Last Tuesday, I got the chance to see Sam Harris in conversation with Richard Dawkins at Oxford’s Sheldonian theatre, at an event organised by the British Humanist Society called ‘Who says science has nothing to say about morality?’
Sam had been in the UK for a couple of weeks promoting his new book ‘The Moral Landscape’. This was my first time seeing him and Richard live so I was really excited, and I wasn’t disappointed with my evening.
Setting from London, I got there at least 2 hours early, and I’m glad I did. Roaming around Oxford centre and the venue where the talk was to take place, I caught Richard Dawkins on his bicycle coming into the theatre. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go past me so whilst he was locking his bike to the railings I nervously said, “Professor Dawkins? I’m a big fan sir, and a great admirer of your work.” He was very pleased to hear that and said “Thank you”.
I continued, “I’m a very recent atheist and an ex-muslim, and your books and lectures on YouTube helped me a lot.” He said something like, “Oh, well done. I’m very pleased to hear that.” After exchanging a few more words, I thought this was the perfect moment to ask him my question. I asked him if he knew of Dr. Zakir Naik. He said he didn’t. I explained who he was; that he enjoyed a following of millions of Muslims and considering the high profile of Islam in the media right now, would he ever consider going on the Muslim channel Dr. Naik started and debate him live. Professor Dawkins response was simply, “No, I don’t debate Muslims.”
I’m sure he would have had more to say and would have given me a reason as to why not, but he had to go into the theatre for his talk. I can take a guess however why he wouldn’t. Richard Dawkins is an acclaimed scientist who uses logic, reasoning, scientific theory and proof and evidence for his arguments, whilst all Dr. Naik has is his limited knowledge of science, flawed logic and reasoning, and his desperate attempt at clinging onto an archaic scripture and using that as his only means of defence. So you can see, not exactly a fair fight.
But I hope one day, for purely entertainment value, Richard Dawkins gets to debate Dr Naik. I can guarantee that debate will attract millions of viewers worldwide. Should make for a good show!
Also, I got The God Delusion signed by Richard Dawkins and The End of Faith by Sam Harris. Got a “welcome to the club” from Sam Harris after I told him of my recent deconversion.