Richard Dawkins responds to the question at the recent Intelligence Squared debate at Wellington College in Berkshire, over his refusal to engage with prominent philosopher of religion, William Lane Craig.
Wintery Knight has some good analysis here:
Dawkins’ reasons in point form (with Wintery Knight’s commentary):
- Dawkins claims that he is willing to debate high-ranking clergymen (but Craig is a scholar, not a clergyman)
- Dawkins claims that Craig is a creationist (but Craig supports his kalam cosmological argument with the Big Bang)
- Dawkins claims that Craig’s only claim to fame is that he is a professional debater (but see Craig’s CV and publications below, which is far more prestigious than Dawkins’)
- Dawkins claims that he’s too busy.
What are the real reasons why he won’t debate Craig?
I can think of three reasons why Dawkins would avoid a debate with Craig:
- He doesn’t know how to defend atheism and disprove theism in public
- He doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand logic and study evidence
- He doesn’t want to debate a real scholar and be humiliated in public, like Hitchens and Dennett
My opinion is that he is guilty of all 3 of these.
“To me, it sounded like Dawkins was saying he wouldn’t debate Craig because he doesn’t have any other claim to fame besides him being a really good debater. Of course that’s patently false. Craig’s academic credentials and fame far outstrip any of Dawkin’s past debate opponents against theists… It’s quite amusing, to say the least, that after 2 full years of hearing about him, Dr. Dawkins still doesn’t have a clue about who Dr. Craig is. He doesn’t know, for example, that Craig is a world renowned philosopher of Religion (indeed he’s considered to be at the top of his field). He doesn’t know that Craig is a ‘leading philosopher of space and time’ (Quentin Smith quote). He doesn’t know that Craig’s claim to fame is actually on the Kalam Cosmological Argument, not his debating.”