Some good news: the online ‘debate’ between Dawkins and the religion editors of the Times can be read for free. It’s a terrible format: it’s just a chat window with people throwing questions at Dawkins, which he deftly slices out of the air with a samurai sword of reason. Here’s one of the more coherent questions the pro-faith gummi bears tossed at him, which will give you an idea of the quality of the interrogation.
I just interviewed David Wilkinson, principal of St John’s Durham and astrophysicist, and this is what he said (full interview at my Times blog Articles of Faith):
The science Stephen Hawking uses raises a number of questions which for many opens the door to the possibility of an existence of a creator and for many points to the existence of a creator.
‘One would be the the purpose of the universe. Although science might discover the mechanism, we are still left with the question of what is the purpose.
‘Second is where the laws of physics come from. Science subsumes the laws but we are still left with the question of where the laws come from.
‘Third is the intelligibility of the universe. It strikes me as interesting that Stephen Hawking can make it intelligible. Albert Einstein once said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. For many of us who are struck by the intelligibility of the physical laws, the explanation is that the creator is the force of rationality both for the universe and for our minds.
To summarize Dawkins’ three answers: Why even propose a cosmic purpose? That question isn’t answered by postulating a mysterious intelligent being, either. Why assume a godless universe would have to be unintelligible?
Stupid questions do not warrant our concern or need to answer. Questions that do not bring us closer to understanding are nothing but the posturings of people who substitute noise for reason.