Why is it always Biologists who debate Creationists?

Susac
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Why is it always Biologists who debate Creationists?

 

I just got done watching another train wreck of a debate between Kent Hovid and a group of biologists, and as usual, Kent gave all his plausible sounding but vacuous arguments against evolution, and as usual he made the false assumption that if he can refute evolution that means the bible is right, and as usual, no one called him on this.

What ends up happening with these debates is that the creationist makes a bunch of plausible-sounding arguments, and emotional appeals, while the scientists try to explain the inner workings of their discipline to a bunch of laymen. The result is that while the scientists all make the best arguments, the audience is still won over to the creationist side, because he’s the one who is telling them what they want to hear in a way that is accessable to them.

And this made me wonder, why is it always biologists who debate creationists? I mean, sure, biologists have the biggest stake, since evolution is a biological theory, but it seems to me that there are a lot of other disciplines who could do a better job.

For example, a philosopher would tear Kent apart by simply pointing out all of his logical fallacies.

A psychologist could do a great job of explaining how human morality works within an evolutionary framework. Also, a psychologist could demonstrate to the audience the system of denial and the failure to reality test that is inherent in the creationist worldview.

An anthropologist or sociologist could give the audience a great perspective on just how many belief systems there are in the world, how they have things in common with Christianity, and what exactly is different, so that the audience can see that the bible is a cultural phenomena and not a source for litteral truth about the universe.

Hell, a LAWYER would be able to tear apart a lot of these arguments as well.

In short, I believe that the humanities and social sciences would be a MUCH better pool of talent to draw from than the physical sciences when engaging in formal debates with creationists. It seems to me that the findings of science are less important than the process of science when arguing with a creationist.

The basic difference between science and creationism is the process that each uses for finding the truth. So instead of saying “this is what the evidence says,” our side needs to be saying:

“When science doesn’t know the answer to something we are honest with ourselves, we say “we don’t know” We use language that is honest about the fact that we have margins of error in our data, we admit that there are limits to what we know, and even what we can know. We even go out of the way to have our work peer reviewed so that others can call foul on us and keep us honest.

People of faith are fundamentally DISHONEST. You say “I know that god created the universe, and I know that the bible is the word of god.” This is a lie. The truth is that you have absolutely no way of knowing this stuff, you are just taking the story that was spoon fed to you by the bible, to cover up the fact that you don’t know. This is dishonest and you are the worst sort of liar. You are a liar who believes his own lies.”

 

I believe that this sort of argument and rhetoric would be much more accessible to the audience, and it would put the creationist on the defensive in a way that they would have a hard time defending themselves from.


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Quote:I just got done

Quote:
I just got done watching another train wreck of a debate between Kent Hovid and a group of biologists, and as usual, Kent gave all his plausible sounding but vacuous arguments against evolution, and as usual he made the false assumption that if he can refute evolution that means the bible is right, and as usual, no one called him on this.

This is one reason I don't like the formal debate format.  It's too easy to slide a point by.  In a written debate, this would never be allowed to stand unchallenged.

Quote:
What ends up happening with these debates is that the creationist makes a bunch of plausible-sounding arguments, and emotional appeals, while the scientists try to explain the inner workings of their discipline to a bunch of laymen. The result is that while the scientists all make the best arguments, the audience is still won over to the creationist side, because he’s the one who is telling them what they want to hear in a way that is accessable to them.

Another flaw in the debate format.  It's not about truth.  It's about charisma.

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And this made me wonder, why is it always biologists who debate creationists? I mean, sure, biologists have the biggest stake, since evolution is a biological theory, but it seems to me that there are a lot of other disciplines who could do a better job.

My best guess is that it's a double standard issue.  If a non-biologist tries to debate a creationist, the creationist will immediately pounce on his lack of knowledge of evolution.  "See," he will say, "you are just as ignorant of evolution as anyone else, and you're going to stand there and tell me you know it's true??  You have just as much faith as me!"

Debate over.  Victory for creationist.

Quote:
For example, a philosopher would tear Kent apart by simply pointing out all of his logical fallacies.

True.  I think a good philosopher would be a good opponent for most apologists.  However, theists are wary of philosophers, too.  Remember, the wisdom of man is foolishness in the eyes of god...

I think the bottom line is that in most of these debates, there are three types of people.  Atheists who are already convinced, theists who are already convinced, and the four crying babies that should have been left at home.

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A psychologist could do a great job of explaining how human morality works within an evolutionary framework. Also, a psychologist could demonstrate to the audience the system of denial and the failure to reality test that is inherent in the creationist worldview.

I agree.  However, there are so many false assumptions about an evolutionary worldview that it would take two hours just to get through the fallacies.  Just look at how crazy our prostitution conversation got -- and we both agree on the basics!

I'm afraid that there's a fundamental problem with this kind of debate.  Understanding evolution takes time and effort.  Understanding theism takes emotion and gullibility.  In any short term debate, the edge will go to emotion and gullibility.

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Hell, a LAWYER would be able to tear apart a lot of these arguments as well.

Might as well hire the KKK to do promo spots for evolution. 

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In short, I believe that the humanities and social sciences would be a MUCH better pool of talent to draw from than the physical sciences when engaging in formal debates with creationists. It seems to me that the findings of science are less important than the process of science when arguing with a creationist.

I agree that the humanities and social sciences are sorely underrepresented in the quest to educate the public.  However, I think that part of the problem we have in America is woeful lack of basic scientific understanding.  Now, what I'd really like to see is a tag team match with a biologist, a philosopher, and an anthropologist.

Come to think of it, Americans are woefully uneducated in all of those fields. 

~sigh~

Quote:

The basic difference between science and creationism is the process that each uses for finding the truth. So instead of saying “this is what the evidence says,” our side needs to be saying:

“When science doesn’t know the answer to something we are honest with ourselves, we say “we don’t know” We use language that is honest about the fact that we have margins of error in our data, we admit that there are limits to what we know, and even what we can know. We even go out of the way to have our work peer reviewed so that others can call foul on us and keep us honest.

We do say that.  And when we do, they say things like, "See!!  I told you science doesn't know the truth!!  They admitted it!!  Let's go to church!"
 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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This is dumb how does

This is dumb how does evolutions of biology a evidence against God? Mankind has already created programs that evolve through a kind of natural selection inside artifical electronic enviroments. If man can do this I think it's super easy for God to do it too. Biologist only explain life not give answers to how it got hear, what it began and why it bothered to begin int he first places. Its like brining a car engineer and he explains every thing about a car then says God doesn't exist...

Bleeeat!


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Quote:This is dumb how does

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This is dumb how does evolutions of biology a evidence against God?

It doesn't.  No evidence against god is necessary since there has never been any evidence for god that passed scientific, logical, or philosophical muster.

 

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This is something I read

This is something I read somewhere else and have said before: Creationists win the PR side.

Biologists and other scientists are concerned with their work,not ensuring the layman understands it.That would presumably be the job of teachers. Like it was said,evolution takes effort to understand. Go to a scientific evolution site.Chances are you want understand some to most of it. Now go to a creationist site. You will find many seemingly convincing arguments disproving evoultion.And while most people here could refute them,it would take time and effort. And in that time,how many theists have already been convinced evolution is false.

In a world of intellectual laziness,creationists are winning the PR side hands down.

That isn't to say I don't think evolution can be understood with a little effort.I am barely a novice in it,but  everything makes sense with it.Getting people to start looking at it is the problem.

Psalm 14:1 "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God"-From a 1763 misprinted edition of the bible

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This is getting redudnant. My patience with the unteachable[atheists] is limited.

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Quote:This is dumb how does

Quote:

This is dumb how does evolutions of biology a evidence against God?

This is a non sequitur. We weren't even discussing the concept of "God". We were discussing evolutionary biology.

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Biologist only explain life not give answers to how it got hear, what it began and why it bothered to begin int he first places

Actually, this is untrue. We are well on the way to explaining the origin of life. It is part of the discipline of biochemistry. The mere fact that you weren't aware of this because you don't know any biochemistry is your problem.

And excuse me, I must vent:

Goddamnit, why the fuck are you so incoherent all the time. Your posts are garbled and virtually impossible to understand. Write bloody properly, or not at all.

Now, switching to address the original poster.

This is a good question for me to answer because I am a biologist and I do debate creationists. As an aside, I am also a trained philosopher, which helps alot. But I usually don't allow my opposition to get off the ground at all. Observe the following exchange:

Me: Before we begin I think I should confirm the fact that you know precisely what you are critiquing. Do you know the 5 theories which fall under the scientific definition of evolution? And by extension, the three principles of natural selection, the centerpiece theory?

Them:...No

*Akward silence*

Me: Interesting. You are attempting to critique a concept that you don't even know the definition of? How do you propose to do that?

More Silence

Me: I think you should leave and save further embarassment.

This exchange, which is very common,  takes advantage of the fact that most creationists wouldn't know evolution if it kicked them in the balls. Hence, we should immediately appreciate the fact that despite that many of these people are ardent opponents of evolution, an infinitesimal percentage of them have taken the 30 seconds on Wikipedia necessary to find the answer.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Quote:This exchange, which

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This exchange, which is very common,  takes advantage of the fact that most creationists wouldn't know evolution if it kicked them in the balls. Hence, we should immediately appreciate the fact that despite that many of these people are ardent opponents of evolution, an infinitesimal percentage of them have taken the 30 seconds on Wikipedia necessary to find the answer.

Deluded, this has gotten me thinking.  You've read Rich Rodriguez' debate where he invalidated faith in his opening sentence, right?  I wonder how many theist positions we could render invalid with a simple opening like yours or Rich's.  That would be a list worth compiling.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Llama wrote:This is dumb how

Llama wrote:

This is dumb how does evolutions of biology a evidence against God?

I'm going to say this once as simply as I can, so listen closely - evolutionary biology provides evidence against any and all literal readings and a good many metaphorical readings of the biblical creation account.  All arguments for a creator god based upon the word of the bible in those specific terms are thus utterly utterly failed.

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Quote:I'm going to say this

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I'm going to say this once as simply as I can, so listen closely - evolutionary biology provides evidence against any and all literal readings and a good many metaphorical readings of the biblical creation account.  All arguments for a creator god based upon the word of the bible in those specific terms are thus utterly utterly failed.

Well spoken.

I should clarify my earlier statement.  When someone says "God" I hear the term generically by default.  I go on the assumption that anyone who knows anything at all about science knows that the Christian God certainly does not exist as described in the bible.

 

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one step further

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
I'm going to say this once as simply as I can, so listen closely - evolutionary biology provides evidence against any and all literal readings and a good many metaphorical readings of the biblical creation account.  All arguments for a creator god based upon the word of the bible in those specific terms are thus utterly utterly failed.

Well spoken.

I should clarify my earlier statement.  When someone says "God" I hear the term generically by default.  I go on the assumption that anyone who knows anything at all about science knows that the Christian God certainly does not exist as described in the bible.

 

Any holy text that claims some form of supernatural creation of man as is, meaning that such said deity created man as we are now, becomes invalid because evolution shows that no supernatural creator was/is required.  As such science can rule out god via these methods of deduction.


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Quote:Any holy text that

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Any holy text that claims some form of supernatural creation of man as is, meaning that such said deity created man as we are now, becomes invalid because evolution shows that no supernatural creator was/is required.  As such science can rule out god via these methods of deduction.

In the interest of openmindedness, I always operate on the assumption that maybe nobody's ever told me the correct definition of god, so I never say that science can disprove god.  However, we don't even need science to disprove the supernatural.  A little lesson in epistemology handles that quite nicely.

 

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my best answer to your title

the debate reminds me of study cargo cults i did for my anthropolgy of religion class i took. the belief of cargo cults always believed it was near the end of the world and that their god was going to reward them with materialism from the ships which is a reason i think they are called cargo cults. dont worry when the christians these cargo cults were inducive of christian religion to a point because it had simuliar beliefs and they thought it was the end of the world so why not join even more rewards from their supreme being and they would be rich. now that has gone a rye but they keep going back to their cargo cult beliefs with a new belief and someone claiming they were the puror faith and their god punished them because they were not right so they are stuck on believing this and not rich monetrial societies but they pass the time doing this i guess.

in the way the cargo cults always trying to make its faith perfect. the creationalists are tring to cling and peserve their faith instead of realize even if their belief is not the way it happened it was used as an allogeory just like the adam and eve story is allogoricial or one could say a parable. throughout my studies once people believe something they will stick to it no matter how unreasonable it is and anything that agrees with a lot of it they will use it to keep their belief alive because thats the right thing to do in their mind.

so i dont think we will ever see the end of debates with a belief system because it seems to be common to a lot of groups throughout history. and major civilizations in south and north americas had beliefs that they lived by. for example the Mayan culture and the Aztecs and also the Incas so based on history i do believe it not going away but it might in the future but i don't know if it will because of how long people devout to religous beliefs!

i hope i was able to help out i am sorry if i didn't i just notice religious beliefs people normally dont let go unless utterly forced to which makes it hard to understand to someone using reason yet on the other hand they think they are useing reason and logic and the ones that are disagreeing and questioning them are irlogical so it is sort of like going up againest a belief and both sides think the other side is irrational and crazy but thats my opinion of how to answer this question!


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Hambydammit wrote:Quote:This

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
This exchange, which is very common,  takes advantage of the fact that most creationists wouldn't know evolution if it kicked them in the balls. Hence, we should immediately appreciate the fact that despite that many of these people are ardent opponents of evolution, an infinitesimal percentage of them have taken the 30 seconds on Wikipedia necessary to find the answer.

Deluded, this has gotten me thinking.  You've read Rich Rodriguez' debate where he invalidated faith in his opening sentence, right?  I wonder how many theist positions we could render invalid with a simple opening like yours or Rich's.  That would be a list worth compiling.

 

 

Great idea! Cock blocking strategies for atheists! Very cool!

I'd also like to see some ideas about how to make the basic process of skeptical thinking and rationality more palatable to the layman. I actually think that most people WANT to be rational, they just don’t know how. Heck, look at religious apologists, they are constantly trying to prove their faith is true - this alone is evidence that they don’t take it on faith alone, but they want to have reason back up their religious convictions.

There is a psychological term called “reality testing” This is the idea that we check our perceptions and our model of the world against reality again and again on a sometimes unconscious level in order to negotiate our way through life. Science is a social institution that has formalized the process of reality testing to the degree that people can do it as a profession.

Faith is a decision to refuse to test reality. Personally I put emphasis on the word “decision” in this sentence, because it puts the onus on the faithful, and it emphasizes the fact that they can change their minds.

What faith heads are doing when they try to prove their religion (and Kent Hovid is a stellar example of this), is they engage in some, often willful, thinking errors that lead them to their deluded state of mind.

Maybe it would be helpful to identify these thinking errors. I’m sure the philosophers on line can rattle off a bunch, but I would like to identify some of the biggest ones:

A-priori reasoning - I decided what is true, and now I’m looking for evidence to prove it. This is backwards, you need to look and the evidence and then decide what is true. This can lead to,

Errors of Omission - Cherry picking data that supports your view while ignoring all the data that refutes your position.

False Dichotomy - The assumption that if evolution is true then the bible is right

Projection Defense - This often shows up in paranoid conspiracy theories, as in “scientists are evangelizing their religion and forcing me to pay tax dollars to fund their religion.”

 

I think that it would be great if we could show the audience these errors without boring them or turning the off - in short, by using charisma to fight charisma.

One idea I had as an emotional appeal for rationality is this:

Hold up a bible and say - “My opponent would have you believe that this book is written by God and that therefore every word of it is literally true, however I’m here to show you that this cannot be the case. I’m going to show you that science has proven that the bible is wrong.”

Next have a confederate bring in a wheelbarrow full of science books (or several), and dump them in a pile on the stage.

Then say: This pile is a small fraction of the knowledge that science has accumulated since this bronze-age text was written (thump bible). It represents the life’s work of thousands of brilliant professionals who were all working to use reason to determine what was true. MOST of the people who wrote these books were Christians or Muslims or Jews, but whatever their faith their love of the truth took them where the EVIDENCE lead! These authors from fields ranging from anthropology to zoology have created an interlocking tapestry of knowledge that spans culture and religion, because the truth is the truth no matter where you live or what your faith. ALL of these disciplines DEMONSTRATE that the bible is wrong about a lot of things.

Frankly it makes me wonder why my opponent is so worried about evolution, after all, Copernicus proved the bible wrong when he showed that the world is a sphere that revolves around the sun 300 years ago.

The bible says that the devil took Jesus to the highest mountain to view all the nations of the earth (thump bible). There is no way that could literally be true since we live on a sphere.

Now I ask you, why should we believe that this book that has been PROVEN WRONG, has a better purchase on the truth than the generations of scientists who have gradually been accumulating knowledge over the past 300 years? Is it really so hard to imagine that we know more now than the bronze age priests who wrote the bible? Why should this one moldy old text have more purchase on the truth than the all the knowledge accumulated by civilization over the last 2000 years? Literal word of god? You have to be kidding me!

 

See, now THAT’S and argument I’d like to see in a debate!


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Red Herring...

Evolution is the bait and switch of theological discussion. The hot button that the theist push to get us reved up and tear assing down the wrong path.

It puts us on the defensive, essentially switching the burdon of proof, to a subject that has not a DAMNED thing to do with whether a god exists or not.

When asked to explain 'How we got here', the proper response is;

"I'm sorry you slept through basic science classes in High School."

"Now, How did your god do it? Step by step if you will, with evidence as to how it works."

I want a witnessed, verified act of special creation.

I want to see the results of tests of this creationist theory.

I want to know how it might be falsified, so that it can be shown to be a legitimate theory.

I want to know what predictions creationism makes.

The onus is ALWAYS on the theist to prove their point of view.

LC >;-}>

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