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  Topic: Would you feel uneasy debating this man, Young Earth Creationism< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Peter Henderson



Posts: 298
Joined: Aug. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,19:24   

Over on the BCSE forum I've posted three talks by leading UK young Earth creatonist Paul Taylor:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.....nd+2007

Roger Stanyard, a leading UK activist against YECism, stated (to my surprise) that he would feel uneasy debating him (Taylor):

http://community.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1491

 
Quote
I must admit I would feel uneasy debating with Taylor. He knows the fundamentalist arguments inside out. AiG has clearly given him a lot of training.


I'm sure those in the US will find the above church sermons very familiar (that is how things are in NI churches, not unlike those in the bible belt of the US) but how do the folks on the Panda's thumb reckon they would fare against Taylor ? After watching the videos what are the weaknesses in Taylor's claims (and by the way, I do know of Mark Isaac's excellent index to creationist claims although, I probably should buy the pocket version) ? If nothing else it really shows what science is up against. As I often say, forget ID. ID is not the real enemy (although YEC's are using it to attack science when it suits them). It's YECism that has taken centre stage.

AiG presentations are very, very, slick and appear to have fooled many Christians, not only in the US but around the world.

  
Amadan



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Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,20:12   

The greatest rhetorical strength of YEC argumentation is the certainty it asserts in debate. It damns science by its inability to state as a fact that X always follows as a consequence of Y. It plays on the provisional nature of deduction in scientific discourse: "So you can't state as a fact that this fossil is a direct descendant of that one?" And this is done before an audience whose system of understanding is based on a strict division of right from wrong and fact from supposition.

It's important to bear in mind that the purpose of these debates is, from the YEC perspective, to preach to the converted. The unstated subject matter is the compatibility of the audience's flavour of Christianity with science. As a result, point-by-point refutation is only going to yield a crop of glazed eyeballs. They are using rhetoric tailored to their audience, and to win you must do the same.

My preference would be to highlight the provisional nature of science. Your audience is accustomed to classifying secular human judgement as fallible. So you could say, for example, that every conclusion asserted by science is qualified by an implicit "This may not be correct..." or "As far as we can tell..." or "The explanation that best fits all the available evidence is ...".

But this is not to say that facts are relative or provisional. You can rightly point to the myriad data relied on by scientists, and you can attack your opponent for ignoring it, or for cherrypicking. (Remember, the audience has very strong opinions about deceit). So yes, the fossil record alone does not lead inevitably to my conclusion, but how can you reconcile your position with the biochemical, geological and physical data? They are objectively there: I can accomodate them, can you?

But to be honest, it's all about apologetics and politics. The scientific argument is not going to be influenced by the likes of AIG. As a Southern Fenian Bastard, my opinions on politics Up There are unreliable, but I get the impression that the hard core of DUPers (that's osculospumatory fundies, for the benfit of youse lot in Murka) who want their kids to have their ignorance refined in school are a lot less influential than the main body of the vote. Highlighting the broad acceptance of science among Reformed churches will probably get you more traction than associating yourself with Dawkins, the Devil's Acolyte. And it is worth considering that all those biotech firms that flourish in the Papish Republic will be less than impressed if the North's science grads are pig ignorant. Remember the old cliche about loyalty to the half-crown more than the Crown...

Sin mo cuid.


Edit: Because I'm worth it

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"People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutations" - Densye  4-4-2011
JoeG BTW dumbass- some variations help ensure reproductive fitness so they cannot be random wrt it.

   
Wesley R. Elsberry



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Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,20:13   

I don't know about uneasy, but I'd have to question what the point would be. YEC is not anywhere near being inserted into curricula officially (here in the USA, at least; I know that the UK is different and does have a YEC problem), leaving only stealthy incidental insertion by teachers. YEC advocates in the mold of Duane Gish want to cast debates as being about science, which is nowhere near true. Agreeing to participate allows them to frame things they way they want, such that even if one is omniscient and able to keep up with and counter each claim made, one ends up with a "he said, she said" situation in which the YEC can use the usual predisposition of the crowd to extend him the benefit of the doubt, and deny it to an opponent.

So, why bother to engage YEC people in venues of their own making, which almost always are rigged to favor them? I was thinking of an analogy concerning the Harlem Globetrotters, but it isn't really analogous to that bit of entertainment. It's more like YEC is some sad, unfit, short posers going on the road claiming to be the world's greatest basketball team, bringing in a real basketball team to engage in a debate about which team is better, rather than simply going out on the court to play it out according to the actual rules of basketball. YEC doesn't show up in play in the scientific arena; arguing with them in a "debate" doesn't do anything for you and helps them act as if there were something actually at issue.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Nomad



Posts: 311
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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,22:02   

I've seen suggestions for specific debate formats that would prevent the Gish Gallop from being employed.  I don't remember the details, but I think the main point was limiting each side's talking time so that the creationist side can't spew out an hour of lies that would take 10 hours to counter.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2008,22:06   

I'm glad that some debates eliminate the Gish Gallop. That doesn't touch the problem that one person can be lying with a confident demeanor, and be deemed more credible by gullible audiences despite having their falsehoods rebutted on the spot.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Peter Henderson



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,06:45   

Quote
YEC is not anywhere near being inserted into curricula officially (here in the USA, at least; I know that the UK is different and does have a YEC problem),


Maybe in most public schools in the US Wesley, that may be the case but what about the ever growing number of Christian schools and the Home schooling movement ? I'd say both the latter are teaching kids YECism. As far as I know there's no equivalent of Liberty University in the UK either.

Also, I wouldn't underestimate the damage the creation museum is doing to science in the US. Despite some effective (in my opinion anyway) protests at the museum opening, things really appear to died down now. Ham's gotten away with it I'm afraid and no-one seems to have stepped up (from both inside and outside the church) to challange him.

Our own creation rows in Northern Ireland have been largely fueled by AiG who are winning the propoganda war, certainly within the church. The videos that I linked to are very typical of churches here, not unlike those of the Southern states in the US. I have been to a couple of church services in Florida while visiting there a number of years ago (probably something not a lot of tourists do) and they were very similar to the ones here. Many of my relatives go to this type of church Wesley. They are not bad people, but no matter what you say to them science will not convince them the bible is wrong. I often post this little piece from Youtube on the situation here and it's well worth watching. It really does sum things up :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGF2AxlQsYE

Things aren't helped by the fact that one of the province's (and UK's) leading geneticists (Prof. Nevin) has turned out to be a YEC. If Prof. Nevin isn't convinced by science what hope is there for the less well educatied individuals that attended Taylor's talks in Lisburn ?

In a wider UK context, you are correct that we have a YEC problem. ID seems to have been largely ignored, with the fundamentalists going for the real thing instead. We also have a Christian TV station putting out hours of AiG and CMI material, daily now. Unfortunately opposition to YECism in the UK is fragmented and poorly organised. In NI it's non-existent at the moment. We have no equivelent in the UK of the ACLU for example.

Still, I hope Abraham Lincoln's prophetic words prove to be correct in this important battle i.e.: "You can fool some of the people all of the time" etc.

It may very well be that all of the people will be fooled some of the time (in church circles anyway) before the tide turns for science.

  
Assassinator



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,07:11   

I live in the middle of the Dutch Bible Belt, and I can tell you I've debated similair people. They didn't seem to make use of AiG presentations though, but still used those ye ol' YEC arguments. They did use our old friend Hovind. They even broadcast his presentation on our local tv-network (As I sad, I live in the middle of the Bible Belt here, it's full of crazy evangelical extremists here although not as bad as the Westboro folks...I hope). It was só awfull to see...

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,07:13   

Quote

Maybe in most public schools in the US Wesley, that may be the case but what about the ever growing number of Christian schools and the Home schooling movement ? I'd say both the latter are teaching kids YECism.


Private schools get to set their own curricula, and can teach nonsense all day long if they wish. There's a lawsuit in progress now concerning some of these private schools suing the University of California system for not considering several of their courses to be suitable preparation for admission to UC schools, so the essential right of others to consider nonsense to be worthless is under assault.

However, I still don't see the point in engaging AiG shills in rigged debates. That isn't going to help the rank and file come to an appreciation of science, because the issue is not science. AiG is running a socio-political program, and the reasons people buy in don't turn on scientific data.

A better approach can be seen in the "Clergy Letter Project" here in the USA. A parallel effort could be mounted in the UK; it just is going to take getting someone to commit to organizing it.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Erasmus, FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,08:18   

Quote
Would you feel uneasy debating this man


Hell yeah I would.  I dont get down like that homie.

wait.  oops.  I thought you said 'dating'.  never mind.

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You're obviously illiterate as hell. Peach, bro.-FtK

Finding something hard to believe based on the evidence, is science.-JoeG

the odds of getting some loathsome taint are low-- Gordon E Mullings Manjack Heights Montserrat

I work on molecular systems with pathway charts and such.-Giggles

  
Peter Henderson



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,09:55   

Quote
A better approach can be seen in the "Clergy Letter Project" here in the USA. A parallel effort could be mounted in the UK; it just is going to take getting someone to commit to organizing it.


The clergy letter project would probably work well in NI Wesley, believe it or not. The problem would be finding any clergy that support science in the more evangelical denominations.

The Methodists, Church of Ireland (Anglican) and Roman Catholic churches would be no problem. However, the largest denomination in NI is the Presbyterian church in Ireland. I've been told Four times now (and once by a YEC Presbyterian minister) that the official line taken by the church is "so long as a Christian believes that God created the Heavens and the Earth how and when he did it is for you to decide" which would lead me to conclude that the church supports all views from Flat Earth creationism (believe it or not) through to Theistic Evolution.  So it shouldn't have a problem with mainstream science.

However, AiG seems to have wormed it's way into the denomination and there are a number of congregations preaching it. AiG would seem to be at odds with the church's official policy since they (AiG) defininately do not accept Christians who support evolution (see Taylor's talks).

None of the other mainstream denominations have ever had AiG events. The other evangelical denominations (like Elim, Baptist, Brethren etc. ) are a lost cause though, in my opinion. All are YEC now (with no other views being allowed). It would be hard to convince those Christians to support science, no matter what other clergy say.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,14:04   

Denominations whose doctrines are premised on literalist inerrantism are not going to be reachable. They've committed to a YEC interpretation of scripture as a foundation. Still, it is worth getting the message out that Christians can have faith and still accept science.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Dr.GH



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 16 2008,22:30   

Quote (Peter Henderson @ Jan. 15 2008,17:24)
Over on the BCSE forum I've posted three talks by leading UK young Earth creatonist Paul Taylor:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.....nd+2007

Roger Stanyard, a leading UK activist against YECism, stated (to my surprise) that he would feel uneasy debating him (Taylor):

http://community.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1491

 
Quote
I must admit I would feel uneasy debating with Taylor. He knows the fundamentalist arguments inside out. AiG has clearly given him a lot of training.


I'm sure those in the US will find the above church sermons very familiar (that is how things are in NI churches, not unlike those in the bible belt of the US) but how do the folks on the Panda's thumb reckon they would fare against Taylor ? After watching the videos what are the weaknesses in Taylor's claims (and by the way, I do know of Mark Isaac's excellent index to creationist claims although, I probably should buy the pocket version) ? If nothing else it really shows what science is up against. As I often say, forget ID. ID is not the real enemy (although YEC's are using it to attack science when it suits them). It's YECism that has taken centre stage.

AiG presentations are very, very, slick and appear to have fooled many Christians, not only in the US but around the world.

Debates with creationists are a waste of time at best.  Too few scientists have bothered to learn about creationists and so they are totally unable to even comprehend what the creationists are saying.

Off the top of my head, I can think of only twenty or thirty people with science, philosphy or history doctorates who have made a serious effort to understand creationism and are able to present reasoned scientific or theological arguements against it.

A fair number of them were raised as children in fundamentalist homes.

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"Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy."

L. Susskind, 2004 "SMOLIN VS. SUSSKIND: THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE"

   
Wesley R. Elsberry



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Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2008,01:40   

The third way to approach committed antievolution supporters

 
Quote



   Lee Silver wrote:

   The best way to combat them is to pull the religious veils off their faces and expose them for who they are.  If you’ve got a better tactic, I’d like to hear it.

Of course I have better tactics. That’s what I was saying in my first response.

The topic of debate that Dr. Silver reported was “Is ID science?” One approach is to show that the claims of ID fail as science. That’s how I approached the task I had in 2001, and that’s the approach of Why Intelligent Design Fails from Rutgers University Press. The other approach is to show that religion underlies “intelligent design”. In 2002, I gave a talk on evolution and “intelligent design” at the CSICOP Fourth World Skeptics Conference. In that one, I did show how the “intelligent design” movement was run by religious people for religious purposes. And that’s the approach of Creationism’s Trojan Horse from Oxford University Press.

But in neither case was my goal to tell the followers of ID that their own views of religion were wrong. And it is that part of Dr. Silver’s first report that strikes me as not just poor tactics, but as Lenny Flank notes, directly counter to the cause of promoting good science education. It sure wasn’t something that would separate ID advocates from their followers. It isn’t even exposing the ID movement as inherently religious, which I have used as a tactic myself (CSICOP 2002). If you want to drive a wedge between an audience of evangelical Christians and the professionals in the ID movement, you need a third approach: show that the ID advocate on stage with you has been lying to his followers. Show misquote after misquote; demonstrate error after checkable error, and make the audience understand that if the ID advocate claims that the sky is blue, their next step had better be to look out the window to see for themselves. Evangelicals do want to take Christ’s message to the world, but they also have a deep loathing of liars. Of the three approaches, the last one requires the most preparation and care in delivery.

Dr. Silver’s approach, on the other hand, requires very little in the way of preparation. One does not need to acquaint oneself with the arguments of the opposition, with the history of the opposition, or even the failings of the opposition. Irrelevancy does have some benefits after all. But the downside is that simply doing forty minutes of religious nay-saying does not convince people that “intelligent design” is not science; it does not convince people that “intelligent design” is another religious form of antievolution; and it does not convince people that “intelligent design” advocates are unreliable sources of information. It does help to convince those people that the “intelligent design” advocates are right when they cast the issues in terms of atheists attempting to indoctrinate kids.

So, in summary I’d say: Please leave debating ID advocates to the professionals. Or if you are determined to do so anyway, ask for assistance before the debate.


I've seen a criticism of what I wrote above that runs like this: An error made by an IDC advocate need not be a "lie" or mark the IDC advocate in question as a liar. I thought it was clear from the above that the task, though, is not to bring *one* such item to the table, but to show a series of such manglings of the truth so that even the audience, whose initial allegiance is to the IDC advocate, cannot help but recognize that such a series of falsehoods of necessity implies that either the antievolutionist in question is lying to them about their ability to speak to the topic, or is lying when presenting those falsehoods as if true. So far as I can see, there is no escape from being hoist on one or the other horn of that particular dilemma.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Peter Henderson



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(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 17 2008,11:23   

Quote
Debates with creationists are a waste of time at best.  Too few scientists have bothered to learn about creationists and so they are totally unable to even comprehend what the creationists are saying.


It can be done though:

http://www.noanswersingenesis.org.au/debate_with_john_mackay.htm

Quote
There is a school of thought which maintains it is counter-productive to debate with creationists. I think this depends on how it is done. Looking at what worked and what didn't on this occasion, I would say the main strategy has to be to attack their position, rather than defending your own. Creationist ideas really are silly, and can be shown to be so. It is also important, I believe, to keep the focus on Genesis, rather than to be drawn into an argument on the existence or nonexistence of God. The issue is whether the world came to be the way it is as the result of natural processes, or a specific supernatural program. Where the natural processes came from in the first place is irrelevant. Maybe God produced them: who knows?

  
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