Atheism debates

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Richard Dawkins
The Oxford University Professor Daniel Came wrote to the new atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins:: "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."[1]

As far as atheism debates, although atheists commonly claim there are reasonable arguments for atheism, the quality of atheist debate has been quite poor from the proponents of atheism. See: Rebuttals to atheist arguments

In addition, some prominent atheists and most evolutionists have established a reputation of dodging debates (see: Atheism and cowardice). For example, in 2012 both the new atheist Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Society dodged debates with Dr. William Lane Craig. Also, due to Christian creationists generally winning creation vs. evolution debates in the 1970's and 1980's atheists tend to dodge creation vs. evolution debates. Furthermore, Richard Dawkins has established a reputation of avoiding his strongest debate opponents.

The cowardice associated with atheism has become so obvious that it is making newspaper headlines.[2] On May 14, 2011, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph published a news story entitled "Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God".[1] In The Daily Telegraph article Dr. Daniel Came, a member of the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University was quoted as writing to fellow atheist Richard Dawkins concerning his refusal to debate Dr. William Lane Craig, "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."[1]

Doug Jesseph

In October of 1997, atheist Jeffrey Jay Lowder, a founder of Internet Infidels, stated that he believed that in regards to atheism and debate that "the most impressive debater to date" was Douglas Jesseph.[3]

Yet, Douglas Jesseph claimed in a debate with William Lane Craig in 1996 that the origin of life had a detailed atheistic explanation(s).[4] In 1996, John Horgan wrote the following regarding what the highly respected origin of life researcher Stanley Miller believed to the case regarding naturalistic explanations of the origin of life: "Miller seemed unimpressed with any of the current proposals on the origin of life, referring to them as 'nonsense' or 'paper chemistry.'"[5] In addition, in 1996, John Horgan wrote the following in Scientific American: "The origin of life is a science writer's dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion."[6]

At the atheist blog Common Sense Atheism, the atheist Luke Muehlhauser said of the Craig vs. Jesseph debate: "A very typical debate in which Craig’s opponent is not prepared for Craig’s skill, speed, or organization, and things just get worse for Jesseph as things go along and he falls further and further behind."[7]

Gordon Stein

See also: Greg Bahnsen and debate

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as the man atheists fear most" due to Michael Martin's cancellation of their scheduled debate.

In 1985, Christian apologist Dr. Greg Bahnsen and prominent proponent of atheism Gordon Stein had a debate at the University of California, Irvine regarding the positions of atheism and theism. John Frame wrote regarding the debate in which Dr. Bahnsen used the transcendental argument for the existence of God that "In the end, Stein walked and talked like a broken man."[8] The Greg Bahnsen-Gordon Stein debate was recorded and transcribed and was dubbed "The Great Debate".[9]

Greg Bahnsen and Michael Martin

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as the "man atheists fear most".[10] This is because Harvard-educated Dr. Michael Martin was scheduled to debate Bahnsen but pulled out of the debate at the "eleventh hour". A press release at the time said that Dr. Martin offered ruses on why he pulled out and didn't want the scheduled debate recorded but the real reason was that "...Michael Martin is afraid that he will be publicly humiliated just as his friend and fellow atheist, Dr. Gordon Stein, was..."

Martin later released his transcendental argument for the non-existence of God (TANG) in 1996 which was rebutted by Christian apologists.[11]

See also: Bahnson-Martin debate press release

Christopher Hitchens' debate against William Lane Craig

Christopher Hitchens debated William Lane Craig at Biola University in 2009 in a videotaped debate.[12] The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote concerning the debate: "The debate went exactly as I expected. Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child."[13]

Creation scientists tend to win the creation-evolution debates

evolutionary theory opponent
Jonathan Sarfati is a scientists on the staff of Creation Ministries International.

See also: Creation scientists tend to win the creation vs. evolution debates

In 2010, the worldwide atheist community was challenged to a debate by Creation Ministries International as prominent atheists were speaking at a 2010 global atheist convention in Australia.[14] Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and other prominent atheists refused to debate Creation Ministries International.[14]

A majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the naturalistic evolutionary position since World War II have been atheists.[15] Creation scientists tend to win the Creation-Evolution debates and many have been held since the 1970's particularly in the United States.[16] Robert Sloan, Director of Paleontology at the University of Minnesota, reluctantly admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter that the "creationists tend to win" the public debates which focused on the creation vs. evolution controversy.[16] In August of 1979, Dr. Henry Morris reported in an Institute for Creation Research letter the following: “By now, practically every leading evolutionary scientist in this country has declined one or more invitations to a scientific debate on creation/evolution.”[17] Morris also said regarding the creation scientist Duane Gish (who had over 300 formal debates): “At least in our judgment and that of most in the audiences, he always wins.”[18] Generally speaking, leading evolutionists generally no longer debate creation scientists because creation scientists tend to win the creation vs. evolution debates.[19] In addition, the atheist and evolutionist, Richard Dawkins has shown inconsistent and deceptive behavior concerning his refusal creation scientists. In an article entitled "Are Kansas Evolutionists Afraid of a Fair Debate?" the Discovery Institute states the following:

Defenders of Darwin's theory of evolution typically proclaim that evidence for their theory is simply overwhelming. If they really believe that, you would think they would jump at a chance to publicly explain some of that overwhelming evidence to the public. Apparently not.[20]

In 1994, the arch-evolutionist Dr. Eugenie Scott made this confession concerning creation vs. evolution debates:

During the last six or eight months, I have received more calls about debates between creationists and evolutionists than I have encountered for a couple of years, it seems. I do not know what has inspired this latest outbreak, but I am not sure it is doing much to improve science education.

Why do I say this? Sure, there are examples of "good" debates where a well-prepared evolution supporter got the best of a creationist, but I can tell you after many years in this business that they are few and far between. Most of the time a well-meaning evolutionist accepts a debate challenge (usually "to defend good science" or for some other worthy goal), reads a bunch of creationist literature, makes up a lecture explaining Darwinian gradualism, and can't figure out why at the end of the debate so many individuals are clustered around his opponent, congratulating him on having done such a good job of routing evolution—and why his friends are too busy to go out for a beer after the debate.[21]

In August of 2003 the Creation Research Society published some interesting material regarding their correspondence with Richard Dawkins regarding a creation-evolution debate in which Richard Dawkins participated in as a debater.[22] The Creation Research Society stated regarding the debate the following:

Despite Dr. Dawkins’ plea, there were apparently 115 votes for the creation position (more than 37%). This was done near Darwin’s turf. Imagine flat-earthers going to NASA and convincing over 37% of the scientists there that the earth is flat. Maybe creation science is not as closely akin to flat-earthism as Dr. Dawkins supposes (see his Free Inquiry article).[22]

Richard Dawkins and recent debates

See also: Richard Dawkins and debate

Atheist Richard Dawkins lost a debate to a rabbi and then claimed debate never took place

For more information please see: Richard Dawkins and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was named the London Times Preacher of the Year 2000 and is the author of 20 books.[23] Recently Rabbi Shmuley Boteach reported that college student audience voted that he won a debate between himself and Richard Dawkins and then Dawkins claimed the debate never took place. (the debate later turned out to be videotaped). [24]

A video of the debate that Dawkins lost to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was available at Rabbi Schely Boteach's website.[25]

Refusal of Richard Dawkins to debate Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza

For more information please see: Richard Dawkins and Dinesh D'Souza

Christian author Dinesh D'Souza wrote that Richard Dawkins' recent refusals to debate him and other knowledgeable Christian apologists was bizarre.[26] Dinesh D'Souza also accused Dawkins of chasing down weak opponents to debate him in situations where Dawkins controls the editing. [26]

Christian apologist Dr. William Lane Craig is reported to have called Dawkins a coward

Dr. William Lane Craig is one of Christianity's leading defenders and many individuals over the years have attempted to arrange a debate between Dr. Craig and Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins has offered various ruses on why he will not debate William Lane Craig, which Dr. Craig supporters have shown were inconsistent and merely a dodge to avoid debating one of Christianity's strongest advocates.[27]

Christian apologist Dr. Victor Reppert reported that Dr. William Lane Craig told him in a private email that Richard Dawkins is a coward for refusing to debate him.[28] Currently, there is a petition requesting Richard Dawkins to debate Christian apologist William Lane Craig.[29]

Various ruses of Richard Dawkins concerning his alleged refusal to debate creationists

Richard Dawkins has a number of ruses concerning his alleged refusal to debate creationists. Evolutionists' inconsistency concerning debating creationists was commented on by the Christian apologetic website True Free Thinker which declared: "Interestingly enough, having noted that since some atheists refuse to debate “creationists” but then go on to debate some of those people but not others, it is clear that they are, in reality, being selective and making excuses for absconding from difficulties..."[30]

PZ Myers refusal to debate Vox Day

PZ Myers

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

On September 4, 2011, Christian apologist Vox Day wrote concerning the evolutionist and atheist PZ Myers:

I have heard from numerous atheists who find his intellectual cowardice to be more than a little troubling given his usual tendency to create conflict rather than to avoid it. And he has handed an out to every single individual he ever hopes to challenge in the future. Why should they debate a nobody like him, a clown who isn't even a bigshot in his own field?

As for the PZ Myers Memorial Debate, we are still in search of an atheist to champion the argument that the logic and evidence for the nonexistence of gods is stronger than the logic and evidence for the existence of gods. It is certainly informative to see how many atheists do not appear to believe they are able to effectively make this case; in light of this, many Christians may find this to be a useful tactical approach when confronted by aggressive atheists in the future. This tends to confirm my previous observations that while atheists like to challenge the beliefs of others, they are very ill-prepared, and in many cases downright unwilling, to defend their own. So, if you want to shut them up, simply go on the attack. They'll run away with alacrity.[31]

On August 28, 2011, Vox Day declared concerning Myers:

What you clearly do not understand is that, by his own admission, PZ relies heavily upon emotional arguments rather than logical ones when he cannot simply appeal to an established scientific consensus. "I'll also cop to the obvious fact that, knowing that reason will not get through their skills, I'm happy to use emotional arguments as well. Passion is persuasive." His tendency to rely upon emotional rhetoric and passion rather than reason is precisely why he is afraid to debate people who rely primarily upon logic, because his ability to present reason-based arguments is relatively low. His ability to utilize reason is simply not equal to the skill of others who make use of it more effectively. PZ is without question an effective preacher to the godless choir of science fetishists, but he is remarkably unskilled at presenting convincing arguments, let alone conclusive ones, to those who do not already agree with him. Unlike you, he knows he is not an effective evangelist.[32]

Anthony Flew and Dr. Gary Habermas debate regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ

An article hosted by Westmont College states the following regarding the debate between former atheist Anthony Flew (who has since become an ex-atheist) and Dr. Gary Habermas which focused on the issue of the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Another helpful resource for judging the demonstrability of the resurrection is Terry L. Miethe, ed., Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate. It chronicles a debate between Gary Habermas and Antony Flew held at Liberty University in 1985:

All parties agreed ... to limit the debate to a single issue, that of the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus. The debate was not to be concerned with issues such as God's existence, revelation (such as the Bible), or miracles in general. These issues could, however, be addressed in the question and answer session following the formal debate.

Because audiences are perennially interested in who the experts choose as the winner of a public debate, we organized two panels of experts in their respective areas of specialty to render a verdict on the present subject matter. One panel consisted of five philosophers, who were instructed to judge the content of the debate and render a winner. The second panel consisted of five professional debate judges, who were asked to judge the argumentation technique of the debaters. All ten participants serve on the faculties of American universities and colleges such as the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Virginia, Western Kentucky University, James Madison University, George Mason University, Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, Virginia), Sweet Briar College, and Liberty University. We attempted to choose persons of a wide spectrum of views and persuasions.

The decisions of our judges were as follows. The panel of philosophers, judging content, cast four votes for Habermas, none for Flew, and one draw. ...[33]

The panel of professional debate judges voted three to two, also in favor of Habermas, this time regarding the method of argumentation technique.[34]

Kai Nielsen versus J.P. Moreland debate

In regards to athiesm and debate, there was a debate between atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen and Christian theist philsopher J.P. Moreland. Internet Infidels states the following regarding J.P. Moreland's book Does God Exist? which mentions the debate:

I agree completely with the conclusion of Craig's flow of the debate, that Moreland won the debate. In fact, Moreland's victory in the debate was so decisive I am left wishing that Keith Parsons had been Moreland's opponent; I wonder if Nielsen even took the debate seriously. In light of this, I am baffled why a secular humanist publisher like Prometheus Books would choose to publish this particular debate, given how pathetic Nielsen's performance truly was. (Jeffery Jay Lowder)[35]

Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate

See also: Atheism and morality

In 2011, Sam Harris debated the Christian apologist and philosopher William Lane Craig at the University of Notre Dame on the topic of morality and the debate was the proposition "Is Good From God?".[36][37]

Reviews of the debate

Review by the New Zealand Christian apologetics ministry Thinking Matters

The New Zealand Christian apologetics ministry Thinking Matters said of the Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate:

Craig brought a great many cogent objections to bear against Harris’s view...

Craig started by drawing the audience’s attention to how Harris was confusing moral ontology with moral semantics: confusing the basis or the foundation for moral values with the meaning of moral terms.

...Craig brought down the hammer and completely crushed Harris for the rest of the debate, by not only showing that Harris wasn’t engaging with the topic (he was equivocating between moral epistemology and ontology) but that his entire ethical system was necessarily false, by his own admission...

“A less moral framework is atheism,” started Craig with an exasperated laugh, and then went on to point out that Harris had said nothing to defend an atheistic foundation for morality, nor to refute Craig’s own arguments. To demonstrate how poorly Harris understood Christianity, and how irrelevant his “arguments” were, Craig quipped, in regards to Harris’s claim that the goal on theism is to avoid hell, “Belief in God isn’t some kind of fire insurance.” He then went on to list a number of other ways in which the red herrings that Harris had laid across the path were irrelevant—which was fair enough since there wasn’t much else to say.[38]

Other reviews by Christians:

Review of the debate by the atheist Luke Muehlhauser at Common Sense Atheism

The atheist Luke Muehlhauser reviewed the debate at the atheist blog Common Sense Atheism. Muehlhauser said of the debate, "As usual, Craig’s superior framing, scholarship and debate skills ‘won’ the debate for him."[39]

Frank Zindler versus Dr. William Craig debate

In a profile of contributors featured on an amateur evolutionist's website, the website TrueOrigin states the following regarding the debate between atheist Frank Zindler and Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig:

Frank Zindler

A leading light in the American Atheists. Isn’t it amazing how so many atheists love evolution and appear to be threatened by the massive scientific evidence for creation? Zindler took the atheism side in an Atheism v. Christianity debate in front of 7,500 people at Willow Creek Community Church, USA. His opponent, Dr William Lane Craig, tore his ignorant arguments to shreds so effectively that many atheists in the audience realised that Zindler had lost the debate. It was presumably to this debate that John Snowden was alluding when he wrote that a representative of the American Atheists, whom he used to support, lost a public debate to a “fundamentalist” (Skeptic 18(3), 1998).[40]

Madalyn Murray O'Hair debate with Dr. Walter Martin

Madalyn Murray O'Hair did particularly badly in her debate with Dr. Walter Martin[41] For example, when she claimed there were supposedly were contradictions in the Bible, Dr. Martin asked her to provide an example of one and Ms. O'Hair did not and could not offer even an alleged example of a Bible contradiction.[41] In addition, Ms. O'Hair was ill prepared in terms of defending against the issue of atheism and mass murder.[41]

2009 origin of life debate

In 2009, intelligent design proponents Dr. Stephen Meyer and Dr. Richard Sternberg debated atheist Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Donald Prothero concerning on the topic of the origin of life.[42] The Discovery Institute declared concerning the debate:

To call the debate a massacre would be a discredit to Sitting Bull. The only thing I can say is that Shermer needs to add a point to his booklet on how to debate "creationists" — namely, leave Donald Prothero at home in his van by the river...

Some of the best points came later in the debate, when Sternberg slammed Prothero with factual put down after factual put down, citing the current literature time and again. His command of the subject matter — from population genetics to junk DNA — was so far and above beyond Shermer and Prothero's knowledge, so far above their pay grade, that it was almost painful to watch him school them point after point. As I said before, shortly you'll be able to watch the debate for yourself. But be warned, it isn't pretty.[43]

An audio copy of the debate has been made available to the public.[42]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ross, Tim (May 14, 2011). "Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God". The Daily Telegraph website. Retrieved July 25, 2014. See Daily Telegraph
  2. Multiple references:
  3. Lowder, Jeffrey Jay (October 1997). "How not to debate". Internet Infidels Newsletter. Retrieved from The Secular Web/Infidels/Newsletter/1997 on May 14, 2015.
  4. Jesseph, Douglas (1996). "Opening statement by Doug Jesseph". The [Douglas] Jesseph-[William Lane] Craig Debate transcript. Transcript retrieved from The Secular Web/Library/Modern/Doug Jesseph/Jesseph Craig on May 14, 2015.
  5. Bergman, Jerry, Ph. D. (March 2000). "Why abiogenesis is impossible". Creation Research Science Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 4. Retrieved from The True.Origin Archive website on May 14, 2015.
  6. Horgan, John (1996). The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age (London: Little, Brown & Co.), p. 138. Retrieved from Stephen E. Jones website/Creation/Evolution Quotes/Origin of Life #1 on May 14, 2015.
  7. William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews) by Luke Muehlhauser at Common Sense Atheism on February 7, 2009
  8. Multiple references:
  9. Bahnsen, Greg and Stein, Gordon (1985). The Great Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Greg Bahnsen versus Dr. Gordon Stein. Retrieved from June 7, 2012 archive of Bellvue Christian School website/Faculty/DR Ibera at Internet Archive on May 14, 2015.
  10. "A brief biography of Greg Bahnsen" (2003). Applied Presuppositionalism website. Retrieved from January 2, 2008 archive at Internet Archive on May 14, 2015.
  11. Walsh, Ed (2007). "Responses to atheist philosopher Michael Martin". Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics website. Retrieved on May 14, 2015.
  12. Christopher Hitchens vs William Lane Craig - Does God Exist - 2009.
  13. The Craig-Hitchens Debate by Luke Muehlhauser on April 4, 2009 in Debates,Reviews,William Lane Craig
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ammi, Ken (May 2010). "Richard Dawkins the cowardly clown". True Freethinker. Retrieved on July 30, 2014.
  15. Multiple references:
  16. 16.0 16.1 Multiple references:
  17. Fraser, William A. (2003). "Who wins the debates?" Mark64's webpage. Retrieved from October 24, 2009 archive at Internet Archive on May 15, 2015.
  18. Ankerberg, John, and Weldon, John (1998). "Voices for evolution". Darwin's Leap of Faith (Harvest House). Retrieved from the John Ankerberg show website on May 15, 2015.
  19. Morris, Henry, Ph. D. (1996). "Reason or rhetoric". Acts and Facts, vol. 25, no. 11. Retrieved from Institute for Creation Research website on May 15, 2015.
  20. West, John G. (February 23, 2005). "Are Kansas evolutionists afraid of a fair debate?" Evolution News and Views. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  21. Scott, Eugenie C. (1994). "Debates and the Globetrotters". Skeptic Tank Text Archive File website/Evolution. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Humber, Paul G., M. S. (July/August 2003). "Debating Dawkins". Creation Matters, vol. 8, no. 4. Retrieved from April 15, 2014 Creation Research Society website archive at Internet Archive on May 15, 2015.
  23. Boteach, Shmuley (May 2008). "Richard Dawkins' shameful attack". Beliefnet/Faith/Judaism. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  24. Multiple references:
  25. Carlton, Mark (September 3, 2007). "Shmuley Boteach vs. Richard Dawkins". An Honest Debate/ Retrieved from July 5, 2008 archive at Internet Archive on May 15, 2015.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Multiple references:
  27. Hayden, Clive (March 6, 2010). "William Lane Craig is avoided by Richard Dawkins". Uncommon Descent website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  28. Reppert, Victor (January 5, 2007). "Dawkins ducks Craig". dangerous idea website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  29. "Richard Dawkins and William Craig should debate each other" (April 2009). iPetitions website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  30. Ammi, Ken (2010 or bef.). "Speaking of assiduous absconders...yet again, Vox Day challenges PZ Meyers to Debate". True Freethinker. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  31. Day, Vox (September 4, 2011). "Running, running". Vox Populi website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  32. Day, Vox (August 28, 2011). "Can one dodge a dodger?" Vox Populi website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  33. Keathley, J. Hampton, III (June 2, 2004). "Evidences for the resurrection". website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  34. Work, Telford (November 2, 2002). "Theological FAQ: Is the resurrection of Jesus historical". Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  35. Day, Donn R. (October 2007 or bef.). "Atheism: Etymology". The Divine Conspiracy website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  36. [The God Debate II: Harris vs. Craig], Notre Dame University YouTube channel, Uploaded on Apr 12, 2011
  37. How William Lane Craig thrashed Sam Harris like a naughty puppy, Thinking Matters (New Zealand Christian Apologetics Ministry), April 9, 2011
  38. How William Lane Craig thrashed Sam Harris like a naughty puppy, Thinking Matters (New Zealand Christian Apologetics Ministry), April 9, 2011
  39. Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate review (part 3) by Luke Muehlhauser, Common Sense Atheism, oApril 17, 2011
  40. Sarfati, Jonathan and Creation Ministries International (1999). "A critique of John Stear's 'No Answers in Genesis' website". The True.Origin Archive website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Martin, Walter and O'Hair, Madalyn Murray (1968). "Debate: Walter Martin vs Madalyn Murray O’Hair." MP3 audio. Retrieved from Defending Contending on July 30, 2014.
  42. 42.0 42.1 Reese, Chris (December 7, 2009). "Audio of Stephen Meyer vs. Michael Shermer debate". Cloud of Witnesses website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.
  43. Crowther, Robert (December 1, 2009). "Ouch. Intelligent design guys put the sleeperhold on Darwin's defenders". Evolution News and Views website. Retrieved on May 15, 2015.