It is pretty amazing when a story like this makes it to Fox News. Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig Is Ready to Debate, but Finds Few Challengers. I have been watching the coverage of the upcoming UK tour of WLC and the fact that Richard Dawkins, like most atheists I’ve met, is far more comfortable with monologues than dialogues. They tend to be very brave amongst their own, or behind a keyboard, but they are significantly less excited about serious challenges to their worldview and their rhetoric. Dawkins, in particular, is so far out of his element (and way beyond his depth) in dealing with philosophy or theology or history—and he well knows it—that he knows a meaningful debate with a prepared opponent would diminish his following (and his readership). Dawkins’ comments are the classic self-defensive actions of someone who knows he is in trouble: “I have no intention of assisting Craig in his relentless drive for self-promotion.” Yes, Dawkins could never be accused of self-promotion. The humor is not even lost on the Brits!
I found it particularly ironic that the Fox News story interviewed David Silverman, the current President of American Atheists (he was VP when I debated him on Long Island). He is quoted as saying,
But David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, believes the reason behind the cancellation is much simpler.
“The fact is some people get tired of debating Christians because of the same arguments over and over again. And sometimes it’s a lot like arguing with a wall,” he said.
Yes, I am sure that is why Mr. Silverman expressed interest in debating me on the topic of whether Jesus was a made up story, drawn from pagan sources? I think anyone watching our debate would conclude that Mr. Silverman was not arguing with a wall. If so, that wall sure seemed to stump him multiple times.
I think it is quite proper for Christians, especially those in the UK, to point to the cowardice of many of the leading atheists in the face of challenges. If this opens up possibilities for dialogue in that very secular nation, that’s wonderful. But there is another aspect to this particular situation that I find interesting.
There are many atheists who refuse to debate William Lane Craig. He is definitely skilled at self-control, remaining on-target, etc. But, I wonder if those who are so excited about Craig’s prowess realize that he has been challenged to debate a number of issues by men with just as much experience as he has in debate, but he has declined?
I have often commented on how useful a debate between myself and Dr. Craig would be on many issues. I have often played portions of Craig’s studies, talks, and debates, and have challenged his statements. I have challenged his evidentialism, and a debate on whether we are called to proclaim the “greater probability of the existence of a god” or to proclaim the certainty of the existence of the God that men know exists would be very useful to our generation. I have challenged his Molinism, even lecturing on the topic at a Reformed Baptist Church right next to the Talbot/Biola campus in Southern California. I do not believe Molinism is at all consistent with biblical truth, and would love to challenge him to demonstrate that the God of the Bible is the same God he describes as having “actuated” this world on the basis of middle knowledge, etc. And, of course, in light of his response to Christopher Hitchens, wherein the only “false” Christian faith he could come up with was not Romanism or any of the fundamentally sub- and anti-Christian movements of our day, but Calvinism, would not the students at Biola/Talbot find a full-orbed series of debates, right there on campus, on the doctrines of grace, to be an exceptionally useful addition to their education?
Dr. Craig is well aware of our desire to engage these subjects. Though we have never met, we know many of the same people, and I have been told, “through channels,” that “Dr. Craig does not debate Christians.” This is the same response you will get from Norman Geisler as well, when the topic comes up as to why he has declined a dozen such challenges over the past decade. I have never been given an explanation of why this is. We are both debaters. We have both debated many of the same people. We have just done so in very different ways, and it would be greatly edifying for the Christian community as a whole to understand the why’s and wherefore’s of those differences. We have both shown that we can debate fairly, fully, and respectfully. So I see absolutely no reason why Dr. Craig will not accept our challenge to engage these topics. We certainly stand ready, and given that the atheists are running for the hills with their hair on fire, it seems Dr. Craig would have plenty of extra time to join us in exploring, via debate, these important apologetic issues.