A Poet and an Atheist Walk into a Bar… … an imaginary discussion between Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Dawkins IS 2012 – B. Martin
The conversationalists… • Gerard Manley Hopkins • Born 1844 – died 1889 • Balliol College, Oxford educated • One of the greatest Victorian poets • Christian, Jesuit Priest • Richard Dawkins • Born 1941 • Balliol College, Oxford educated • Renowned biologist • Atheist
God’s Grandeur THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs— Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Is belief in God rational? • Dawkins uses a very specific and exclusive definition of rationality Evidential Rationality: It is rational to accept a belief only if there are good reasons to believe that it is true. The degree to which one accepts the belief should be in proportion to the strength of the evidence for that belief
Scientism • Emerged during the Enlightenment (18th century) and grew out of a belief in the progress of human knowledge and the perfectibility of human kind • This leads to a formalist or positivist conception of science Science is the only means to reliable knowledge. Everything that can be understood can be understood through (and only through) the proper application of science
The Warfare or Conflict Model… • Science and religion cannot exist in harmony and must always make core claims that are contradictory with one another. • You must choose between them (and the only rational choice is science!)
Pied Beauty GLORY be to God for dappled things— For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; And álltrádes, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.
Man at last knows he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose“ Jacques Monod Chance and Necessity, 1971
Scorecard 2011 Game 6, World Series – Cardinals defeat Rangers to win title
Anatomy of a WorldView • A worldview should provide two functions: • A theoretical Function: a way of seeing the world that makes sense of reality • A regulative function: a view that provides guidance to help the adherents live their daily lives (adapted from MikaelStenmark, 1995)
Science Re-mixed • Science is understood as a social phenomenon and cannot claim an absolute form of objectivity or access to universal truths • Other forms of knowing can operate parallel to scientific modes of knowing • Rationality is to some degree relative to the kinds of belief or practice we are investigating; rationality is domain or practice relative
We are now traversing distances beside which the immense line stretching from the earth to the sun is but an invisible point',said the youth. 'When just now, we had reached a planet whose remoteness is a hundred times the remoteness of the sun from the earth, we were only a two thousandth part of the journey to the spot at which we have optically arrived now.' 'O pray don't; it overpowers me!' she replied, not without seriousness. 'It makes me feel that it is not worth while to live; it quite annihilates me.''If it annihilates your ladyship to roam over these yawning spaces just once, think how it must annihilate me to be, as it were, in constant suspension amid them night after night.'