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I have been talking to an old friend of mine who is working on her PHD, , I would say she is a rather intelligent person, reasonably down to earth with no obvious crazy showing through.

 

This particular conversation started with the Ken Ham Bill Nye debate, she watched it live and i was surprised she had an interest in the debate. She was sure Ken Ham won the debate and I of course was sure Bill Nye gave the best account of the night.

 

I asked her why she thought Bill had lost and he answer took me by surprise, she is a creationist and is sure anyone who accepts evolution is being fooled. She said evolution is a lie and made up by scientists

 

I pointed out that evolution is the the best explanation for biodiversity and it is extremely well supported by evidence. She started quoting the usual creationist prattle about the pigs tooth and piltdown man and so forth. I was trying to handle this with kid gloves because she is a friend and i didn't want to come across as insulting.

 

She told me that evolution is a lie made up by the devil and that fossils are all fake yada yada yada but the most stunning thing she said is that scientists meet every few years to make up new lies to support evolution. What is being taught in churches? If fundamentalism can entrap the mind of an intelligent adult what effects is it having on children?

 

When I pointed out that to accept evolution is not the same as atheism she was adamant that science is atheistic and that no Christian could possibly accept evolution and that science is a conspiracy. Now remember this is coming from one who is close to getting a PHD.

 

I tried my best to assure her that evolution and atheism are different things and that many if not most Christians accept evolution as the best explanation of biodiversity. I asked her if the story of Noah's ark was true and she unequivocally said yes it was, that every word in the bible was true and accurate.

 

I pointed out genetics and how it supports evolution but she stuck with the scientific conspiracy idea and quoted that evolution was just a theory. when I pointed out what a theory was in science she dismissed my explanation completely claiming there were no fossils, they were made up or faked.

 

I was stunned, this woman is very intelligent, to talk to her you would never guess she would believe this stuff, Ken Ham is one of her heroes.

 

I finally asked what field she was working on her PHD in and she said... Christian counseling... my mind was blown, no amount of talk could convince her there was any evidence supporting evolution and that things like Noah's ark were real.

 

Our society is in trouble if this is spreading and i think it is spreading through people like Ken Ham and others.

 

How do you deal with people like this? She will have a PHD and will be in a very influential position at some point, her personality is very personable and i have no doubt she will be a very convincing Christian councilor.

 

she was convinced that if i just opened my heart to Jesus that i would see the light and is organizing a prayer chain for me. How can intelligent people be fooled so easily?

 

This is very disturbing to me, how can such people be countered?

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When I was a grad student, I was TA'ing introductory evolution and I had a student who was a theology major and a creationist. She told me that she was taking the evolution class to better understand

You claim to be an intelligent man but you don't even give a straight answer, you leave us flooded with evidence with no result. Your evidence that creationism is stupid is from a stereotype, you have

Hi TAR   I'm no Moontanman, but I must reply here. A long time ago and close close nearby I was studying geology as an adjunct to other coursework. While not required, I took some additional classe

Mootanman, you have my very genuine sympathy. Humans should not be subjected to that kind of mental torture. The fact she is unaware of what she is doing is no excuse. I felt your pain in witnessing this display of ignorance, worse - stupidity, in someone you consider a friend.

 

It is interesting that you approached the discussion cautiously out of respect for her feelings. She had no such compunction and gave it two you with both barrels. Which one has the more "Christian" approach.

 

I'm trying to find other ways of expressing my thoughts on this, but I find myself just emitting a string of swear words and frankly making myself ill at the thought of such gross affront to the proper use of human intellect.

 

And this from a species that has placed men on the moon and has a dozen or more probes spread around the solar system, barely a century after we first flew. Words fail me.

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I am a Christian and I am a geneticist with a phd. I also fully accept evolution, but come from a creationist background where I was a young earth creationist up until probably the age of 17.

 

I honestly don't think Creationism is spreading. Perhaps it is more vocal, as all views have been made more vocal with modern communications, but we should not confuse the vocality of it with its acceptance. I increasingly meet young Christians who are open or accepting of Evolution in part or in whole. More so than I did ten years ago. I increasingly find people in positions of leadership within Churches who are accepting of such views and encouraging of it.

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Never join a group whose symbol is a guy nailed to a piece of wood. ~ George Carlin

 

There is no convincing a true believer, but here's a site dedicated to the proposition that it never hurts -too much- to try. Keep in mind it's fear they want to evoke in you/us. One person with courage is a majority ~ T. Jefferson

 

 

An Index to Creationist Claims >> http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/

 

Creationist claims are numerous and varied, so it is often difficult to track down information on any given claim. Plus, creationists constantly come up with new claims which need addressing. This site attempts, as much as possible, to make it easy to find rebuttals and references from the scientific community to any and all of the various creationist claims. It is updated frequently; see the What's New page for the latest changes.

 

Since most creationism is folklore, the claims are organized in an outline format following that of Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. Sections CA through CG deal with claims against conventional science, and sections CH through CJ contain claims about creationism itself.

...

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There usually isn't a way to deal with this kind of believer. Sadly the human mind is wonderful at having a belief and being able to rationalize everything. If you have tried to convince them and they refuse to have an open and honest discussion you have two options:

1.) leave the conversation with both of you being amazed at how wrong the other one is

2.) accept that you are going to make them extremely angry and let loose.

 

I grew up in a Creationist area with a Creationist family and when I was younger I happily went with 2 more often than not. Now I only do this if there are others around who may be able to look critically at their own beliefs. An example was when my uncle was telling me how I was going to hell for not accepting every word of the Bible as literally true and accepting evolution. Since his daughters were there (and I was young and annoyed) I asked how much he was going to charge for his daughters if they got raped (note that this is a horrible way to go about it). I didn't talk to him for a couple of years, but one of my cousins now has a happy interest in all things science. I doubt I caused it, but I like to think I helped sow a small seed of critical thought.

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The United States.

 

I'm curious since I grew up with Creationism as well, what was it that made you realize the arguments against evolution were weak? I think something like that may help with Moontanman's question about how to deal with those discussions and add a better alternative than the two I gave .

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I'm curious since I grew up with Creationism as well, what was it that made you realize the arguments against evolution were weak? I think something like that may help with Moontanman's question about how to deal with those discussions and add a better alternative than the two I gave .

 

Patient professors.

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The problem is that you both have different starting assumptions and are then arguing from the facts of each which don't have any relevance to the other's position. Arguing makes little sense in such a case, you're not even talking about the same thing.

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In order to change someone's ideas you have to start from something which is mutually agreeable then work from there. Another thing is, conversion to one's position by the other will never occur at the time of discussion so being overly assertive is a waste of time. Deliver your position in a calm dispassionate manner in the hope that they will ruminate and absorb it later when they are in a state of solitary reflection. You have to present things in such a way that makes them feel that it is their realisation and not yours ...nobody likes to be told what to think.

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The United States.

Thanks for that information. I asked because, among the western countries, the US seems to be the one where the more extreme forms of creationism have the most purchase. Your experiences, while anecdotal, do at least offer some measure of encouragement.

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Thanks for that information. I asked because, among the western countries, the US seems to be the one where the more extreme forms of creationism have the most purchase. Your experiences, while anecdotal, do at least offer some measure of encouragement.

 

We've been sound-byte conditioned in the US, by the media, our entertainment and our politics. It's easy to win people over with unthinking snappy phrases like, "If we evolved from monkeys, why do we still have monkeys?"

 

Science isn't like that. Often, the shortest answers leave too much to interpretation, or create more questions. Science needs to patiently explain, where creationism is just easier and tells people what to believe in and how to believe it. Science lays out the evidence and lets everyone decide if the conclusions are valid. Of course, creationists are free to lie about science, where science has no such freedom.

 

If someone has stunted their own critical thinking skills by ignoring reality in favor of a literal interpretation of their religious texts, I think the best way to approach it is to point out the lies. Start by showing that what is being taught about science isn't true. Knock down one lie, show that what's being taught isn't the truth, and hopefully you'll at least show that science has been misrepresented.

 

Keep in mind that you're dealing with people who claim that God created Adam before the birds, animals and trees, AND God created Adam after the birds, animals and trees, simply because the Bible says it both ways. That's some very powerful, mind-dodging rationalization going on there.

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I understand your frustration I'm the only person in my family who accepts evolution and it is in my experience that debating creationism is pointless, but if you truly want to my advice would be show her ways that creationism is impossible, like ask how many animals were on the ark. If she follows Answers in Genesis she will probably say around 1,000-2,000 "kinds". In order for 2000 species to evolve into the 8,700,000 we have today in only 4,000 years there would need to around 6 new species everyday. I would say don't try to show creationism is wrong scientifically, but logically, then she won't be able to that is a lie.

Edited by yellow88
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I gave up on creationists a long time ago. I spend my time focused on the people who are still on the fence.

 

 


Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man; it wasn't reasoned in, and it cannot be reasoned out. --Sydney Smith

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Funny accident.

I just saw old movie from 1960 on MGM about teacher being accused of teaching Darwin evolution in school.

The most of movie is in court where lawyer is fighting with prosecutor and judge (he rejected the all lawyer's witnesses scientists to testify).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053946/

 

"Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution."

 

Actually, not a bad movie.

 

Personally I have never met creationist.

 

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When I was a grad student, I was TA'ing introductory evolution and I had a student who was a theology major and a creationist. She told me that she was taking the evolution class to better understand how to counter arguments for evolution. When faced with the course content, she had to resort to the tactic your friend used - that is to say it was made up - the textbook was fictional and the entire scientific field was a conspiracy. One thing I think that was really hard for her was the lab practical component of the course. When we started actually observing in real life many of the concepts she was adamant were false, she refused to accept it, and even refused to attend the practicals at one point.

 

Patience was vital - often I would ask her a genuine question like "What would such a huge conspiracy achieve?" only to be met as a personal attack, resulting in me backpedaling and apologizing to try and have meaningful exchange. Ultimately, she refused to write assignments in a manner I could actually justify awarding her a passing grade (i.e. not citing any scientific literature), and we had to fail her.

 

Despite the fact she failed, attending the course obviously rattled her. She obviously had a preconception as to what evolution was and what scientists were like, and we didn't meet her expectations. I hope we sowed the seeds of critical thought and she went on to think about the world in a different way - which is all I think you can expect. However, once a person's mind is absolutely closed to any new ways of looking at the world/new evidence/ideas, there's not much you can do.

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I think in the US it is getting more vocal as the issue is being politicized here. In other countries there are generally no parties that have voting stake into supporting that (fundamentalist) stance. The reason why the arguments appear to get crazier is obviously that this is all that is left.

To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive when starting to teach in the US, but neither me nor colleagues (including those specialized in evolutionary biology) have little trouble with students, indicating that at least among those interested in science the number of (vocal) creationists is low, even in the US.

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She obviously had a preconception as to what evolution was and what scientists were like, and we didn't meet her expectations. I hope we sowed the seeds of critical thought and she went on to think about the world in a different way - which is all I think you can expect.

 

I would venture to say that few creationists have actually talked to scientists. They hear what scientists have to say through the mockery of their church leaders. They know what mockery sounds like. Most think science is all about disproving their god. Ridicule makes them believe more strongly, and arguing against an inerrant Bible makes them play the omnipotence card.

 

Countering the sound-bytes with patient, rational explanations seems like the best way to show how science approaches a problem.

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I happen to be in the US at the moment and lat night stumbled across a religious channel where the preacher was talking to a group about global warming. It was obvious within seconds that he did not believe in it and considered it a con job by evil socialists (or Democrats, as I believe they are called in Texas). At one point he said something to this effect.

 

"So, they say this global warming is bad. That must mean that global cooling is good. Well I don't see it that way. We shouldn't be messing with this."

 

Illogic and hypocrisy wrapped into one. I have high blood pressure issues, so I changed channel at this point.

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I'm intrigued by someone who asserts " evolution is a lie and made up by scientists" and "no Christian could possibly accept evolution"

 

Is she aware of this?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/4588289/The-Vatican-claims-Darwins-theory-of-evolution-is-compatible-with-Christianity.html

I realise not all Christians are Catholic, but does she really not know how out of touch she is, even with other mainstream Christian groups?

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I'm intrigued by someone who asserts " evolution is a lie and made up by scientists" and "no Christian could possibly accept evolution"

 

Is she aware of this?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/4588289/The-Vatican-claims-Darwins-theory-of-evolution-is-compatible-with-Christianity.html

I realise not all Christians are Catholic, but does she really not know how out of touch she is, even with other mainstream Christian groups?

Fundamentalists tend to avoid pesky distractions like facts and evidence. Most of them probably regard fire as som kind of heathen sorcery.

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I would venture to say that few creationists have actually talked to scientists. They hear what scientists have to say through the mockery of their church leaders. They know what mockery sounds like. Most think science is all about disproving their god. Ridicule makes them believe more strongly, and arguing against an inerrant Bible makes them play the omnipotence card.

 

Countering the sound-bytes with patient, rational explanations seems like the best way to show how science approaches a problem.

 

The example set by outspoken scientists like Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and others only entrenches these views. "Mockery" is played from both sides and the statements of a Richard Dawkins only creates more animosity and throws fuel on the flames. Contrast that to the efforts of someone like Francis Collins, who seeks genuine peace and communicates these concepts in a manner that does not imply hostility.

 

Sometimes scientists are their own worst enemy, especially when atheist scientists allow their atheism to drive the communication of science.

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Dawkins is a showman. He is an extremely reliable scientist but the way he promotes evolution is just off. Such an important task should be left to someone else and Dawkins should stick to writing papers and teaching students.

 

After all, it is very hard for a young earth creationist to become a supporter of evolution - the world view of such people is based entirely on one undeniable axiom - that the Torah/Bible/Quran is true and is true above everything else. To make a difference, you have to make them doubt the validity of this axiom which is an almost impossible task. While it's easy for a knowledgeable person to defeat a creationist, it is ultra hard to convince him. That's what many people say and what I've experienced myself.

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The example set by outspoken scientists like Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and others only entrenches these views. "Mockery" is played from both sides and the statements of a Richard Dawkins only creates more animosity and throws fuel on the flames. Contrast that to the efforts of someone like Francis Collins, who seeks genuine peace and communicates these concepts in a manner that does not imply hostility.

This take on Dawkins is in my experience of the man's writings and a couple of video clips simply wrong. His statements are universally reasonable and sensible, his demeanor calm and polite, and his only contribution to "animosity" is to refuse to go out of his way to grant public deference to charlatans and con artists.

 

The notion that one can avoid the problems animosity and fuel-throwing causes by granting respect to the actual fuel throwers and hostility mongers is ill-informed by experience. In this case it's Creationists have no interest in peace and communication - they want dominion and money. They have no interest in persuasion of others - they want their base sequestered within their propaganda field, and their enemies overpowered.

 

And that is why Francis Collins has essentially no influence on the political base of creationism in the US. His "genuine peace and communication" has found an audience among some people who seek peace and communication, but those people are scientists and intellectual elites and other folks who have a basic grasp of evolutionary theory, are confronted with some consequence for their personal experience of the world, and want to reconcile their childhood inheritance of Christian belief with this scary new thing - a task in which, as Dawkins calmly and accurately observes, they get little or no help from their religious leaders. Collins is preaching to those who want to come back to the choir.

 

And unlike Dawkins, preaching poorly - he does not reason well, when he waxes religious. No one who flinches at the rhetorical spackleover and underlying political ideology of his influence CS Lewis will find Collins persuasive, however peaceful he may appear by keeping his distance from frays - too much odd. Stuff like: He claims to have been atheist into professional adulthood - but a brief review of his writings and speakings by an actual atheist http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/the-strange-case-of-francis-collins questions that claim, and with support.

 

As a rule of thumb, when the term "both sides" comes around the argument is being shucked. There are exceptions - gun control - but what we have here, as in so many issues corrupting US politics, is a couple of sides arguing while their opposition throws poo and threatens worse.

Edited by overtone
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