Evolutionary biologist and atheist author Richard Dawkins has revealed in an interview why he doesn't debate people who believe in the Young Earth creation theory, stating that simply engaging them on a platform allows them to get what they want.
"When the debate is with someone like a Young Earth creationist, as the late Stephen Gould pointed out – they've won the moment you agree to have a debate at all. Because what they want is the oxygen of respectability," Dawkins told Seth Andrews of "The Thinking Atheist" in a recently-published interview about his latest book, An Appetite for Wonder.
"They want to be seen on a platform with a real scientist, because that conveys the idea that here is a genuine argument between scientists," Dawkins continued. "They may not win the argument – in fact, they will not win the argument, but it makes it look like there really is an argument to be had."
The biologist has often defended the theory of evolution in his work, going against creationism and any notion that a divine being might have been involved in the process. While Dawkins has participated in a number of public discussions with faith figures throughout his career, he has largely avoided getting into debates with creationists, or with people who believe the Earth is between 6,000 to 10,000 years old.
"Just as I wouldn't expect a gynecologist to have a debate with somebody who believes in the Stork-theory of reproduction, I won't do debates with Young Earth creationists," he said.
Americans have held contrasting views on human origins, with 46 percent of voters in a 2012 Gallup poll indicating that they believe God created humans in their present form sometime within the last 10,000 years. Another 32 percent said that humans evolved but with God guiding the process, and 15 percent said evolution occurred without any divine involvement.
Ken Ham of the Creation Museum in Kentucky has been especially vocal about defending creationism in the public sphere, and his Answers in Genesis organization put up large billboards in New York City and San Francisco earlier this month with a direct message to "atheist friends," which read: "Thank God You're Wrong."
"The atheists have been pretty aggressive in putting billboards up across the nation and some of the billboards have been very much focused on attacking Christianity," Ham told The Christian Post about the idea behind the billboards.
"Not just promoting their atheism, but attacking Christianity. And they put one in Times Square last Christmas that said 'Keep the Merry' with a picture of Santa Clause, 'and dump the myth' with a picture representing Christ."
Ham has been critical of a number of statements Dawkins has made throughout the years, including controversial comments where the atheist professor claimed that teaching children about hell could be seen as worse than child sexual abuse.
In his hour-long interview with Andrews, Dawkins addressed a number of other topics, including the documented rise of nonbelievers in America, arguing that U.S. politicians need to start paying more attention to secular people and realize that "they don't only need to suck up to the Catholic lobby and the Jewish lobby and Islam."
Dawkins' full interview with The Thinking Atheist can be seen on Youtube.