It’s only been a few days since it’s been up, but already the forums are lighting up like the fourth of July. One topic that immediately caught my eye came courtesy of user DexM felt too important not to promote:
The Christian club at my high school has invited creationist Bill Morgan from http://www.fishdontwalk.com/ to speak at one of their meetings. Needless to say I’m organizing a rapid response team to kick his ass with words – including trying to get one of my school’s biology teachers in on the action – but I really have no idea on how to go about doing it. There’s no shortage of atheists and skeptics on campus but getting them organized well enough to go toe-to-toe with a seasoned creationist debater is pretty dangerous. Any thoughts or advice?
Taking on a creationist, eh? I like your moxie, kid. Just understand that debating creationists can be a tricky business. Many intelligent individuals have been caught totally off guard in these kinds of debates, and looked foolish as a result. Academics are often unprepared for the kinds of tactics creationists employ to try and win arguments. One of these include what I like to call “The Seed of Doubt”. This strategy usually involves undermining some scientific theory they poorly understand. By focusing on some tiny minutia of a theory that isn’t very well understood, they try to convince the audience that “science doesn’t really know what it’s talking about”. Rather than attempt to construct an argument based on evidence of their own, creationists instead try to exploit uncertainty, masquerading their obvious disdain for scientific discovery as skepticism. And because science invites this process on itself, we must be honest when admiting that there are many unknowns and a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to human knowledge. These are not concepts a religiously minded person like Bill Morgan is willing to accept.
A a quick glance at Bill’s website, hilariously named “Fish don’t Walk” (a quick youtube search easily destroys that false statement) reveals that the guy doesn’t seem to have any real clue as to how evolution actually works. Here he is explaining the supposed difficulty of sexual reproduction in nature:
if the theory of evolution is true, the male and female would have to evolve their reproductive systems at the same TIME. Imagine the female is fully evolved, but the male is not. Does she start hen pecking him by telling him “hurry up and evolve, we are going to be dead in a few years?”…Creationists believe in “instant chickens.” Creationists believe a Creator with a lot of power and intelligence instantly made males and females at the same time, and put them at the same place.
As you can see, he’s got a rather weak grasp on the sexual theory. He’s apparently completely unaware that sex is a relatively recent “invention” in the history of life. So his “bombshells” are really just indicative of poor education on his part, most likely the result of his religious upbringing (surprised?). Remember, Bill’s “dude with a lot of power and smarts” explains everything he doesn’t understand, and that seems to encompass quite a bit.
My prediction is that if he’s shown his ignorance on the matter, he will turn to the remaining scientific mysteries that we haven’t yet solved as a final means of sowing doubt in scientific theories. I wouldn’t attempt to try and explain these. I would merely point out that he’s creating a false dichotomy; he’s attempting to reason that because we don’t know the answer to A, B must be true.
Time is not a scientific explanation, it is blind faith. I call it “the magic wand of time” When I ask an Evolutionist “how did birds evolve from reptiles?” I imagine them waving a magic wand as they say “It took millions of years!”
Believe whatever you want to on Creation vs. Evolution, but base your belief on observation (Science) not blind faith (time).
Translation: I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, so God did it
Finally I would end by trying to make it clear what degree of acceptance in any given theory is acceptable. It should be contingent on how much evidence each one relies on. The more lines of evidence which converge, the more likely it is to be true. Genetics, geology, paleontology and a host of other sciences are all consistent with Evolution. The important thing for people to remember is that science is a set of tools we use to decode the laws of nature. It allows us to construct models to help explain how objective reality behaves. Creationism is merely poor rhetoric meant to substantiate baseless supernatural claims. It has no predictive powers, and any statements it does make about nature contradict all the observations we’ve already made. If this clown is trying to argue that he’s only trying to “make people decide for themselves” what is true and what isn’t, then I would instruct him to continue to educate himself: he’s obviously not done.
What other kinds of advice would the rest of this community have to say about this?