Response to “Why I Refuse to Debate William Lane Craig” by Richard Dawkins (I’m clearly not in ‘camp Dawkins’ on this one)

4 minutes, 2 seconds Read

I’m quite a huge fan of Richard Dawkins, as you may guess, but his recent Guardian article that poses reasons why he wouldn’t debate William Lane Craig is lacking.

Dawkins starts his article with what seems to be a personal attack against Craig talking about how he “parades himself as a philosopher” and follow this with basically saying that a debate with Craig would look good on Craig’s CV, but not Dawkins’. I don’t think that this is a good reason at all to refuse a debate. Like it or not, and regardless of what you think of Craig’s arguments, Craig is well-esteemed within his own community and may as well be considered the foremost Christian apologist. Why, I wonder, wouldn’t one of the most well-known atheists who has published work and so much more arguing that Christian belief is untenable be unwilling to debate?

Dawkins has debated many theists (although most of them were clergy of sorts) and even participated in a debate of sorts (although it was not one-on-one) with William Lane Craig! Why not William Lane Craig vs. Richard Dawkins one-on-one? Sure, Craig has placed empty chairs on stages, cajoled Dawkins on occasions, and Craig’s fans have also ‘attacked’ Dawkins. So what? This, I think, should give Dawkins more reason to debate to show Craig that he can win a debate and undermine Christian belief against what might be the strongest defender of Christianity.

Dawkins mentions how Craig is an ‘apologist for genocide’ and notes what he considers to be Craig’s horrid excuses for justifying genocide in the Bible. All the more reason to engage Craig, I think… I would assume that Dawkins is aware that many other Christians would defend these atrocities/try to reconcile God with genocide…and he has probably debated these people.

Dawkins wants those who debate Craig to to read Craig’s defenses of genocide. Why shouldn’t he, instead, do so himself and defend his ideas in a public debate?

Perhaps Dawkins, instead of debating Craig, should instead appoint a replacement to do so in late 2011 or early 2012. I would recomend that those with backgrounds in Philosophy, rather than evolutionary biologists (unless the debate is about evolution, perhaps, although philosophy will pop into debates and those without philosophical backgrounds usually get steamrolled by Craig). This, perhaps, is no fault of Dawkins and isn’t saying anything bad about him. Likewise, I wouldn’t be the proper person to debate evolution against a creationist; I think Eugenie C. Scott, Jerry Coyne, or Massimo Pigliucci would be far better candidates.

I have issued a debate challenge to Craig and have received no response to date, unfortunately, and have issued the challenge soon after I read the Dawkins article. Regardless, here are some great candidates for a debate with Craig. This list obviously won’t include everyone, so I’ll just list a few of my picks. I won’t mention Stephen Law on this list because Law performed wonderfully and recently debated Craig. Here are five persons I would love to see Craig debate (besides myself, of course):

Theodore Shick
Shick, co-author of How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking in a New Age (and much more), is a great philosopher who can apply the methodology presented in his book to show that belief in God is irrational. It was a great pleasure to hear him talk at King’s College in Pennsylvania! Shick did so in “Think” magazine. Let’s see it happen in 2011/2012 in a debate.

Massimo Pigliucci

Pigliucci did an amazing job debating Craig and some others (Horner, Ham…) in the past, but it’s been quite a while. He’s easily one of my favorite living philosophers and would do atheists (and everyone else) a great service in debating Craig.

Matt Dillahunty

Matt Dillahunty, host of The Atheist Experience, is a phenomenal debater who does amazingly in an impromptu setting (and even better in a non-impromptu setting). His show (and that of other ACA members) has worldwide renown and Matt is known by many as a fierce ‘defender of atheism.’ He’s addressed all of Craig’s arguments (or variations of them) on the show and would do really well debating Craig. The question for Craig should be this: “Why haven’t you offered a debate challenge to Dillahunty yet (or called his show to debate on-air)?” Matt, of course, as many fans know, is quite busy right now, but hopefully the future will bring a Dillahunty/Craig debate!

Daniel Dennett

Why hasn’t Dennett, one of the ‘new atheists,’ debated Craig yet? Dennett has debated McGrath, Plantinga, and D’Souza. Dennett obviously has a strong background in philosophy and would do a great job against Craig.

Michael Shermer

Shermer is a wonderful debater on so many topics. He is able to apply skepticism and decisively show that many arguments for supernatural claims (in addition to others) are deeply flawed.

Similar Posts