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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Richard Dawkins Refuses to Debate With William Lane Craig

When I first heard that Dawkins refused to debate with Craig, I wasn't at all surprised. Dawkins has said in the past that we is very reluctant to publicly debate with creationists because it would give credibility to their cause, even if they lost the debate. In addition, Craig has been a pretty obnoxious thorn in Dawkins side for a while, hounding him and publicly trying to lure him into debate. However, his refusal of Craig's most recent invitation has caused such an uproar from Craig's followers and accusations of cowardice that Dawkins release an explanation. Dawkins says that the main reason he refuses to debate with Craig is because he is an apologist for genocide. Response to Dawkins’ article has been varied, from atheists praising his refusal to debate Craig to others criticizing him for his flawed reasoning.

He has such a moral aversion to some of Craig's explanations of the biblical God's edicts that he refuses to share a stage with him. I think this explanation is odd, though, because his absolute rejection of genocide seems to be contrary to his rejection of absolute morality in The God Delusion.

Furthermore, while I do think genocide is indescribably immoral, wouldn't an evolutionary biologist see one group of organisms wiping out another as Survival of the Fittest? Isn't that the basis of evolution? Adapt or die out?

Considering Craig's acceptance, and Dawkins's rejection, of absolute moral values, and Dawkins's background as an evolutionary biologist, I would expect Dawkins to be more accepting of genocide than Craig. Wouldn't Dawkins see it as no more evil than a male lion killing the cubs of a vanquished rival?

And this practice is not unique to the Bible or religion. For much of human history victorious conquerors would kill women and children in order to prevent them from rising up later to avenge the conquered. Wouldn't Dawkins recognize this as a normal behavior during pre-modern warfare?

In addition, I have trouble accepting Dawkins's explanation because the idea of Old Testament warfare is so common to all Christian (and Jewish) faith that Dawkins should refuse to debate any christian (or Jew), which is clearly not the case.

I don't think Dawkins is being honest about his reasons for refusing the debate. Do I think he's afraid? No. He has shown in the past that he can substantiate his views, and I do not believe that Craig is an exceptionally amazing apologist. In addition, other noteworthy atheists have debated with Craig, such as Bart Ehrman, Richard Taylor, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens without taking exceptional issue with Craig's view of the Old Testament God.

However, I don't think it's necessarily true that he's afraid of Craig. There's nothing exceptional about him. It may just be that he finds Craig annoying.


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