The Dawkins/Lane Craig non-debate

Richard Dawkins is stirring things up again. (Surely not! – sorry, I’d better not be sarcastic). In an article on The Guardian ‘Comment is Free’ section, he explains why he isn’t going to debate William Lane Craig. In case you don’t want to read the article, what Prof. Dawkins’ comments come down to is that William Lane Craig defends the God who commanded horrific genocide in the Old Testament. So, in the article, Dawkins quotes Deuteronomy 20 and says: “You might say that such a call to genocide could never have come from a good and loving God. Any decent bishop, priest, vicar or rabbi would agree.”

Now, I will leave aside Richard’s ‘arguments’ in the article itself (he doesn’t really make any, but still.) The whole thrust of the argument is basically: genocide is bad, I cannot debate with anyone who defends it. (I’d be interested to see what other people Dawkins has debated think about the Old Testament… William Lane Craig is by no means on his own with the view he holds).

However, in the quote I mentioned above, Dawkins does touch on one thing which I feel hasn’t really been explored, namely: “such a call to genocide could never have come from a good and loving God.” Now, this is an interesting one. How does Dawkins know that genocide is good or bad? Is he drawing on Biblical evidence? If so, what he has ‘proved’ is that the Bible is internally inconsistent.

However, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. What he seems to think is that the God of the Bible is actually immoral. What I’d love to find out is, on what basis does Dawkins say that God is immoral? Or, to put it more specifically, on what basis does he say that genocide is immoral? Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying anything about the morality of genocide – I’m not questioning whether it’s OK! I’m just saying, how can Dawkins, as an atheist, claim that something is immoral? Or at least objectively immoral?

As William Lane Craig often says, 1. Without God, objective morals do not exist; 2. Objective morals do exist; 3. Therefore, God exists. What Dawkins seems to be doing in the article is making an appeal to objective morals. If he is, then I believe he is undermining his own position.

I’d love to hear him actually answer this issue properly, or at least be more precise in his language, but I fear that is simply a pipe dream.

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8 thoughts on “The Dawkins/Lane Craig non-debate

  1. So I was perusing the Bible in search for a code of morality, a guide or moral compass as it were. Something to tell me how to act in this great world we have. I was a little surprised to find that I had a stronger sense of what’s right and what’s wrong than…God!!!

    Slavery may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Demeaning women may be approved by the Bible…but it is morally wrong.
    Killing of pregnant women, babies, and children may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Raping of women and children may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Telling lies to convert people to Christianity may be approved by churches…but it is morally wrong.
    Killing people accused of witchcraft may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Committing genocide may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Religious intolerance may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Killing of children for childish behavior may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Keeping women from leadership may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Killing those who disagree with you may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Killing a man who takes a wife from another tribe may be approved by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Human sacrifice may be allowed by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Animal sacrifice may be enjoyable to God…but it is morally wrong.
    Murdering people for taking a census ordered by Himself may be allowed by God…but it is morally wrong
    Murder of those who do not follow Jesus is allowed by God…but it is morally wrong.
    Murdering homosexuals is allowed by God…but it is morally wrong.

    “God is a being of terrific character…cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.” Thomas Jefferson

    • Thanks for your comment. One question: how do you KNOW that ‘it is morally wrong’? Is it because you ‘feel’ that? Then what if I feel something different? What then?

      I think you’re reading the Bible all wrong too, but that’s another story. Am happy to explain more if you are interested.

  2. How do you know it is wrong for a footballer to spend the entire game trying to kick the ball into his own net?

    If you think football is not subjective, tell me objectively whether Pele was a better player than Maradona?

    You don’t need a big god in the sky to tell you that genocide is wrong, no more than you need a big god in the sky to tell you that Brazil are a better football team than Hartlepool.

    Fact. What Craig wrotes sickens the stomach.

    Fact. Christian have unsickenable stomachs.

    Conclusion. Don’t talk to people who are so devoid of emotion they cannot be sickened when reading about atrocities committed in the name of their Old Book.

    • You can’t compare football with morals. Football is a game which has rules. If you spent the entire game trying to kick the ball into your own net, you would be a useless player by the rules of the game. Life has no such rules. And I have no idea what relevance Pele and Maradona is to the discussion.

      What I’d like you to explain is on what basis you can say “You don’t need a big god in the sky to tell you that genocide is wrong”. Just keep asking yourself the question, “why?” until you get back to the root.

      The simple fact of the matter is, atheists have two choices:

      1. Genocide is objectively wrong, therefore objective morals do exist, therefore God exists;
      2. Genocide is wrong on your personal system of morality, i.e. you feel emotionally that it is wrong, and many other people do too, but objective morals do not exist therefore you cannot say it is definitively and absolutely wrong.

      You can’t have your cake and eat it.

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