Monday, April 14, 2008

The Debate Dawkins would rather Forget

Rabbi Smuley Boteach (yes, Virginia that's his real name-- how appropriate for a teacher) is one of my favorite rabbis. He is engaged and engaging on a whole host of issues, one of which is the issue of atheism. He sends me his newsletter and postings several times a week. Here below is a sample of one. I'd encourage you to go to his website and listen. A good time will be had by all

The debate Richard Dawkins Claims Never Happened. Click here to watch it at

Rabbi Shmuley was surprised to learn from a number of fans that his friend, Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, posted a statement on his website attacking Rabbi Shmuley, and denying ever debating him. The statement on reads: “Boteach organized debates, with himself as chairman, and I sometimes took part in debates with the outside visitors that he imported, for example Robert Winston. Boteach was a surprisingly impartial chairman, but he was always just a chairman, never a debater in any of the debates that I attended.”

This is, unfortunately, a particularly bold untruth. The debate, which took place at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, on October 23, 1996, attracted hundreds of students and featured, on the atheist side, Professor Dawkins and Chemistry Professor Peter Atkins, and on the religion side, Rabbi Shmuley and Professor Keith Ward, the Oxford University Regius Professor of Divinity. The Oxford L’Chaim Society (the student organization Rabbi Shmuley founded and chaired) student president, Josh Wine, was in the moderator’s chair.

Ironically, in a vote at the end of the debate to determine how many students had changed their minds upon hearing the arguments, the religious side prevailed and defeated Dawkin’s side, which might account for his selective memory.

The full two-hour video of debate from 1996 at Oxford University, along with a written-response from Rabbi Shmuley is now available at


Unknown said...

Thanks for posting Dr. Witherington. I went to follow the link to the debate but found that it is formatted incorrectly.

It should be instead of" (the double quote at the end chokes the database on the Rabbi's site), or you could click here to go to the debate.

Michael said...

In your face Dawkins!

I also heard he snuck into an early showing of Expelled. He was trying to avoid getting caught.

Why all the sneakiness?

Falantedios said...

LOL Nice catch! I know Christians have been known to be smug and glib and at times evasive in their intellectual dealings with unbelievers. I won't pretend that isn't the case.

That being said, it is nice to be reminded that we don't have a corner on that market.

in HIS love,

Rob Penn said...

It's nice to see something like this. Especially with all this stink about how the Expelled producers were oh-so underhanded in their dealings with Dawkins.

I don't know if it's true, but regardless of the truth of those stories they're making it really hard to intelligently talk to people about God.

Brigitte said...

Are you supposed to be able to get the debate without paying for it?
I can't get it to play for more than a minute.

Evolved said...

I do think it is quite hilarious how you poor people believe in something that rivals with the tooth fairy or goblins, one day all you uneducated religious simpletons will wake up and realize YOUR WASTING YOUR TIME....

rasalghul said...

Dawkins rules - he killed the Rabbi in that debate

Rob Penn said...

@ rasalghul:

Dawkins rules - he killed the Rabbi in that debate

Your opinion doesn't count because you're the head of the demon.


Just kiddin. You've got good taste in quality reading, sir.

Or did you just do the cartoon? Because those were pretty good, too.