ICR Explains How Creationists Should Debate

This is about an article with information you can really use, dear reader. It’s at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. The title is How Can I Answer Attacks on the Bible?

It was written by one of ICR’s creation scientists, Brian Thomas, about whom we’re told: “Dr. Thomas is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Some contend that science proves the Bible wrong. [Gasp!] They may ask how the Bible’s supposedly good God could allow so much pain and evil in the world. And who hasn’t heard that science has proved humans evolved over eons? [Yeah, we’ve heard that.] Does a Bible believer need a bunch of college degrees to answer these claims? Education helps, but even non-expert Christians can use one basic tactic to address such attacks.

Wowie! Even an uneducated drooler can deal with those attacks. Brian says:

Any Christian can ask thoughtful questions of the challengers. It demonstrates humility, and “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). It shows interest and care for the questioner. [Skipping some more bible quotes about being nice.]

What kind of questions should you ask? That depends on what you know and what the critics say in their critique. When we don’t know much about a subject [Hee hee!], we can always ask questions about the words the questioner uses. [Brilliant tactic!] Ask “what do you mean by God,” “what do you mean by evil,” or “what do you mean by science?”

We shall henceforth refer to that as the “Drooler’s tactic.” After that great advice, Brian tells us:

This can open a new chat. For example, if they describe God as a cosmic tyrant, then you can ask what Bible verses showed them He is a bad God. [There are none of those.] You could ask “why would a bad God sacrifice His own Son for sinners like me?” If they describe science as evolution over millions of years [a definition we all use], then you might try asking what scientific experiments demonstrate either evolution or millions of years.

Yeah, what experiment demonstrates millions of years? Brian continues:

The more you know, the more precise the questions you can ask. For example, I have learned that many who accuse God of evil have no logical support for a belief in right and wrong. [Groan!] Those who believe the whole world is made of nothing but atoms think of themselves as walking, talking bags of chemicals. [Right, and creationists are walking, talking sacks of … never mind.] Those who think like this have a hard time trying to explain how atoms can be good or bad.

How would you like to get into a debate with someone like Brian — or any creationist? Try not to think about it. Let’s read on:

Finally, I wouldn’t expect this question tactic to work well online — at least not past the first question. People don’t always act as civilized when facing a screen as when facing a face.

He’s right. We can ban an idiot and delete his comments, but that can’t be done in person. That’s why we always say Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism.

After skipping a bit, we come to the end:

Give your heart to Jesus, then go talk to folks. Ask them about their beliefs. If they challenge the Bible, you can always ask them what they mean or what led them to that conclusion. Your question may become their turning point.

A question like that should be your turning point, dear reader. You should turn around and get outta there!

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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36 responses to “ICR Explains How Creationists Should Debate

  1. After Mr. Egnorance’ convoluted mess it’s a delight to read Brawny Brian’s straightforward stupidities.

    “Ask “what do you mean by God,”
    Pssst – you as a creationist needs to tell me, unbeliever, what you do mean by god. My answer will be: a meaningless concept, unlike for instance the unicorn, which at least has some meaning. And I’m d**n sure you’re not going to accept it.

    “How would you like to get into a debate with someone like Brian — or any creationist? Try not to think about it.”
    I love it – but that’s because I do so on my own conditions, not on creationist ones. The last one, that JW at my door, didn’t know how quick he should leave.

    “Your question may become their turning point.”
    See above – my reactions for a few decades have made creationists turn around and got outta here. But hey, Brawny Brian is welcome to cross the big pond first and the small one next and try me face to face. Assuming that I’ve some time to waste and we’ll see who has the biggest stamina.

  2. “Any Christian can ask thoughtful questions of the challengers.”

    Thoughtful, I am not sure, at least for creationists. But I bet that the trick is to never bother about the answers. Just ask, and ask, and gallop like a Gish…

  3. Michael Fugate

    Like asking someone with a MAGA hat: what do you mean by great? when was the US great? Is the US not great now?

  4. chris schilling

    Brian’s advice to budding debaters is creationist gold: “… we can always ask questions about the words the questioner uses.”

    Is this why the sort of professional debates you see online with apologists quickly devolve into semantic masturbation? The more obfuscationist among them — such as Sye Ten Bruggencate — must have studied with Brian the Master.

    “Does a Bible believer need a bunch of college degrees to answer these claims?”

    Not for JW’s. The ones I’ve met seem to regard tertiary education as satanic. As FrankB can probably attest, JW’S are willing to flail around — up to a point — with nothing but Bible quotes as a lifejacket, in the hopes of maybe a quickie miracle, like converting a crusty godless Dutchman or Antipodean on his very doorstep.

    We keep telling them: “Miracles don’t happen.”

  5. Desnes Diev, you have it. Creationist debating rule #1: “Never listen”.

    I’m absolutely sure that Thomas has received cogent, responsive, reasonable and intellectually satisfactory answers to all his “thoughtful questions”. I’m equally certain that he has never heard or read them.

    FrankB, good catch. The person making the claim is the one who must define it. If you say there is a God or gods, it is for you to say what you mean by “God”. In this case demonstration appears to be intrinsically impossible; but at least you must be able to state the claim. Attempting to displace that burden to the other is simply dishonest.

    The rest of Thomas’s questions are simple enough. What Bible verses demonstrate that this is an evil God? How about any that refer to eternal punishment by fiery torment? In the rubric itself, Luke 16:24-5 for example. Is that not cruel? Is cruelty not evil? Is infinite cruelty not infinitely evil?

    But of course to answer at all is allowing Thomas to beg the question. To assume that scripture declares the nature of God, is to assume God in the first place. A better answer is, “I don’t recognise scriptural authority. Ask me what I observe in nature that inclines me to the belief that IF there were a God or gods, He or they in sum are either evil or at best indifferent.”

    How do I know what evil is? How do I know that cruelty is evil? I know Thomas’s answer to that question, (and it immediately scotches any attempt on his part to argue that we don’t know what evil is) but what is my own? I answer that I am a social animal. What affects other people affects me. What improves their chances of life and happiness improves mine, pretty generally, but with exceptions. It should hardly be surprising that pretty generally, but with exceptions, human societies form a consensus on what is good and evil, and they communicate that consensus to their members, of which I am one.

    What scientific experiments demonstrate evolution? How about Richard Lenski’s series of experiments demonstrating change in allele by random natural acquisition of favourable new characters in e coli, and their consequent selection and rapid take-up?

    Deep time? Survey work does that. The movement of the continents has been measured. Not inferred. Measured. So has the uplift and erosion of mountains, the accumulation of seabed sediment, and of river deltas, the rates of subduction and faulting of strata. Evidence for deep time is everywhere the observer of nature cares to look, as the first generation of systematic geologists realised, and were impelled by their intellectual honesty to accept.

    I suppose it is evidence of my own state of mind that I am actually most interested in Thomas’s supposedly devastating, “Why would a bad God sacrifice His own Son for sinners like me?” The obvious answer is, “Why would a God need to?” What, God can’t forgive sin without the bloody, agonised sacrifice of an innocent? Can’t? What else can’t He do? Is there some rule that He has to obey, whether He likes it or not? But… but… He’s God, isn’t He?

    Or is it that He won’t forgive, without such a sacrifice? What does that say about God, again? Not that He’s loving, or even just, unless your sense of justice is catastrophically warped. Like His, if He’s like that. And you want me to worship this God? What are you, amoral? Crazy?

    In Thomas’s case, I don’t know either of those. On the evidence of his writing, I can make a case for his ignorance, lack of awareness, illogic, and for a kind of intellectual blindness, an inability to follow the implications of his beliefs. But those may be just as bad in the upshot as amorality and insanity.

  6. ”Those who think like this have a hard time trying to explain how atoms can be good or bad.”

    Easy. Dark matter is evil, does dirty tricks while evading any logical explanations whereas light (regular) matter we can see, we’re made of it, and thus it’s good. Also creationists appear to be composed only of dark matter that again defies any explanation.

  7. FrankB wanders on to the slippery slope of blasphemy when he belittles

    the unicorn, which at least has some meaning

    Heretic! Ever since the internet publication of Dr. Braterman’s eyewitness account, we are obliged to acknowledge that the Unicorn (blessed be!) has all meaning!

    Unlike, say, the Cosmic Aardvark, which is an utterly false god sent to ensnare us in even deeper sin…

  8. How atoms are good or bad.
    That is a excellent example of the fallacies of composition/division.

  9. A great day for DaveL, a fine one for me but less so for Mega and PaulB:

  10. Megalonyx dares to say that the Cosmic Aardvark “is an utterly false god.”

    There may be a brief window of time in which you can repent your heretical claim, but when that window closes, your doom is sealed. Also, in the spirit of ICR’s excellent article, I ask: What do you mean when you say “utterly false”? Without faith in the Aardvark, truth and falsity have no meaning.

  11. @ our Curmudgeon: The unassailable debating tactics of the ICR have indeed convinced me that there is indeed a God–but they have given me no clear guidance as to which God.

    And there are so many from which to choose! I had been a devout worshipper of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but repented of that with the miraculous revelation of Braterman’s Unicorn (blessed be!)

    As for your Cosmic Aardvark, t’is nought but a walking, talking sack of chimericals…

  12. @ FrankB: You failed to note it’s an even greater day for Messers Putin, Trump, Salvini, &c.

    The UK remains more divided than ever: Celebrations and commiserations. Note the persistence, from one reveller, of the “£350 million per week” Big Lie, despite repeated debunking ever since that falsehood first appeared on Boris Johnson’s campaign bus 3.5 years ago.

    The June morning of the 2016 referendum result was celebrated here with a scaled-down re-enactment of Kristallnacht as revelling and freshly-empowered Leavers showered the windows of Polish delicatessens with bricks. But–so far–we seem to have been spared an encore of that performance. Perhaps because all the Leavers are too hung over this morning? Or perhaps because of the steady exodus from these shore since that time, there are significantly fewer targets for our Union Jack(booted) revellers?

  13. Megalonyx, your new gravitar (i.e. image) looks like the artwork that would adorn a proctologist’s office.

  14. Brain probably has not considered that with his “bag of atoms” the bag is made of atoms, too!

    Like the first time I had a taco salad in a deep fried flour tortilla bowl. “You mean you can EAT THE BOWL, too??” It was a religious experience.

  15. Summarizing Brian’s primary debating tactic would sound something like this.
    Ask nonsensical questions that demonstrate ones willful ignorance and non existent understanding of even the most basic of science concepts. A winning strategy indeed that its sure to lead one to the right answer every time.

  16. A fresh spiritual revelation, this time from docbill1351:

    It was a religious experience.

    Jeepers! In addition to my worship of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Braterman’s Unicorn, and the Cosmic Aardvark, you mean my ultimate salvation now requires a Quest for The Taco Grail?

    ….This religious righteousness is turning into a full-time occupation!

  17. @ Our Curmudgeon: I hate to think what your perverted imagination spews forth doing a Rorschach test….

  18. …Wish I had posted that last comment. It prompted Olivia to try and tell me something of what spews forth from your perverted imagination.

    TMI, Olivia!!!!

  19. Er, wish I had not posted that penultimate comment. And wish I knew how to console Olivia as she relives her painful memories.

  20. Karl Goldsmith

    See, genocide is perfeclty moral. It’s why they find destroying their childrens own education so easy, no one with morals would lie to their own children that much.

  21. I wish someone would tell me how gods are being good in killing, taking property, infinite torture, etc. but they would never say something misleading.

  22. Michael Fugate

    My current favorite from conservative Christians is that one must submit to their authority to be free. “True” liberty is when one only does what the most conservative of conservative Christian preachers tells one to do. God forbid one would ever think for one’s self.

  23. John le Carré on Brexit: ‘It’s breaking my heart’
    In The Guardian today:
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/01/john-le-carre-breaking-heart-brexit
    “One day somebody will explain to me why it is that, at a time when science has never been wiser, or the truth more stark, or human knowledge more available, populists and liars are in such pressing demand.”

  24. @MichaelF has preferences almost as weird as mine: “My current favorite from conservative Christians is that one must submit to their authority to be free.”
    Reminds me of Bertrand Russell’s remark on Hegel: liberty means the right to obey the state. A more radical version is “Arbeit macht frei”.

    @TomS: I beg to disagree with Le Carré. His Spy who came in from the Cold ultimately paints how depressing the Cold War was. That book alone makes him qualify for a price like the Olaf Palme one, who tried to do something about it. In our dear SC’s terminology he of course was a dangerous, evil socialist and hence worse than an IDiot. I’m sure he hasn’t clicked your link to the Guardian yet (our dear SC reading a dangerous, evil, socialist newspaper? Perish the thought!) or he would have recognized something on one of the photo’s: “artwork that would adorn a proctologist’s office” aka the flag of the European Union. Whether his comment displays some more of his ignorance or is uncharacteristically offensive (I mean, such bad jokes usually are my specialty) is not clear to me yet. In the latter case he has failed afaIc, because I think patriottism like so popular in the USA utterly silly. Call the Dutch Red-White-Blue a rag, the Wilhelmus cat yelping and I’ll just smile.

    Btw just a few years after the end of the Cold War I started to feel betrayed too. Not by conservatives and other right wingers, mind you, I never expected much from them. No, I gradually felt more and more betrayed by leftist leaders, culminating in someone like Jeremy Corbyn. I totally subscribe Le Carré’s criticism (though the accusations of his antisemitism very well might be another example of fake news). “Where was the Great Vision?” The Dutch left hadn’t any; neither could I find it in other European leftist parties. I waited several years, because I thought developing it would need time – but I waited in vain.
    As a result I definitely became disappointed in even my own party (Green Left) about seven years ago (look up Tofik Dibi). I haven’t voted for it since then and very likely won’t next year.
    This is why I take DaveL’s accusation of being an extremist as a compliment. According to the political standards of today I am, without my views having changed much. It’s the kind of extremism Olaf Palme stood for.

  25. Rorschach tests? Those things are pure porn!

  26. Michael Fugate

    One theologian last week claimed that perfect liberty was obtained by following the Ten Commandments. Liberty for whom? Not women, not slaves. Not children. It is so narcissistic.

    FrankB, in the US, it has become so extreme that a center-right democrat like Obama is painted a socialist. Obama squandered opportunities to make real change – like a working health care system, like middle class jobs, housing, education. Yes I feel betrayed; his and his party’s ineptitude lead to our current idiocy. We are losing civil rights and environmental protections every day.

  27. SC:
    “Rorschach tests? Those things are pure porn!”

    So that’s how Trump gets off! Now we know what will fill his future presidential library.

  28. Dave Luckett

    I protest, FrankB. I didn’t call you an extremist. I didn’t call anyone here one. I said that you are stoking extremism – and I meant, extremist nationalism, and I have no doubt that it is genuinely inadvertent.

  29. @ David Luckett: This is a genuine invitation for a constructive suggestion. Your words, from a previous thread:

    For your own sake, for the sake of the cause you advocate, understand that ranting about the newspapers or their readers only makes you look bad. Many actually want to be British people living in a British community, with neighbours they can communicate with in English, who share their values and behaviours and customs. Calling those people racists and fascists only ensures that you won’t be listened to. ….[snip]… I dislike extremism as much as you do, and all the effect you are really having is to stoke it.

    Here’s a shining example of these folks, now freed from the ghastly tyranny of the EU sharing their ‘values and behaviours’ with their neighbours: Police called in after poster tells residents of flats to speak English

    One could suggest that the extremism on display here has been stoked by those (I name no names) who have promulgated some of the Big Lies of the Leave campaign—but let’s put that to one side.

    Instead: you are right, I am no more able to constructively engage with the folks described in this article than I am able to persuade Creationists of their folly.

    But you, with your emotive empathy for these Brexiteers, do tell me: what do we say to such folks?

  30. And just to clarify: I do not say that all Brexiteers are xenophobes and racists. But I do say that the vast preponderance of xenophobes and racists are indeed Brexiteers. Moreover, the Leave campaign, which originated with UKIP, chiefly succeeded because of its blatant lies about immigration.

    Here’s a shining example: Vote Leave embroiled in race row over Turkey security threat claims . This was one of the Big Lies that helped put Brexit over the line.

    And as for the facts and data about immigration here? Here’s a handful:

    * Annual net immigration from the EU has always been less than 50% of the total, the larger portion being made up of immigrants from non-EU countries (and largely British Commonwealth). Control/restrictions on non-EU immigration has always been subject to UK government rules, absolutely nothing to do with the EU. And that doesn’t change with Brexit.

    * EU immigrants are largely young and single, and collectively make a significant net contribution to the economy (they pay full National Insurance contributions but use far less of its services than native Brits–particularly, elderly Brits). But, post-Brexit, the numbers of EU-immigrants is indeed falling, while non-EU increasing (that’s the Invisible Hand of the Market at work, btw).

    * UK employment is currently at record high; immigrants are not stealing jobs.

    &c &c But facts don’t matter in this topic. I suppose that even attempting to offer up data is ‘stoking extremism’, whereas your emotive and fact-free claims are not?

  31. FrankB notes

    I gradually felt more and more betrayed by leftist leaders, culminating in someone like Jeremy Corbyn. I totally subscribe Le Carré’s criticism (though the accusations of his antisemitism very well might be another example of fake news).

    Whether or not Corbyn is an anti-Semite is indeterminate, in my view. But what I think is pretty clear that, at best, he is woefully incapable of recognising anti-Semitism on the Left (and let’s not forget how virulently anti-Semitic the Soviet Union could be) and utterly failed to address it. Either way, he was unfit for the keys to Number 10 and for me that was an absolute deal-breaker. Not that BoJo is any better–if anything, clearly worse–but I didn’t vote for him, either.

  32. Dave Luckett

    Megalonyx, I decline without regret. When I wrote that I have said all I am going to say here on this subject, I meant it. I quote from SC’s Terms: “Please avoid thread drift: Off-topic comments that add nothing to the subject under discussion, or that threaten to divert or hijack the discussion, may be edited or deleted.”

  33. To bring it back to the subject at hand:
    Isaiah 45:7
    “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

  34. Is that Trump’s latest tweet? 🙂

  35. @KeithB
    That verse is more interesting in the King James Version.

  36. From Megalonyx’ link to the Grauniad, above: “We are now our own country again and the the [sic] Queens [sic] English is the spoken tongue here.” But not, it seems, the written one.