Exposing Richard Dawkins’ Fearful Statement on William Lane Craig.

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The humble, all-loving, all-accepting glare that Dawkins gives religious people.

William Lane Craig is widely seen to be the world’s leading Christian apologist. Craig has two PhDs from leading universities and is also the author of over 30 books. He has written on the subjects of popular apologetics and philosophy. He has also proven himself to be an exceptional debater and thus debated many popular atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Keith Parsons, Vic Stenger, Antony Flew, Paul Draper, Lewis Wolpert, Sam Harris, Richard Carrier and Peter Atkins. Craig’s debates aren’t only limited to atheism and the existence of God, but also includes topics pertinent to Islam. He has also travelled far and wide to give presentations at public forums, and also has his own “Defenders Class” that he teaches. Clearly Craig has credentials to his name. However, of the atheists just listed one might note the striking omission of Richard Dawkins. Someone asked Dawkins, publicly, why he has refused to debate Craig. Consider Dawkins’ own reply:

“I’ve always said when invited to do a debate that I would be happy to debate a bishop, a cardinal, a pope, an archbishop. Indeed, I have done both. But that I don’t take on creationists and I don’t take on people whose only claim to fame is that they are professional debaters. They’ve got to have something more than that. I’m busy.”

There is quite a lot that we can make of Dawkins’ reply. Firstly, of some interest to me is Dawkins claim that he “would be happy to debate a bishop, a cardinal, a pope, an archbishop.” I think that Dawkins is opting for easier opposition as it is well known that bishops, cardinals and popes aren’t, in general, scholars. This is certainly not to insinuate that they are incompetent on relevant matters, but it is very obvious that they don’t possess the credentials that Craig does. The question then remains why the alleged world’s leading atheist would settle for something less than one of the world’s most capable apologists.

Then Dawkins says that he doesn’t “take on creationists…” However, this is wholly besides the point since Craig has no intension to debate Dawkins on the subject of creationism or intelligent design. Sure, those topics do have their place in academic debates but it wouldn’t be what Craig would debate with Dawkins. Instead, Craig is best known for his arguments for the existence of God and, therefore, the debate would revolve around that. After all, atheists deny the existence of God whereas theists affirm God’s existence. Knowing that what would be more spectacular that an atheist-theist debate on God’s existence?

Moreover, I can’t help but wonder if Dawkins is actually aware that popes, cardinals, bishops (Christians in total) etc. are all creationists since they believe God created the universe? Sure, you get different stripes of creationism, such as Young and Old Earth creationism as well as evolutionary creationism. The common factor is that they are all creationists.

But, as i think we all should be asking, why would Dawkins decide to limit his debates only to priests and bishops? Why would Dawkins only wish to debate church leaders who are usually people who have responsibilities other than debating religious and academic topics? I think it is most obvious that Dawkins realizes that he’s outmatched and is trying to make excuses for not debating Craig. This would explain why he is happier to engage far less competent apologists.

Moreover, Dawkins says that he doesn’t take on “people whose only claim to fame is that they are professional debaters.” In other words, Dawkins prefers not to take on people who are capable of debating? And surely debating isn’t Craig’s only “claim to fame.” And as far as I know Craig hasn’t made any claims to fame. In fact, he remains humble in the face of his reputation and popularity – that is a true leader. Moreover, perhaps that Craig’s has two PhDs, many peer reviewed philosophical journal articles, and over 30 books would factor into this equation of “fame”?

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34 responses to “Exposing Richard Dawkins’ Fearful Statement on William Lane Craig.

  1. From a reasoned perspective, Dawkins refusal in participating with a professional debater reveals clear intent. The key objective in a debate is to present views on either side of an issue — to reveal the strengths a weaknesses in points from either side. The benefits gained from these exchanges offer perspective by those most knowledgeable on the topic in question. As members of the audience, we can learn much from the two field experts about the field itself.

    To propose Dawkins as “opting out for easier opposition” is a subjective proposition, ignorant of the fundamental objectives in a public debate. This suggestion implies the objective of a debate is simply to debate — all results somehow inconsequential to the act itself.

    However, exchanges between atheist and theists can be boiled down to a debate between reason from empirical evidence and subjective reason based on subjective accounts. This constitutes a contradiction in the qualifying premise of a debate, as though 4+4 might equal 10 if strongly presented from a subjective perspective.

    The debate portfolio offered by Craig says little if nothing of the arguments presented. If one were to invoke the same reasoning as claimed in this article, one might say a debate with Craig is of little interest once he’s had an encounter with Hitchens.

    That said, the underlying objective in a debate — as far as Dawkins is interested, is to challenge the core arguments in support of faith based religion. Dawkins only cares what is true, not what is subjective, and on that principle appeals to the sensibility of one’s rationality: to think for yourself. Given the pinnacle cultural position held by religious leaders, it would be reasonable for Dawkins to take direct aim at them over Craig. Else, if Dawkins aimed at Craig and avoided the religious leaders, what might that imply?

    To claim church leaders are defenceless against Dawkins because they have responsibilities occupying their time over the development of their debating skills is the height of hypocrisy. This suggests a debate with those charged with the social function of religious faith are not qualified to offer adequate defence for their profession — yet, these are the leaders of faith.

    As per the spectacular debate on the existence of god, this would be a short discussion on the supporting arguments. For god to exist, one requires a religion as describing the existence of god. To that, science would simply say: religion is a social construct.

    The remainder of this article offers more questions and wonderings — while offering nothing more that suggestive implications — void of any substance or insight.

    Perhaps the author of this article should write something of actual interest, such as: “Would god exist is religion didn’t?” That would be an enjoyable article worth reading.

    • Drexus, it seems as though the thrust of your comment centers around the fall idea that “religion” is subjective and science is empirical. Are you aware that the core tenets of Chrisitanity are historical claims, this subjectable to normal historical investigation?

      While it’s true that religion is a social construct, to conclude that it is necessarily less of an objective certainty (with testable claims) is a non-sequitur. After all, laws and governments are social constructs as well. We readily test and debate their claims the same way we would a natural, scientific claim.

      Science is absolutely the best tool to test natural data and make general predictions about natural processes. But to conclude that scienctific certainty about nature means that nothing beyond nature exists is a further non-sequitur. It’s like saying “I’ve developed a precision “x” detector. Now I can say with certainty that no “y”s exist.”

      • The core tenets of Christianity rests on the subjective accounts of those who wrote said accounts as having not witnessed a majority of the events first hand. This is the first level of subjective record keeping. Next, you have the many variations of these accounts as altered over time — from one copy to the next. Errors and omissions that follow the generations of writing to well over a dozen iterations. This is the second level of subjective influence on these accounts.

        Lastly, you have the barrier of translation that in of itself carries the ignorance of cultural inflections and written mannerisms — as not compatible in presenting accurate meaning from one language to another, much less traversing thousands of years in language evolution. This last “filter” adds only muddy water over the two layers of subjective accounts.

        It is at this point, those in the scientific community throw their hands in the air at such a train-wreck when someone claims these writings have historical value. So upon this, the question remains: how can the murky history of such subjective writings claim a shred of credibility knowing full well the inherent flaws they carry? It’s utterly ridiculous. So no, the historical claims are untenable on these facts alone.

        As for a social construct, I can’t seem to get past the grammar you’ve employed in your second paragraph. Perhaps you’re implying that a social construct can still offer objective value? Objective certainty? I’m quite sure this is a non-starter, as it implies absolute truth from a social framework.

        Your comparison to government social programs and functions are comparable to the dynamics of religion is outright misleading — simply wrong. For these to be on the same level would require government social functions to be as rigid and unmovable in their defined function as the bible is in offering sustainable social values. On the flip side, religion would have to adopt entropic adaptation as a primary function in defining it’s shape — a self-defeating consequence I might add.

        Still, the laws and functions of government are inherently subjective — hence the need for entropic adaptation in keeping relevant with the current social environment. But since religion offers no movement of any kind, it’s categorically eliminated as a sustainable social construct.

        Please, at the very least learn what science is: Science is a systematic approach in studying the structure and behaviour of the physical world through observation and experimentation. It’s not a tool, it’s a methodology. You might call the scientific method a tool, but you didn’t.

        To that, it appears you’ve misunderstood how the scientific method works. One simply cannot state the scientific method offers certainty of any kind. Hence the term scientific theory. The idea is that even though the understanding of gravity is very accurate, a scientist will never offer an absolute to anything. We can be 99.999% certain of the probability in our hypothesis, but never absolute. The reasons for this are many, first of which points directly at remaining objective. So no conclusion was offered to suggest the scientific community has abandon it’s primary code. As a result, your comment is a non-sequitur.

    • Drexus, you have interesting points to make. For instance,
      “However, exchanges between atheist and theists can be boiled down to a debate between reason from empirical evidence and subjective reason based on subjective accounts. This constitutes a contradiction in the qualifying premise of a debate, as though 4+4 might equal 10 if strongly presented from a subjective perspective.”

      This is clearly not true when both sides present empirical information supporting their proposition. Mr. Dawkins has a doctorate in scientific philosophy, scientists debating for intelligent design are actual hard-science scholars, bringing far more science to their debate forums than does Dawkins. Dawkins typically focuses on ridiculing faith, atrocities performed under the auspices of “religion”, giving broad brushstroke arguments for evolution, mostly old, tired memes that worked 40 yrs. ago in “faith vs. science” debates.

      Again, from Drexus’ post:
      “…as far as Dawkins is interested, is to challenge the core arguments in support of faith based religion. Dawkins only cares what is true, not what is subjective, and on that principle appeals to the sensibility of one’s rationality: to think for yourself.”

      Today’s intelligent design science is not your grandfather’s creationism. No more “Scopes Monkey Trial” to rely on. Today’s intelligent design science goes to actual scientific method to challenge underlying axioms & assumptions regarding both scientific stances. Dawkins does not like going where his “science” breaks down into exposing modifiers found throughout evolutionary theory, words like, “if”, “extending that into”, “might/may relate to or originate from”, “logically”, “eventually”(often used rebut the statistically impossible propositions that challenge “with enough time…” arguments), “it is reasonable to assume/extend”, “seems to indicate”, “leads one to conclude”, et al — essentially your “appeal to the sensibility of one’s rationality”. Those discussions reveal Dawkins’ Achilles heel – his unwavering faith in science. His obvious derision of any kind of faith leaves him defenseless once his own faith in theories full of conjecture, requiring extrapolation beyond actual evidence, “thinking for oneself” is revealed. Faith against fact is no longer the debate.

      This is where the rubber meets the road – what are the presuppositions underpinning the theory? Dawkins dare not let it be seen that his evolutionary science, when faced with intelligent design science, requires a leap of faith to bridge the enormous gaps in the various flavors of evolutionary theory. His background as author and debater is anchored in philosophy of science, not in hard science itself. This is why he won’t purposefully debate origins.

      • Vandalii.

        “This is clearly not true when both sides present empirical information supporting their proposition.”

        While both parties contribute empirical information, the distinction rests with the information being either subjective or evidence based. There is no situation where subjective opinion equates to fact without evidence. One may have the opinion that 4+4 equals 10, but if tests reveal this to be false, then the opinion is not supported by evidence — no matter how much faith is applied to it.

        “Mr. Dawkins has a doctorate in scientific philosophy, scientists debating for intelligent design are actual hard-science scholars, bringing far more science to their debate forums than does Dawkins.”

        If 95% of scientists are opposed to intelligent design, does that mean the 5% who think the scientific method supports the accounts in the bible are correct — revealing the other 95% wrong? It’s far more likely the 5% aren’t scientists at all. Else, please provide the data from these “hard-science scholars”.

        “Dawkins typically focuses on ridiculing faith, atrocities performed under the auspices of “religion”, giving broad brushstroke arguments for evolution, mostly old, tired memes that worked 40 yrs. ago in “faith vs. science” debates.”

        Faith = belief without evidence. Hence, the repeated emphasis on the counterintuitive application of faith over what is true. Any social construct that influences social function based on faith in subjective accounts — especially in light of hard core scientific evidence — deserves ridicule.

        “Today’s intelligent design science goes to actual scientific method to challenge underlying axioms & assumptions regarding both scientific stances.”

        Which scientific stances? Please be clear.

        “Dawkins does not like going where his “science” breaks down into exposing modifiers found throughout evolutionary theory, words like…”

        This is a subjective assertion. If the belief in something represents a 2% likelihood verses evidence describing a 98% likelihood in opposition to said belief, what argument remains for those who say “I will maintain my belief even if it’s only 2% likely until I’m presented with 100% proof to the contrary.” If this seams reasonable to you — syntax is the least of your problems if the meaning is less important than the syntax used in conveying that meaning. Still, it would be better to understand terms like ”logically” ahead of interpreting any implications.

        “Those discussions reveal Dawkins’ Achilles heel – his unwavering faith in science.”

        This is a non-sequitur. Perhaps you meant “his trust in science”.

        “His obvious derision of any kind of faith leaves him defenseless once his own faith in theories full of conjecture, requiring extrapolation beyond actual evidence, “thinking for oneself” is revealed. Faith against fact is no longer the debate.”

        You’re trying to present a subjective argument through a non-sequitur.

        “This is where the rubber meets the road – what are the presuppositions underpinning the theory.”

        What theory? Please be clear.

        “Dawkins dare not let it be seen that his evolutionary science, when faced with intelligent design science, requires a leap of faith to bridge the enormous gaps in the various flavors of evolutionary theory”

        This is a subjective opinion. As per “gaps” in evolutionary science, please provide your evidence that contradicts the standing hard core evidence of evolution.

        “His background as author and debater is anchored in philosophy of science, not in hard science itself. This is why he won’t purposefully debate origins.”

        A subjective opinion based on another subjective opinion. Please present arguments backed by data, not your subjective opinion (opinion is meaningless in a debate).

    • Craig and Dawkins are playing in the same arena…so to speak.

      Dawkins could wisely not waste his time with someone outside and below his debating and knowledge “class” just as a heavyweight nicer would not challenge some one in a lower weight class..

      However…Dawkins here…in refusing to debate Craig…someone CLEARLY in his knowledge and debate “class”…looks like the aging heavyweight champ who makes excuses to avoid fighting those who might well depose him…

      Dawkins…looks to be…chicken.

    • Perhaps you ought to bear in mind that not all scientific statements are empiricale. i.e fictionalism, maths and logic.
      Aside from which one can be a scientists and a theists, so there is no disjunction there.

  2. If I were an Atheist, I wouldn’t wanna debate Craig either. It makes sense of Dawkins not to debate him. He did debate John Lennox one and got roasted; most of his front-line arguments were refuted and he was completely unable to defend his objections or refute Lennox’s. So going up against Craig would be suicide for Dawkins.

    • Dismayed, and yet unsurprised that someone would feel they must defend something so corrosive to the survivability of humanity — they would insight fear for losing ignorance.

      It’s a Universal Right for people to believe what they will. However, no right exists in allowing one to offer a subjective claim in perpetuating the continued surrender of one’s critical faculties.

  3. Drexus I also thought that Lennox did a fine job on Dawkins. It is widely accepted in academia that Dakins was afraid. For the record on a foundational level science is also faith based.

    • “It is widely accepted in academia that Dakins was afraid”.

      I’m unaware who Dakins is — Dawkins perhaps? In any case, why do people feel personal opinion somehow determines truth?

      “For the record on a foundational level science is also faith based.”

      Please provide your data supporting faith has any place in science.

        • His curriculum vitae seems to show otherwise. Faith or no faith steps partly into metaphysics..And scientists like Dr Lennox and my husband see Gods handiwork…other scientists like yourself might disagree. Cheers.

            • My scientist husband would suggest that several tests by different persons would tend to reduce hidden subjectivity. But read on the history of science…personal egos do interfere…because human beings are still involved.

              • The scientific method (if used) disallows subjective interpretation, much less supports subjective consensus. That’s why the scientific method works. There are no politics, personal bias, or subjective considerations that fit within science. To introduce these incompatible elements — categorically eliminates the validity of any work produced under such an arrangement. The core credibility in reproducing verifiable results requires no interference by the facilitator. To do so would allow the results to be invalidated through peer review. If Lennox offers material that is consistently disproved through peer review, it means his work has yet to qualify as a basic working model, much less a scientific theory. To have a valid scientific theory, all material must pass peer review.

                From what many have pointed out repeatedly, Lennox has proven only one certainty: that he is incapable of following the scientific method as observed by all scientist in the scientific community. He has proven himself not a scientist. End of story.

              • The history of science…shows various times where human feelings, pride, etc. interfere with the scientific method.

                Fear of Vaccinations…Contempt about washing hands before doing operations (or before assisting in childbirth)…even the use of some kind of anesthesia with Queen Victoria’s kids…various prejudices, etc. emanate not just from the average individual…but sometimes from the scientist/doctor.

                (I am a skeptic of the “perfect” scientist…the perfect application of the scientific method…the perfect observer, etc. Maybe because a grandfather and an uncle of mine were misdiagnosed—and the diseases were not subtle, unusual ones. They didn’t bother asking just a few more questions.)

                I know the peer review…if not infused with a lot of politics, etc. is helpful.

                But…it is not a godlike, infallible thing.

                So there is more to the story. Thank you for your thoughtful response…

                The suspicions I have about global warming (now labeled climate change) are that people are roughly divided along left/right party lines. (I still remember the 1970s…global cooling).

                Maybe global warming will be solidly proved…but right now, people believe in it like a faith…not like a theory.

                And peer review…is it infallible? Or a partial social club?

                I think most scientists do strive for honest results…but what of the physics student…an honest young guy who was scared his mentor was going to steal and take credit for his research?

              • First: The scientific method is an exercise in valid reasoning through pure logic. The reason it works so well is because it inherently exposes results open to criticism by anyone who can disprove a theory using the reasoning and logic of the scientific method itself. In essence, if you want to prove or disprove anything, you have to employ the same (if not better) reasoning and logic than before, otherwise it’s simply confirmation or unsubstantiated claims. You can’t defeat reason with nonsense.

                “The suspicions I have about global warming (now labeled climate change)”

                To be clear, global warming and climate change are two completely separate issues — sparsely related to each other. Global warming is a measured effect over centuries where recorded data from every part of the world (and from many unrelated societies) reveal an indisputable correlation between CO2 rise and global temperature rise. Calculate the data any way you like, but the numbers don’t lie. The sharp up-trend in CO2 shows a clear separation from anything in recorded history.

                Climate change is the effects of how Earth’s climate is reacting to this unprecedented change in global temperature. For the earth to become so warm so quickly has impacted the way global weather systems function around the globe. When there’s uncharted temperatures from uncharted CO2 levels, the results are unpredictable weather patterns. Right now, where I live, we are getting more rain than has been recorded in all of history. Here, we have entire towns evacuated — flooding where it’s never flooded before — ever. That, coupled with the icecaps melting and large chunks of ice breaking off — that have been there for many thousands, if not millions of years — is clear evidence of these changes.

                Second: Yes, politics will alway meddle in the adoption of sustainable policies — for fear of losing economic gains that would suffer or be eliminated due to their unsustainable nature. To that, yes, peer review isn’t infallible at the start. Thus Newton’s laws of gravitation stood alone for as long as they did — they got us to the moon and back. However, the variances in that space flight modelling proved inaccurate when sending probes under Newton’s gravitational laws alone. Other fields of science needed to step in to account for unexpected trajectories in deep space — now accompanied with solar and nuclear thermodynamics that push on spacecraft a few grams each day.

                Many iconic scientists — including Einstein — made waves in the scientific community with ground breaking discoveries in the early part of the 20th century. However, that didn’t stop other scientists from making discoveries that proved them wrong. And to prove a world renowned scientist wrong meant the new theory not only had to accommodate all the previous data (because it has to fit to qualify), but it has to show how the old theory does not account for new data as done with the new theory that accounts for old and new data. That’s the beauty of the scientific method: nobody is insulated, not even if your name is Einstein.

                There are no absolutes in the scientific world, only probabilities. That’s how it works. To those who claim god created the earth only 7000 years ago have nothing as evidence. What’s the scientific view on this? Probabilities. God creating the earth only 7000 years ago: 0.1% chance. The earth being formed along with all other planets and stars as demonstrated by this process still happening today: 99.9% chance. Never absolute, never claiming to be unmovable, just not likely verses highly likely — always welcoming someone else to prove us wrong.

                As for physics students getting trampled by the ego of a senior mentor… that happens in any discipline: music, art, engineering… you name it. For that, the first thing a scientist learns is documentation. Notes and documentation is where the evidence of one’s work is — a skill needed in the real world regardless of discipline.

  4. I think Daniel Came’s contention that Dawkin’s refusal to debate Craig is ‘apt to be interpreted as cowardice’ says it all really. Along with A C Grayling and all the other atheists and humanists of various stripes that to get in the ring with Craig, Dawkin’s knows perfectly well that he’ll be made to look stupid by a man who is clearly his intellectual superior by a very substantial margin.

    • Paul.

      I looked up the reason why Dawkins cares not to debate Craig. Dawkins clearly answered the question. Craig is a professional debater — not a priest, bishop or any other religious leader. To invite these two people in a debate, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is a misalignment of objectives. Craig is not a religious leader and thus, does not represent the true intent of a debate. As I’ve said before, this constitutes a contradiction in the qualifying premise of a debate, as though 4+4 might equal 10 if strongly presented from a subjective perspective.

      • There is one reason, and one reason only that Dawkin’s won’t debate Craig; because he’d make Dawkin’s look stupid. It’s actually deeply unfair to amateur philosophers to call Dawkin’s an ‘amateur philosopher’; he’s an evolutionary biologist who hasn’t written a serious academic paper for 30 years and has never been appointed to a university professorship with regard to the academic expertise for which he initially became well known. In the last couple of decades he’s written a couple of terrible, amateurish books about atheism and gone on to routinely make a complete fool of himself on social media and in the press. Being absolutely hung out to dry by W L Craig really would just be the final, humiliating discrediting of that shrill and crack-pot brand public school boy atheism with which his supercilious and entirely ridiculous posturing has become synonymous.

        • Your comment is full of hate, nothing of science or truth. It’s clear you care not of objective reason — as noted by your subjective school-yard vernacular.

          • Not full of ‘hate’; I don’t really do hate – it’s a complete waste of time. My comment was actually based on facts; go and check them all and you’ll find they’re true. To be fair to Dawkin’s he’s not the only one that ran and hid when he was invited to debate Craig; Polly Toynbee, A C Grayling and a few other atheist/humanist no-marks gave it the old ‘I’m busy’ routine when a head to head with Craig was mentioned.

  5. So, do you all here think guys like Drexus believe their own bullshit, or are they just trolling. I mean, do guys exist that honestly think they have actual relevent discussion points and a real grasp on a debate come in with lines like:

    Faith = belief without evidence.

    As if all Christians are Fideists, and otherwise having no clue what words mean or what is being communicated.

    It’s like the only thing about theology that he’s ever read is from some garbage tier atheist propaganda, and he thinks he knows anything about it.

    Can someone exist with that level of dissonance? Are they honestly lacking is self-awareness that much? Or is it all elaborate trolls for luls? Even a basic understanding of what words mean in a basic and historical context absolutely destroys the thrust of what he’s trying to say. He can’t be serious.

  6. Pingback: ‘The Unbelievers’ Documentary in 10 Points. | James Bishop's Theology & Apologetics.·

  7. Dawkins is afraid to debate Craig. He is counting on the fact that his refusal will not be made known to very many of his followers.

    Dawkins is like the aging boxing champ…afraid…of strong new challengers.

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