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Atheist guru Dawkins snubs $10,000 debate

Richard Dawkins at the University of Texas at Austin

Atheist Richard Dawkins has rejected an offer of $10,000 for an hour-long debate with Christian author Ray Comfort, telling WND he would participate in the argument only on a list of conditions, including a $100,000 donation to his foundation.

Dawkins also is demanding that a staff member for his website be allowed to film the event and then distribute it as a DVD, “if he thinks it is funny enough.”

As WND reported, Comfort, author of the new book “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think,” offered Dawkins $10,000 for a debate on creation, evolution and life. A spokeswoman for Dawkins’ website earlier told WND Dawkins doesn’t debate people from “the flat-earth society.”

The challenge from Comfort, who also is co-host with actor Kirk Cameron of the award-winning TV show “The Way of the Master,” wasn’t taken seriously by Dawkins.

“Ten thousand dollars is less than the typical fee that I am ordinarily offered for lecturing to a serious audience (I often don’t accept it, especially in the case of a student audience, because I am a dedicated teacher),” he wrote in response to a WND question about the challenge.

“It is not, therefore, a worthwhile inducement for me to travel all the way across the Atlantic to debate with an ignorant fool,” he wrote. “You can tell him that if he donates $100,000 to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (it’s a charitable donation, tax deductible) I’ll do it.”

Comfort said the offer was good whether Dawkins finished the debate with a win, lose or draw.

“Richard Dawkins is arguably the most famous living atheist, now that Anthony Flew doubted his doubts and backslid as an atheist,” said Comfort. “Flew said that he simply followed the evidence. I would like to see Richard Dawkins follow his example.”

The invitation from Comfort, who has spoken at Yale University on atheism and in 2001 addressed American Atheists, Inc., wasn’t well received by the spokeswoman for Dawkins’ official website either.

A respondent who identified herself only as “Liz” wrote:

“We know nothing about this – and it is a rather silly publicity stunt,” the message today said. “Richard has always made it known that he does not debate people from the flat-earth society, those who promote the stork-theory of conception and birth, or young-earth creationists.”

She said the suggestion the “world’s scientists are shaking in their boots is rather ridiculous.”

She then suggested a better plan would be to watch, from Dawkins’ website, the “discussion” between Dawkins and Bishop Richard Harries, whom Liz described as a “real theologian and not a third rate actor.”

In a forum following the link to the conversation, an anonymous participant perhaps explained why that “debate” would be promoted by Dawkins’ website.

“The good bishop reminds me very much of the vicar who married me, and the Sunday school vicar I had as a child for that matter, both were/are Church of England of course. If all christians thought and behaved like these people, we’d have little to worry about!” the participant wrote. “In fact, from the friendly debates I’ve had over the years with CofE clergy, I’m convinced most of them are really Deists or Agnostic if truth be told, and just want to help out the local community, It seems to be more tradition than anything else. In fact even as an Athiest (sic) I find it hard to disagree with anything our local vicar says in Church, his sermons are mostly about being nice to each other etc, and never stray into any of that hell fire or sinner crap at all.”

Comfort debated atheistic evolution on ABC’s Nightline in 2007, and earlier this year debated on the BBC. He is the author of some 60 other books including “God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists,” “How to Know God Exists,” and “Evolution: the Fairy Tale for Grownups.” He is the publisher of “The Evidence Bible” and more recently, “The Atheist Bible (Unauthorized Version)” and, “The Charles Darwin Bible.” His booklet, “The Atheist Test” has sold over a million copies.

“Liz” did respond that she would be happy to send additional links of such conversations – “with people who are thoughtful, intelligent and scholarly.”

On Darwin Day (Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday – Feb. 12), Comfort’s latest, “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think,” published by WND Books, pushed Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” out of the No. 1 spot in the atheist category on Amazon.com.

“One of Dawkins’ major gripes is against religion,” said Comfort. “I am in total agreement on that one. I abhor religion. It is the opiate of the masses. It has left a bloody trail of destruction and human misery throughout history. Hitler even used it for his own ends. His other big beef is that he believes that the God of the Old Testament is a tyrant. If I had the image of God Dawkins has created in his mind, I, too, would be an atheist. The problem is that the god Mr. Dawkins doesn’t believe in, doesn’t exist.”

Comfort added, “I will donate $10,000 to him, or give it to any children’s charity he names. All I ask is that he goes into a studio and gives me 20 minutes on why there is no God and why evolution is scientific. Then I will give 20 minutes on how we can know God exists and why evolution is nothing more than an unsubstantiated and unscientific fairy tale for grownups. Then we both will have 10 minutes to respond.

“Sadly, I have found that even evolution’s most staunch believers are afraid to debate, because they know that their case for atheism and evolution is less than extremely weak,” Comfort said. “I would be delighted (and honored) if Mr. Dawkins has the courage to debate me, but I’m not holding my breath.”