Saturday, 29 October 2011

UK Media Blast Richard Dawkins for Refusing to Debate William Lane Craig

Richard Dawkins refuses to debate theists. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Richard Dawkins likes to get his voice heard. But there is one thing that he is not so fond of, and that is appearing in forums where his view might be subject to critical analysis.

Recently, Dawkins turned down an invitation to debate Christian apologist Dr. William Lane Craig. He said that he would not share a platform with someone who was "an apologist for genocide.” Dawkins was referring to God's instructions to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 20 concerning their war against the Canaanites.

Dawkins quoted a text Craig had written on the commandment to wipe out the Canaanites, who had a habit of sacrificing their children to idols. Craig pointed out that the account “offend[s] our moral sensibilities. Ironically, however, our moral sensibilities in the West have been largely, and for many people unconsciously, shaped by our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which has taught us the intrinsic value of human beings, the importance of dealing justly rather than capriciously, and the necessity of the punishment’s fitting the crime.”

Dawkins, of course, did not quote this part of Craig’s article.

The UK media have interpreted Dawkins’ decision as cowardice. They see the appeal to genocide as a very poor excuse. Daniel Came writes in The Guardian:

"Given that there isn't much in the way of serious argumentation in the New Atheists' dialectical arsenal, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Dawkins and Grayling [another humanist who refused to debate Craig] aren't exactly queuing up to enter a public forum with an intellectually rigorous theist like Craig to have their views dissected and the inadequacy of their arguments exposed."

Came concludes, “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.”

There is, in other words, the chance that the audience might actually be able to see what the atheistic emperor’s new clothes are like.

Writing in The Telegraph, historian Tim Stanley ends his article with the words, “In Craig, Dawkins met his match. Like Jonah, he was confronted by the truth and he ran away.”


Came, Daniel. 2011. Richard Dawkins's refusal to debate is cynical and anti-intellectualist. The Guardian (22 October).

Stanley, Tim. 2011. Richard Dawkins is either a fool or a coward for refusing to debate William Lane Craig. The Telegraph. (21 October).