AC Grayling is one of Britain’s best-known atheist thinkers. His new book, The God Argument, claims to refute the key arguments for God and show why humanism is the best way forward.
On a recent edition of the faith debate radio show ‘Unbelievable?’ hosted by Justin Brierley, Christian Philosopher Peter S Williams discussed some of the God issues with Grayling.
Williams believes Grayling has badly misunderstood the arguments for God in his book. In a busy show, they debate several arguments for the existence of God, including the argument from fine tuning, the cosmological argument and the moral argument.
Unbelievable? the Saturday morning radio show where Christians and not-Christians debate issues of faith and ethics, has produced a conference – also called Unbelievable? – which is now in its third year.
We asked Justin Brierley, the host of the radio show and the conference, to tell us what it’s all about.
‘This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of CS Lewis,’ says Justin. ‘Our main theme picks up his famous trilemma, where he says that the logic of the story of Jesus means that you must decide whether he is a liar, a lunatic or Lord.’
The conference title adds a fourth category, though. Says Justin: ‘We’ve also added the question of...
This is a ‘wham-bam, take it or leave it’ book. Professor Grayling issues terse, often idiosyncratic, definitions without considering the extensive philosophical debates surrounding them.
Religions, for example, he says dismissively, ‘derive ultimately from the superstitions of illiterate herdsmen’. Well, I suppose all human institutions do, but most of them have changed quite a lot since then, and it is hard to see why religions should not have done so as well. Secularism says that ‘any view can exist, providing it is tolerant of other views’. Presumably, then, I can believe that the poor should...
Richard Swinburne, a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and the author of The Existence of God, recently talked to journalist Nigel Bovey about whether there is good evidence for believing there is a God.
Professor, what fascinated you about philosophy that made you want to make it your life’s work?
I am interested in big questions, such as: What is the world made of? What is the relation of mind and body? Do we have free will? Are there moral certainties? Among the questions are those of whether there is a God and whether he is interacting with us.
I have always been a religious person and therefore have been only too pleased to apply my philosophical expertise to those questions about God.
A new kind of church opened its doors early in January. The Sunday Assembly met at a deconsecrated church in north London and rather than offer its flock hymns and prayers, instead got them to sing pop songs such as Build Me Up, Buttercup, and to spend time thinking of how they might live better lives in the year ahead.
However, tea and biscuits, that other staple of church life, remained very much on the menu. As did the sermon, which was provided by a children’s book author.
The biggest departure from traditional church, though, is that the Sunday Assembly has no God. Describing itself as ‘part atheist church and part foot-stomping show’, the church is the brainchild of two stand-up comedians, Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones, who recognise the value provided by local church...
A book arguing for the emotional intelligence of Christianity comes out in paperback at the beginning of March. Unapologetic, by the writer Francis Spufford, recommends the Christian faith not for its logical coherence or because the existence of God can be proven, but because it is true to life as we experience it.
Traditionally, the battle between believers and unbelievers has been fought on logical grounds, so Spufford’s book is an unusual attempt to convince people of the value of faith. Its approach is reflected in the book’s subtitle: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense.
Says Spufford: ‘Emotions can certainly be misleading: they can fool you into believing stuff that is definitely, demonstrably untrue. Yet emotions are also our...
Are the strident attacks of biologist Richard Dawkins on religious belief signs of fundamentalism? In an interview given to Spanish newspaper El Mundo at the end of 2012, Professor Peter Higgs seemed to think so.
‘What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists, said Higgs. But there are many believers who are not just fundamentalists. Fundamentalism is another problem. I mean, Dawkins in a way is almost a kind of fundamentalist himself.’
Peter Higgs is the theoretical physicist who in 1964 predicted the existence of an elementary particle, the Higgs boson, which was also called the ‘God particle’. It’s not a name Higgs likes. ‘First, because I am not a believer. But even if I were, I would not like it because it encourages people to confuse...
The ontological argument, one of the classic ‘proofs’ of God’s existence, first formulated by Anselm of Canterbury in 1078, was recently explored on BBC Radio 4 in the weekly programme In Our Time, by presenter Melvyn Bragg and three academic guests.
Wikipedia has a useful summary of the argument, which seeks to show that God exists by using reason alone…
Anselm defined God as ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’, and then argued that this being could exist in the mind. He suggested that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, a greater being is possible – one which exists in the mind and in reality.
The argument has proved controversial in the centuries since, and has been restated or...
A public debate on the ethical, moral and spiritual questions raised by ‘end of life’ issues took place in central London on Thursday 11 October.
Lord Falconer, Chair of the Commission on Assisted Dying, put the case for a change in the law to give assisted dying a legal framework, while Professor Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, argued for the law to remain unchanged. The debate was co-sponsored by King’s College London and the Christian Evidence Society.
Lord Falconer said, ‘Those who can afford it, have to travel to a ghastly flat in Zurich where they die away from the place they live, in most cases with their loved ones with them – but in some cases not. Although the Director of Public Prosecutions will not prosecute...
Chairing the debate is the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, who has written extensively about issues of medical ethics. He has also contributed to the Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
Admission to the debate is free, and the evening will include opportunities for audience participation. At the End of the Day is...
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We are constantly adding to and updating our resources. We produce written and audio materials which we hope will help answer some of the questions you might have about the Christian faith. This site also has resources which offer a Christian perspective on many of today's most challenging issues. Photos above by Taro Taylor and Jon Sullivan