Tue 23rd Sep 2014 | Last updated: Mon 22nd Sep 2014 at 16:06pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

Did you know that it is the Times newspaper’s official view that a creator God doesn’t exist? Neither did I

To make matters worse, the paper is a starry-eyed Dawkins-supporting organ

By on Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Times rolls off the presses (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The Times rolls off the presses (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

I was going to write about something else today, but had to change my mind: sitting reading the Times (that’s the London Times, for any transatlantic readers) over breakfast on my Kindle this morning I came across one of the most outrageous (from a Christian point of view) leading articles I have ever read in an English newspaper. Times leaders are usually safe enough: they’re not a bad place to start after you’ve had a look at the front page: you usually get, with a bit of fairly bland and inoffensive comment, three well-informed short pieces which include what Americans call the “backstory” (Oxford dictionary definition: “background information about a … person or thing that promotes fuller understanding of it”.)

The opinion part of a leading article is important if you want to know where a paper is coming from. The leader gives a paper’s official position: and the official position of The Times newspaper, it seems, stated today with an absolute and contemptuous certainty (in the middle of an article which is not far from being in effect a puff for a newly published children’s book by Richard Dawkins), is that the Christian God (and the Muslim God and the Jewish God for that matter) does not exist and also that the belief that he does has been, intellectually, conclusively disposed of:

The argument that creation requires a sentient creator – the teleological argument – had been ably sunk long before Professor Dawkins’ hero Charles Darwin began to fret whether a benevolent deity would have wilfully created a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs inside the body of a living caterpillar. David Hume perhaps scuttled it best, pointing out that if something as complex as the Universe required a creator, then that creator, being more complex, must have required one, too.

Charles Darwin, however, though he did indeed fret about parasitic wasps, was no atheist: “The mystery of the beginning of all things,” he wrote in his autobiography, “is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.” He may be Dawkins’s hero: but he would have greatly disliked Dawkins’s belligerence: “Why should you be so aggressive?”, he said to the atheist Edward Aveling: “Is anything gained by trying to force these new ideas upon the mass of mankind?” “I hardly see”, he wrote “how religion & science can be kept as distinct as [Edward Pusey] desires… But I most wholly agree… that there is no reason why the disciples of either school should attack each other with bitterness.”

He was quite clear that the theory of evolution did not in any way tend towards disproving the existence of God: to one correspondent he wrote: “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.” He went further: “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.”

As for Hume having “scuttled” the teleological argument for the existence of God, Darwin certainly didn’t think he had: he was confused by the problem of suffering in nature, but was still (wasps notwithstanding) inclined to believe that nature depended upon “designed laws” and he supported his disciple Asa Gray (who published the first American edition of On the Origin of Species) when he asserted that Darwin’s work supported the teleological argument for God’s existence rather than undermining it.

So much for the Times’s ignorant, Dawkins-worshipping opinions, which appeared, as I say, not in a personal opinion piece written by an author entitled to his or her views (Matthew Parris, for instance, is a convinced atheist and anti-Catholic, but I usually enjoy and admire his Times articles): these views appeared as the paper’s official religious outlook. The declared philosophical assumptions of The Times newspaper, that is to say, include the belief that the universe had no “sentient creator”: a creator God does not exist. What else in the paper’s philosophy is shot through by this atheistical certainty, but in a more hidden way? Who knows? In the Guardian, I would expect it: that’s one reason I don’t read the Guardian. Well, it’s now one reason why I won’t in future be reading the Times: over my boiled egg I require a certain fellow-feeling with my daily newspaper (I was, come to think of it, already aware of a certain unease). I now know not only that I haven’t presently got it, but that the Times just doesn’t care.

As for the teleological argument which the Times thinks (if that’s the word) that Hume “scuttled” (hah!) it may be worth recalling that Aquinas put it forward as his fifth logical argument for the existence of God in the Summa; it’s not absolutely required that Catholics accept it, I suppose, but I don’t see why one wouldn’t: “The fifth [argument]”, says St Thomas, “is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore, some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.” As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it (referring to the Summa): “The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason” (§286). This argument was good enough for Darwin, it seems; I don’t see why it shouldn’t be good enough for me.

  • http://twitter.com/DaTechGuyblog Peter Ingemi

    Personally I prefer that a paper like the times come out and say what they think rather than pretend otherwise.  That way we know where everyone stands.

  • PMA

    Might it have something to do with the usefulness of pop Darwinism as a legitimating mythology for the Murdochs’ preferred approach to economics and politics?  I recall Matthew Parris reminiscing about the imortance of Dawkins’ Selfih Gene (published in 1976) as a manifesto for his generation of young Thatcherites.

  • W Oddie

    interesting. Maybe….

  • W Oddie

    I agree.

  • Bernardesque

    As usual, there’s a fudging of the real questions. Science answers the question: “How did life develop?”; religion answers the question “Why is there something rather than nothing? Whence existence?”

  • http://twitter.com/roystonsapperat Royston

    What do you, these days, expect from the Times?

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t worry too much.  I find The Times an irrelevance these days now it is stuck behind a pay wall.  The paper is losing money, and it comes from a publisher compromised by phone hacking.

  • Glenn_crawford2

    For once I must agree with the Times. It is simply not possible to prove beyond doubt the non existence of God but for goodness sake get a grip, there is not a single shred of evidence that God does exist and an awful lot of evidence that this thing you call God does not exist. All living things on Earth evolved from the same organism and all the planets in our known universe were formed by the conservation of angular momentum. Nothing to do with some great creator. For your own sake, get real. God does not exist. Fact

  • Mark Bailey

    That leader would have been written by Oliver Kamm, a confirmed Dawkin’s admirer and a practised conveyor of condescending contempt for religion.

  • Mark Bailey

    One of the few ‘facts’ we have in this debate is the ‘fact’ that believe in the metaphysical explanation for life and creation has been the universal default throughout all time and cultures. Like Black Holes, Higgs-Bosuns and numerous other phenomena, their existence can only be determined by the effect on others, as they remain, in themselves, undetectable.

  • ms catholic state

    The notion of a Creator-less Creation is an oxymoron.  If atheists have proof that something (in this case the universe) can arise out of nothing….by itself…. and organise itself into highly complex interconnecting systems….then we should know about it.

    Otherwise….the one and only logical explanation is that the universe was brought into existence from nothing… by a powerful God that always was.  That moment of Creation was Big Bang. 

  • Halifax

    Come on, it’s the atheist Times. Lots of us have known for quite a while that they love Dick Dawkins and hate Christians. I suppose this article makes it more obvious, but it was quite evident beforehand.

    The question is: why should any Christian anywhere give their financial support to such a newspaper? Let’s take them down by refusing to give them our money – they even censored themselves online to make it easier for us to ignore them.

    If Christians gave their money only to pro-Christian newspapers, the media landscape would start to change…

  • Sacredheartandbloodofjesus

    Concerning the wasp argument(and thus the problem of suffering)…we Christians believe in a thing called original sin, and this sin has screwed nature up so to speak.

  • Sacredheartandbloodofjesus

    Concerning the wasp argument(and thus the problem of suffering)…we Christians believe in a thing called original sin, and this sin has screwed nature up so to speak.

  • SteveO

    Mr. Oddie, what would your opinion of The Times be if they had declared themselves (in the same manner) a newspaper of Christian values? Would that have been okay and something to be admired?

  • Anonymous

    It seems that the Times newspaper has finally come out of the closet regarding the editorial staff’s collective opinion on the existence of a Divine Creator.  The usual route for newspapers regarding religious claims is to provide a platform for contributors to voice their opinions with a disclaimer stating that the piece in question did not necessarily concur with the editorial beliefs of the paper.  Will this precedent for a national UK daily bring other newspapers into the open to flaunt their atheistic credentials?
    On what basis does the newspaper in question base it’s less than humble opinion?  It cites three authorities for this, namely Dawkins, Darwin and Hume.  William Oddie convincingly demonstrates that Darwin was not a dyed-in-the-atheist who somehow flipped over his beliefs after initially advocating a firm Christian standpoint.  He saw no obvious dichotomy between the worlds of Science and Religion but rather that they nourished each other in a healthy, complementary fashion.  Dawkins has become such a militant opponent of Christianity and religion in general to the point where he has stepped outside of his normal competency and has become the champion of unreason.  Hume was a product of the Scottish enlightenment and saw the world purely in terms of man controlling his environment in a technical, scientific way without any need for a Creator.I think the best way to challenge those with atheistic or agnostic tendencies is to bring their attention to the innate complexity of the seemingly infinite cosmos which is built on the interaction of sub-atomic particles operating on the basis of mathematical and physical laws.  How can this situation be the result of blind chance and not the orderly mind of a Divine Creator?  How can Newtons Laws of Motion or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity be the products of nothingness?  We instinctively know that computers can only operate through a series of coded commands given to them by a programmer, so why can we not apply this analogy to our universe?  This is food for thought.

  • David Lindsay

    “Such deployment [of the resources of Scripture and Tradition] upholds ontology and epistemology, ethics and aesthetics, economics and politics, society and culture, art and science, as against radical pluralism’s intolerance of any but its own claim to absolute truth, as against eclecticism’s refusal of the mediation of whole systems of thought by whole cultures, as against historicism’s denial of the enduring validity of truth, as against scientism’s restriction of objective truth to the findings of the natural-scientific method (or, perhaps, of that method’s actual or supposed analogues), and as against radical pragmatism’s failure to recognise the fundamental human need to be more than pragmatic alone. This upholding safeguards natural science against the eternalism, animism, pantheism, cyclicism and astrology that always characterise the thought of fallen humanity apart from the Biblical revelation. Those precluded or arrested the rise of natural science everywhere other than in Medieval Europe, and ‘post-Christian’ culture is now visibly regressing to them. To confine “scientific disclosure to revealing the technical transformability of the world, thereby allowing it to be potentially subservient to charity” looks like a frightened surrender to scientism, itself ignorant of the intellectual climate that alone made possible the rise of science.”
     
    And
     
    “The classical liberal is, of course, entirely correct to assert that belief in the objective existence of God is fully compatible with philosophical and scientific analysis, and that God operates in and through any scientifically investigable process. But such belief can never be restricted to such analysis, nor can that operation be limited to any one or more such processes. Scientific facts cannot be the objects of faith; one is simply obliged to accept them. Likewise, it is thoroughly orthodox to assert that some sort of experience of God underlies each of the great, or indeed small, theistic religious traditions in so far as any such tradition approximates to Christianity, as well as to recognise that His Natural Law is the root cause of similarities to Christian morality in other ethical systems. It is also the case that the full humanity of Jesus Christ must be emphasised most strongly while at the same time asserting that He was the man fully conscious of God in the way that we are all partially capable of being. However, the humanity of Christ must never be allowed to detract from His divinity, any more than vice versa, and a mere ‘degree Christology’ fails to satisfy humanity’s need for a Saviour who is at once God and Man.”
     
    Buy the book here.

  • Jb

    “It is simply not possible to prove beyond doubt the non existence of God” (…) “God does not exist. Fact.”

    The greatest mystery is not the existence of God. The greates mystery is how atheists consider themselves to be logical.

  • Westley

    “religion answers the question” in the same way a Magic 8-Ball answers questions.  Sure, it’s an answer, but why would you think it has any veracity?

  • Stuart

    And I find that Hume is thoroughly defeated by Fr. Garrigou-Langrange O.P.. Particularly on matters of causality and the fundamental laws of though having a secure foundation in the laws of reality. So many of the modern critics of religion haven’t taken the time to explore the various answers and illustrations given by religious thinkers. Atheists will often name some concept that they don’t fully understand and then discard it without further consideration.

  • http://twitter.com/StevieNichollDJ Stevie Nicholl

    @Sacredheartandbloodofjesus And you don’t have a problem with this ‘original sin’?… the fact that your god blames YOU for something that Eve did?  The fact that an all powerful god impregnated a women (without her consent) to supposedly create a human looking version of himself, then commit suicide on a cross (1/2 a suicide really), again all for the sins of Eve.  To make it even worse… the ALL KNOWING god, who would have known how the whole story panned out right from the start, didn’t intervene earlier to protect HIS people (of the future earth), to which the bible states ‘he loves us all’.  It’s all a load of shit. Your mind is warped to beleive otherwise.  I will give you one of my favourite examples of how much BS is in the bible…

    When god made Adam, he soon realised that Adam was ‘bored’, ‘Lonely’ etc etc.  So god decided to make Eve for company for him.  Now this clearly states that Eve was an afterthought… If Eve was just an afterthought, then why did god make Adam with reproductive organs?  Surley there were MALE & FEMALE animals (the ones that god told us that Adam got bored with)… so why would Eve have only been an afterthought in the first place… he (god) had already made it possible for both sexes of animals to mate!!!  Why leave Adam out?  See?!!! BS!!!

  • http://syrophoenicianwoman.blogspot.com/ Bethanie Ryan

    To me, it seems as if they know about as much about Hume as they do about Darwin. They are the only people I have heard of that think that Hume “scuttled” the question at all. In Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,” he seems to leave the question up in the air as to whether or not there is a creator God. He does, however, argue that one cannot reach the conclusion of a creator God through experience and reason alone and he lambasts organized religion. These journalists need to do their homework.

  • Anonymous

    To paraphrase Henry Ford:  Evolution is bunk.
    Darwinism has failed to explain the existence of a complex process such as blood-clotting, a mechanism now known to have an irreducible complexity, and could not have evolved from a simpler mechanism.  The only possible inference is that it was specially created to enable warm-blooded creatures to survive a life-threatening injury, which infers that such creatures were themselves specially created at the same time.

  • Mcnees

    I’m afraid that this entire discussion is confused.  Paley isn’t Aquinas: while Hume and Dawkins are effective against the former, they don’t even touch the latter.  And it’s really the cosmological argument, rather than the teleological argument, that is in question.  For badly needed clarification see Edward Feser, AQUINAS and/or Edward Feser,  THE LAST SUPERSTITION.

  • Davidfsavage

    I thought St Anselm pre-empted  Hulme by several hundred years. Anselm defined god as “that which no greater can be conceived”-  if Hulme thought that he had defined a god that needed to be created .. he wasn’t actually starting with God in the first place, as if it need a creator it wasn’t God.  His argument disappears.

  • Jonathan West

    An article about a Times leader, and you can’t resist taking a pop at Dawkins, even though he’s only mentioned in passing in the article., whose arguments ton’t in any way depend on him.

    And in doing so, you do the normal cowardly thing of failing to tackle any of Dawkins’ arguments and say why he is wrong, but instead claim that he is “aggressive”, which, even if it were true, would not demonstrate that he is wrong.

    Might i suggest a short course in logical thinking might be in order?

  • Paul Rimmer

    I am with Darwin, who did not agree with the teleological argument, and also did not accept that “The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason.”

    The question is uninteresting to me, and it appears to have no solution. How can we know if God exists? Why spend time on the question?

  • FM

    Hume grossly misunderstood the SERIOUS teleological argument (like Aquinas’, whose arguments do not even consider ‘complexity’ at all… ), actually Hume said a lot of other nonsense too… , and Darwin and successors knew only Paley’s argument, which is a joke…

    Hence the Time is writing out of his paper ass.

  • Honeybadger

    I stopped buying The Times ages and ages ago.

    It was the way Murdoch’s publications and others treated The Holy Father before his visit which put me off ever buying a mainstream newspaper again… except both the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and a decent Roman Catholic paper which shall remain nameless (clue: it ain’t The Universe).

    I guess that the Godlessness of The Times and others have led to this lack of morals when it comes to phone-hacking scandals and raking dirt for public consumption.

    As Halifax said: why should any Christian anywhere give their financial support to such a newspaper i.e. The Times?

    The smart money in my purse goes to better things than rags.

    The Daily and Sunday Telegraph are my papers of choice.

  • Honeybadger

    Dawkins and logical thinking? Go together like Ian Paisley and a rosary beads…

  • Honeybadger

    Spot on. Dawkins and his like are condescending when it comes to religion – particularly the Roman Catholic Church which winds them up in a hateful, heated frenzy.

    Good to know that we wind them up so much. We must be getting to them.

  • Anonymous

    I should have thought that this was glaringly obvious to all.

  • Jonathan West

    Blood clotting was one of the issues specifically addressed in the Dover trial. Michael Behe had claimed that it couldn’t have had an evolutionary origin. On being presented with about 50 scientific papers describing it, he had no response other than to say that they “weren’t enough”, which from his point of view of being determined not to accept the evidence was perfectly true!

    So, if you want to believe evolution is untrue, you can, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that your belief has anything to do with evidence.

  • SteveO

    Such a tired and unintellectual statement, “…the Godlessness of The Times and others have led to this lack of morals…”. Do you REALLY believe that someone cannot have a high moral standard without religious belief? I have no belief in any god, yet I seem to have higher morals than a number of so called religiously devout people I could point to.

  • SteveO

    You ask for proof of a creator-less creation, yet cannot provide any proof of a creator apart from your personal belief – so how is one argument stronger than the other?

  • Anonymous

    I prefer Michael Behe’s account of the phenomenon, detailed in his book “Darwin’s Black Box”.  He, at least, unlike you, is an expert on the subject.

  • ms catholic state

    Whether there is a God or not is the most basic question man can ask.  How we answer it….determines how we view everything else….even science itself.  And it determines our very approach to life…how it should be lived…and what its ultimate purpose is.

  • ms catholic state

    My personal belief in God is based on logic.  The notion of a Creator-less Creation is the stuff of illogical nonsense.

  • ms catholic state

    Without God there can be no fixed objective moral absolutes.  Atheists make morals up to suit their personal and political agendas.  Very very dangerous.

  • SteveO

    So your belief is correct, but another belief can be stated as fact to be nonsense? How open minded of you…

  • SteveO

    You completely circumvent any proof of fact, basing your argument on your biased belief – as you have with other points here. I have no god in my beliefs, yet I have moral absolutes that match those a Christian is supposed to follow. I ‘make up’ my morals in EXACTLY the same way any religious faith does – based on what is best for the society as a whole. So if the way I do it is dangerous, so is the way any religious faith does it. You talk of logic and actually use very little.

  • Jonathan West

    The appeal to authority. Nice one.

  • Jonathan West

    Ad hominem. Well done! That is a truly enlightening contribution. You must be so proud of that.

  • Jonathan West

    That statement supports your idea that god ought to exist. But it doesn’t throw any light at all on whether he does exist, and whether, if he does, “fixed objective moral absolutes” are a consequence.

    It seems to me that the greater danger is to believe in those “fixed objective moral absolutes” and to try and impose them on others in the absence of evidence justifying the stance.

  • SteveO

    You seem to have missed recent happenings concerning Behe and his theories. The happenings where he has conceded that some of his ‘proof’ of intelligent design has, in fact, been disproven.

  • ms catholic state

    Of course it does.  If something is logical and has been proven to work well…as the belief in God especially the Christian God has served the whole world well…..then you should logically accept it as true unless it can be conclusively proven incorrect.  Otherwise you are acting irrationally and unwisely.  Well that’s atheists for you.

    And it is only right to believe in fixed objective moral absolutes of the higest order…as Catholicism offers…than the dangerous pernicious politically and power driven ‘morals’ of suspect individuals and their lowminded agendas.  If you haven’t learnt that from the history of the 20th century…..then you have learnt nothing.

  • ms catholic state

    Your morals are most likely emotion based and serving of your own personal agenda.  I could never subscribe to them.  I don’t know what your morals are….and I’m not interested.  The best ones…in fact the brilliant ones are found in the Catholic teachings.

  • ms catholic state

    If your beliefs are an offense to rational thinking…..then of course they are the stuff on nonsense. 

  • Anonymous

    Evidence?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your admission of defeat.  Perhaps you now agree with me that evolution is bunk?