Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Is God a Delusion? William Lane Craig in Oxford


Richard Dawkins was invited by the Oxford student Christian Union to defend his book The God Delusion in public debate with William Lane Craig. The invitation remained open until the last minute. However, Dawkins refused the challenge and his chair remained empty. Craig then gave a lecture to a capacity audience on the weaknesses of the central arguments of the book and responded to a panel of academics. The event, which was chaired by atheist Prof. Peter Millican, was part of The Reasonable Faith Tour 2011 sponsored by UCCF, Damaris & Premier Christian Radio.
Audio version in MP3 here. Enjoy.

18 comments :

facelikethesun said...

I wish I was there. Then I realized that I can enroll at Talbot and take classes with Craig! :)

Thanks for posting this. Great stuff!

_Nate said...

Wow! great event! II' going to link this all over my social networks. And now Peter S William's opening speech from the 2 on 2 debate is up on his podcast.

Luvin said...

Brian you are doing a great job..thanks....Bravo Dr. Craig! Praise The Lord!

galileounchained.com said...

The empty-chair ploy is a clever stunt, but it looks pretty shabby after a few moments of reflection.

Look--I would be happy to debate William Lane Craig, but he wouldn't do it. There's no advantage to him; I'm a nobody.

The same is true for Dawkins. What's the benefit to Dawkins? He's got his 3 million copies of The God Delusion out there, and there's simply no advantage to debate WLC.

Brian Auten said...

The point is Craig is not a nobody. And when Dawkins refuses to defend his written work publicly (especially when his written work is bold, confident, and aggressive in its views), it looks pretty cowardly.

The point shows that Dawkins can dish it out, but is unwilling to defend.

Not anonymous said...

The problem is Dawkins has specifically said he'd debate anybody, from any church, anytime, and he'd have a polite argument, and he'd win the argument. Nobody can argue that William Lane Craig is anything but polite, and he is obviously an intellectual force to be reckoned with. Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and many other smart atheists attest to this, as does his scholarly work.

So Dawkins does not have the right to say the above, and then to refuse to debate Craig, giving multiple contradictory excuses as to why not, and then impugning and maligning the man's character in an attempt to wiggle out of his own obvious cowardice on the issue.

Dawkins tried to paint Craig as academically beneath him, when the scholarly record clearly shows that isn't true. He said he doesn't "debate creationists". Craig is not a creationist, and Dawkins HAS debated creationists in the past. And on and on and on.

Lastly, Dawkins claims that nobody has been able to answer his arguments in the God Delusion. But Craig and many others have, both in popular work and in scholarly journals. Dawkins has not responded to their critiques, but merely acted as if they don't exist so he can keep claiming that nobody has been able to answer him.

Add it all up, and it's quite clear that Dawkins is acting like quite a snake here all around, throwing down a gauntlet then backing away from a fair debate, and giving all kinds of dodges for doing so, as well as indulging in what can only be called character assassination as a way to assuage his own cowardice.

And in fact, Dawkins has debated many "real" nobodys, including the founder of Hell House and others of that sort. He says he'll take on all comers, only deals with the chumps, then cries foul when the big boys take him on. He acts as if he hasn't been answered, when he has and just ignored it. And he acts like people like Craig are beneath him, when Dawkins is the one who hasn't done anything but popular work in 30 years and had his chair bought for him at Oxford by an atheist donor. Dawkins has done no scholarly work in decades, whereas Craig has written over a hundred journal articles, and yet Craig is the guy "beneath" him?

Russell said...

Christians have had to listen to Dawkins insult their intelligence and mock their faith for far too long. He is anything but respectful, and sunk to even deeper levels in the past few weeks. I could not stop smiling while listening to this. First you have the mention of the Dawkins fans standing outside the theater protesting! Protesting what? The fact that their mentor was not willing to defend his own work? To make things even worse, they are passing out copies of Dawkins's hateful article. That must have been a fun conversation. "Don't listen to Craig, is going to refute Dawkins's work! Instead, read this article where Dawkins misrepresents Dr. Craig's arguments and calls him names. Then take a trip over to the Richard Dawkins website where we will have a rational discussion."

This should be the end of it. Dawkins made claims about God and specifically the Christian faith. He claimed to be open to debating the issue. Arguably one of the best defenders of Christianity steps up to the plate. Dawkins decides to stay home. End of issue.

Neil Shenvi said...

Last year, philosopher Gary Gutting made an off-handed comment in a NYTimes Op-Ed piece that the central argument of The God Delusion was "demonstrably faulty." Atheist commenters scoffed and demanded that he support his unfounded claim. He followed up with the following op-ed piece in which he very clearly shows that Dawkins' arguments are indeed "demonstrably faulty":
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/11/on-dawkinss-atheism-a-response/
I find this a helpful article for atheists who truly think that Dawkins' argument has intellectual merit.
-Neil

Lowell Pérez said...

Not only is Dr. Craig a gentleman, civil in his debates, intelligent, but he is also very humble. I've been following his debates and lectures on the internet, and I've observed his impeccable demeanor and Christianly manners. Here is a man with impressive academic qualifications, who have toppled many atheists in his debates yet very down to earth. I can imagine the Apostle Paul defending the Christian faith with reason, intelligence and love; much like what we can see in Dr. Craig's person.

Winston said...

I followed this all the way through and I do think it is impressive until the 30 minute mark where he said that the design of the universe is just as plausible because of how well fine tuned it is. He implies that its fine-tuned state comes from a designed beginning. This explanation has no reason to follow such a path, and is something Dawkins explained very well in his latest book about evolution. Why must the Universe be designed when it is more plausible that it evolves just like animals do? The whole point of evolution is to point out that the stages it evolves through are not concerned with how it began.

I'm all up for listening to him, but at that point, I felt a bit disheartened.

Drew said...

Remember that the fine-tuning is of the *initial* conditions at the very beginning of physical reality itself. Initial conditions cannot, by their very definition, evolve from anything.

Kyle S. said...

Why was my comment deleted, Brian? It was phrased respectfully and without insult or obscenity. Why not defend Dr. Craig's campaign instead, if indeed it is defensible?

Brian Auten said...

Kyle, yes, your comment was respectful and I appreciate that.
However, it's the wearisome conversation I find elsewhere on that particular topic that I don't care to encourage more of here. Let's keep comments in this thread on the content of the debate itself.

Thanks.

Kyle S. said...

Okay, fair enough. Thank you for the response and for all the resources you provide on this blog.

Neil Shenvi said...

Winston,
You write: "Why must the Universe be designed when it is more plausible that it evolves just like animals do?"

But the huge distinction here is that evolution posts a mechanism for explaining the apparent design found in biology: namely, natural selection. In contrast, there is no such proposed mechanism for explaining the apparent design found in physics. Dawkins himself admits this in The God Delusion, where he says "we don't yet have an equivalent crane [i.e. mechanism] for physics." Hence Craig is quite right to state that - unlike in the case of apparent design in biology - the explanation for apparent design in physics can only be chance, necessity, or real design.

Syllabus said...

I wish Dawkins would bite the darned bullet and get it over with, one way or another. He seems to me, at this point, to be much like the school yard child who flings vituperations and insults at the other children he doesn't like, and who then stops his ears and goes, "Nanananaa, I can't hear you". He's a tremendously intelligent man acting like a little child, which I think appears as very bemusing deportment to his supporters and opponents alike.

I also find it mildly amusing that he should refuse to debate Craig on the grounds that Craig "supports the slaughter of little children", when he himself, if I recall correctly, has advocated infanticide - not abortion, infanticide. C'mon, Professor. Act like the smart man you are and stop being a hypocrite.

Birdieupon said...

Dawkins has seen this video and his response is extraordinary (though unsurprising). The following blog entry provides details, links and cartoon commentary:

http://aatheism.blogspot.com/2011/11/richard-dawkins-i-am-ashamed-of-my.html

Anonymous said...

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthian 4:4

Whilst we are to give a reason for the hope that is within us, sometimes I think like Solomon - all chasing after wind - especially in the light of the scripture.. It is so simple if only we could believe like children.

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