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October 5, 2007


Dawkins vs Lennox 3 – was it fair?

by quaesitor

I’m very tentative about commenting on this debate as i’ve not yet listened to it. But i’m going to anyway because I’m a little bit concerned. If you did get a chance to see/listen to it, then please, please correct me if i’ve got something wrong. I greatly admire John Lennox and my gripe is certainly not against him nor his lines of thought.

What surprised me was this comment from Coel on the Faith Central article i referred to before.

Interesting format for this debate. First the moderator reads an excerpt from The God Delusion. Then Dawkins is invited to expound on it. Then Lennox reads a prepared critique of that excerpt. Now, at this point, surely the thing to do is to invite Dawkins to respond to Lennox, defending his work? But no, the moderator then moves on to a new excerpt, and the above repeats. In other words, the format gives Lennox repeated opportunities to critique Dawkins, but gives Dawkins no opportunity to respond to Lennox! And even when Dawkins points out the one-sidedness of this, the moderator persists!

If this is correct, then I’m not at all surprised that Dawkins was frustrated, to say the least (see transcript already posted). It would drive me absolutely bananas if I was in his shoes. What are we scared of, Christians? Why not let the guy respond to critiques? Surely it just gives him more ammunition in the future, and will make him all the more reluctant to enter into these sorts of environments. I take my hat off to him for even being willing to enter into the lion’s den of America’s Bible Belt. The debate’s format simply gives the impression (however unfairly) of being defensive and nervy – and there’s surely no need for that?


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 6 2007

    Dawkins is not naïve. Both he and Dr. Lennox were required to read the terms and agree to the form, style, moderation, time and subject of the debate. No surprises there. What frustrated Dawkins were the exposure of major “holes” in his basic presuppostions that he never bothers to address in his prolific writing. When he did take the time to respond to these critiques, he found it necessary to redefine his terms, for example “faith” as “blind faith” and “God” as “created gods”. These redefined terms make vulnerable “strawmen” that Darwins Rottweiler finds pleasure in relieving himself on. (Romans 1.18-22)

  2. Oct 6 2007

    Fair point about him having agreed to the form in advance etc. But i still wonder (in my ignorance for i’ve still not heard it) whether, for impressions’ sake, it would have been better to allow a bit more come back…

  3. l3rucewayne
    Oct 6 2007

    Well, if you need a place to listen i linked to a couple on my blog. Once you have listened I think you might agree that dawkins ignored the format well enough and responded to lennox’s arguments anyway. And i think the fact that dawkins got the first and last word helped balance things.

  4. Bill
    Feb 18 2008

    Hey, do any of you guys know where I can find the transcript for the debate? I prefer to reading to listening. Thanks guys.

  5. Arie
    Apr 20 2010

    Even in the bible belt some of Dawkins statements got instant applause. Especially his assertion that he hopes no one in the audience bases their morality on the bible.


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