Why Is Richard Dawkins So Popular?

In an interview done by 100 Huntley, William Lane Craig answers questions concerning Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion and one of the “four horsemen of atheism.” You’ll find this thought provoking and informative.

 

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8 thoughts on “Why Is Richard Dawkins So Popular?

  1. Interesting. I’ve actually argued a similar line of thinking, on my blog, against William Lane Craig. As philosophically unsophisticated as Craig claims Dawkins to be, I argue that Dr. Craig is mathematically unsophisticated. As a result, WLC’s science denial has become wildly popular amongst Christians who do not know any better.

    • That is interesting, as well. Without reading your argument, I can only say a couple of things: 1) the existence of God is a philosophical matter, not a mathematical one, though you may have something to say to that. I may be better off saying it is “more” of a philosophical matter. I say that to say this, Dawkins’ ignorance of philosophy outweighs WLC’s deficiencies in mathematics. Dawkins doesn’t provide good philosophical or theological reasons for why Christianity, in this case, is untrue, which leads to his repeated and gross misrepresentation of Christianity. It makes one ask if he has ever read through the Bible and serious studied biblical Christianity’s major tenets.

      2) WLC isn’t claiming to be an expert in mathematics. He very much understands his focus, though he tries his hand at other subjects relating to his. Dawkins debates people, clergy, journalists, and mathematicians (John Lennox) on matters of religion. I’m sure you are aware, he is a scientist. Not exactly trained in logic and rhetoric. Yet, he will not debate a philosopher like William Lane Craig. In such a debate Dawkins couldn’t handle the philosophical prowess of Craig, and that mathematics would play a much smaller role in such a debate.

      I appreciate your comment. If you would, send me a link to your post(s) regarding Craig. I am in interested in reading it/them.

      • Thanks for your reply!

        1) I agree that the existence of God is not a mathematical question, and I absolutely agree that Dawkins and a number of other vocal atheists are woefully under-equipped to discuss philosophy. My complaints about Dr. Craig’s lack of mathematical understanding are only tangentially related to his arguments for God. They are more directly related to his philosophy on the nature of Time.

        2) Dr. Craig does not make any claim to be an expert in mathematics, but he often discusses mathematical concepts, and builds his philosophical premises from these concepts. Unfortunately, his lack of mathematical understanding leads him to very often misrepresent the science which he is attempting to cite. He has done this over and over again with his presentations of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, Special and General Relativity, Bell’s Theorem, Fine Tuning, the nature of Infinities, and a wide range of other mathematical concepts.

        Don’t get me wrong– I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Craig. The man has a mind like a steel trap, and he is a very skilled communicator. However, I think his innumeracy has caused him to make a host of inaccurate claims.

        For my responses to Dr. Craig, check out this page– particularly my series on Dr. Craig’s Theory of Time:
        http://boxingpythagoras.com/wlc/

  2. The example he gives in which he equates creation from nothing with creation out of material is just so sad. “Did I always exist?” he asks with exaggerated incredulity. No, you fool, your arrangement did not always exist, but to apply the logic surrounding concepts which represent generalized arrangements of matter to, *poof* here’s something where there was nothing prior, is incredibly disingenuous. And yet this is his go-to example, repeated over and over, in exactly the same manner, as though it is the best he has to offer, but all he is doing is misrepresenting the arguments he is referring to. The issue is not that nothing ever begins to exist, it is that we have no experience of anything coming into existence out of nothing, the type of creation of which the first premise refers. I am just utterly bewildered at how people are taken in by this sort of lack of rigorous thinking, or, since I am of the opinion that WLC is actually quite intelligent, deliberate deception.

    • Thanks for the reply! I would have to say the same about Dawkins. Either he is completely ignorant of true, biblical Christianity or he is deliberately deceptive. If I were to be honest, I believe its a mixture of both on Dawkins’ part. He really has never seriously studied the Bible, and he is therefore really railing against a false kind of Christianity AND he just says whatever he must to rile people up. Anyway, I definitely appreciate the conversation.

      • It is clear what you mean when you say “ignorant of true, biblical Christianity.” You are saying that Dawkins does not address your flavor of Christianity, which in your mind is “true”. Unfortunately it is impossible to address all kinds of Christianity, from the strictest literalist to the most liberal interpretations. Dawkins does go after the low hanging fruits, those who blindly subscribe to their religion without a thought or consideration, and reject observed reality in favor of written fantasy. The fact that you personally don’t consider these other Christians to be “true,” is not an error on Dawkins part. His goal is not to address your personal interpretation of Christianity. What you are effectively doing is complaining that he is attacking sub-saharan shamanism and not your sophisticated theology, but I guess these false Christians are just Christian enough to tweak your feelings when Dawkins has at them. Perhaps they’re not so false in your eyes after all.

        The issue with Craig though, is that he is misleading in the very field he is an expert in. You have issue with Dawkins and say that he isn’t learned in philosophy, but Craig is, and yet he equivocates all the time, and misrepresents when people point it out. The reason for this is that he is not following the known information to its conclusion, but instead the conclusion is known, and he is looking for information to show it. He’s outright admitted that this is his process.

        What, then, should be our approach in apologetics? It should be something like this: ‘My friend, I know Christianity is true because God’s Spirit lives in me and assures me that it is true. And you can know it is true, too, because God is knocking at the door of your heart, telling you the same thing. If you are sincerely seeking God, then God will give you assurance that the gospel is true. Now, to try to show you it’s true, I’ll share with you some arguments and evidence that I really find convincing. But should my arguments seem weak and unconvincing to you, that’s my fault, not God’s. It only shows that I’m a poor apologist, not that the gospel is untrue. Whatever you think of my arguments, God still loves you and holds you accountable. I’ll do my best to present good arguments to you. But ultimately you have to deal, not with arguments, but with God himself.’ [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 48.]

        It seems as though he has scrubbed the internet of the video of him saying this, being interviewed outside of a college building in 2006, because I cannot find it anywhere. Fortunately he wrote it down, and so we’ll have it always. So, Craig cannot be falsified. No matter how poorly his argumentation fares, he has an inner witness that tells him the conclusion is true. This is why he makes errors, and why he can’t see them.

      • I am willing to contend that “liberal Christianity” is no Christianity at all. Soon I will post a conversation Christopher Hitchens had with a Unitarian minister. I say that to say that I too would argue against the same kinds of religious folks that Hitchens has because they are in fact not Christian. A problem I have with Dawkins is that he only argues against caricatures and grossly misrepresentations of the Christian faith, as I’ve mentioned. No orthodox (in doctrine) Bible-believing Christian would argue in support of a “cosmic zombie,” a ignorant caricature of Christ by Dawkins. That is so theologically false, it is laughable, and I mean to say that Dawkins is the object of laughter. If you are an atheist, and I presume you are, all I wish to see are atheists who are knowledgeable about the Bible and historically orthodox Christian doctrine and arguments and can debate with respect. So many atheists are ignorant of the Bible and what it REALLY says, its not even worth debating with many of them. “Sky fairies,” “sky daddy,” and all of the other condescending and utterly false ways of talking about God reveal ignorance. The “old” atheism, opposite this new movement led by Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and Harris, had much better arguments. This is so, perhaps in part due to these non-“new atheists” were theologically and philosophically informed. That is why myself and many others (including atheists) find guys like Dawkins and his arguments repulsive. It is just annoying to hear someone rant and rave about a misnomer, especially when Dawkins is very aware that these “false Christians” aren’t really Christians. It shows his cowardice and lack of theological knowledge. It is disingenuous, and I find that intellectually offensive. His smearing of these really non-Christian beliefs while calling them Christian is dishonest and discrediting.

        Also, it isn’t my “personal interpretation” of Christianity. It’s Christianity as seen throughout history. And the problem is Dawkins WON’T deal with serious scholarly work. He doesn’t wrestle with Aquinas or Augustine. He never references Calvin or Luther or Warfield or Van Til; men who represent biblical Christianity. That is what is frustrating. It would be like going to see a doctor who avoids the most probable prognosis because the testing procedures to reach such conclusions are too costly or too troublesome so he calls it pneumonia when it’s really lung cancer. At some point, you give up on that doctor because of his incompetence. Such a man is Dawkins. Give me a break. For his stature Dawkins is weak, and is unwilling to do the heavy lifting of theological study in order to debate William Lane Craig.

        I believe that Craig is simply acknowledging that he, too, in spite of his intellect, is just a man. He has his limitations. The difference between he and Dawkins is that Craig is humble enough to admit them. If someone did not do an expert job at explaining evolution, and as a result students say, “the big bang is a farce,” would you, as a believer in evolution, not point out his faults in his abilities? Of course, you would. You would say that the professor didn’t grasp certain areas of the science and that his less-than-perfect efforts in communicating evolution shouldn’t deter the students from affirming the theory. Honestly, I don’t see Craig as trying to cover his missteps or any gaps in his argumentation. I think he is acknowledging that he isn’t God and that he cannot change the hearts of people. All he can do is submit clear and concise arguments for his viewpoints, to the best of his abilities, and what happens after in the hearts and minds of his audience is out of his control.

        As a side note: I’ve met and talked with WLC this past year at the central division of the American Philosophical Association’s central division meeting and I have found him to be a humble and honest man. He debated a prof from Tufts (where Dennett teaches) and a man from Texas A&M, (not to mention some big time philosophers in the audience) and there was no sign of such equivocation, as you suggest. Though it was rare, when he didn’t have an answer, he admitted such.

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