On Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig

Craig is famous for his debates with atheists, but one atheist who has repeatedly refused to debate Craig is Richard Dawkins. Dawkins initially refused because he had no idea who Craig was, and later, when he learned more about Craig, because of Craig’s defense of genocide (which I discussed while discussing Craig’s moral argument).

This has led to Dawkins being repeatedly called a coward, and some truly ridiculous antics on Craig’s part, some of which Dawkins describes in one of his replies to Craig’s debate challenges:

In an epitome of bullying presumption, Craig now proposes to place an empty chair on a stage in Oxford next week to symbolise my absence. The idea of cashing in on another’s name by conniving to share a stage with him is hardly new. But what are we to make of this attempt to turn my non-appearance into a self-promotion stunt? In the interests of transparency, I should point out that it isn’t only Oxford that won’t see me on the night Craig proposes to debate me in absentia: you can also see me not appear in Cambridge, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and, if time allows, Bristol.

Dawkins has also been accused of being ignorant for not initially knowing who Craig was. Anyone who says this shows they have a ridiculously inflated view of Craig’s importance. Not only are most philosophers atheists, most philosophers do not take philosophy of religion very seriously.

And even within philosophy of religion, Craig isn’t a complete nobody, but he doesn’t have the status of Plantinga or Swinburne of van Inwagen. This makes Craig’s behavior towards Dawkins as ridiculous as if Michael Tooley behaved the same way towards National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins. (Don’t know who Michael Tooley is? My point exactly.)

That doesn’t change what I said previously, that Craig is one of the world’s leading defenders of arguments for the existence of God. But that isn’t a compliment to Craig. Rather, the fact that a relatively insignificant charlatan like Craig can claim that title ought to be an embarrassment to religion.

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