Douglas Adams put it so well, in an impromptu speech made in Cambridge shortly before his death, that I never tire of sharing his words: "Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allwoed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!' If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on Saturday', you say, 'I respect that'. Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows - but to have an opinion about how the universe began, about who created the Universe . . . no, that's holy? . . . We are used to not challenging religious ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be." [Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 20-21. Bold mine for emphasis - DSS]Dawkins is quoted on the homepage of the Global Atheist Convention as saying,
The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science … We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organized ignorance . . .One of Dawkins' godless co-presenters at the conference, Catherine Deveny, is quoted on the homepage right under Dawkins reporting this,
The number of churchgoers in Australia is about 9% and dwindling, the diversity of spiritual belief is flourishing and atheism is going off like a frog in a sock.O.k., so if the creationists are such "kooks", that are undermining "reason", "truth", and "science" why not take the opportunity to put up your intellectual dukes and "[defend] it from deliberate attack from organized ignorance" via public, moderated debate with equal time and multiple atheologists? Why not wipe the floor with these creationist "lackwits", especially wiping the floor extra squeaky clean with this participating Ph.D. level scientist? It ought to be easy, especially since these are "grandstanding kooks" that have "no evidence to debate".
But you also don't want to give them a platform to present their "kook" ideas? But Dr. Dawkins, you quoted approvingly that when it comes to the ideas of religious dullards "there is not reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other," and again, "We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organized ignorance . . .". So, why not take a few hours to show the rest of the world just how silly these "lackwits" really are? Remember, they have "no evidence to debate", and not only that, but you'll have the rights to freely distribute the DVDs at your leisure (i.e., YouTube, richarddawkins.net, etc.)! This would greatly promote the specific agenda of the conference (The Rise of Atheism) because you could then actually record the floor wiping and then promote your efforts to get rid of the supposed vestigial remains of the 9% of Australian "lackwits" that still foolishly believe that the universe didn't make itself out of nothing!
Seriously, I contend that the "New Atheists" need to put their ideas to the test against those "kooks" who think otherwise and they need to do it in multiple, moderated public debates instead of continually writing books that ignore the best that Christian apologetics has to offer and hiding behind their keyboards writing ad hominem responses. We encourage the former and are sick of the latter. The more you ignore our best scholarship, the more ridiculous you make yourselves look. This is neither good science, nor is it being intellectually honest. It actually reeks of close-minded fundamentalism, the very thing you proclaim to detest. While Australia may indeed have meager church attendance statistics, there are plenty of Americans that still believe that God created the universe ex nihilo. So hear me well when I lay down this gauntlet for you:
Show us where we are wrong and stop ignoring our best scholars and best arguments. Many in the Christian world want to see your supposed intellectual goods if the evidence so heavily favors naturalism. This means that you must stop turning down debates with Ph.D. level creation scientists that can hang on your level intellectually. Your refusal to debate such people reeks of cowardice and insecurity and shows that you are unwilling to test, refine, and rethink your own presuppositions because you have an a priori agenda to protect them, just like any other close-minded, religious fundamentalist.
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)