OCTOBER 16, 2012
"Eastwooding," the art of debating someone who isn't actually there, is becoming a widespread meme in social media. The phenomenon, got a boost of popularity (and its name) at the Republican National Convention in August when actor/director Clint Eastwood held a rambling and sometimes heated debate with an empty chair standing in for President Obama. It has a number of advantages because there can be no surprises sprung on someone who is handling both sides of the debate and the only way the non-invisible participants can lose is if they want to. It not only allows someone to put strawman arguments in the mouths of absent opponents, it allows them to make the entire opponent a strawman.No wonder it's become so popular.
One new practitioner of "Eastwooding" is Christian apologist William Lane Craig, who held what he described as a "dialogue" with a chair representing atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins at the Contending with Christianity's Critics Conference held at Watermark Community Church in Dallas on Sept. 29. A 42 minute video (which can be found at left) of the program was made available on Youtube Oct. 9 by Craig's website, reasonablefaith.org.
Using quotations drawn from a variety of Prof. Dawkins' writings, Dr. Craig used the technique of Eastwooding to deal with the invisible atheist's "attempted refutations of the cosmological, moral, teleological, and ontological arguments for God's existence." At times the argument apparently became heated.
"Now calm down..." Craig told the empty chair. "You don't have to shake my hand. You don't really even have to be on the same stage with me. That's one of the great things about Eastwooding."
William Lane Craig has challenged Richard Dawkins to debate many times and been refused many times. In a 2009 Youtube video, Prof. Dawkins offers an explanation of why he doesn't debate Creationists:
"Would you, if you were a geographer, agree to have a debate with a Flat-Earther? there comes a point when you have to say you are, by agreeing to appear on a platform with somebody like that, you're giving them status. If a real scientist appears on a platform; if, say, a reproductive scientist appeared on a platform with an advocate of the stork theory..."
Dawkins ended by quoting another scientist, Robert May, on what he says when a Creationist challenges him to debate:
"That would look great on your CV [Curriculum Vitae, IE: resume'] not so good on mine!"
The original article can be found here...
One of the commenters on the piece posted this which I think sums things up nicely..
"A mosquito had challenged a bull to a test of strength, and all the people came to see the sight. Then the little mosquito said: I'm satisfied just to have you meet me face to face. I’m your match on your own admission, and off he flew on his flimsy wings, laughing at the crowd and leaving the bull to his threats. If the bull had remembered the strength of his neck, he would have scorned so contemptible an opponent and would not have provided the occasion for so silly a boast."
~ Aesop (c. 620 BCE - 564 BCE).