Though I’d like to see Richard Dawkins debate William Lane Craig, I actually think that Dawkins has given a good reason for not debating him, highlighting the following passage from Craig’s writings in which Craig rationalizes genocide:
I have come to appreciate as a result of a closer reading of the biblical text that God’s command to Israel was not primarily to exterminate the Canaanites but to drive them out of the land. […] Canaan was being given over to Israel, whom God had now brought out of Egypt. If the Canaanite tribes, seeing the armies of Israel, had simply chosen to flee, no one would have been killed at all. There was no command to pursue and hunt down the Canaanite peoples. It is therefore completely misleading to characterise God’s command to Israel as a command to commit genocide. Rather it was first and foremost a command to drive the tribes out of the land and to occupy it. Only those who remained behind were to be utterly exterminated. No one had to die in this whole affair.
Craig’s observations here are repugnant, and of genocide he’s managed to say some even more repugnant things as well (see here).
So, just as antisemitism rightly damaged the reputations of Heidegger, Pound, and T.S. Eliot, Craig has crossed a moral line that (ought to) permanently damage his general reputation among academics (even if he still retains a lay evangelical fan base).
And, since the Bible’s land grant of Canaan to the Israelites is still (presumably) in effect, Craig’s rationalization of genocide is especially noxious, as it could readily be used to justify the destruction of contemporary Palestinians because they aren’t willing to abandon the land either.
So, though I think a debate between Dawkins and Craig would be great entertainment, I support Dawkins in his decision not to interact with someone who can talk like Craig does in the 21st century. When you think about it, after the Holocaust, it’s just too gross to share a stage with someone who speaks of genocide as if the Holocaust never happened. It’s proper for Dawkins to highlight Craig’s moral obtuseness, and to shun him for it.
After quoting in the Guardian some of Craig’s more noxious genocide passages, including the one above, here’s Dawkins:
Would you shake hands with a man who could write stuff like that? Would you share a platform with him? I wouldn’t, and I won’t. […] And if any of my colleagues find themselves browbeaten or inveigled into a debate with this deplorable apologist for genocide, my advice to them would be to stand up, read aloud Craig’s words as quoted above, then walk out and leave him talking not just to an empty chair but, one would hope, to a rapidly emptying hall as well.