Atheism vs. Christianity debates

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As far as Christianity vs. atheism debates, the most well-known debater on the Christian side of the aisle is William Lane Craig. This is due to the large number of Christian vs. atheism debates he has engage in and the quality of his debate performances.[1] See also: Rebuttals to atheist arguments and Responding to atheists and Atheism debates

The atheist Sam Harris quipped about William Lane Craig that he was "The one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists".[2][3]

The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote about Craig:

William Lane Craig is a prolific Christian philosopher, apologist, author, and public debater. He is the best debater – on any topic – that I’ve ever heard. As far as I can tell, he has won nearly all his debates with atheists. When debating him, atheists have consistently failed to put forward solid arguments, and consistently failed to point out the flaws in Craig’s arguments.

I’m not the only one who thinks Craig has won nearly all his debates. For some atheists, it is rather maddening.

Craig is a skilled debater, an encyclopedia of facts and quotes, and a careful rhetorician. If you make a logical mistake, Craig knows exactly how to skewer you for it (and for this, I respect him). He holds prepared and persuasive responses to everything an atheist might say, and atheists usually fail to clearly point out the logical flaws in what Craig has to say. Also, Craig does a great job of summarizing the points and counterpoints that have been raised during a debate, and presents them in a way to show he has decisively won. His opponents are never that organized or clear.

This is especially embarrassing for atheists because Craig’s arguments and debates are easily available, and he uses the same arguments all the time.[4]

William Lane Craig debates:

Notable cases of prominent atheists being reluctant to debate

See also: Atheism and cowardice and Atheism vs. Christianity

Eleventh hour cancellation in Bahnsen vs. Martin debate

Although atheists/agnostics/evolutionists began to generally dodge creation vs. evolution debates in the 1980s after doing poorly in these debates in the 1970s against creationist Duane Gish and others (see: Creation vs. evolution debates), a notable instance of an atheist dodging a debate on other atheism vs. Christianity topics did not begin until the late 20th century.

In 1994, the prominent atheist philosopher Michael Martin did an eleventh hour cancellation of his debate with Greg Bahnsen after fellow atheist Gordon Stein did very poorly in a debate with Bahnsen (see: Greg Bahnsen and debate and Atheist apologetics).

Richard Dawkins' and his reluctance to debate strong opponents

See also: Richard Dawkins and debate and Atheism debates and Evidence for Christianity

Richard Dawkins
The Oxford University professor Daniel Came wrote to the new atheist 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."[5]

Richard Dawkins has wavered publicly between calling himself an atheist vs. calling himself an agnostic (see: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism). When pressed to provide evidence for atheism, he will indicate he is an agnostic. At the same time, he is a prominent founder of the New Atheism movement.

Richard Dawkins has established a reputation for avoiding debates with his strongest opponents. 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.[6]

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."[7]

In October of 2011, Dr. Craig went to England and the Daily Telegraph declared that Dawkins is either a fool or a coward for his refusal to debate William Lane Craig plus declared that Dawkins is a "proud man" and a "coward" who puts on an "illiterate, angry schtick" for the public.[8] In addition, Christian apologist Ken Ammi called Dawkins a "cowardly clown" because Dawkins and other prominent atheists refused to debate Creation Ministries International at the 2010 Global Atheist Convention.[9]

Below are some resources relating to Dawkins refusal to debate various debate opponents:

British Humanist Association and refusal to debate Craig

Sam Harris once described William Lane Craig as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”.[10]

See also: Atheism and Debate and Evidence for Christianity

In August 19, 2011, Fox News reported:

American Evangelical theologian William Lane Craig is ready to debate the rationality of faith during his U.K tour this fall, but it appears that some atheist philosophers are running shy of the challenge.

This month president of the British Humanist Association, Polly Toynbee, pulled out of an agreed debate at London’s Westminster Central Hall in October, saying she “hadn’t realized the nature of Mr. Lane Craig’s debating style.”

Lane Craig, who is a professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., and author of 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, is no stranger to the art of debate and has taken on some of the great orators, such as famous atheists Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Harris once described Craig as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”.

Responding to Toynbee’s cancellation, Lane Craig commented: "These folks (atheists) can be very brave when they are alone at the podium and there's no one there to challenge them. But one of the great things about these debates is that, it allows both sides to be heard on a level playing field, and for the students in the audience to make up their own minds about where they think the truth lies."[11]

On August 19, 2011, the leading British Anglican weekly newspaper the Church Times wrote:

The director of Professor Craig’s tour, Peter May, said: “If Craig is ‘wrong about everything else in the universe’ and his arguments for the existence of God are so easy to refute, it is hard to see why the leading atheist voices in the country are running shy of having a debate with him.

“Rather than hurling ad hom­inem attacks on Craig from their bunkers, it would be good to see these figures come forward to rationally defend the atheism they publicly espouse.”[12]

Creation vs. Evolution debates

See also: Creation vs. evolution debates

A majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the naturalistic evolutionary position since World War II have been atheists.[13] After doing poorly in a series of debates in the the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, evolutionists are generally reluctant to debate (see: Creation vs. evolution debates).

Gordon Stein vs. Greg Bahnsen debate

See also: Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein debate and Greg Bahnsen and debate

In 1985, the Christian apologists Greg Bahnsen and the atheist Gordon Stein had a debate at the University of California, Irvine regarding the positions of atheism and theism. Bahnsen was particularly known for his Christian presuppositional apologetics.

In debates with atheists, presuppositional apologists will frequently ask their debate opponents the foundations/rationale of their various assumptions, beliefs and assertions and show logical inconsistencies in the opponents worldview. In the Bahnsen-Stein debate, one of the key moments of the debate was when Stein was asked to account for the existence of the laws of logic in an atheist worldview (see: Atheism and logic),[14]

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."[15]

The Greg Bahnsen-Gordon Stein debate was recorded and transcribed and was dubbed "The Great Debate".[16][17] See also: Greg Bahnsen and debate

Gary Habermas vs. atheist Antony Flew debate

One of the most prominent Christian apologists concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ is Gary Habermas.[18]

Dr. Habermas had a debate against the atheist philosopher Antony Flew regarding the resurrection which was chronicled in the work Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate and the debate had a panel of debate judges. J. Hampton Keathley, III , Th.M. in his essay Evidences for the Resurrection wrote: "The decision of the judges were as follows. The panel of philosophers judging content cast four votes for Habermas who argued for the fact of the resurrection, none for Flew, and one draw. The panel of professional debate judges voted three to two, also in favor of Habermas, this time regarding the method of argumentation technique." [19].

Flew later became a deist. Flew abandonment of atheism after being one of its foremost proponents received a lot of public attention.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair debate with Walter Martin

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, founder of American Atheists, did poorly in her debate with Dr. Walter Martin[20] 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.[20] In addition, Ms. O'Hair was ill prepared in terms of defending against the issue of atheism and mass murder.[20]

Peter Boghossian vs. Christian philosopher Tim McGrew debate

In 2014, the atheist philosophy instructor and author Peter Boghossian debated the Christian philosopher Tim McGrew who specializes in the area of epistemology. Boghossian performed very poorly in the debate/discussion.[21][22]

Audio of Peter Boghossian vs. Christian philosopher Tim McGrew debate

Reviews of Peter Boghossian vs. Christian philosopher Tim McGrew debate

Atheist Samuel Porter Putnam vs. Baptist J.N. Hall debate

See also

External links


  1. William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews)
  2. William Lane Craig Puts the Fear of God in Atheists, video clip of the William Lane Craig vs. Sam Harris debate
  3. The God Debate II: Harris vs. Craig, University of Notre Dame YouTube channel
  4. William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews)
  5. Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
  6. Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
  7. Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
  8. Richard Dawkins is either a fool or a coward for refusing to debate William Lane Craig - October 21, 2011 - The Daily Telegraph
  9. Richard Dawkins, the Cowardly Clown
  13. Multiple references:
  14. "The Great Debate: Does God Exist?" or The Great Debate: Does God Exist? (YouTube video) - Dr. Greg Bahnsen versus Dr. Gordon Stein - Audio of a formal debate between Christian Greg Bahnsen and skeptic Gordon Stein at the University of California, Irvine.
  15. Bahsen at the Stein debate by John Frame
  16. The Great Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Greg Bahnsen versus Dr. Gordon Stein
  17. The Great Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Greg Bahnsen versus Dr. Gordon Stein
  19. 20.0 20.1 20.2 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.
  20. Tim McGrew gives Peter Boghossian an unbelievable public drubbing by Randall Rauser
  21. Tim McGrew debates Peter Boghossian on the definition of faith