WHEN ARGUING WITH CREATIONISTS (including those hiding behind the term Intelligent Design), there is no point in starting out with a discussion of the evidence. It will all be waved away, due to a psychological mechanism known as Morton’s demon.
The first thing that must be addressed is the Big Lie that the theory of evolution is a 150 year-old front for atheism, racism, liberalism, sexual perversion, socialism, communism, fascism, Stalin, Hitler, etc. Until the Big Lie is dealt with, no rational discourse is possible. Unfortunately, this may be where your debate bogs down, but that’s okay because it’s where the debate belongs.
The Big Lie is the principal source of all the confusion about evolution in the public’s mind. (The leading promoters of creationism and ID probably aren’t confused at all, but they know a good scam when they see it.) If your opponent can be persuaded that evolution isn’t an immense, generations-long scheme for promoting all the world’s evils, then the evidence can often be allowed to speak for itself. But while the creationist believes that he’s engaged in a grand battle of good against evil, there is no hope of any effective communication.
In most cases, because your debate opponent begins with the belief that you represent the forces of evil, he is morally compelled to dismiss your evidence.
Fossils? They’re either fakes or they’re caused by the Flood, and you’re deliberately misinterpreting them. DNA? That’s how the Designer does things. Besides, you weren’t there, so how do you know?
This is silly stuff, and serious debates can’t be conducted with such arguments.
There are instances of creationists who have cured themselves when confronted with irrefutable evidence, but experiences like this are rare. Here’s an example of the intellectual journey of a former creationist: The Geologic Column and its Implications for the Flood .
It should be noted that such transformations don’t occur as a result of debates. Rather, it takes both serious study and intellectual integrity, not very different from the efforts of those scientists who pioneered the fields of geology and evolution. So don’t expect any instant results from your debating activities. Your purpose should be to present information rebutting the Big Lie to those who are willing to think about it. It’s probably the best that can be done. The scientific evidence will always be there for those who are interested.
There are several good, solid rebuttals to the usual Big Lie allegations about a connection between evolution and atheism, communism, Hitler, and all the rest. Perhaps we’ll devote future articles to these. At this time we’ll just offer some general Big Lie rebuttals to get things rolling.
Argumentum ad Dawkins: Richard Dawkins is a prominent biologist who is also an outspoken atheist. So what? With professionals in all fields, like math, physics, or astronomy, some will be atheist, some not; some will be socialist, some not; etc. Evolution is no different. It’s a science, and individual scientists can be found on every side of topics where they are not experts, like religion, politics, and economics. But their science needs to be judged on its own merits, not on the personal opinions of individuals in fields outside of their specialty. Similarly, there are clergymen who have exhibited the most appalling personal behavior, but we don’t hold that against theology in general, or claim that religious faith must necessarily lead to such behavior.
There’s no there there: If evolution is nothing but a shabby cover story for wickedness, then surely the scientific value of the alternative theory should be busting out all over. But so-called creation science has produced nothing of value in medicine, agriculture, or any other field. Yes, we know — there have been scientists who were creationists. Of course. Before Darwin, just about everyone was a creationist. However, we’re speaking specifically of “creation science.” It’s a scientifically barren doctrine. Outside of the specifics of creationism, a creationist can do good science. We assume a creationist can also be a good architect, dentist, or musician too. But he can’t do anything of scientific value while using the principles of “creation science,” because that “science” produces nothing and never has.
Where are all the evil biologists? If evolution were the road to evil, one must wonder how Darwin himself somehow managed to lead such an exemplary life. And where are the headlines screaming: “Another Biology Teacher With 30 Bodies Buried in His Back Yard!” It’s certainly interesting that those who are the most involved with the theory of evolution are the least likely to justify the creationists’ fears.
Follow the money: Even if all biologists were in the clutches of evolution’s vile, atheist conspiracy, presumably bribed by their academic paychecks and research grants, there’s no reason for profit-seeking corporations to cripple themselves by sticking with a “fraud” like evolution — not when there’s an allegedly better theory around. The free enterprise system isn’t interested in ideology — only what works. Business executives and their shareholders are results-oriented, and if there’s a legal way to use knowledge to earn profits, they’ll do it. But somehow, despite the incentives to stay ahead of the competition, flood geologists aren’t recruited by the mining or oil industries, creation scientists aren’t hired as researchers for the biotech industry or pharmaceutical firms, and — this is trivial, but true — specialists in Noah’s Ark aren’t in demand by naval architects.
Isn’t it amazing that these industries, which are profit-oriented and thus non-ideological, which employ tens of thousands of scientists in the fields of biology, geology, etc., never specifically recruit creationists and don’t waste their time or their shareholders’ money doing “creation science”? Why don’t they offer big salaries to hire the leading ID scientists away from the Discovery Institute? Why don’t they make tempting offers to all the creationists who claim that universities discriminate against them? Why are they avoiding such a rich source of talent?
If there were any creationists who were actually doing creation “science” in any industry, or if there were any fruits to be derived from the “science” of creationism, the usual websites would be delighted to point it out. They routinely proclaim that evolution is dead, and creationism is the future, yet they are strangely silent about their failure to penetrate results-oriented industries.
Does the “Darwinist” conspiracy control not only academia, but also the hiring and research activities of major corporations? Oil companies too? If so, where are the gutsy little start-ups that have some hot new creationist development to sell? Why don’t venture capitalists bankroll such enterprises? If creation science is such hot stuff, why isn’t there a creationist version of Silicon Valley? Could it be that — gasp! — investments in creationism don’t offer anything of value?
We may deal with the rest of the Big Lie, regarding specific arguments about Hitler, Stalin, and the rest in later articles. The foregoing should be enough to get your debate opponent thinking. But as we said earlier, don’t expect any immediate results. These things take time.
Another Big Lie item is discussed here: Marx, Stalin, and Darwin.
Another is here: Atheism, Science, and Darwin.
Another here: Morality, Evolution, and Darwin.
Another here: Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin.
Another here: Creationism and Racism.
Another here: Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism.
See also: Creation Science in the Petroleum Industry.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.