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Debating creationist - evolution and genetics


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I've had many debates with many Creationists (yay Bible belt) and the vast majority are pretty useless, but there have been a few that I actually had them thinking critically about the creation/evolution 'debate'. It's sort of like winning a lottery, it's pretty unlikely but sometimes you just have to show them ways to analyse their ideas in ways they may have never attempted. On the other hand, I gave up actually getting somewhere with Creationists a long time ago. I mainly use the arguments I do have with them (especially during the wonderful family times during the holidays) to help my own critical thinking skills, communication skills, and hope someone who may be listening may think about the conversion critically. Just like on the forums, you don't necessarily write a response to cranks to get the cranks to admit they are wrong, but to show someone that isn't familiar with the ideas that those ideas are bunk.

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If an all powerful God controls Satan then he is an accomplice, and if he doesn't he isn't all powerful.

The source of this quote attributed this quote to Frederich Nietzche, but I could not confirm its source.

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When you debate with creationists (much like when you debate with climate change deniers or anti-vaccers or GMO opponents, etc.) you might be convincing OTHER readers or listeners who are just watching from the sidelines. They could be swayed by your position and you would never know it because the only one responding is the steadfast faithful creationist. Keep that in mind.

 

Likewise, debate and discussion of this nature is often like gardening or farming. You never know what seeds you've planted in their mind, nor how they will grow or when they might offer fruit. Sure, you might not see a change in their behavior that week in the thread... but make 9 months from now walking through the grocery store they will realize something they've believed was mistaken and they could correct it.

 

We won't always show outwardly (especially through text) that our thinking has changed. Despite that, however, quite often our minds are irrevocably shaken by a quality argument or counterpoint from someone, and it stays with us... becomes a part of us.

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I must say, creationism isn't entirely based on the sole idea that genetics is wrong, consider the big bang. Also, creationists aren't all against genetics. As a Christian, it's my favorite area of science...

yes, but being a christian doesn't necessarily mean your are a creationist, many Christians are not creationists and many creationists are not christian...

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yes, but being a christian doesn't necessarily mean your are a creationist, many Christians are not creationists and many creationists are not christian...

I didn't just point out being a Christian, it was just to prove the point that creationists don't necessarily have anything against genetics.

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or GMO opponents, etc
This is shameful. You know better.

 

you might be convincing OTHER readers or listeners who are just watching from the sidelines. They could be swayed by your position and you would never know it because the only one responding is the steadfast faithful creationist. Keep that in mind.
That will not happen when, say, your posts are simply deleted by the posters you are responding to.

 

So arguing with people who have and use that kind of capability will merely give them opportunities for repetition, without the side benefits - that's what happens on creationist websites, to solid Darwinian arguments. That's what happens in mainstream media, to various aspects of issues. So choose your debate forums with care, if instructing bystanders is your hope.

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yes, but being a christian doesn't necessarily mean your are a creationist, many Christians are not creationists and many creationists are not christian...

 

I think creationist can be a misunderstood term. Generally it's used (I believe) in the sense of miraculous creation and usually in reference to the appearance of life, e.g. young earth creation (a miraculous and literal 6 day creation) but there are also old earth creationists who believe in miraculous intervention at various points over a long period (meaning the earth is old but the initial appearance of life and possibly some or all evolutionary steps were miraculous.)

 

I must say, creationism isn't entirely based on the sole idea that genetics is wrong, consider the big bang. Also, creationists aren't all against genetics. As a Christian, it's my favorite area of science...

My understanding of the terms is that one can still believe in a creator and a level of creation without being a creationist. E.g. One could believe that nature was created or authored by a creator, but the appearance of life and the development of the universe are all natural processes occuring within and according to that nature.

Perhaps this is your position since you mention the big bang. I'm not sure there is a good name for the position, theistic evolutionist perhaps although it probably covers deism as well.

Edited by pears
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I didn't just point out being a Christian, it was just to prove the point that creationists don't necessarily have anything against genetics.

 

To quote Professor Jody Hey: "Very little in evolution make sense except in the light of genetics"

 

The problem is that the fields of evolutionary biology and genetics are fundamentally entwined, such that not much of one makes sense without the other. I doubt whether anyone could claim to be both a strict, "6,000 year earth, no species has ever evolved, no genetic material is ever added" type creationist and have a particularly sound understanding of genetics.

 

As such, it requires some apologetics just to work around the basics, such as the "macro - micro" arbitrary split - most of which require some level of deviation from strict logic to rationalize the two positions. Despite this, it is extremely difficult to find a practicing geneticist who openly rejects evolutionary theory. Most famous Christian biologists - like Francis Collins, Theodosius Dobzhansky (Who wrote the famous "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" essay) etc. accept evolutionary theory in its entirely and have written books documenting how they rationalize their beliefs with evolution.

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That will not happen when, say, your posts are simply deleted by the posters you are responding to.

 

So arguing with people who have and use that kind of capability will merely give them opportunities for repetition, without the side benefits - that's what happens on creationist websites, to solid Darwinian arguments. That's what happens in mainstream media, to various aspects of issues. So choose your debate forums with care, if instructing bystanders is your hope.

This is certainly a good point, but I would counter it by reminding you that some small population of people will, in fact, see your post (in most instances, anyway) before it ever gets moved or deleted. Those people might be impacted in the way I mention above, so it might not be a total loss. I agree fully with you, however, that the platform matters, as does the manner in which it is moderated or controlled.
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I think creationist can be a misunderstood term. Generally it's used (I believe) in the sense of miraculous creation and usually in reference to the appearance of life, e.g. young earth creation (a miraculous and literal 6 day creation) but there are also old earth creationists who believe in miraculous intervention at various points over a long period (meaning the earth is old but the initial appearance of life and possibly some or all evolutionary steps were miraculous.)

Yes, but all of the available evidence simply points to physics, not magic...

 

My understanding of the terms is that one can still believe in a creator and a level of creation without being a creationist. E.g. One could believe that nature was created or authored by a creator, but the appearance of life and the development of the universe are all natural processes occuring within and according to that nature.

Perhaps this is your position since you mention the big bang. I'm not sure there is a good name for the position, theistic evolutionist perhaps although it probably covers deism as well.

Again all the evidence points to physics not magic...

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Yes, but all of the available evidence simply points to physics, not magic...

 

 

Again all the evidence points to physics not magic...

 

Your opinion is irrelevant to my point. I'm not stating that a creator exists but that people who believe in both a natural universe and a creator exist. I was actually agreeing with you. And yet you try to argue with me. Amazing.

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Your opinion is irrelevant to my point. I'm not stating that a creator exists but that people who believe in both a natural universe and a creator exist. I was actually agreeing with you. And yet you try to argue with me. Amazing.

It wasn't an opinion, you seemed to be defending willful ignorance, I do not give any quarter when someone proposes magic as an explanation, show me the evidence is what i assert, simply making excuses for magical thinking only compounds the problem. But i do agree that people who believe in both exist but it doesn't make it a viable alternative...

 

of course this comes from someone who carries a clear blood red crystal around as a good luck charm wacko.png

 

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Moontanman, I believe you have misread Pears position, almost totally. He was explaining the fact that there are a range of beliefs to which the term creationist, or creationism can be applied. These vary between those, like some Christian fundamentalists, who believe the world was created about 6,000 years ago to those who think the universe was created by a deity then left to evolve to its present condition. If his own view of these matters was implicit in any way, then he came across as not a creationist, in any sense. I believe we have built up a sufficiently friendly and mutually respectful relationship through prior interactions for me to ask you to reconsider your comments and possibly offer Pears an apology.

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Moontanman, I believe you have misread Pears position, almost totally. He was explaining the fact that there are a range of beliefs to which the term creationist, or creationism can be applied. These vary between those, like some Christian fundamentalists, who believe the world was created about 6,000 years ago to those who think the universe was created by a deity then left to evolve to its present condition. If his own view of these matters was implicit in any way, then he came across as not a creationist, in any sense. I believe we have built up a sufficiently friendly and mutually respectful relationship through prior interactions for me to ask you to reconsider your comments and possibly offer Pears an apology.

 

Ok, I honestly meant no offense and looking back I did misinterpret her post and i do honestly apologize.

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Moon

 

I have noticed a rather large difference of reaction regarding creationism, and religion in general, between atheists in Europe and your side of the pond. I appreciate that you get hammered by religious stuff much more than we do, hence our more mellow general attitude to it. Even in the face of outright dogmatism we should not turn into that which we disapprove of - ironically. smile.png

Edited by StringJunky
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Moon

 

I have noticed a rather large difference of reaction regarding creationism, and religion in general, between atheists in Europe and your side of the pond. I appreciate that you get hammered by religious stuff much more than we do, hence our more mellow general attitude to it. Even in the face of outright dogmatism we should not turn into that which we disapprove of - ironically. smile.png

 

 

You are correct, I get religion shoved at me at every turn and if i don't at least go along I get quite a bit of reprimand for it. To get along I have to at least pretend to believe, but I live in the bible belt, it might be different up north...

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More than having "religion shoved" at us, I think many of us see a broader deleterious effect on our larger society and culture, the way people think, and the obstacles such thinking imposes on our progress. In this age of information, ignorance is a choice, but unfortunately all too many seem to make that choice. IMO, it must be fought against vocally and consistently in much the same way we fight against the ignorance of racism or homophobia or sexism.

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More than having "religion shoved" at us, I think many of us see a broader deleterious effect on our larger society and culture, the way people think, and the obstacles such thinking imposes on our progress. In this age of information, ignorance is a choice, but unfortunately all too many seem to make that choice. IMO, it must be fought against vocally and consistently in much the same way we fight against the ignorance of racism or homophobia or sexism.

I find the "debate" to be particularly disturbing on facebook. I have more or less 500 friends but most of them repeat mindless religious claims and posts, maybe 6 out of the whole group react in a positive way to my posts about science, humanism and atheism. It's disturbing that so many of the people i grew up with are so strongly religious...

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Thank you Ophiolite and Moontanman. I appreciate it.

My pleasure. And I apologise for referring to you as he. I pay little heed to avatars and should have checked your profile instead of running with statistical probabilities. :)

Moon

 

I have noticed a rather large difference of reaction regarding creationism, and religion in general, between atheists in Europe and your side of the pond. I appreciate that you get hammered by religious stuff much more than we do, hence our more mellow general attitude to it. Even in the face of outright dogmatism we should not turn into that which we disapprove of - ironically. smile.png

Interesting point. A friend who is a committed Christian tells me that less than 5% of the UK population are regular church attendees. The number of nominal Christians is certainly higher, but few of these are serious believers. I find myself surprised when I meet a Christian who is religious. In such a setting ones attitude to the religious becomes almost one of protecting an endangered species, rather than combating a perceived danger.

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My pleasure. And I apologise for referring to you as he. I pay little heed to avatars and should have checked your profile instead of running with statistical probabilities. smile.png

 

That's alright. It's happened before. It'll happen again :P

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