TBS: You have just returned from a very successful tour of the U.K., where you participated in nearly a dozen lectures and debates. Even so, the most famous atheist you were to debate—evolutionary biologist and bestselling author, Richard Dawkins—was a no-show. In a public statement that got a lot of web play, Dawkins claimed he did not want to debate with you because you refuse to distance yourself from God, who in the Book of Deuteronomy orders the destruction of the Canaanites, which Dawkins termed “genocide.” In hindsight, what do you make of this episode?
WLC: Well, in hindsight I have to say that Dawkins’ attacks in The Guardian and elsewhere turned out to be the best publicity for the event at the Sheldonian Theatre [at Oxford University—ed.] that we could have possibly made up! [vid] His reaction was so counterproductive, from his point of view. Other atheists in the blogosphere and also in The Guardian roundly condemned him for what were clearly manufactured pseudo-reasons for not participating in the debate with me. So the whole fiasco just proved to be a boon to the public profile of the lecture that I gave in the Sheldonian Theatre, which was responded to by three other Oxford faculty, who apparently didn’t share Richard Dawkins’ reservations about being on the platform with me. So it really was very helpful to our outreach!
(Wouldn’t debate? It wasn’t about the elevator. Yes, he said it was about this. More likely, some say, about this. More coffee, please.)