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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
There are a wide range of issues on which the faithful and atheists have difficulty finding common ground, and to that now can be added reality.
That’s after Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the host of the daily “The Rabbi Shmuley Show” on XM Satellite Radio and author of 19 books, posted on his website an excerpt of a debate with atheist Richard Dawkins, after Dawkins announced he never had debated Rabbi Shmuley.
On his website Rabbi Schmuley posted a response to Dawkins’ comment.
“A friend recently called my attention to the official website of Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, where, as a way of assailing me, he denied having ever debated me,” he wrote.
Dawkins’ actual comment on his website followed a question about his debates with Boteach.
“Boteach organized debates, with himself as chairman, and I sometimes took part in debates with the outside visitors that he imported, for example Robert Winston. Boteach was a surprisingly impartial chairman, but he was always just a chairman, never a debater in any of the debates that I attended,” he wrote.
“That is a particularly bold untruth. Our debate, which took place at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford on Oct. 23, 1996, attracted hundreds of students and featured, on the atheist side, Prof. Dawkins and chemistry Prof. Peter Atkins, and on the religion side, me and Prof. Keith Ward, Oxford’s Regius Professor of Divinity. Student president Josh Wine was in the chair,” the rabbi explained.
“In a vote at the end of the debate as to how many students had changed their minds after hearing the arguments, Dawkin’s side was defeated and religion prevailed, which might account for his selective memory,” he wrote.
The full footage of the more-than-two-hour debate is available on his website at a cost, and includes 11 segments of MP4 video file that average about 10 minutes apiece.
The rabbi wrote that the statement is a symptom of the “two significant developments in the new cycle of verbal war between atheists and religionists.”
He said the first is that “atheists are feeling so emboldened that they distort facts in the belief that they will never get caught.”
“Second,” he said, “religious people are so utterly indifferent that they can hardly muster the resolve to respond intelligently to the growing atheist assault,” continued.
“Thousands of atheist bloggers are ripping religion and its adherents to shreds, and yet people of faith continue to slumber,” he said.
However, he said he was confident “a man as honorable as Dawkins will correct the error about the debate he alleges never took place,” he said.
Rabbi Shmuley has been labeled “a cultural phenomenon” and “the most famous rabbi in America” by Newsweek. He first came to the attention of the world through his founding of the Oxford University L’Chaim Society, a group that within three years had become the second largest student group in Oxford’s history.
His books include “Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments,” “Judaism for Everyone,” and many others.
Dawkins’ comment came on a forum after a posting of a video of a debate between Rabbi Shmuley and Christopher Hitchens, another prominent atheist.
“Four debates with RD? Interesting. Where can we see those, I wonder?” commented “cerbera,” to which Dawkins responded with his denial of any debates.
Officials with the rabbi’s radio show said they were able to locate the video – nearly two hours of arguments featuring Shmuley and Dawkins as well as Prof Pete Ward and Prof. Peter Atkins.
“The video footage,” officials said, which “proves incontrovertibly that Shmuley debated Dawkins…”
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