A suggestion for Dr. Dawkins


If you’ve seen Richard Dawkins’ response to William Lane Craig, you know that he really does not need my help. I can’t resist making one suggestion, though. If Craig goes through with his intended stunt, and puts an empty chair on the stage at Oxford to represent Dr. Dawkins’ non-appearance, Dawkins should respond in kind. But he shouldn’t waste his time on the small fry. Dr. Dawkins should challenge God to a debate. There should be an empty chair on a stage somewhere, and Dawkins should stand up beside it and say, “Well then, I believe that according to William Lane Craig’s rules of engagement, I am now entitled to declare that God is afraid to face me because He knows He’s wrong.”

Not only would God’s failure to show up make great blog material, but the Christians would fall all over themselves explaining why a refusal to show up does not mean you’re running away scared.

Comments

  1. colubridae says

    Actually extend it.
    A chair for Yahweh
    A chair for Allah, one for Zeus, one for Vishnu, Osiris…
    Pretty full stage. All afraid to appear.

  2. David Evans says

    Unfortunately, Christian responses would mostly be variants on:

    THOU SHALT NOT TEMPT THE LORD THY GOD!!

    and

    As we always suspected, Dawkins thinks he’s as good as God. Typical arrogant New Atheist.

  3. Randomfactor says

    But Dawkins has the handicap of actually existing. Whereas Craig’s god is “everywhere,” which must give Craig pause as he drops his trousers in the men’s room…

  4. naturalcynic says

    Unfortunately, Christian responses would mostly be variants on:

    THOU SHALT NOT TEMPT THE LORD THY GOD!!

    An easy cop out.

    As we always suspected, Dawkins thinks he’s as good as God. Typical arrogant New Atheist.

    Better than. At least Dawkins shows up. Can God be trusted to do the same?

  5. sailor1031 says

    @Ophelia: well that would put an end to the debate for sure.

    What I’d like to see is William Lane Craig debating doG and finding out once and for all just how screwed up religion truly is.

  6. The Lorax says

    It’s a brilliant idea, but I think David @4 is correct. The creationists will never recognize the logical inconsistencies that were just rubbed into their faces (do they ever?), they will merely fire back with their ancient and quite tiring tirades.

    Besides, I believe something similar has been done. I recall reading about an “atheist zoo” which contains a selection of animals that were brought about due to evolution, as well as an empty cage called the “creationist zoo” which, presumably, god will eventually manifest an animal inside.

    Brings up an interesting question, though. I believe it was Voltaire who said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” So, can creationism survive sustained logic? If it was attacked with a barrage of pure logic from all sides over the course of ten or twenty years.. and I don’t mean debates about this or that, I mean pointing out their inconsistencies in a way that cannot be logically argued without throwing up their hands and saying “I don’t know, Goddidit”, then wouldn’t that have a similar effect? Maybe.

  7. says

    I’m always befuddled when I see freethinkers capitalize pronouns for mythological beings. Hell, the only reason I use gendered pronouns for alleged deities is because for some reason adherents claim genders for these beings and calling Jehovah “it” would be akin to doing the same for Superman, but I’d never refer to either as “He” with a capital H unless the word is at the start of a sentence.

    • Aliasalpha says

      I was about to make a reference to comics having more internal consistency and being more plausible but then I remembered that superboy punched reality and retcon season was officially opened…

  8. M S says

    Chairs are only suitable for gods that can and are willing to manifest in roughly human form.

    Perhaps a proctologist’s chair would better accomodate Yahweh since Exodus 33:23 suggests that he is unwilling to show his face but is perfectly happy to expose his back parts, or an asbestos planter in case he wants to manifest in burning bush form.

  9. Tony Hoffman says

    I love this idea. It’s an inspired addition to Dawkins’s brilliantly played public comment. As it turns out the best way to defeat the likes of Craig is not to meet them on their slanted terms, but those that best suit your strengths. And apologists everywhere can’t seem to find a champion who can skewer with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris.

  10. clsi says

    This reminds me of a joke. A college professor stood in front of his class one day and challenged god to prove his existence by striking him with lightning. As the class passed by, the students grew increasingly anxious, I forget why exactly, until one guy walked to the front of the class and punched the professor in the nose. Later, when addressing a committee trying to determine whether he should be disciplined by the college or just turned over to the police, he explained that god was too busy being omnibenevolent elsewhere, so he took it upon himself to do god’s dirty work. And he lost a leg in Iraq defending the professor’s right to free speech. Or something like that. Dang, I never could tell a joke.

    If Dawkins were to proceed with this plan, I’d advise him to be prepared for something similar. Then again, I suppose that danger has to be a daily concern for him (it does take a certain amount of bravery to so regularly piss off stupid, violent people).

  11. Esther-Shahn says

    Jesus said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
    It’s brave for them to challenge Dawkins, and even if he tries the same tactic on God and God does appear, it probably won’t change his beliefs. There would always be some excuse. “It was a fake,” some may say, “a trick of mirrors and lights.”
    Besides, if God appeared, everyone would die because sinners cannot live in the presence of a Holy God. That is why Jesus came to die, to save us from our sins so that one day we CAN live with God. =)

  12. James Vickers says

    Funny idea, but if it did go ahead it could be argued that God did attend, just Dawkins and his supporters could not see him.

  13. says

    Hello

    It is noteworthy, that in this post and some of your comments God is treated as merely equal to everyone else, as someone who is accountable to humans in a same way as we are accountable to one another.

    This assumption is naturally mistaken, for the very nature of God, since He is in no way obliged to give reasons or justify his actions to us, his creation.

    On the other hand Mr. Dawkins repeatedly challenged Christians for debates and thus he has naturally put himself into position where he is rightfully expected to engage in them, especially when these debates are prominent and they are connected to his own book. And since unlike God, he is equal to everyone else,… somewhat eccentric method of “empty chair” in this case holds it’s meaning.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      This assumption is naturally mistaken, for the very nature of God, since He is in no way obliged to give reasons or justify his actions to us, his creation.

      Of course, that argument works just as well as a refutation of the Incarnation. If God is not obliged by His own (alleged) love for us to show up to participate in that relationship He (allegedly) wanted badly enough to literally die for, then there’s no reason to suppose He would ever actually have done all the things men ascribe to Him in the Gospels. The empty chair, in Dawkins’ case, would serve as a reminder of God’s consistent and universal failure to act in a way that would indicate He believed all the things men say about Him in the New Testament.

      By the way, have you read Job? According to the Bible, God does challenge people to debates. ;)

      • says

        Thank you for your response Deacon.

        Your point, about God acting upon His own love is however based on one faulty assumption. While God acts out of love, He does not always do what we expect Him to.
        You offer your own specific ideas in which you determine what it is (and is not) to act out of love relationship. In other words you are creating a frame for God, which He should act according to, because you have said so. Does not that sound somewhat presumptuous?

        Moreover,(not to be impolite) this specific one is also a very poor one, for it is just a common emotional appeal to love (argumentum ad amicitiam). Wife saying to her husband: “If you love me, then you’d go along with me” is acting in an unfair way, for her husband can clearly love her without consenting to her request.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        @factorysense:

        You offer the kind of argument that obscures, rather than illuminates, the difference between truth and falsehood. God does not show up in real life, therefore the only way we can determine whether or not men are telling the truth about God is by examining whether or not their words are consistent with each other and with the real world. You, on the other hand, are proposing that we can never know what consequences would result from the existence of a loving God, which would mean that we can never know whether or not men’s claims about God are consistent with the truth. Thus, you seek to prevent the words of men from ever being subject to any kind of objective verification.

        If the truth were consistent with what men say, there would be no need to try and prevent us from trying to verify it.

      • says

        Thank you again for your comment as well as for the calm nature of it Deacon.

        At first, I agree that my answer is not making things easier, however I consider a situation in which one states that “either God will show up for debate or He in fear knows He is wrong” slightly oversimplified. Since it is God who we speak about it is very probable this is a more complex question.

        Secondly, while we do not always know exactly what God will do, we can be sure that it won’t be anything which contradicts his nature, his own definition. That means that among others, He will not lie, for that would be in direct contrast with his nature. This is an objective cornerstone (which was already acknowledged by Descartes).

        Thus there are things we know God either cannot do or He must do, while there are others (maybe more specific) which remain hidden to our limited perspective. Still we can operate on basis of what we know about Him by His definition.

        I am looking forward to hear from you again :).

  14. ChrisH says

    Christians would have a field day with statements like “If Dawkins doesn’t believe in god why would he say that god is afraid to show up?” “Why would you try and debate a being you think is nothing more than a myth HMMMMM, is their something you not telling us Mr Dawkins?”
    I think it would definitely be throwing logs on the wrong fire
    and is part of the reason Dawkins doesn’t debate them, because it gives credence to their ludicrous claims.
    Just a thought.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Sure, but ignorant people say ignorant things all the time. Dawkins would have no problem answering either question in a way that would discomfit the questioner. I don’t think that would be a serious deterrent to Dawkins staging the stunt. At the very least it would demonstrate that such tactics are merely stunts. That’s the primary point of the exercise.

  15. Deacon Duncan says

    @factorysense:

    I consider a situation in which one states that “either God will show up for debate or He in fear knows He is wrong” slightly oversimplified.

    Good: that’s the point of the exercise. It does oversimplify the issues to claim that when someone declines a debate, fear is the only possible explanation. Dr. Craig is simply being dishonest when he uses this stunt to try and disparage Dr. Dawkins.

    Secondly, while we do not always know exactly what God will do, we can be sure that it won’t be anything which contradicts his nature, his own definition. That means that among others, He will not lie, for that would be in direct contrast with his nature. This is an objective cornerstone (which was already acknowledged by Descartes).

    Two problems here: (1) we cannot know whether or not God was telling the truth when He claimed it was not His nature to lie, and (2) We do not have any actual statement from God to the effect that it is not His nature to lie. We have a Bible, but the Bible was written by men. We have the claim that the Bible is God’s Word, but again, that’s a claim made by men. We have Descartes—who was a man. And so on.

    God does not show up in real life to make any such claims, leaving us with speculations, feelings, superstitions, and hearsay as our only source of information about Him. Or as I like to remember it, all we have is the FISH:

    • Fantasy (things men just make up about God),
    • Intuition (things men feel about God),
    • Superstition (real-world phenomena that men attribute to God) and
    • Hearsay (unverifiable stories men tell about God).

    This limits us to putting our faith in men, because unless and until God actually shows up in real life, we cannot interact with Him in any way that would allow us an opportunity to have faith in Him. And the problem here is that what men tell us about God, via their FISH-y arguments, ends up being things that are inconsistent with each other and with the real world. But because God does not show up in real life, the only way we have to judge what men say about Him is by measuring their claims against the infallible standard of real-world truth.

    In this context, it is highly significant that Christian apologetics devotes so much energy and effort to preventing us from being able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. For example, at every point where the Bible describes God in a way that allows us to infer what consequences ought to exist in the real world, as distinct from the consequences that would result from His non-existence, we find that those consequences are absent, and that the corresponding apologetic consists of inventing some speculative and unverifiable excuse for why the consequences of His existence ought to be indistinguishable from the consequences that would result from His non-existence.

    Note how your own defense features the phrase “hidden to our limited perspective.” You would think, given how much the Bible tells us about God, that we would be able to find some set of verifiable consequences that would be one way if the Gospel were true, and a significantly different way if it were false. By a strange coincidence, though, all of those conditions turn out to be “hidden to our limited view.” Here I am pointing out how suspicious it sounds that Christian apologetics so often boils down to trying to deprive us of our ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and your answer is an appeal to the idea that the crucial evidence is “hidden,” leaving us without any way to distinguish truth from falsehood.

    This happens far, far too often to be mere coincidence. As I mentioned before, the truth-teller encourages the things that help us tell the difference between truth and falsehood, because she knows that exposing this difference will reveal the truth to be truth. Only the peddler of falsehoods benefits from a persistent confusion and obfuscation of the difference between the two.

    Please don’t feel bad about that. I’m sure you have no intention of peddling falsehoods, and are only sharing the thought processes that you have found to be successful in maintaining your faith in a seemingly hostile secular reality. I would not blame you personally for the rationalizations Christianity has been polishing for 2,000 years. But I do hope you will ponder what I’ve said. I was a Christian for decades, and if I managed to escape the rationalizations and superstition, you can too.

    I promise, the truth is worth the effort it takes to acquire it. :)

    • says

      Hello Deacon

      Thanks for you response once again. :)
      At first I was a little bit unpleasantly surprised that you put different meaning into my words when I was speaking about oversimplification.
      For when two men claim something that opposes or differs it just natural to ask them to explain and defend their view. To show on what ground do they build their statements and what are the reasons to believe their side of the story. If they fail to do that and they do not offer their defense, it surely might be for some other reasons as well (sickness, family issues,..), yet if none of the above was the case fear of failure is surely also one of the very probable option. Surely it might also be indifference, yet than the question is what is the whole point of writing a book full of arguments if they will never be taken to the test of the highest opposition…?

      At last man is simply not in a position to challenge God in any way. God is not accountable to men, He is just not obliged to prove us anything and to apply this kind of reasoning on Him,.. that is the oversimplification, which is I believe rather nonsensical than witted.

      For the second part,… I do agree with you. We simply cannot know everything. We can only put our faith into some things around us that look like a best possible solution. We cannot know for sure that there are really other minds than our own and that they are not just some projections of our brain; we cannot measure the speed of light in it’s every point between point A and B and thus say that it’s the same everywhere, but we can only assume it and we cannot also know that when archaeologists find old jars and excavations in a ground that they really belonged to old civilizations, but it would make pretty much sense; and if we found an abandoned military base on the other side of the moon with unknown future technologies, we could still not be sure that aliens were there, but probably that would also make it to the best possible solution.
      Now as you said – we cannot be sure -, but there are a number of good reasons to believe that God is real and what He wrote in Bible through His people is true.
      And until someone, maybe like Dawkins will show up and offer better possible solution to some of the essential questions, it would be by all means unreasonable to just march to the other world view camp, wouldn’t it?

      Still, thank you for your concern Deacon, I see that you really try to explain these things, but you might be mistaken in assuming that we cannot have our faith in Him.
      If anything else, then if you look around and you ask yourself some of the most basic questions, then suddenly just nothing makes sense without Him (which is in contrast with the things we see around us)

      Hope you had good Christmas ;)

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