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Customer Review

on 19 May 2009
Dawkins is a world renowned scientist, and probably the leading proponent of "New Atheism"; John Lennox is a leading mathematician and Christian apologist (largely using the philosophy of science). Both are professors and fellows at Oxford University, and both are are intellectually unimpeachable. So to see them debate something as important as God (or "The God Delusion Debate", to give it its official title) is truly fascinating, in a culture where the debate has become horribly cruel, hateful and polemical.

As a Christian, I feel very wary of Dawkins: I am fully aware of the scorn he would pour upon me were we to meet, and I am aware of his (reputed) unwillingness to debate people of faith. But, in this debate, he comes across as a gentleman, and it was a lovely surprise. He slips in the odd barb, and there was a smattering of undeniable venom, but he was mostly respectful, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to listen to him expound on his opinions without its being so pejorative-laced and didactic.

The structure of the debate is a little frustrating - as Dawkins himself says, he rather wishes he were permitted to respond directly to Lennox, as opposed to taking turns in expressing their views. But, the debate covers 6 main points in Dawkins's The God Delusion, so while it's not comprehensive, it gives them both ample - and, importantly, equal - opportunity to talk. The 6 points of discussion, as plucked from the book, are:

~ faith is blind, and science is evidence-based

~ science - in particular, evolution - supports atheism, and not Christianity

~ who designed the Designer?

~ Christianity is dangerous

~ no-one needs God to be moral

~ Christian claims about the nature of Jesus are not true

I don't want to use this review as an opportunity to ram my own beliefs down anyone's throat, so I won't discuss the content of the actual debate, nor how persuasive I found it, as it's subjective and, within a review, irrelevant. Suffice it to say, in watching this, my faith was strengthened. By the same token, I think an avowed atheist will find their opinion strengthened, too. People in the middle, though, may find this immensely thought-provoking and, in places, surprising and it's really 50/50 as to which side of the debate will be found more persuasive.

Towards the end of the debate, the rigid structure causes it to stumble slightly, with both chaps becoming frustrated and losing their respective trails of thought. (Lennox, incidentally, discusses his side of the debate in his own book.) But it remains polite - if slightly more prickly than it began - and given how ugly the entire debate has become, it is a genuine relief, and a salve, and be you (rational) Christian, (rational) atheist, or somewhere in the middle, chances are you'll find this fascinating.
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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