Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The cutting room floor — The place Dawkins leaves his more incisive critics


You tell me who is playing fair:

Richard Dawkins: 4 December 2006


Why have you not engaged in public debate with Alister McGrath, Mary Midgley, Michael Ruse, Keith Ward, or indeed anyone else who would present you with a serious challenge? JAMES RADFORD, By e-mail

RD: The producers of my Channel 4 documentary [Root of All Evil?] invited the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi to be interviewed by me. All declined, doubtless for good reasons. I don’t enjoy the debate format, but I once had a public debate with the then Archbishop of York, and The Observer quoted the verdict of one disconsolate clergyman as he left the hall: “That was easy to sum up – Lions 10, Christians nil.”


Alister McGrath: 3 February 2007

SOURCE: go here.

Dawkins and I both love the sciences; we both believe in evidence-based reasoning. So how do we make sense of our different ways of looking at the world? That is one of the issues about which I have often wished we might have a proper discussion. Our paths do cross on the television networks and we even managed to spar briefly across a BBC sofa a few months back. We were also filmed having a debate for Dawkins’s recent Channel 4 programme, The Root Of All Evil? Dawkins outlined his main criticisms of God, and I offered answers to what were clearly exaggerations and misunderstandings. It was hardly rocket science.

For instance, Dawkins often compares belief in God to an infantile belief in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, saying it is something we should all outgrow. But the analogy is flawed. How many people do you know who started to believe in Santa Claus in adulthood?

Many people discover God decades after they have ceased believing in the Tooth Fairy. Dawkins, of course, would just respond that people such as this are senile or mad, but that is not logical argument. Dawkins can no more ‘prove’ the non-existence of God than anyone else can prove He does exist.

Most of us are aware that we hold many beliefs we cannot prove to be true. It reminds us that we need to treat those who disagree with us with intellectual respect, rather than dismissing them – as Dawkins does – as liars, knaves and charlatans. But when I debated these points with him, Dawkins seemed uncomfortable. I was not surprised to be told that my contribution was to be cut. The Root Of All Evil? was subsequently panned for its blatant unfairness. Where, the critics asked, was a responsible, informed Christian response to Dawkins? The answer: on the cutting-room floor.

[...] on a live, uncut interview and by someone other than him (perhaps wishing to avoid alleged excessive and unbalanced editing that took place when Professor Alister McGrath was interviewed). The production company turned down [...] News, Interviews and Richard Dawkins - Telic Thoughts
I haven't seen The Root of All Evil yet, but I've read The God Delusion, and there too Dawkins only once or twice admits that he has had intelligent and meaningful conversations with educated believers, but their views are not interacted with. He claims to be opposing all religious beliefs, and yet he defines religion in such a way that he ends up combatting a straw man - one that actually exists, but one that educated religious believers of any tradition are concerned to emphasize are NOT the best examples of what we are about. ReligionProf
[...] Last year I described how Richard Dawkins interviewed Alister McGrath for the BBC production THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL and then decided to leave him on the cutting room (go here). That interview, I’ve learned, is now available at Google Video here. In watching it, ask yourself if it would have made for a less biased program if Dawkins had dropped Ted Haggard and substituted Alister McGrath. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...] Alister McGrath Swept off the Cutting Room Floor | Uncommon Descent
I once read an interview with RD in which he was asked if he would ever debate someone like Phillip Johnson or Mike Behe (or other ID proponents) His basic response was that it was his policy not to because he didn't want to give these folk's arguments oxygen by appearing with them. He thinks that just debating gives legitmacy to their arguments and he would never sink so low. Coupling that with the cutting room floor story and we can easily see that RD's real position is that he knows he'd get his clock cleaned in a real open debate. His excuses are all mumbo jumbo to cover up that little inconvenient fact! DonaldM
I had the opportunity to pose comments to Dawkins while he was in Philadelphia on his book tour. I am a relatively well-read layman, but color me unimpressed. I pointed out several inconsistencies. Among which he chose to respond to the Argument from Reason. And, frankly, his response was pretty much "I'm not sure why this is a problem." geoffrobinson
Dawkins, no doubt, has great knowledge of darwinian evolution, but when it comes to philosophy and theology he fails miserably. And I think this is the reason he cannot debate somebody like Alister McGrath who is a world-class theologian, specially that he accepts darwinian evolution (as far as I know) and therefore Dawkins won't be able to use the "overwhelming evidence" against him. BTW, Dawkins was also supposed to debate George Gilder, but 20 minutes before the event he refused to debate because Gilder is a "religious fanatic"! IDist
Here is a FREE Berlinski video interview. Not very pleasant if you hold to an evolutionary belief... http://www.theapologiaproject.org/video_library.htm It's about the fourth video down. Robo
Ive read that Dawkins was spanked in a debate with AE Wilder-Smith and has been cowering ever since. I once heard about a 'Santa Syndrome/Complex(?)' which suggests that 98% of atheists believed in Santa when they were young. If anyone knows about this, I would like some documentation. bevets
“Wilder-Smith is chemist and a creationist. He was so well regarded that he participated in the Huxley memorial debate. LOL!” I’ve read rumors that he actually won the debate, and even that RD made an emotional plea to the audience not to vote for him even though Smith presented a very persuasive argument. Don’t know what’s fact and what’s fiction though. shaner74
I just ordered a copy of this Debate between A.E. Wilder-Smith, PhD PhD PhD and Richard Dawkins, PhD Huxley Memorial Debate Wilder-Smith is chemist and a creationist. He was so well regarded that he participated in the Huxley memorial debate. LOL! His book, Cybernetic Approach to Evolution, written 40 years ago, reads like modern ID literature. It was this book that was instrumental to Dean Kenyon's conversion. scordova
Do be too hard on old RD. As has been painfully obvious to most people, the rabid atheists like him can't actually make a convincing case in a fair fight. So to expect them to have a fair fight is just silly. This sort of thing must be that much vaunted "atheist morality" we keep hearing about and how atheists are as honest and good as anybody else. Jason Rennie
Yea, I hate it how it seems like there are no informed Christians out there... Somehow he has Owned us all with his rhetoric. I'd like to see the director's cut, actually I'm too busy to watch that stuff jpark320
late_model, "Having watched Berlinski in Icons of Evolution that would have been interesting." Yes, not unlike how Bugs Bunny outsmarting Daffy Duck can be interesting. Douglas
The bigger is issue if you watch The Root of All Evil is that McGrath is not in it. And Dawkins is making it sound like he put a call out for a debate. McGrath appears to say they filmed a debate but it wasn't used in The Root of All Evil. McGrath states, "We were also filmed having a debate for Dawkins’s recent Channel 4 programme, The Root Of All Evil?" It appears Dawkins or the shows producers ducked McGrath by not showing him. I also wonder about Lord Robert Winston who holds a similar position as Francis Collins on theistic evolution but is a devout Jew. Dawkins has commented on his writings but I wonder if he would debate him? It appears the last debate he did involved David Berlinski if one reads the comments of Berlinski's Commentary article "The Deniable Darwin". Having watched Berlinski in Icons of Evolution that would have been interesting. late_model
McGrath is brilliant. And, he exposes Dawkins as a cheap hack who doesn't have the intellectual honesty to fairly present both sides. A Dawkins documentary is about as trustworthy as a Michael Moore documentary. ajl
Dawkins from the Independent cited above. "It was hard to be an atheist before The Origin of Species." Why is Richard so upset with ID? "It will be again hard to be an atheist after ID." idnet.com.au

Leave a Reply