Oct 24, 2011

after all, a Christian can't be a real philosopher, right?

the debate over the debate over whether R. Dawkins should debate W.L. Craig has het up.

This is a fair response to it I think.

I am a little tired of the cheerleaders on both sides. Craig is not perfect, but he seems to me a nice enough guy who presents classical Christian apologetical arguments in a rigorous-yet-accessible way to audiences of university students, academics and other interested people. He is a gifted communicator and probably rightly widely regarded as the foremost defender of Christian theism today. His well-publicised debates are backed up with scholarly and popular books and articles, particularly concerning the metaphysical implication of the origin of the universe and the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Dawkins has done some well respected work in evolutionary biology, but his main area of influence has been through his popular science books and of course his more recent railing against religion. He is an effective communicator and like Craig is charismatic with a wide following. However, I cannot take him seriously as an academic outside his field of expertise in biology or as a public intellectual rather than a polemicist, given his reluctance to actually interact with the arguments he claims do not exist or to have refuted . One notable exception was in his debates with John Lennox; yet in these he is widely regarded as having come across as the least persuasive of the two. Supporters of his who have imbibed the 'new atheist' hatred of religion and religious people need to calm down and learn to have a reasonable academic discussion - even with those who pointedly disagree - or they will face accusations of insularism, anti-intellectualism and cowardice.

Religion is here to stay and the New Atheism probably is too in some form; ridicule and invective from either side (as guilty of it as I may be) strikes me as a fairly unproductive route and a highly frustrating one when the actual issues are covered up by personal attacks and ignorant bluster. If anything is to sort out the fundamental misunderstandings contributing so greatly to this cultural divide, perhaps it is numerous instances of friendly chats over coffee, combined with a little prayer and a challenge to actually explore the claims being made by each 'side' for oneself. I for one am happy to engage in this project!

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