(Disclaimer: I have made some generalizations and they are nothing but generalizations and have all the weaknesses of generalizations. Nothing in this post is meant as an insult or to belittle. If I have come off wrong I apologize.)
I have noticed something about creation vs. evolution debates and atheist vs. theist debates in general (you all probably have too), they never get anywhere, no one ever changes their mind. I am not saying we should stop trying. I think that when theists try to convert us and save us from damnation that is a worthy ambition (totally different from trying to force your beliefs on others using schools or governments). And I think that when atheists try to “convert” theists, that is a good thing too.
Debate is especially helpful to those on the sidelines who are leaning one way or the other honestly looking for truth. The fence sitters might become convinced but very seldom does the debate end with a theist saying “You’re right, this god thing is just delusion, how could I have been so blind” no supporter of evolution ever says “You’re right, evolution is patently wrong, it must have been god all along.” Evolutionists think that the creationist is willfully closing his eyes to the facts because he doesn’t want to give up the crutch of religion and they may be right but I would suspect only about a tenth of the time. Creationists might think that evolutionists just don’t like god for one reason or another and have hardened their hearts, or something along those lines. This is possibly correct in some cases but once again, not most.
But I think that the real problem is that evolution is not an easy subject. To fully understand it you need a background in anatomy, genetics, biology, microbiology, embryology, geology and many other subjects. To understand pretty well you need to have a decent understanding of biology and genetics at the least. Not many people have that background; science education in this country is seriously lacking. Everyone else needs to trust that evolutionary biologists, who have that background and years of experience, know what they are talking about. Evolutionists feel it is more reasonable to trust the scientific method and the word of many, many scientists living today than to trust a book written centuries ago, translated and retranslated, miscopied, edited, revised and interpreted. Christians, because of their faith take the opposite stance.
If you only put the effort into understanding evolution that you put in to high school biology it is likely to seem far-fetched and more full of holes than Swiss cheese. I can understand that after only a quick run through on the major points of evolution many creationists are not convinced. To me, it seems that many of creationists’ arguments against evolution reflect an incomplete understanding. The more you understand evolution the more plausible it is. I admit there are scientists, smarter scientists than I, who don’t accept evolution, however, there are many more who do.
So I guess the message I am trying to get across is this:
Atheists: You do your position no good to heap scorn, no matter how well deserved, upon religious folk. You can call an idiot an idiot but that won’t help you convince him he’s wrong. Do not call him names even if he deserves them. Don’t insult her intelligence, no matter how big of a moron you think she is. It is entirely pointless. If they say something truly hateful or wrong, by all means call them on it but be a bigger person. If it is a factual error, point out what the error is, explain yourself, if possible cite some actual research; that is what science is about. If they are insulting you, let them know that, correct them, but don’t insult them back. Insulting some one does not make them any more open to your arguments. If they persist in being hateful, ignore them, anyone feeling that much hate is not open to argument.
Theists: Please, please, get the straight facts about evolution. Please stop saying atheists are evolutionists (i.e. evolution is their religion). Please don’t imply that we are not moral people, that we don’t care for others, that we don’t want the world to be a better place. I don’t care if you think all of these things are true, saying them does your position no good, quite frankly it just pisses most people off.
Don’t threaten us with hell. It is a great big waste of your time. We. Do. Not. Believe. In. Hell. Because of this simple fact your threats accomplish nothing and just seem hateful and small-minded. Creationists if you want to effectively debate atheists you are going to have to look at evolution carefully and make scientific arguments with evidence. It is the nature of the atheist that he demands scientific evidence (definitely not the Bible), nothing less with suffice.
I would like to suggest that both sides start looking for some new arguments because the old ones just don’t seem to be working. Also be careful using analogies, nothing can sidetrack a discussion so fast. Sometimes they illustrate a point well but most often the other person will seize upon the inevitable flaw and totally ignore whatever point you were trying to make.
I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
Robert A. Heinlein