So far, he hasn't been able to
The President of the British Humanist Association has pulled out of debating renowned Christian philosopher William Lane Craig. Polly Toynbee, Guardian columnist and prominent critic of religion, readily agreed in April to debate Craig on the Existence of God but withdrew her involvement last week saying "I hadn't realised the nature of Mr Lane Craig's debating style, and having now looked at his previous performances, this is not my kind of forum".What could possibly have convinced her that this was a set-up—one where Craig has no intention of actually addressing the issue? Well, the data are readily available, even on YouTube.
I'm going to show you a YouTube video made by Craig's supporters. It's a clip from his debate with Christopher Hitchens at Biola University in 2009. Ignore the text comments—they're simply an extreme version of the debating technique that Craig employs.
Note that Christopher Hitchens does a perfectly fine job of defining his version of atheism—it happens to be the same as mine. Hitchens has not found any convincing evidence that gods exist so he doesn't believe in them. He also doesn't believe in Santa Claus for the same reason, he's an a-santaclausian. Watch how Craig then present Hitchens with a false trichotomy. He demands that Hitchens choose between three beliefs, none of which correspond to what Hitchens has just described. Finally, Craig gets Hitchens to say that there are no gods. Then he pounces, demanding to know how Hitchens can prove a negative.
This quickly morphs into a discussion of whether absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Hitchens, to his credit, does not view that as an open and shut proposition since, as we all know, absence of evidence is, indeed, part of the reason for not believing in gods. But to a slick apologist like Craig, that can be a devestating admission.
The point is that William Lane Craig is a typical Christian apologist who would prefer to focus on rhetoric than on truth. Most atheists will find this method of debate frustrating and aggravating. They have to be constantly on their guard against a "gotcha" moment, knowing that Craig will pounce whenever he gets a chance.
Here's another example of the style of argument used by Craig. You can see the trick. He simply refuses to accept the analogy being made and prefers to twist it around to make his point. Listen to what he says about "evidence" that there is no Santa and that there's no teapot. Don't we have the same kind of "evidence" for the non-existence of gods? Of course we do, but it's not "evidence" of nonexistence of Santa and teapots—it's simply evidence that particular claims about Santa and teapots have not been proven. Lots of claims about gods fall into that category as well.
Who wants to spend half an hour debating the meaning of atheism or whether we can prove the non-existence of teapots in space? The real issue is whether gods—or in Craig's case the Christian gods—actually exist?
Here's another example of Craig's style of argument. Who in their right mind wants to engage in this sort of debate?