(TELEGRAPH) — Richard Dawkins, the “celebrity atheist”, has been described as an elitist snob for turning down an invitation to debate with members of the Free Church of Scotland during a visit to one of Britain’s most God-fearing communities.

The evolutionary biologist has put a previously unsung arts event on the map by agreeing to act as the headline speaker at the Faclan book festival in Stornoway.

He will give a lecture at the event in Stornoway on November 2 on his 2006 book, The God Delusion, which argues that belief in a supernatural creator is irrational and harmful to society.

His appearance, in front of an audience of 200, is a guaranteed sell-out despite calls from one religious group for a boycott. The speaker before Prof Dawkins, the theologian and philosopher Keith Ward, will put the opposite point of view in a talk entitled “Why There Almost Certainly is a God”.

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