In “Richard Dawkins’s refusal to debate is cynical and anti-intellectualist” (em>The Guardian, October 22, 2011), fellow atheist Daniel Came tells us, “Using William Lane Craig’s remarks as an excuse not to engage in reasoned debate is typical of New Atheist polemic”:
But whatever you make of Craig’s view on this issue, it is irrelevant to the question of whether or not God exists. Hence it is quite obvious that Dawkins is opportunistically using these remarks as a smokescreen to hide the real reasons for his refusal to debate with Craig – which has a history that long predates Craig’s comments on the Canaanites.
Background: Dawkins finally came out with a reason for refusing to debate Christian apologist William Lane Craig; he claims Craig endorses genocide because of something he said about the Book of Deuteronomy (see here).
As a sceptic, I tend to agree with Dawkins’s conclusion regarding the falsehood of theism, but the tactics deployed by him and the other New Atheists, it seems to me, are fundamentally ignoble and potentially harmful to public intellectual life. For there is something cynical, ominously patronising, and anti-intellectualist in their modus operandi, with its implicit assumption that hurling insults is an effective way to influence people’s beliefs about religion. The presumption is that their largely non-academic readership doesn’t care about, or is incapable of, thinking things through; that passion prevails over reason. On the contrary, people’s attitudes towards religious belief can and should be shaped by reason, not bile and invective. By ignoring this, the New Atheists seek to replace one form of irrationality with another.
Note: Came blinked on our radar earlier, saying something similar. Here’s the vid. It sounds as though lots of people t think that the point is, Dawkins hasn’t got the goods.