His appearance, in front of an audience of 200, is a guaranteed sell-out despite calls from one religious group for a boycott. The speaker before Prof Dawkins, the theologian and philosopher Keith Ward, will put the opposite point of view in a talk entitled “Why There Almost Certainly is a God”.

However, Prof Dawkins has angered his many critics on the islands of Lewis and Harris – where the Sabbath is strictly observed and shops and leisure facilities are closed on a Sunday – by turning down the offer of a debate with the “Wee Frees” in their Hebridean heartland. (here)

He makes excuses anymore on why he will not debate.

And, unlike the guy before him, he still maintains a fundamentalist position. And, I’ve read some of the God Delusion – the guy should have stuck with science, because his history is as poor as the Tea Party’s

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20 Replies to “Coward”

  1. Wait… “[you’ve] read some of the God Delusion (sic)” so that means you know about it? I’ve read the entire BIble, therefore I must be an expert…

  2. to his credit, dawkins did make an excellent point:

    “How amusing to find I am now being urged to take part in a debate. Fine if your goal is to grandstand, no good if it is to educate. I shall not be taking part in any debate while I am on Lewis.

    “If your case depends on pulpit-style oratory, manipulating the emotions of your audience and playing with words, debates will probably work for you very well. They do not, however, work for explaining science.”

    He said the region had a reputation for solid faith, but added: “If that were really so, you might think it would be able to take a simple talk by an evolutionary scientist in its stride.”

    the problem with public style debates is that they quickly turn into popularity contests or political primaries. whoever says what the crowd already believes gets the biggest applause and is declared the ‘winner’. if you watched the republican primary this season, you’ll see exactly what i mean: lots of words, not much substance (or ‘truth’ for that matter. same btw for the dems when they have open primaries).

    they know they can’t stand toe-to-toe in an academic setting, so they want to drag it into the popular public square and have a popularity contest, where evidence and logic are thrown to the gutter and emotional speculation actually has merit. when sensationalists do this in archaeology on tv, we rightly criticize them. why should it be different on matters of faith?

    i love a public back-and-forth as much as anyone, especially on this topic. but dawkins has nothing to gain (and nothing really to lose) by accepting a ‘challenge’ to a debate that will pit intellectual scholarship against ‘feelings’ and religious ‘beliefs’ and the people who have them. it’s not that science can’t inform faith, it’s that a public shouting match accomplishes nothing academic. (again, see the gop primary debates.)

    it’s not snobbery, it’s academic integrity. when six-day creationist fundys challenge me to ‘debate’, i decline as well, as 1) i’m never going to convince them otherwise no matter how many facts i put forth and no matter how much i expose their faulty logic, and 2) they’re not paying me and i have better things to do, and 3) they can go to the lecture and listen and ask questions. what have any of the mob done to demonstrate their intellectual credibility other than believe the speaker before dawkins will give the theistic argument, and dawkins will give the atheistic argument. what good does an unpaid shouting match for the public do for scientific and academic inquiry?

    1. I’m with Bob on this. My religious heritage is a Southern protestant group that enthusiastically endorsed debate culture in the first half of the 20th century. They were fairly successful in convincing many that musical instruments in worship were wrong and that baptism of a consenting person was valid only if by immersion and if the person understood the proper reasoning (theirs) behind it. Else, you are not a Christian. Debates can help people to arrive at the wrong conclusions but with confidence. As a teenager I attended a debate between a loved one and another person I knew, both men of considerable virtue in many ways. Of course I supported my family but after time wore on, I realized the format did not honor them or our tradition. This heritage has given us Pat Boone, Ken Starr, Max Lucado, John Cornyn, and, if I remember correctly, Michael Shermer. It also gave us Pepperdine.

  3. Not true enough.

    Example: Ehrman debates Wallace: there’s no circus on the recording.

    William F. Buckley. Jr. like him or not, hosted some terrific debates. Dawkins (or Cargill) should debate anyone who can articulate a position even if they disagree on methodology or facts or conclusions. To debate is part of the best of human experience. Snobs do not deserve the talents or position they enjoy. Of course, there must be a respectful setting, and there must be rules. If one denies another the opportunity to debate, then he just might be a coward.

    1. No, an articulation of a position does not require a rebuttal. NAMBLA (if I may go directly to the lowest denominator to make a point) articulates a position, but their position is too disgusting to give a forum for debate.

      My position on Dawkins is this – he makes it a point to go after religion in some manner, so why not debate them who he goes after?

      Dr. Cargill does not go after Young Earth Creationists. Their pseudo-science does not deserve a rebuttal.

  4. I read this in your blog about debating (from Cargill, quoting Dawkins):

    “Fine if your goal is to grandstand, no good if it is to educate.”

    I disagree … I have attended debates and they do educate.

    What good is articulating one’s position if that one will not argue and defend it?

    I ASSUME any debate must be arranged with professional rules by interested parties; if Cargill does not engage young creationists and his research does not impact them he has no reason to debate them.

    Perhaps Dawkins has other reasons for declining a debate, but he is reported to decline debates with those who are qualified.

    My point is simple: debates are good, and they do educate when administered professionally.

  5. i guess the question is why i would consent to a public debate with a young earth creationist, or a believer in a troll at the center of the earth with a giant vacuum that causes ‘gravity’, when i can teach a course and publish an article on the subject for all to read. were there legitimate, factual, rational claims to be made by either of these positions, then perhaps a civil debate might be in order. but why should we give further air time to thoroughly debunked claims when we could use that same air time to debate actual, credible disputes. keith ward followed by richard dawkins is an excellent example of a debate style lecture series that explores both sides of the theistic argument. why would dawkins follow that up by ‘debating’ (for free) a bunch of fundamentalist calvinists who shut the island down on sunday? what would be gained? who might he convince that he wouldn’t convince at the prior lecture?

  6. Cargill and Dawkins, along with all evolutionists, are under the mistaken idea that God used the scientific method to create. He didn’t, He used His supernatural power.

    Since they cannot verify one evolutionary claim, both Dawkins and Cargill use feelings, assumptions, conjecture and speculation to support their failing theory. They have no scientific fact and have yet to produce one scientific experiment that replicates one claimed historical tranisition.

    They have also failed to produce the original conditions that spawned the supposed process and fail to show how it supposedly guides life forms. They would not be able to verify one theory concerning the original conditions and could easily trumpet any one of a number ideas.

    For creation, we have the original conditions in existence today and we do not need science to see that. The only people blowing hot air, and using feelings along with destroying academic integrity are Dawkins, Cargill and their evolutionary cohorts.

    1. Oh dear… Dave, there is not such thing as “supernatural power…” Genesis 1 does not mean what you think it means… and I really, really sure you have no clue about original conditions, etc… because you have shown the unique ability to be as ignorant as possible when it comes to matters of faith, science, and just about everything

      1. Amazing, you can’t produce what you need to prove your theory correct and you can’t refute what I said so you go to the personal attack and leap to more denial.

        Time for evolutionists to cough up the real deal instead of relying upon cheap parlor tricks and sleight of hand.

          1. Simply because you and your fellow evolutionary thinkers are making outlandish claims. Such demand real evidence to support not the cheating, dishonest kind that has been shown by evolutionary scientists.

          2. You know Joel, all evolutionists, no matter how sophisticated they think they are, resort to personal attacks when they can’t defend their claims

            Evolutionists cannot produce any support for their theory but that is because it isn’t true. if evolution were true, you wouldn’t have to cheat, be bullies and demand monopolies, you all would be able to produce the evidence you needed.

            There would also be no religion.

            Grow up and be mature. Your personal attacks only demonstrate your childishness.

          3. Dave,

            First, religion is a natural evolutionary trait that brought about language, art, and the like. Religion is very much a part of the anthropological nature of the human race. Your premise here is wrong.

            Second, Young Earth Creationists make it a habit of attacking “Evolutionists,” suggesting among many things that they are unChristian, anti-religious, etc…

            Third, David, Evolution has plenty of evidence, not just in fossil data, but in ongoing empirical evidence. If a monopoly of the mind is sought (and fundamentalists know all about this), it is because we do not want our children to be stupidly superstitious.

            I teach my children how to read both of God’s books – Scripture, which doesn’t support YEC, and Science, which doesn’t support YEC. I do not like them slide in reading Scripture as they shape play-dough, either – unlike the Hamites.

  7. Cargill, …”what good does an unpaid shouting match for the public”…”why would dawkins follow that up by ‘debating’ (for free) a bunch of fundamentalist”…I’d suggest backing off the “for free” argument. Irrelevant. If Dawkins wants a vacation on a Scottish Island without being bugged, so be it. Who cares? If he wants to push a political point, or wants some extra cash, and they pay him, great. “God Delusion” logic sucks. If he wants to sell some more books, debate. Otherwise, who cares? Not me.

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