Monday, May 16, 2011

Come Out and Fight, Richard

When Richard Dawkins came out with his book The God Delusion he was feted as the champion of atheism, the St. George who was slaying the dragon of theism and religion. Dawkins has argued that atheists should confront believers and show them and the world the foolishness of belief in God.

Well, philosopher William Lane Craig is planning a trip to England this summer and has said he would like to debate Dawkins, but the mighty hero apparently wants no part of such a contest.

Here are some details from a report by Tim Ross in The Telegraph:
Richard Dawkins has made his name as the scourge of organised religion who branded the Roman Catholic Church “evil” and once called the Pope “a leering old villain in a frock”.

But he now stands accused of “cowardice” after refusing four invitations to debate the existence of God with a renowned Christian philosopher. A war of words has broken out between the best selling author of The God Delusion, and his critics, who see his refusal to take on the American academic, William Lane Craig, as a “glaring” failure and a sign that he may be losing his nerve.

Prof Dawkins maintains that Prof Craig is not a figure worthy of his attention and has reportedly said that such a contest would “look good” on his opponent’s CV but not on his own.

Four invitations to take part in public debates were sent to Prof Dawkins from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio. Prof Dawkins declined them all.

“I have no intention of assisting Craig in his relentless drive for self-promotion,” he said.

Some of Prof Dawkins’s contemporaries are not impressed. Dr Daniel Came, a philosophy lecturer and fellow atheist, from Worcester College, Oxford, wrote to him urging him to reconsider his refusal to debate the existence of God with Prof Craig.

In a letter to Prof Dawkins, Dr Came said: “The absence of a debate with the foremost 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 Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”
There's more at the link. I suspect that Mr. Dawkins has seen Craig's debates with other atheists and knows that his own position on the non-existence of God is indefensible against a debater of Craig's caliber. He also knows the whole world would be watching, he knows he'd get clobbered, and he knows his inevitable defeat at the hands of an evangelical Christian would have a seismic impact on the popularity of modern atheism, not to mention his book sales.

Thus he contents himself, like a man who has no confidence in the strength of his position, by hurling insults at his opponent from afar while evading the challenge to come out and fight like a man.

Anyone who writes a best-selling book on the foolishness of theism ought to be willing to defend his thesis against the most able antagonists. To write the book and then avoid serious challngers is like being declared the heavyweight boxing champion and then refusing to defend the title against any but lightweight challengers and also-rans. It's not the sort of behavior that anyone would think particularly noble, confident or courageous.

Divorce Agreement

A "divorce agreement" between conservatives and liberals is making the rounds on the 'net. It's a clever, if perhaps a little uncharitable, way of illustrating the difference between the two groups. The agreement is supposedly drawn up by a conservative and is addressed to his liberal partner:
We have stuck together since the late 1950s for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

1. Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by land mass, each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy. Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

2. We don't like redistributive taxes, so you can keep them.

3. You are also welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.

4. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA, and the military.

5. We'll also take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar, and bio-diesel.

6. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore, Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbra Steisand, Jane Fonda and Rosie O'Donnell. We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, WalMart, and Wall Street.

7. You can have your lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless homeboys, hippies, druggies, and illegal aliens. We'll keep the CEOs, entrepreneuers, and rednecks.

8. We'll keep the Bibles and Judeo-Christian values. You're welcome to Scientology, Humanism, political correctness, and Shirley McLain. You can also have Hollywood and the U.N.

9. We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

10. You're welcome to give everyone healthcare, if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury, not a right.

11. We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The National Anthem." I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine" or "We Are the World".

12. We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

13. Since it often offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

In the spirit of friendly parting, let's bet on which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

P.S. You won't have to "Press 1 for English" when you call our new country.
Homework assignment: What, if anything, in the above is unfairly tendentious?