Restrictions to be Placed on Christian Debaters to Prevent Public Humiliation of Atheists

The International Affiliation of Public Debates has decided to place restrictions on debaters to prevent their opponents from being publicly humiliated. The controversial decision was made after the shocking result of the Sam Harris vs. William Lane Craig debate, “Is Good from God?” held at Notre Dame University on April 7, 2011, where every single one of Harris’ arguments was ripped to shreds by Craig’s sharp and rigorous logic. The most perceptive thing that Harris said that night was in his opening remarks, in which he acknowledged that Craig was “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”

However, this was not the first time that Craig’s keen logic has humiliated an opponent. After the 2009 debate with Christopher Hitchens on the existence of God, even atheists were acknowledging Craig’s landslide victory. As the blog Common Sense Atheism remarked, “Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.”

“It’s just not right that Christian theists like Dr. Craig should be able to reduce atheists’ arguments to intellectual compost,” commented Karl Tigellinus, president of the IAPD, on their decision to place restrictions on debaters. “Atheists are already at a great disadvantage without truth, reason, and common sense on their side. This way we hope to level the playing field.”

As a result, Richard Dawkins might finally agree to a one-on-one debate with Craig. After the recent defeats of so many prominent and respected atheists, Dawkins has always refused to face Craig. Ignoring pleas from fellow atheists to nut up or shut up (e.g., Dr. Daniel Came from the University of Oxford, in a letter to Dawkins, said that the latter’s refusal to debate Craig is “apt to be interpreted as cowardice”) Dawkins maintains that he has good reasons for his pusillanimity–namely, “I have no interest in this.”

Illustration by Matt Francis


Dawkins has staked his career on his promotion of atheism as a philosophically defensible and superior worldview, publishing books such as The God Delusion and The Devil’s Chaplain, and Craig is widely held to be today’s most prominent defender of Christian theism in the public square.

But what are these restrictions exactly? In a letter which Tigellinus wrote to Dawkins hoping to assuage his fears, Tigellinus wrote, “This is how it would go: if during the debate Craig is opening up a can of logical whoopass on you, the moderator will call you and Dr. Craig together in private and say something like, ‘So far all the ad hominems and straw men and red herrings have come from you, Mr. Dawkins. Dr. Craig, you need to start throwing out a couple of vituperative and fallacious remarks every now and then; and if you could coach Mr. Dawkins on how to argue his side of the debate logically, then no one will be able to say that he got philosophically curb stomped.’”

Christians have started a petition to repeal the restrictions, but Tigellinus remarked, “It is not the policy of the IAPD to take into account the interests and wishes of people who identify themselves as Christians. Perhaps if they wanted to identify themselves as one of the groups we actually give a crap about, we would reconsider.”


Travis Lambert

Interests: Apologetics; Classical and Medieval Latin, Literature, and Philosophy; Epic Poetry; C.S. Lewis; chess; travel; writing (novel, short fiction, creative nonfiction, essay, Latin composition, translation).

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Travis Lambert

Interests: Apologetics; Classical and Medieval Latin, Literature, and Philosophy; Epic Poetry; C.S. Lewis; chess; travel; writing (novel, short fiction, creative nonfiction, essay, Latin composition, translation).

27 thoughts on “Restrictions to be Placed on Christian Debaters to Prevent Public Humiliation of Atheists”

  1. I’m stupid.

    I saw “philosophy and apologetics” in the section it was posted and failed to read “satire” after that.

    Please, forgive my stupidity.

    I did think it was funny though.


  2. I also want to point out that this is not the first time I have failed to read everything. One would figure that I’d learn…

  3. I’ve recently come across this reverence for WLC but I’ve yet to see a reason for it. I’ve watched his debate with Hitchens and he does come off slightly better but only because Hitchens does not deal with his arguments directly (which would have been trivial). I may watch the debate with Harris but having seen a few clips of WLC using such terrible arguments as first cause and Plantinga’s “naturalism cannot explain rationality” I don’t hold up much hope of being impressed.

  4. @Joseph

    I’ve noticed some of the more philosophically inclined people seem to think Craig is not all that great. However, he does seem more than capable of wiping the floor with all of atheism’s popular poster-boys. The good thing about Craig and people like him is that he explains things simply so that the average person can understand him, yet he’s a sharp debater – that’s why many Christians like him so much.

    You would think the atheist community would come up with someone who can actually address Craig’s arguments instead of just making irrelevant comments and hoping they’ll go away.

  5. @Joseph

    Perhaps you underestimate the arguments you have blithely dismissed.


    The McGrews, Chris Jakway, and I are philosophically inclined, and we do think Craig is all that good and then some. I suppose if you define “philosophically inclined” to exclude people who do love Craig, then that would work. However, apart from being arbitrary and offensive, I have yet to hear of a good reason why philosophically inclined people should dislike Craig, other than the fact that he doesn’t talk over people’s heads as much as other philosophers do. But if that is a defect, may the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover.

    As for the atheist community, I’m sure they would if they could.

  6. @ Travis

    At least one good reason not to think of Craig as ‘all that’ is the complete failure of his argument against David Lewis’s theory of identity across time. His defense of presentism is also something of a failure.

    Craig is a capable philosopher, but having read a number of his works he does not strike me as particularly impressive. He’s done good work on the Kalam argument, and made some interesting arguments in the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of time, but there are many others jsut as capable out there with far less press.

    Craig tends to get lionized in Christian circles because he goes out and debates people. That’s all well and good, although the quality of his opponents is definitely a mixed bag. But it doesn’t make him somehow especially brilliant as a philosopher, which I believe is the claim Justin made.

  7. @ Travis and Dan
    I only meant exactly what I said.

    “I’ve noticed some of the more philosophically inclined people seem to think Craig is not all that great.”

    In other words, some people think Craig is not that great, and the commonality among those people is that they are philosophically inclined. No implication meant. It’s an observation about the opinions of some people, not a normative statement.

  8. @Dan

    I guess we’ll have to take your word for it….


    I grant you your observation if you grant me mine: namely, that all of the people I know who like Craig possess degrees in philosophy, and two of them are Philosophy professors–to the discredit of the many philosophically disinclined Christians I know (present company excluded) who by and large have never even heard of him.


    Awesome video!

    Incidentally, I was going to submit this to the Onion, but they don’t take submissions. I doubt they would have published it, though. Do they ever publish pro-Christian stuff?

  9. If Craig is too good for athiests, so be it. Don’t let the latter off the hook. They wouldn’t give theists a chance if they were on top. All power to Craig. Make the debate fair and let losers admit they don’t have it together. Hitchins and Dawkins do not look so good when we consider them in the light of Craig’s demolition machine! James

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  16. Hi! I thought I’d never see the day that an atheist would come with “hat in hand” asking to be let off the hook. The 1950’s made a joke of theists. For atheists at that time, only the ill-informed and uneducated were Christians. Today, with a few hundred Theists of Craig’s caliber, the tide has turned, leaving atheism with a terrible load of catching-up to do. James

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