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Why Dawkins won’t debate Craig: “Look what happened to Atkins and Harris”

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In “Richard Dawkins’s Delicacy” (The Best Schools, October 21, 2011), James Barham comments on Dawkins’ refusal to debate William Lane Craig, and what it may portend:

Now, it is understandable that Dawkins should disdain to debate someone so far below his own celebrity star-power as Professor Craig. On the other hand, by that criterion, he really ought to limit himself to appearing with other bona fide media stars, like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (not that they would find much to disagree about).

If, however, Dawkins’s principal concern were the truth, as opposed to protecting his celebrity status, then he ought to jump at the chance to debate Craig. If modern science really has put the question of the existence of God to rest once and for all, then what better forum to get this across to the public than Oxford’s venerable Sheldonian Theatre next Tuesday? It really is a pity, because for many of us interested in the question of the existence of God, such a match-up would have the quality of a real clash of the titans.

Dawkins claimed Craig endorses genocide because of something he said about the Book of Deuteronomy (see here).

Now, I do not mean to defend the book of Deuteronomy, or even to defend Professor Craig’s defense of that recalcitrant book. But I do think it is a little rich that Dawkins should seize on Craig’s more or less unexceptionable exercise in Christian apologetics as a means of wriggling out of what had clearly become for him a very disagreeable situation.

I think the real reason for Dawkins’s refusal to debate Craig is plain enough to see. If you have any doubt on this point, I suggest you take a look at a couple of video clips from recent debates between Craig and the atheist apologists Peter Atkins (a former Oxford Professor of Chemistry) and Sam Harris.

Which he provides. And what happened to Peter Atkins and Sam Harris was grim.

Prediction: As long as Dawkins has his toff media and government TV in hand, he doesn’t need to debate anyone.

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46 Replies to “Why Dawkins won’t debate Craig: “Look what happened to Atkins and Harris”

  1. 1
    Waynekent00 says:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that Richard Dawkins refuses to debate someone because they defend the idea of eliminating one gene pool for the sake of another?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Atheist Stephen Law used the argument from evil and, likewise, did not fair well at all facing William Lane Craig:

    Unbelievable? 18 October 2011 – William Lane Craig vs Stephen Law – Does God Exist? – radio podcast
    http://www.premierradio.org.uk.....x?mediaid={D0EA6EB1-86E3-41FB-8CA9-F78B126F6416}

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Blue_Savannah says:

    Dawkins’ attempt to justify his cowardly refusal to debate Craig is pathetic. He feigns righteous indignation at Craig all the while his fellow atheist Michael Ruse stated in his review of “What Darwin Got Wrong”:

    At the beginning of their book, they (the authors) proudly claim to be atheists. Perhaps so. But my suspicion is that, like those scorned Christians, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini just cannot stomach the idea that humans might just be organisms, no better than the rest of the living world. We have to be special, superior to other denizens of Planet Earth.

    So, in light of that, I wonder if Dawkins is against people taking antibiotics and killing billions of bacteria? According to atheist Ruse, humans are not superior to bacteria…so it must be equally wrong to kill them as it is to kill humans.

    Poor Dawkins…does he really think he’s fooling anyone? 😉

  5. 5
    Alan says:

    It is ironic that Dawkins chose Craigs alleged support of genocide as his fallacious reason to avoid a debate. Darwin stated:

    “We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” (Charles Darwin (1871) The Descent of Man, 1st edition, pages 168 -169)

    Writings such as this, by Darwin, inspired and provided “scientific” justification for what would become the modern eugenics movement. Darwins cousing, Francis Galton, coined the term “eugenics” and went on to become the first chairman of the British Eugenics Society, which he founded. His successor, one Leonard Darwin (Charles Darwins son) would eagerly succeed Galton as Chairman of The Society for nearly two decades, while writing books such as “The Need For Eugenic Reform”, which he credited to his father. The rest is history.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    I have taken time to address the “you Christians support genocide” false — and known false — accusation that now seems to be in favour for the New Atheists, here. (Work in progress but I think it is sufficient to help those who are struggling with the real problem.)

    GEM of TKI

  7. 7
    DrBot says:

    Perhaps I should yell ‘LIAR’ ‘SLANDERER’ at you.

    I haven’t observed anyone, atheist of not, stating ‘you Christians support genocide’ on UD. Perhaps I missed it, can you point me to a specific example of someone accusing all Christendom of advocating genocide?

    This looks to me like a false — and known false — accusation by you KF.

  8. 8
    Eugene S says:

    Wow, I knew that Darwinism and racism were connected but I was ignorant with respect to Darwin. His last years were terrible ones. Allegedly, he suffered from a psychiatric condition.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Voting Results: Bill Craig and Peter Williams vs Andrew Copson and Arif Ahmed
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNJhfirAZI0

  10. 10
    Petrushka says:

    I have see several people appear to support genocide on this thread. I’m looking for some reason to believe I’m mistaken.

    I certainly don’t understand the argument that genocide is justified if one group needs the land occupied by another.

    I certainly don’t understand the argument the genocide is justified if some people are evil.

    I don’t understand the argument that genocide is justified if some people in a society suffer unjustly.

    I don’t understand the claim that God ordered genocide. I suspect that priests or some other authorities may have said that God ordered genocide, but I suspect that these would be the statements of humans and not the orders of God.

    I simply don’t understand why anyone would believe that God ordered genocide.

    Or, if it is true that God ordered genocide, why anyone would consider this deity worthy of respect.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Petrushka:

    Please stop slandering people.

    You know, or should know that there is no-one in this thread who supports genocide. Nil, nada, zip zilch. Zero.

    No one.

    To falsely accuse people like this is itself outrageous and beyond the pale.

    The new atheists like Dawkins KNOW that people like Craig do not support genocide, but oh how easy it is to take an irresponsible reading of a text and snip someone out of context to play at gotcha, and guess what I therefore don’t have to answer for decades of smearing people and misleading other people to join me in the smear. Ta da!

    Look, even fellow atheists are coming out and saying, something is very, very wrong here.

    If you are at all interested in a more reasonable reading of what is going on — and right now your continued misbehaviour in the teeth of easily accessible correction makes me seriously doubt it, I suggest you may want to start here and deal with the very difficult issues that are on the table. Including: how do you deal with a blood feud where nigh on 1,000 years later, someone wants to wipe out your entire nation on the flimsiest of excuses. (That is what Queen Esther faced at the hands of the Prime Minister of Persia.)

    (And in case you think this blood feud mentality is a dead issue, that is exactly the problem we are having with the IslamISTS — as opposed to ordinary people who seek to serve God in the Islamic tradition — today. As in, in their eyes any random Westerner is to blame for the sins of Christendom, real or imaginary, and can be taken hostage and used as a part of a plane being used as a missile targetted at buildings full of ordinary people going about the ordinary business of life. And, what would you have said if plane no 4 or another one had actually been shot or rammed down, as Mr Cheney said on the night of 9/11. If you cannot satisfactorily answer these sorts of issues, please stop playing at slanderous gotcha games.)

    Let me be pretty direct: to falsely and willfully accuse people of something heinous is to lie, Petrushka. And that, sadly, is what you just did.

    Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is what is now on the table, from your side.

    Think about that.

    Think, seriously, about the matches you are playing with.

    GEM of TKI

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Asa in, remember the planes had maybe 50 innocent people on them, so if you shot them down, you were killing 50 innocent people. If you didn’t when you could have, thousands might die. But, if you shot them down, that would not be evident, and if you did not shoot them down, the cry would be why you did not do anything to stop the mess. Remember, there was a whole commission of blame in any case. Then, put that sort of decision up a few million notches, and sit in the seat of God. What do you do, why.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr BOT,

    you plainly have not looked at the pevious thread closely enough, and you should take a look at the just below.

    Besides, a snide insinuation is even worse than an outright accusation, for it entails that the false accuser thinks the party being slandered is too stupid to spot the subtext.

    Have you ever been in the position of being asked, have you stopped beating your wife?

    That’s just a question, right?

    It cannot be loaded with a snide insinuation, right?

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  14. 14
    Petrushka says:

    I simply state that I don’t understand. Nations have done all kinds of things in war, including obliterating cities.

    What I don’t understand is the claim that it has anything to do with God.

  15. 15
    mullerpr says:

    Petrushka,

    It is clear that you only struggle with your own subjective notions of God and morality. You should try the logical approach and find some objective attributes of God and what morality is.

    Most of the discussions that you don’t understand is simply because of this unwillingness to accept objective and well explored attributes of God.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Petrushka:

    Pardon, but you seem to need a lesson in context.

    Mr Dawkins began some 20 years ago by saying in effect that those who differed with him are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked; which he has never taken back.

    After trashing believers in God as child abusers, etc etc, he just now has ducked debating with an informed philosopher-theologian challenging his notion — this is the title of a bestselling book by Dawkins — that God is a delusion.

    To excuse ducking the debate, he has now falsely accused Mr Craig of supporting genocide. (Dawkins MUST know that neither Mr Craig nor just about any Christian you care to name supports genocide.)

    THAT is the context in which the exchanges around this blog have developed over the past several days.

    In that context, when you toss around rhetorical live grenades, they are going to blow up on you.

    Which is where you are just now.

    If you are really serious about issues, you already have in hand a link that you can start reading from to see how Bible-believing Christians really think on the matter. (Notice the onward links to six discussions.)

    Otherwise, you are simply adding to a poisonous situation.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Please, look carefully at your opening words in above: I have see several people appear to support genocide on this thread . . .

    Think about what it is like to have that sort of accusation cast in your teeth, and backed up by insinuations that, like the Nazis, Christians are backing a lebensraum-type argument. (Have you read the linked yet? Do so now, you are plainly projecting some serious distortions. Take time to focus on especially the citation from Jer 18, where for defiant unrighteousness, Israel is on the verge of defeat, destruction and exile at the hands of pagan armies used as God’s instrument of judgement. As Moshe warned in Deut 8:17 – 20.)

    Do you see how poisonous and distorted your remarks are?

    Please, think again.

  18. 18
    Blue_Savannah says:

    Wonderful video bornagain77…thanks for posting it!

  19. 19
    DrBot says:

    I take it from your predictable response that you cannot actually give me any of the examples I asked for!

    So, can you point me to a specific example of someone accusing all Christendom of advocating genocide?

    a snide insinuation is even worse than an outright accusation

    ?? isn’t this just another example of your rhetorical methodology – insinuation is often in the eye of the beholder.

    There was, as far as I can see, no actual accusation, so instead you decided that there was an insinuation – well I saw no insinuation either so from my perspective it looks like it exists in your mind only.

    Have you ever been in the position of being asked, have you stopped beating your wife?

    Metaphorically, yes – it happens quite a lot to people like me on this website.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    BA77

    Thanks.

    The video is important, though a bit saddening.

    It is revealing on the balance of the issues and talking points new/gnu atheists like to raise, on the merits, as well as on the sort of snide rhetoric — here, audience tampering (and presumably judge tampering too) — that is too often being used by atheism advocates to belittle and demean the other side rather than deal with the issue on its merits.

    Let’s put the matter straight: believing in God is not delusional, it is a reasonable and serious worldview option.

    Moreover, God-followers — as a body (you can always find loonies on the fringes of ANY large scale movement) — are not properly to be equated with child abusers, terrorists or genocidal maniacs like the Nazis.

    To say (or worse, snidely and cleverly suggest . . . as in, you are ignorant, stupid, insane and/or wickedand you’re too nicey-nicey stupid to see though my subtext . . . ) such things in the teeth of easily accessible and massive evidence to the contrary is willfully and viciously misleading, as well as just plain irresponsible, bigoted and in at least some cases, outright hostile without good reason and even hateful.

    Those who resort to such slanders show their blatant moral bankruptcy and utter want of a sound case on the merits.

    A hint of — yup, pardon, but there is a lack of contact with common-sense reality here — delusion-ality may also be relevant in certain cases.

    That’s the charitable interpretation.

    (Let us never forget how blinding out of control rage is.)

    At minimum, to make such patently false accusations, one has to be severely misled about any number of subjects, starting with the real history of our civilisation and easily researched or familiar things like say Mr Wilberforce’s career, or the impact of John Wesley or George Whitefield, or the life of Mother Teresa of India, or that of Pope John Paul II. Not to mention the life stories of millions who have met God in the face of the risen Christ and have been positively transformed thereby, testimonies easily accessible in any town and all over the Internet.

    What escapes me is how Mr Dawkins, having published this sort of thing for 20 years, and said it repeatedly in public, is celebrated rather than scorned.

    That is saying something about the current state of our civilisation’s public mindset, and it ain’t pretty.

    Those who have been busily blaming the victims or have been piling on have some fairly serious explaining to do.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Do you see why —

    per the apostle James: “Jas 3:5 . . . the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

    . . . I have taken pretty serious umbrage at the sort of snide, vicious insinuation laced rhetoric that has been cropping up here at UD over the past several days? (Do people realise that by making connexions and suggestions through terms like “genocide” they are accusing others by implications of being Nazis or Nazi-like? On the evidence in hand, would you be willing to call the people you have been accusing or insinuating by suggestion about, Nazi’s to their faces? Do you not see why people will take this sort of thing as slander and vicious lying? [And, yes, I know I am a lot more direct than most Christians will be; I know too much history to be church mousy in the teeth of vicious propaganda that is misleading people and stirring up hate, for I know where this sort of bigotry too often has ended, as do the ghosts of 100 million victims of totalitarian, atheistical and neopagan regimes over the past 100 years. Please, listen to their whispers. Before it is too late. Bloodily too late.] Please, please, please, let us think again, soberly.)

  21. 21

    What is logical about the proposition that a good God ordered genocide?

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    Again, kindly look just below to see the real problem, as opposed to the strawman you have set up.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Liddle:

    That should be a clue that the relevant assertions being raised by your side are rhetorical distortions, potentially very destructive ones.

    Kindly look above in this thread to see an example of what is going on.

    And, on the underlying question, I again invite you to read here on.

    GEM of TKI

  24. 24
    mullerpr says:

    EL

    IF you like to refrase your objection to read:
    What is logical about the proposition that a [“good god of the humanists”] ordered genocide?
    THEN
    I have to agree this is just a silly notion.

    BUT
    If you stop trying to sidestep your actual rational responsibility then you would have seen God for who He is.

    One objective attribute about God that might help is omnipotence. Then you can consider his omniscient nature. When you rationally digest these attributes you would find that there is sufficient reason to belief that all God’s acts are in fact perfect. (Including the fact that humans can defy his will – for them/us)

    This unwillingness to engage God on his terms will always fall short of any rational integrity because you will always try to subdue his character to something that is in fact NOT God.

  25. 25
    DrBot says:

    KF, please stop with the distractions and answer the question: can you point me to a specific example of someone accusing all Christendom of advocating genocide?

    If not then explain why this:

    “you Christians support genocide” false — and known false — accusation that now seems to be in favour for the New Atheists

    is anything more than a false — and known false — accusation.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Kindly look below to see the actual issue I am addressing.

  27. 27
    DrBot says:

    either answer the question or withdraw the accusation.

  28. 28

    Look guys, this isn’t very difficult:

    Your God is supposed to be good, right?

    But apparently this same God ordered the genocide of the Canaanites and the Midianites?

    Does this mean that your God isn’t good, that sometimes genocide is good, or that your good God did not, in fact, order the genocide of the Canaanites and Midianites?

  29. 29
    Joseph says:

    Umm God ordered the genocide of the entire human race but then relented and let Noah, and his family live.

    So I doubt any christian would have any issues with God wanting to wipe out one or a few small populations.

  30. 30
    material.infantacy says:

    EL, why focus on “genocide?” As Joseph suggests, according to scripture God wiped out the entire human race, save eight. Does the ethnic diversity there provide some sort of comfort that the Canaanite slaughter does not?

    Are you sure you don’t want to label it a “hate crime” and then if we’re all OK with God committing “hate crimes?”

    Everyone dies. This is the real tragedy. That God chooses to judge at specific points in history should not really stand out over the scriptural fact that HE HAS CURSED THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE TO DEATH, save those He has chosen to spare.

    At least admit that if the Canaanite incident was absent from the pages of scripture, your condemnation of the Christian God would be no less vehement.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr BOT, kindly look below, and see what I have been addressing. I have said this enough times already that it should get through.

  32. 32
    DrBot says:

    I’ve looked below and just seen more of the same.

    Your repeated refusal to answer the question just highlights your own guilt.

    Either answer the question or withdraw the accusation.

  33. 33

    Umm God ordered the genocide of the entire human race but then relented and let Noah, and his family live.

    Yes, indeed, Joseph. It’s one of the many reasons why a literal Creationist reading of the bible is so absurd. Fortunately we know from good scientific evidence that no such event occurred.

    So I doubt any christian would have any issues with God wanting to wipe out one or a few small populations.

    Well, most Christians that I know of do.

    And most Christians here, including Craig, seem to have “issues” with it, to their credit.

    So I repeat my question:

    Does this mean that your God isn’t good, that sometimes genocide is good, or that your good God did not, in fact, order the genocide of the Canaanites and Midianites?

    I suggest that the last answer is the only sensible one.

  34. 34
    Joseph says:

    Elizabeth:

    Fortunately we know from good scientific evidence that no such event occurred.

    Unfortunately no one knows what the evidence of such an event would look like. And there is evidence for a snowball earth and that is the same evidence a global flood would leave.

    Also if justice is good and if justice was served by the genocides, then God is also good.

  35. 35
    Joseph says:

    And BTW I would say that the evidence for the genocide of the Canaanites and Midianites is the same as that for the global flood- all from the Bible.

  36. 36
    Eugene S says:

    Evolutionists,

    1. take an animal and a human and find five differences.
    2. animals eat each other and by doing so help their ecosystems and in particular their respective races (or should I say selfish genes?) to become better adapted.

    The question is:

    Why can’t people do just the same to improve our own race? Why can’t humans e.g. kill the genetically ill?

  37. 37

    And BTW I would say that the evidence for the genocide of the Canaanites and Midianites is the same as that for the global flood- all from the Bible.

    In which case, there seems little reason to believe any of it, fortunately.

    But it still leaves the issue of how a good God could command genocide. I’ll repeat my question yet again, in the hope that you might eventually get round to addressing it:

    Does this mean that your God isn’t good, that sometimes genocide is good, or that your good God did not, in fact, order the genocide of the Canaanites and Midianites?

  38. 38

    Unfortunately no one knows what the evidence of such an event would look like.

    Are you saying TINAE for a global flood?

    If so, for once, I agree with you 🙂

  39. 39

    I simply do not understand your question, Eugene. The reason we don’t kill the “genetically ill” is because, like most of us, they want to live.

    I think you’ve misunderstood “the selfish gene” concept. You also seem to be confusing scientific theories with moral precepts.

  40. 40
    Joseph says:

    As I said and you keep ignoring the evidence for a global flood is the same as the evidence for a snowball earth.

    As for your other question, well I answered that also:

    Also if justice is good and if justice was served by the genocides, then God is also good.

  41. 41
    Joseph says:

    Yeah and I am sure the animals we eat want to live also.

    If the ToE is true then there really isn’t difference between killing one animal and another…

  42. 42
    markf says:

    Eugene – do you mean

    Why don’t people do just the same to improve our own race?

    Clearly we are physically capable of doing it. Why don’t we? Because mostly we don’t like inflicting death and suffering on others.

  43. 43
    GinoB says:

    Joseph

    As I said and you keep ignoring the evidence for a global flood is the same as the evidence for a snowball earth.

    Well, that’s certainly one of the more…er…interesting Biblical Creationist claims I’ve heard.

    Last time I looked the snowball Earth hypothesis was put forth as a possible explanation for low latitude glacial deposits.

    So you think the Noah’s Global Flood actually happened at least three times, the most recent being over 750 million years ago, and lasted for 50-80 million years? That must have been one finely built and heavily stocked Ark!

  44. 44
    Joseph says:

    GinoB:

    Last time I looked the snowball Earth hypothesis was put forth as a possible explanation for low latitude glacial deposits.

    ASSUMED glacial deposits. Water could have done it also.

    So you think the Noah’s Global Flood actually happened at least three times, the most recent being over 750 million years ago, and lasted for 50-80 million years?

    Nope. If you knew anything about the Creation model you would know those dates are all wrong.

  45. 45
    Joseph says:

    Yet we inflict death and suffering on others- other animals and humans too.

  46. 46
    material.infantacy says:

    “But it still leaves the issue of how a good God could command genocide.”

    Elizabeth, by a good God, do you mean an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, creator of time and space and the humans that inhabit it? Are you referring here to the same God who is responsible for His creation, and plays an active role in their development? Is this the same God who can see the end of everything given any beginning, given any contingency?

    Are you referring to the same God who suffered death so that we all might live?

    I’m unclear about the source of your definition for “good.” From whom do you acquire it? Does your definition of good have anything to say regarding atrocities committed against the unborn?

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