The "new atheists" and a commentary regarding debating!
- The subject came up in the recent JREF discussions, and so I copy the following here to reflect on what others are saying about such things.
Comment: new atheists 'running scared' of debate
New atheists Richard Dawkins and William Grayling are 'running scared' of debate, says DR. PETER MAY, organiser of the 2011 Reasonable Faith tour ...
For years, `New Atheist' Professors Anthony Grayling and Richard Dawkins have made money and gained publicity out of God. But now, the courage of their convictions seems to be running dry: they have both refused to debate one of the world's leading defenders of the Christian faith, Professor William Lane Craig.
While Professor Dawkins has set himself up as the `scourge' of the Church, Professor Grayling has offered his latest attack on Christianity by publishing The Good Book a secular bible in the year the Church celebrates the 400th anniversary of the translation of the King James Bible.
While Dawkins and Grayling have refused to debate the existence of God, Grayling has also refused to debate the foundations of the morality on which his `Good Book' rests. These point-blank refusals to engage in public discussions with Professor Craig will undermine their credibility, not only among Christians but also amongst fellow academics.
Professor Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, California, is arguably the world's foremost defender of historic Christianity. He has debated with many top academics and leading atheists across the world, including Peter Atkins, Daniel Dennett, Anthony Flew, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and most recently, Sam Harris.
Craig visited the UK in 2007 and received national media coverage for his debate at Westminster Central Hall with Professor Lewis Wolpert, chaired by BBC Radio 4 Today presenter, John Humphrys. This debate has now been seen by thousands of people on YouTube. Prof. Craig has two Ph.Ds, has written more than 30 books and published some 200 academic papers. He is returning to the UK from 17-26 October in a tour sponsored by the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Damaris Trust and Premier Christian Radio.
Having been invited to debate Craig, Prof. Grayling replied:
> "I am not interested in debating Professor Craig,Justin Brierley, of sponsor's Premier Radio, said:
> though if he would like to co-opt me for the
> publicity for his tour I would be happy to
> debate him on the question of the existence of
> fairies and water-nymphs. But as for the very
> uninteresting matter of whether there is just
> one god or goddess and that it can be debated
> despite the claim that it is transcendently
> ineffable and unknowable that is an empty
> prospect, hence my declining the invitation."
> "It looks insulting and worryingly narrowRichard Dawkins, however, has now refused four separate invitations to debate Craig this October. They came from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio.
> minded when an invitation to defend such
> views against a top-flight Christian academic
> such as Dr. Craig is dismissed in these terms.
> Grayling is seen as a key proponent of
> rationalism and atheism in the UK. It will
> therefore come as a surprise to many that he
> is so unwilling to defend the rational grounds
> for atheism against a major opponent."
The patently inadequate reasons he has put forward for ducking the challenge include:
> that Craig is merely a "professional debater",Dr. Daniel Came, an atheist and Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford University believes that Dawkin's refusal to debate Craig will be seen as an act of `cowardice'. He wrote to him:
> he is a "creationist",
> he is not a Bishop or a Cardinal and
> it "would look good on Professor Craig's CV, but not on mine".
> "The absence of a debate with the foremostIn respect of A.C. Grayling's flippant refusal to debate Professor Craig, Dr. Came has said:
> apologist for Christian theism is a glaring
> omission on your CV and is of course apt to
> be interpreted as cowardice on your part. I
> notice that, by contrast, you are happy to
> discuss theological matters with television
> and radio presenters and other intellectual
> heavyweights like Pastor Keenan Roberts of
> the Colorado Hell House and Pastor Ted Haggard
> of the National Association of Evangelicals."
> "Professor Grayling's attitude towards theFor his part, Prof. Craig is leaving the door open for either of them to have the courage of their convictions, and join him in debate at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford at 7.30pm on 25 October.
> status of the question of the existence of
> God essentially that there is nothing to
> talk about is hard to justify philosophically.
> Even though it might not be clear what the
> solution is, it is plainly a genuine
> philosophical problem, and there are few, if
> any, that are more profound or of greater
> interest to the general public."
For further details about William Lane Craig, his debates, his writings and his UK tour, visit