Joined: June 2006
I have watched the afdave debacle for a while, and I have to say that watching some of the people debating him trump his arguments with logic and facts has been fun, but a problematic kind of fun. For me the climactic point was the Portuguese Moment, since I had some background in languages. Afdave, in his insane delusion of grandeur, thinks his ideas in linguistics, all branches of geology, every flavor of physics, any kind of genetics, trumps the work of thousands of scientists in those fields. To debate him takes a team, because he contains multitudes and contradicts himself more than the Good Gray Poet ever did.
I say it's problematic fun beacause I have some things in common with both deadman and afdave: I was born and raised in Colombia in a religious household, and I majored in Anthro, though I dropped out, and I am now an interpreter. As a kid I was devoted to the reading of jungle travel stories and archaeology, and loved meeting people who had actually travelled in the Amazon. I remember specifically SIL linguist Paul Headland dining with us several times, once at the same time as Dr. Orlando Fals-Borda, the Colombian sociologist. I remember thinking that both the missionary-linguist and the sociologist did what I wanted to do (I was ten or eleven) which was to study traditional people in the remote corners of Colombia. Though my family was very devout, I was not isolated from other influences and my school (Colegio Americano, Presbyterian affiliated) had a high ratio of non-Protestant students, lots of Catholics and Jews and a few Muslim, Buddhists and agnosstics (I believe the term was freethinker; to this day my Mom hopes I haven't become an [/I]atheist[I], a far worse thing.). We were informally trained in debating religious issues and were in fact accustomed to debating among ourselves or with other schoolkids on polite terms, especially with students from the Jesuit schools, a very well prepared bunch.
I also remembered the first time I spoke at home about Evo, in a joking manner: my aunt questioned whether a good Chritian could ever believe he was descended from primates, and said that it was far nicer to beleive in the Biblical account. I learned to not bring it up around her or Mom (Dad was OK with it), but the house was full of magazines with articles on the evolution of man, and I read voraciously, along with anything to do with physics and chemistry.
When I came to the US at twelve it never crossed my mind that evolution was doubted, until a girfriend mentioned LDS students in her high school bringing it up at biology. I have been more aware of fundamentalist thinking since the mid seventies, but the current crop scares me. I have grown up around missionaries, and never met anyone like afdave. His prose style is irritating enough with its folksiness and false bonhomie, but his obtuseness in the face of evidence puts to shame the most recalcitrant criminal defendants I have met. It's horrifying to read his responses, and his repeating of points he's sure he has proven before he moves on to the next item on his list, but then, it's a pleasure to read, say Deaman's exemplarily detailed responses. I have to say that in my opinion afdave earns ninety-nine per cent of the invective directed at him, even when it makes me wince. I can see the point of those that say it's useless to debate the afdaves of the world, but I have seen people change from mindless fundamentalism to, as someone before has described as a wonder at the way things are. Lurkers will look in and some will be influenced. People like me will be moved to keep up their reading and studying. Others will be brickwalled against anything that questions their faith. As for my fatih, the minister that I remember most fondly was a scholar of the Spanish Mystics, and I was influenced by him to study Kiekegaard, Schopenhauer and Unamuno, not a bad group to be influenced by.
Beauty is that which makes us desperate. - P Valery