To listen to Richard Dawkins, or read his book The God Delusion, you would get the idea that belief in God is a dangerous delusion, even a kind of virus of the mind. Dawkins finds absolutely no rational sense in theism, and moreover, he insists that science stands firmly behind him.
Given this, one would think that Dawkins would be eager to debate the best advocates for God, in the firm confidence that he could defeat them. Why should an advocate of the round-earth have any hesitancy in debating an advocate of the flat-earth? Surely a round-earth man should be able to prevail in such debates every single time.
Shortly after the publication of my book What’s So Great About Christianity, I invited Dawkins to debate me. Since that time I’ve debated many of the leading atheists—Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, Daniel Dennett, Peter Singer. Yet despite my several invitations, Dawkins has always refused to agree to a debate.
Imagine my surprise when a television producer for al-Jazeera (yes, that al-Jazeera) called to say that Richard Dawkins has agreed to appear with me on the Riz Khan show, broadcast to more than 20 million viewers worldwide. Al-Jazeera had asked me several weeks earlier to come on the show and debate the War on Terror, and I had told them I’d rather debate a leading atheist. They found Dawkins.
But apparently al-Jazeera had booked Dawkins without telling him the name of his opponent. When he found out it was me, he called the producer and said he would only appear on the show if he and I were interviewed in separate segments, and moreover, he had to go second. I suppose he was worried that if he went first I might be able to rebut some of his statements. He insisted on a format in which he could rebut what I said but I couldn’t rebut what he said.
The show went well and despite the format, the issues were engaged. (If you’d like to see the interviews they are now posted on Youtube.) I argued that it is reasonable to ask scientifically about the cause of the universe. Effects require causes, so what is the cause for which the universe is the effect? It seems unreasonable in the extreme to say that even though nature had a beginning, somehow nature is the cause of itself. So God is the name we give to the supernatural being that is the cause of nature as a whole.