A question of perspective
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.'