William Lane Craig Talks About Debating Richard Dawkins

Better Than Boxing

Last weekend, I was probably one of the only Filipino guys more excited about a philosophical debate than the Pacquiao/Margarito fight. But hey, that’s me! Of course, I’m talking about the panel debate, Does the Universe Have a Purpose? which happened at Complejo Cultural Universitario in Pueblo, Mexico.

Get in the Ring

About 3,000 attended the debate and 2 million people saw it on TV after the boxing match. I actually wondered why William Lane Craig was debating Richard Dawkins in a full-on boxing ring! Guess the organizers wanted to extend the boxing metaphor to the world of ideas.

It was fun to see Doug Geivett and Michael Shermer on the ticket, too (And not just cause I used to work for Doug Geivett!). This was huge. The stats don’t even count people like me who saw the live video feed online. I hear the debate’s also coming to movie theaters in Mexico soon.

The atheist side was argued by Matt Ridley, Michael Shermer (Skeptic magazine), and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion). The theist side was argued by William Lane Craig, Doug Geivett and an L.A. Rabbi, David Wolpe.

In His Own Words

William Lane Craig reflected on the weekend in his letter to friends of Reasonable Faith. He wrote, “Three major characteristics of the conference presentations struck me forcefully.”

1. Naturalism

There was no cognizance of God or even of religion’s contribution to culture and humanity.

2. Scientism

The unspoken assumption throughout the conference was that science, and science alone, is the way to truth and knowledge. It’s not just that religious knowledge was excluded. Rather any and every question, even questions that are properly philosophical, was considered only insofar as it could be addressed scientifically.

3. Utopianism

There was a pervasive sentiment that science and technology are the savior of mankind and are about to usher us into a golden age. There seemed to be a consistent refusal to face the problem of the human propensity to evil. While we can all rejoice in the marvelous advances in medical technology and in the increasing per capita income in developing countries, still history surely teaches us to be suspicious of naïve optimism about the inevitability of human progress.

With this steady stream of unthinking naturalism, scientism, and utopianism, you can imagine how refreshed I was by Doug Geivett’s arrival on Saturday morning! We rode to the conference venue, where we met David Wolpe. A coin flip determined that the atheist side would go first. Talking with David, we agreed that I should lead off to lay the groundwork for the debate, David would extend our case, and Doug would be anchor man. As it turned out, this worked really well.

While Doug and I dismantled the atheists’ arguments philosophically, David really connected with the audience emotionally, so our styles beautifully complemented each other. After participating in this conference and debate, I came away thankful that the biblical world and life view can confidently hold its own in the city of ideas!

Get the Latest

You can get more updates like this from from William Lane Craig by subscribing to his free newsletter. For more on the debate, check out Doug Geivett’s commentary and comments from those who saw it live.

You can also listen to William Lane Craig talk about his experience at the debate in this audio interview.


10 Responses to “William Lane Craig Talks About Debating Richard Dawkins”

  1. Rich Goulette November 18, 2010 7:14 AM

    Mikel, Is there any way we can actually see the debate(or parts of it?) I love William Lane Craig, although I don’t think I could ever describe his view of Middle Knowledge adequately!

  2. Mikel November 18, 2010 9:52 PM

    Hi, Rich. Yes! The highly-anticipated English language video is available now on YouTube! http://bit.ly/9gUnzG

  3. Alfonso November 19, 2010 10:18 PM

    Hi Mikel!

    Count me as the second Filipino not watching the Pacquiao fight and rooting for Dr. Craig.

  4. Mikel November 20, 2010 10:20 AM

    That makes two of us. There are probably more of us around somewhere. BTW, if you’re on Facebook, I’d like to invite you to join our new group: Filipino Apologetics Network. Thanks, Alfonso!

  5. Eric Burton December 14, 2010 2:28 AM

    Repost: I think I posted this comment in the wrong thread originally.

    Hey Mikel:

    I posted my (way overdue) analysis of the debate on my site, if you are interested in my take. I won’t post the link here directly so it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to advertise or something. I think your site lists my url when I make a comment anyway. Talk to you soon!


  6. Sungyak December 14, 2010 11:53 PM

    Thanks for the post. I think Scientism is the driving force behind the new atheism movement today. This is evidenced in the discussion I’m having with a group of atheists on my blog. Would appreciate your contribution now and then. Cheers.

  7. Jose January 7, 2011 11:01 AM

    youtube.comHi everybody, i’m watching the debate in youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IeHqj3Fu-Y&feature=related but i would like to know who won.

    Please Tell Me



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