Tag Archives: Archbishop of Canterbury

The Grand Design – neither God nor 42

It seems that God, or more correctly disbelief in God, sells books. In recent years anyway. Perhaps since the religiously motivated terrorist attacks in New York nine years ago this week.

So one can hardly blame the publishers for jumping on to the advertising bandwagon with Stephen Hawking‘s latest book The Grand Design (with co-author Leonard Mlodinow).  And I am sure that is what has lead to headlines like Stephen Hawking: God NOT Needed For Creation, Stephen Hawking: God didn’t create universe, Hawking Says God Not Needed to Kick-Start Big Bang; World Freaks Out. Even Somebody’s Going To Hell! Stephen Hawking: “God Not Necessary For Universe To Exist”.

Inevitable advertising hype.

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The Archbishop’s straw man

It has become rather popular for theologians to talk about the ‘limits of science’. That, in itself is not objectionable – after all many scientists also talk about its limitations. The objectionable part is when theologians do this as a criticism of scientists. When they attribute a position to scientists, or at least some scientists, which they actually don’t have.

In other words when they are knocking down straw men.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, indulged in this form of straw-mannery in an interview about his recent book with The Guardian (see Cross purposes). As the article says:

He also tilts in the book at the pretensions of science, and by extension scientists such as Dawkins: “Science is a set of brilliantly successful methods producing brilliantly successful hypotheses about how things work. What it’s not is a picture of reality. It will give you a very significant purchase on reality. But it’s not an ethic, not a metaphysic. To treat it like that is a kind of idolatry.”

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