There’s Probably No Dawkins
A message with a familiar ring to it will be rolling out on the side of buses in Oxford from 10th of October: There’s Probably No Dawkins. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre.
The advertising campaign follows Richard Dawkins’ refusal to publicly debate the existence of God with philosopher William Lane Craig when he visits the UK in October. He has an open invitation to debate Craig at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on 25th October.
The Oxford bus campaign echoes the 2009 London atheist bus advertisements: ‘There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life.’
The ‘Reasonable Faith Tour’ organizers, supported by Premier Christian Radio, commissioned the advert, which will roll out on 30 buses in Oxford from 10th October for two weeks. ‘There’s Probably No Dawkins. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Oct 25th at the Sheldonian Theatre’ promotes this significant event.
BACKGROUND: William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, California and is arguably the world’s foremost defender of historic Christianity. Widely respected among academic philosophers, he has debated with many leading atheists across the world, including Peter Atkins, Daniel Dennett, Anthony Flew, A.C.Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and most recently, Sam Harris.
Harris has described him as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”
THE REFUSALS: Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig highlights the lack of leading British Humanists prepared to debate him.
Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, and outspoken atheist and critic of religion, has refused four separate invitations to debate Craig, sent from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Christian Radio.
Dawkins’ refusal to debate led fellow Oxford academic Dr Daniel Came, who is an atheist himself, to write a letter to Dawkins stating that,“the absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.”
Meanwhile, on his website, Dawkins has branded Professor Craig a “ponderous buffoon” who uses logic to “bamboozle his faith-head audience”, but has failed to respond to any of Craig’s academic arguments criticising his book, The God Delusion.
THE WITHDRAWAL: Even more surprising, the President of the British Humanist Association, Guardian columnist and prominent critic of religion, Polly Toynbee pulled out of her agreement to debate Craig at London’s Westminster Central Hall. She had keenly agreed to debate Craig on the Existence of God and tickets had been sold for the event. She withdrew recently saying, “I hadn’t realised the nature of Mr Lane Craig’s debating style, and having now looked at his previous performances, this is not my kind of forum”.
THE INSULT: Meanwhile, A.C.Grayling, who this year published a humanist ‘Bible’ called The Good Book, also refused to debate Craig about the basis of morality, stating that he would rather debate “the existence of fairies and water-nymphs”.
THE REASON: Tour Director Dr Peter May said:
“Richard Dawkins seems unprepared to defend the arguments in his bestselling book on the 5th anniversary of its publication. We’ve seen lots of ad-hominem attacks by him on Professor Craig but nothing of any actual substance. Does he now think his arguments in The God Delusion are indefensible? Craig certainly does and we hope that the bus campaign might provoke him to attend the Sheldonian and defend his book. ‘There’s probably no Dawkins’ leaves a shred of hope that he may turn up. However, he seems more keen to promote his next book than to defend his most famous one.”
The Sheldonian evening will be chaired by an Oxford Professor of Philosophy, who is himself an atheist. The stage will be set for a debate or a lecture should Dawkins not show up. Craig intends to tackle the central arguments in Dawkins book before a panel of academics who will respond to his lecture, before questions are invited from the audience.
If Dawkins attends for a debate, it will be the 5th debate in 10 days for Craig. Braver atheist academic opponents will debate the existence of God with Craig – in London, Cambridge, Birmingham and Manchester. They include Dr Arif Ahmed, Prof. Peter Atkins and Prof. Peter Millican. The Tour begins with a debate between Craig and atheist philosophy lecturer Dr Stephen Law, who has agreed to stand in for Polly Toynbee. They will debate ‘Does God Exist?’ at Westminster Central Hall, London on Mon 17th October.
An open invitation has been sent to Richard Dawkins to change his mind and debate with Craig in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on October 25th. If he does not come, an empty chair will be placed on the stage, and will remain there.
The Reasonable Faith Tour will visit London, Southampton, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester, and is supported by The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Premier Christian Radio and Damaris.
For further details about William Lane Craig, his debates, his writings and his tour, visit www.bethinking.org/craig
For a full list of events, view the Tour Programme.
To see a video outlining the tour schedule see www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&v=pQifJkVCFaQ
To book tickets for Craig events in October: go to www.premier.org.uk/craig