there wasn't a God, they wouldn't have anything to talk about, Len..:)

13 February 2010 at 01:31  

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