Atheist Richard Dawkins says he isn’t as much concerned with what he would get if he accepts a challenge to debate Ray Comfort as with what it would cost the Christian author.
As WND reported, Dawkins snubbed an offer of $10,000 for a debate, which would amount to an hour’s work. Now Comfort, author of “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think,” has suggested raising the offer to $20,000, but Dawkins still isn’t impressed.
“Twenty thousand dollars is closer to the fees that I am customarily offered,” Dawkins told WND in an e-mail. “However, I am not in this for the money.
“My interest is in getting the Banana Man to PART with $100,000 of his money so that that money will NOT be available for buying animatronic dinosaurs with saddles, or other similar nonsense,” Dawkins wrote.
“The fact that he would be making a substantial donation to a charity dedicated to Reason and Science adds to the humour of the situation,” he wrote.
Comfort explained the “Banana Man” reference.
“For years I have held a Coke can in one hand and a banana in
the other, and compared the two. Both have a tab at the top. The banana has
a wrapper with perforations, is biodegradable, etc. It was a parody – the
point being, if someone designed the Coke can then obviously Someone
designed the banana. In the mid 1990’s I published the parody in booklet
form called ‘The Atheist Test’ and sold over a million copies. When we put
it into our TV program, atheists removed the Coke can, and sent the clip all
over the Internet, saying ‘Ray Comfort believes that the banana is proof of
God’s existence.’ I guess atheists don’t appreciate parody.”
Comfort cited Dawkins’ response to Ben Stein, in the documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” when the atheist was asked, “What do you
think is the possibility that … intelligent design might turn out
to be the answer to some issues in genetics … or in evolution?”
Dawkins said: “It could come about in the following way: it could be that, at some earlier
time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved by probably by some
kind of Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed
a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet . . . and that
designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the
“So let’s call the debate ‘Banana Man Debates Alien Man’ and let
the audience decide who is the ‘ignorant fool,'” Comfort said.
Dawkins had told WND he would participate in the argument only on a list of conditions, including a $100,000 donation to his foundation.
Dawkins also demanded 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.”
A spokeswoman for Dawkins’ website also told WND Dawkins doesn’t debate people from “the flat-earth society.”
The original offer of $10,000 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.
Richard Dawkins at the University of Texas at Austin
“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 said.
“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 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.”
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.
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.”