Tag Archives: A. C. Grayling

Humanist Association president Polly Toynbee runs away from debate on God

Is this what atheism amounts to?
Is this what atheism amounts to?

Here’s the story at BeThinking.


The President of the British Humanist Association has pulled out of debating renowned Christian philosopher William Lane Craig. Polly Toynbee, Guardian columnist and prominent critic of religion, readily agreed in April to debate Craig on the Existence of God but withdrew her involvement last week 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 event, hosted by Premier Christian Radio and due to take place at London’s Westminster Central Hall in October, has already been advertised and hundreds of pounds of ticket sales banked. Toynbee apologised for the “inconvenience”. Organisers will be contacting ticket holders, but are hoping to find an alternative leading atheist voice for the debate [see note below], who is willing to dispute the strong rational grounds for Christian theism that Professor Craig is renowned for defending.

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, California. He has debated leading atheists the world over including Anthony Flew, Lewis Wolpert, Christopher Hitchens, and most recently Sam Harris, who described him as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.” Following the debate with Hitchens, an atheist website concluded that Craig had “spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.”

Craig says of his debates, “These are academic forums, where one concentrates on the arguments and counter arguments, the truth of the premises in those arguments and objections to them, and not on personality or ad hominem attacks.”

Richard Dawkins recently described Craig as a “deeply unimpressive … ponderous buffoon”, who uses logic for “bamboozling his faith-head audience.” Yet he still has not responded to the actual content of the arguments presented by Craig. Dawkins’ refusal to debate one-to-one with Craig was recently described as “apt to be interpreted as cowardice” by Dr Daniel Came, a lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford University. Dr Came, who is himself an atheist, called it “a glaring omission” on Dawkins’ CV.

Meanwhile, A.C. Grayling, who this year published a humanist ‘bible’ called The Good Book has refused to debate with Craig on the foundations of atheist morality. With secular Britain beset by moral difficulties, not least among politicians, police and the press, this seems to be a neglect of his moral and intellectual duty. Grayling stated that he would rather debate “the existence of fairies and water-nymphs”.

Bolstering his own refusal to debate, Richard Dawkins posted this statement by A.C. Grayling on his website: “Craig claims to have debated me before – that is not correct, unless a brief and rather pointless exchange of emails counts as such.” Why should Craig claim to have debated Grayling, if it was not true?

This embarrassing lapse of memory on Grayling’s part has been exposed by Premier Radio who on 3rd July broadcast a recording of the entire Grayling vs. Craig debate on the Problem of Evil from 2005 and placed it on their website. Within the next 10 days, 10,000 people had downloaded it. It is now available on YouTube.

The Chairman that evening, Roger Preece, remembers it well. “The Debate was excellent. Craig and Grayling spoke to a packed house of 4-500 students at the Oxford Union. I enjoyed chairing the debate and it was a memorable and robust exchange, as the audio tapes confirm.”

Grayling has since commented “I was wrong about debating Lane Craig – but Lane Craig is wrong about everything else in the universe, so I guess I don’t do too badly in the deal.”

Dr Peter May, Director of the Craig Tour, said, “If Craig is ‘wrong about everything else in the universe’ and his arguments for the existence of God are so easy to refute, it is hard to see why the leading atheist voices in the country are running shy of having a debate with him. Rather than hurling ‘ad hominem’ attacks on Craig from their bunkers, it would be good to see these figures come forward to rationally defend the atheism they publicly espouse. At the moment it’s looking like a rout.”

While Toynbee is President of the British Humanist Association, Dawkins and Grayling are both Vice-Presidents. The BHA describes one of its core values as “engaging in debate rationally, intelligently and with attention to evidence”. [View the BHA core values here.]

And now we sing the atheist theme song:

If I were an atheist, I would be ashamed. This woman turned down a formal academic debate with a leading Christian scholar. The debate format is neutral, featuring fixed length speeches and no interruptions. Craig’s style is to use scientific evidence and formal logical arguments. I thought atheists were supposed to be good at logic and science? I guess not, though. “I don’t like God telling me what to do” is apparently as far ahead as they’ve thought. Is that all atheism is? Is it just a childhood tantrum that has run on too long? Is there no argument or evidence to sustain it at all? Are the “best” atheist debaters simply the ones who can rant the most shrilly? Is there anything more to atheism than whining and insults?

If you are interested in seeing William Lane Craig debate, check out the two videos below:

Yes, that is Christopher Hitchens in the first debate.

Related posts

Coward A.C. Grayling and chicken Dawkins flee debate with William Lane Craig

Sing with me:

Brave Sir Grayling ran away
Bravely, ran away…away…
When danger reared its ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes, brave Sir Grayling turned about
And gallantly he chickened out
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat
Bravest of the brave, Sir Grayling

He is packing it in and packing it up
And sneaking away and buggering off
And chickening out and pissing off home,
Yes, bravely he is throwing in the sponge.

From BeThinking.org’s web site.


For years, ‘New Atheist’ Professors Anthony Grayling and Richard Dawkins have made money and gained publicity out of God.  But now, the courage of their convictions seems to be running dry: they have both refused to debate one of the world’s leading defenders of the Christian Faith, Professor William Lane Craig.

While Professor Dawkins has set himself up as the ‘scourge’ of the Church, Professor Grayling has offered his latest attack on Christianity by publishing The Good Book – a secular bible in the year the Church celebrates the 400th anniversary of the translation of the King James Bible.

While Dawkins and Grayling have refused to debate the existence of God, Grayling has also refused to debate the foundations of the morality on which his ‘Good Book’ rests. These point-blank refusals to engage in public discussions with Professor Craig will undermine their credibility, not only among Christians but also amongst fellow academics.

Professor Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, California, is arguably the world’s foremost defender of historic Christianity. He has debated with many top academics and leading atheists across the world, including Peter Atkins, Daniel Dennett, Anthony Flew, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and, most recently, Sam Harris.

Craig visited the UK in 2007 and received national media coverage for his debate at Westminster Central Hall with Professor Lewis Wolpert, chaired by Radio 4’s Today presenter, John Humphrys. This debate has now been seen by thousands of people on YouTube. Professor Craig, who has two Ph.Ds, has written over thirty books and published some 200 academic papers. He is returning to the UK from 17-26 October in a tour sponsored by the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Damaris Trust and Premier Christian Radio.

Having been invited to debate Craig, Professor Grayling replied:

I am not interested in debating Professor Craig, though if he would like to co-opt me for the publicity for his tour – I would be happy to debate him on the question of the existence of fairies and water-nymphs. But as for the very uninteresting matter of whether there is just one god or goddess and that it can be debated despite the claim that it is transcendently ineffable and unknowablethat is an empty prospect, hence my declining the invitation.”

Justin Brierley, who presents Premier Radio’s highly-rated discussion programme, Unbelievable?, comments:

“It looks insulting and worryingly narrow minded when an invitation to defend such views against a top-flight Christian academic such as Dr. Craig is dismissed in these terms. Grayling is seen as a key proponent of rationalism and atheism in the UK. It will therefore come as a surprise to many that he is so unwilling to defend the rational grounds for atheism against a major opponent.”

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 tweeted this, earlier:

If you would like the see how well atheists do in debates with Craig, you can watch this:

William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens:

No wonder Grayling and Dawkins are soiling their knickers at the thought of facing him. It’s easy to impress your students when you are grading their papers AFTER they’ve paid their tuition. But a formal debate in a neutral venue would not be safe.

Previous story on Dawkins’ refusal to debate is here.

Craig’s UK tour schedule is here.

Audio clips and post-debate interviews from latest Dawkins debate

From the latest episode of the Unbelievable radio show.

The MP3 file is here.


Atheists Richard Dawkins, and AC Grayling recently squared up against Christians Richard Harries and Charles Moore for a debate on the motion “Atheism is the new fundamentalism”.

Justin Brierley reviews the debate with audio clips from the speakers and Q&A session, as well as interviews with those who attended, including AC Grayling and the Chair of the debate Anthony Seldon.

For the full debate visit http://www.intelligencesquared.com/

Justin has a lot of audio clips of the speeches and Q&A from the debate. This was a public debate. He also conducts post-debate interviews with one of the speakers, and some of the people in the audience. The people representing Christianity in the debate are totally useless. Justin also interviewed some “Christian” woman after the debate who is not even an orthodox Christian!

I think that in the UK, people are not really orthodox in their Christian beliefs. They seem poorly trained in theology and apologetics. I think that political correctness and multiculturalism has really weakened Christianity in the UK. At the end of the show Justin says that he will be focusing on the movie Expelled in the new year and so I hope they will get some good Christian scholars – not like John Lennox and Richard Swinburne!

Justin – if you’re reading this – please don’t put any more pastors on to defend Christianity. C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton types are not effective against the New Atheists. Please get Paul Copan, Keith Yandell, Craig Evans, Jonathan Wells, Stephen Meyer, Jay Richards, Guillermo Gonzalez, William Dembski, Darrell Bock, Dan Wallace, James Sinclair, and Doug Geivett instead. Or William Lane Craig, but that goes without saying.

My thoughts on why atheists are fundamentalists

I want to say a little something about atheists and the word “science”. Atheists don’t really value science, they value naturalism. Science is a method of inquiry that helps people to discover the way the world really works. Naturalism is a philosophical pre-supposition that says that every effect in the universe is the result of natural law and matter. And they cling to this pre-supposition as strongly as Muslims cling to their beliefs. There is no evidence that will shake them from their blind faith in the efficacy of naturalistic mechanisms.

Consider this quote from an atheist named Richard Lewontin:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

When an atheist says that they like science, what they really mean is that they like naturalism (= materialism). When the progress of science demonstrates the need for a Creator of the universe, a Designer for the fine-tuning, an intelligent cause of biological information, etc., then atheists jump off the science bandwagon and begin to talk about how science is a very limited, tentative enterprise. They do this in order to save their religion of naturalism from being tested against scientific discoveries.