Monday, February 27, 2012


TAKES ON ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY - Oxford University held its first debate on the subject of evolution in 1860, just months after the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Then, the Bishop of Winchester, Samuel Wilberforce, famously enquired of the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley whether it was through his grandmother or his grandfather that he traced his descent from a monkey. The response he drew from the man known as “Darwin’s bulldog” ensured that the exchange went down in history. The university hosted what seemed tantalisingly like a similar clash of great minds, between the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Professor Richard Dawkins – like Huxley, a bulldog on behalf of Darwin’s theories. The conversation was conducted with utmost politeness. The cleric even confessed his belief in evolution, and agreed with Dawkins that humans shared non-human ancestors.

The gentility of Dawkins and Williams’s confrontation was in sharp contrast to its febrile context. On a visit to the Vatican this month, the Tory party chairman, Lady Warsi, warned of the “militant secularisation” of society, presumably led by scientists such as Professor Dawkins. Dawkins subsequently made headlines by forgetting the full title of Darwin’s seminal work (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life) during a live radio broadcast. He even faced a character assassination by a Sunday newspaper last weekend, on the basis that some of his ancestors probably owned slaves. Could Dawkins disprove the existence of God? He could not, he confessed, describing himself not as an atheist but as an agnostic.  On his own atheism scale of one-to-seven, the Professor suggested, “the probability of any supernatural creator existing is very, very low, so let’s say I’m a 6.9”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was going head to head in a public debate with the leading secularist Richard Dawkins at Oxford University.  Prof Dawkins set out a world view based on a process of evolutionary selection, played out over millions of years. But the Archbishop of Canterbury challenged this human-centric vision of the universe, arguing that all our analysis of the accidental or divine design of life was seen through the narrow lens of our own human experience.

In the history of humanity there is a long standing debate on theism vs. atheism. Better thinkers than you or I have pondered this issue reaching different conclusions. From this it seems that there is sufficient logic in support of the spiritual reality, at least as much as there is in support of atheism. Beyond logic lies the realm of spiritual experience. ... And we can proceed to experience ourselves. If you like the experiences you get from your practice, continue the practice, as there is no other proven method by which one can get such experience. Furthermore, the method prescribed by the saints for attaining spiritual experience involves becoming an ideal person, whose actions (karma) are integrated with knowledge (jnana), making one fit for a balanced emotional life (bhakti).

Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“Difficulties on the Path: In the Hands of God”
Śrī Caitanya Sanga - Vol. II, No. 38 - November 2, 2000  -

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