Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

I kinda want to die

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#1  Postby Zadocfish2 » Aug 20, 2017 6:00 am

Okay, so I have spent the last couple days in "lively" facebook debate with my pastor, whom I love, and his friends regarding evolution.

It went about as well as you'd expect, obviously. I want to share here, the main debate which is with a former educator and forestry expert. Names will be deleted to protect everyone involved. It's ongoing, but I think I got disrespectful (or will be considered disrespectful/arrogant by the other participant and the pastor, and the pastor might delete the comment on those grounds) at the end, so I can't say how or if the discussion will go on from here.

Other Person: Well pastor, that was an interesting discussion. That anyone would say that the evolution of biological life is an objective fact utterly amazes me. I could never possess such blind faith in something so completely based on biased assumptions, incomplete data, and inferior methods that is rampant in the investigation of origins. Scientists don't even understand how the boreal forest functions, but some claim they understand how biological life started and developed? Unlikely! There are so many holes in evolutionary theory that one has to take a flying leap of faith to accept the idea. I was trained and once believed in evolution when I started out in wildlife management...but what a lame theory I've come to see it to be. And I'm not talking about how bacteria and dog breeds change. That's genetic variation within groups, not the grand changes that evolutionary theory claims to have occurred. Good for you in voicing your disagreement of a very poor explanation of how life began. (my two bits)

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Me: Name one hole in evolutionary theory. I see a lot of "holes" discussed on creationist websites and creationist forums, but never with any real thought put into them. Not one of them holds up to scrutiny. Evolution, whether you like it or not, is a matter of scientific fact in the same way that weather patterns, sun spots, or the shape of the Earth are.

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Other Person: Links between different kinds of animals (e.g. dog and cat family...so many others) have not been located in the fossil record. I find imaginary creatures drawn to fill in the gaps to be very annoying. I also find the evolution of bat ecolocation to be a fascinating tale...like there was a time that ecolocation "sort of" worked. Weather patterns, sun spots, and the shape of the Earth can be measured to a degree, but evolution between organisms broader than families cannot be replicated through experimentation by natural means.

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Me: Let's go through this one at a time.

"Links between different kinds of animals (e.g. dog and cat family...so many others) have not been located in the fossil record."

That's simply not true, we have transitional species between land animals and whales, non-avian dinosaurs and birds, here's the common ancestor of dogs and cats http://www.gmanetwork.com/.../cats-and- ... .../story/ and there are thousands of others. This is one of those "points" that demonstrates an inherent lack of understanding of how evolution actually functions. EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL, modern and ancient, is a "transition" between its parent and its offspring. Life isn't tiptoeing towards evolution like creationists seem to think evolution implies, it's an active process that goes on slowly and continuously. There is no animal that is not a "transitional species."

"I also find the evolution of bat ecolocation to be a fascinating tale...like there was a time that ecolocation "sort of" worked."

Echolocation isn't actually all that strange, compared to some adaptations, and like all adaptations it has a rather understandable base. Owls have something different, but similar in principle; they use their oddly-positioned ears to get an exact fix on location based only on sound. That is, they can tell where a sound is coming from without needing to SEE the source. Echolocation is just one added step to that, clicking or otherwise making a distinct noise in order to hear the sound bouncing off of any object in the way. It's basically hearing, but producing your own noise to hear by. Anything with good hearing and a voice can do it in a limited way; bats simply evolved to take full advantage of this trick. Diurnal bats actually lack this adaptation; they live during the daytime, so sight is just fine. If anything, this illustrates how a creature's environment can pressure different adaptations depending on diet and activity.

"Weather patterns, sun spots, and the shape of the Earth can be measured to a degree, but evolution between organisms broader than families cannot be replicated through experimentation by natural means."

Evolution can, as well, with the fossil record. We see snapshots of life in different eras; and make no mistake, there ARE different eras. Jurassic animals are never found with Cambrian animals, and vice-versa, EVER. Moreover, the mechanism that drives evolution between species is NOT a different mechanism than the one that drives adaptation within species. It's the same process, just observed over longer periods of time. Observation is no less valid science than experimentation; we know that the sun processes hydrogen without having to make a star in a laboratory.

In fact, there IS a claim here; the claim "species" is some kind of special "borderline" over which it is impossible to jump by natural adaptation. That is a claim that creationists make, and like most of their claims, there is zero evidence for it.

So yeah, I've seen all of these arguments before, and again, none of them hold water when you understand how the process of evolution actually works.

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Other Person: This is going to get too complex for Facebook...I can tell already. First of all the creative drawing of the transitional link between cat and dog is a massive assumption. "This fossil looks like a dog & cat, so it must be a missing link." I find the title to be very bold and arrogant. However, assuming that is a transitional link...there's a myriad of missing links still missing. Show me the evidence, don't provide me with assumptions. Same goes with your other examples (thousands...perhaps when you ram them into a pre-existing structure of "how it had to have happened" they become "examples") . Also, you have a contradiction in saying that creationists claim evolution is tip-toeing, but then say evolution is an active process that goes on SLOWLY. [Your first paragraph is filled with so many assumptions. I want evidence please.] I like your explanation of echolocation. Still, I find it hard to fathom why evolution would continue in that direction when it didn't work very well at first. Lots of faith in chance mutations and natural selection there. Also, the fossil record is not nearly as neat and tidy as evolutionists claim, nor are faulty radiometric dating methods. Mount St. Helens proved how fast strata can form. Again, so many assumptions that create a house of cards that crumble when evolution is challenged. And yes, you've added the magic wand of time. "If we see little mutations and changes over a little bit of time, that has to be the mechanism for big changes over lots of time." I want to see the evidence...not big claims. I never said "species" was a borderline, I said "families." Even animals in the same genus interbreed. I don't know of very much about the scientific evidence what Young Earth Creationists claim is valid. I'm more of an environmental educator and don't spend a lot of time on origins. However, I'm skeptical that there is a lot of evidence of a 6,000 year old earth about as much as a 4.6 billion year-old one. Doesn't mean it's not true...just at this point in time I don't see the hard proof. I understand very clearly the theory of evolution. My undergrad and graduate work was based on it. However, when I taught in private and public schools for 18 years, I did present the pros and cons of evolution to my students. I'm not afraid to critique something that's based on so many incredible assumptions that it makes my head spin. Don alluded to the fact that you are a Christian. If so, when do you think the first person evolved whose soul could go to heaven? I've always wondered how someone who believes in the evolution of humans from a primordial "soup" figures when that might have happened.

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Me: I had this whole big post planned out, but I'm very tired and further discussion can wait for the morning.

Here's a brief video skimming the surface of the issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIEoO5KdPvg

After watching that, I want to ask this question: What, specifically, would you consider valid and acceptable evidence?

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Other Person: Sounds good Justin (above I changed geometric to radiometric...been so long since I talked about this I forgot the correct term). I'm traveling from the Canadian border to southeastern Iowa today, so I'm not going to be able to follow up until tonight. I hope you can/will answer the following question that comes from a Christian world-view: When did the first human appear that had a soul capable of going to either heaven or hell? I know that it's not directly related to evolution, but I'm sure curious as to how you might answer that question. Thanks. I'll watch the video, but even before I do so here's my "hang-up." Evolution can never be proven by science because it cannot be replicated in the lab under controlled conditions. All we have is circumstancial evidence that is being interpreted by people with biased world-views. Thankfully when we conduct repeatable experiments in the lab it doesn't matter what we believe. Origins is a completely different matter. It's messy...just like ecology and environmental science. Consequently, I'm very skeptical that valid and acceptable evidence will ever be discovered because the conclusions depend on what we believe to begin with (they really do in this case). That's why people just go "round and round" arguing about origins and rarely does anyone change their mind. However, I'll watch "What is the Evidence for Evolution." Maybe you'll change my mind. By the way, I haven't completely rejected the theory of evolution. For example, whenever I see a "missing link" claim, I check it out. In particular, fossils with feathers are really interesting. Still, quite a jump from ectothermic to endothermic organisms...among others...such as the claim that the complexity of a DNA molecule in my cells evolved from a primordial soup on Earth millions of years ago. Wow, just wow...what a flying leap of faith. [Gotta go now] What we need are scientists who challenge EVERYTHING. Please don't be like the guys from the Middle Ages who just dug their heels in and defended what they already believed. Okay, I really need to go...

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Me: Let me first address the "not laboratory testable" thing. That is something creationists LOVE repeating, but it's just a meaningless obfuscation. Science benefits from experimentation, but observation and study is more important to science than experimentation. Testability is great, but the ability to make and test postulates is even more important.

Like, we know that stars process hydrogen. Why? Because we analyze their expulsions and use radioscopic analysis. We don't need to create a star in a lab to say anything about them. Claiming that only experimentation is valid as scientific fact basically shuts out astronomy, archeology, and forensics as methods of scientific discovery. Observational science, which would fall under the category of "guesswork" by this idea, has sent men to the moon and robots to Mars.

Origins... doesn't matter to this discussion. That has literally nothing to do with evolution, which is how organisms' offspring change over generations.

Evolution doesn't depend on pre-supposed notions. Again, creationists love to pretend it is, but the fact is it came about not as an idea first looking for evidence to support it, but as a theorem to explain observable facts. As with any scientific theorem, the facts came first, and the theory came second, and every single person in that field of science tested it, re-tested it, and tried to poke holes and find flaws in it (this is the standard procedure for ANY new scientific idea, it's what makes science advance). They found where the original idea was wrong, then the idea evolved to better explain the facts. Again, standard procedure for any scientific inquiry. After a century or two, there are less holes to poke in evolutionary theory than in the theory of relativity, and modern scientists use both as a starting point not because of bias, but because both have proven reliable when put to practical, real-world tests. If evolution is a biased pre-supposition, then so is molecular theory or the theory of gravity. The three have undergone roughly equal amount of scientific rigor (if anything, we understand more about evolution because of the fossil record).

We have scientists who challenged EVERYTHING, actually. We have lots of those today. We had a lot in the old days, too. You seem to be thinking that Darwin was some kind of science-pope, but that wasn't the case. It was years and years before the theory was accepted because it wasn't mainstream, and again, it was put to test after test, postulate after postulate was formed and set to compare to reality, and yeah, the theory turned out to hold way more water than any competing theory. That's why it ended up becoming the standard; because the standard ideas of the time were challenged to explain the facts of reality, and the fledgling idea was proven to be correct.

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Other Person: To prevent bias and support or not support a hypothesis you must be able to replicate an experiment (or as you’ve correctly added repeatedly make observations that do the same). That’s fundamental science. If creationists are saying that they’re correct. Please don’t try to get out of it because it’s not working for you. Also, observation and study are part of the scientific method. Why are you trying to separate it? And when you say, “testability is great, but the ability to make and test postulates is even more important” you’re saying the EXACT same thing. I don’t get it.
Good point in the 2nd paragraph. Observations over time are part of the scientific method and don’t have to be done in a controlled lab. My work in ecology and wildlife management tell me that. However, what you said about stars AND my work both talk about current observations, not interpretations of circumstantial evidence of something that happened a long time ago. You can’t go back in time and observe the evolution that you claim is recorded in the fossil record. Therefore, your observation point is invalid when it comes to origins.
Origins has everything to do with evolution because that’s the starting point of the theory. Evolution – yes, how organisms change over time. I can see it happening with bacteria, dogs, cats, wolves in the short-term…but long-term changes from a primordial soup to you and me hasn’t even come close to being proven. It’s only just a belief.
I don’t understand why you keep bringing up the label “creationist.” Do you think I am one?
Yes, evolutionary theory has been a GREAT theory to try to explain observations. However, although you refuse to see the holes and flaws, they are rampant. No, I don’t think evolutionists have tried very hard to poke holes and find flaws. What I see is them trying to add “flesh” to the “bones” of an idea that appears to make logical sense, but has no evidence unless it is rammed into place (e.g. your dog/cat article). Really impossible to prove without MANY more intermediate missing links. However, maybe one day that might happen. Just not today (according to me, but apparently not to you).
I do not believe that Darwin’s theory has been put to test after test, postulate after postulate and set to compare with reality as you would hope to believe. I consider strong proponents to this theory as the most close-minded and biased individuals I have ever met and I’d say the same for creationists. Just an observation…not saying it’s wrong.
There is so much we don’t know…even about molecular theory, the theory of gravity, and certainly not the fossil record. In a hundred years, we’re going to look back at current knowledge and say, “Wow, I can’t believe we thought that was fact.” Good for you that you have so much confidence in evolution. I did my Master’s on forest ecology in Manitoba and we still don’t know how a boreal forest functions. Please don’t tell me that we know how life on Earth began and has developed from that point on.
Well, we could talk about this forever. Books have been written on it. However, other than watch the YouTube Clip and perhaps comment on it, I’m not going to talk about this anymore until you answer two questions:
1) When in history do you think the first person originated who had a soul that could to heaven?
2) Do you believe that people evolved from a primordial inorganic soup?



Other Person: I don’t even know how to begin to respond to your video clip. So many claims, so many assumptions, so many pieces placed into a pre-existing framework “because that’s just how it all must have worked” and this “just makes sense.” Also, very short on fossil finds that whales ever were land mammals and perhaps just variations of the same. Whales and hippos? Convincing to only those who are already completely sold on the idea of biological evolution between animals that have absolutely zero chance of breeding today.
A massive assumption is that organisms that share similar DNA are more closely related than those that have different DNA. Makes sense when you have a pre-existing theory to “ram” things into. Where are the links between?
I used to be like you Justin, but not anymore. I’m now a seeker and challenger, not a defender of a theory that requires an unbelievable amount of faith hiding behind a “form of science” that only tries to defend preconceived notions of how circumstantial evidence ought to be interpreted. For the third time, you know how all life on Earth has come about, and we don’t even know how the boreal forest functions. Sorry, I’m skeptical.

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Me: "I don’t understand why you keep bringing up the label “creationist.” Do you think I am one?"

You debate exactly like one, quite simply. You use the same arguments that they do, and they're arguments that reveal either a lack of knowledge of how the scientific process works or an attempt at deliberately ignoring it. I've explained a few of them (like the missing link thing), but you continue to use them without giving any flaws for my explanations, so it's fairly apparent that you're coming from a creationist worldview. As for why, I'll address those questions now.

"1) When in history do you think the first person originated who had a soul that could to heaven?
2) Do you believe that people evolved from a primordial inorganic soup?"

I'll answer them first, because they can be distracting. 1, I don't know because that has nothing to do whatsoever with science, since the nature of consciousness (what most would call the "soul") has never been conclusively proven. 2, yes, because all the evidence points to the fact that we did.

Compare these to the question I asked you, which you did not answer. I asked, "What would you consider valid evidence?" I'll get back to that.

The questions you asked are called "leading questions." Their nature tells me what you want me to say in answer to them. They are entirely, 100% beside the point, and have nothing to do with the debate. They only concern the IMPLICATIONS of the debate, which, by asking these questions, you have illustrated to be the part you really care about. Your worldview starts with the soul, and expands downwards from there.

Back to my question.

You want to think of yourself as a "seeker and a challenger," but what would accepting the theory of evolution do to your worldview? Think about that. You seem to think that it would instantly cause atheism (and Don agrees, which doesn't make a lick of sense to me, but that's beside the point). Let me be blunt: you want to consider yourself objective about this, but you DON'T want to change your belief system. I've seen it a lot, in fact I used to be the same way. When I asked "what would you consider valid evidence?" I kinda figured I wouldn't get an answer, for this exact reason. You CAN'T define evidence, because that would enable said evidence to be presented. The problem is, if you accept that the evidence is viable, you must therefore accept the theory itself and then, the real problem, the supposed implications of the theory.

Believe me, I get it. I went through the same thing. There's mountains of scientifically-valid evidence, you can find plenty in a quick Google search and you don't need me to present it. The thing is, you're the one who defines what evidence you consider "valid" (you've already brushed away evidence that would go a long way in convincing someone without bias, but your own bias is strong enough that you won't admit it). You claim that it's all "up to interpretation;" but, how would YOU interpret the fact that some animals are closer than others in DNA structure? The way chickens have claws and fingers and teeth easily accessible in their embryonic development, embedded in their genetic code? Feathered dinosaurs, half-whale half-hippo (I'm using simplified language here) animals found in the exact layer that they would be found in if evolution were true? Linear progression in the fossil record from simple, bottom-dwelling filter feeders to nodocords to jawless fish to limbed fish to land-dwelling animals? The list goes on and on and on. All usable dating methods, geological and astronomical in nature, pointing to an old Earth, through independent means? Adaptation working in EXACTLY the way that would allow for changes in form over long periods of time? No modern animals in fossil layers? Entire ecosystems completely separate from how they are today? How would you interpret these things? They point in a very, very clear direction. You call all of these things "assumptions," which is a nice way of avoiding thinking about them, though there are multiple published papers on every single thing I just listed, each the result of years of research by trained professionals in the respective fields and relentlessly double-checked by other professionals. You can claim that they're "assumptions" only by ignoring how the scientific process of testing and verification actually works. I'm under the impression that you're a creationist because the only places around I see that repeat that kind of misinformation are the creationist sites, newsletters, and books built from the ground up to convince laymen that professionals with years of training know less than the average man on the street about the subjects they've dedicated their lives to. You keep producing "dodge" moves to get away from the implications, but they're incredibly weak and most boil down to the classic, "that's not evidence!"

The pieces aren't placed in a pre-existing framework. Scientists look at them, and try to find out what they mean, and what they point to. EVERY SINGLE METHOD used points the conclusion of common descent. If a better solution is proposed and tested, makes postulates and has them confirmed, the new solution will be accepted. But no better explanation has been put forward, and with the sheer volume of evidence (you call it circumstantial, but circumstantial evidence is enough to ensure conviction if there's enough of it) indicates that this is probably the correct explanation.

Even in this discussion, you haven't brought up any new points or proposed any counter-solutions.

But, you have illustrated that you believe it conflicts with your ideas about the human soul. To you, it forms a dichotomy. You CANNOT accept the evidence for evolution. Therefore, you will not, and no amount of arguing will convince you.

To draw the argument to a close, I have a response to something you said in the first of the two latest posts. "However, although you refuse to see the holes and flaws, they are rampant." You call most evidence "assumptions" in the points you made. This, here, is a grand assertion that you have not backed up yet. Point to a hole in the theory. The closest your arguments have come are the "missing link" points, but as I pointed out, there are plenty but you won't call them "missing links" because their existence as such are a threat to your world-view. Land-mammal/whales, bird/dinosaurs, reptile/mammals, primitive elephants, jawless fish, early brachiopods... they're all links. And, again, the question demonstrates a lack of understanding about the theory. Every single animal is a transitional form. That's how evolution works.

So here's my question. As well as "what would you consider evidence?" I would like to ask, "what are the holes you see in the theory of evolution?"

Me: As an aside, this dichotomy of "I should be objective" and "I cannot deny the existence of God" is the reason that I disagreed with Don above. The problem is, the evidence IS enough to convince anyone who doesn't have a bias against it. It's enough to convince most people who DO have a bias against it (which is why there are very few creationists, virtually none, who have majors in "hard science" biology fields). When someone says "there is no God if evolution is true," then that person and anyone who believes them must either form a bias against the evidence or leave behind the ideas of God. That's a problem.

It's a problem that's completely unnecessary. The only part of the Bible that contradicts the idea of evolution are the first two chapters of Genesis, which in the original Hebrew, are written in poetic, non-historical language. They are not MEANT to be historical records, but they sound like they are if you read them plainly in English, which is one of the least expressive languages in the world.

The Christian evolutionist perspective is simple: evolution is the mechanism God used to create Man, to whom He gave spirits separate from flesh that were made in His image. Our bodies are animalistic, but our spirits are from God. That's not hard nor is it remote, based on the Bible.

Also, I'm going to share this conversation with some better-educated folks I've met online. No names or anything, just the talking points. I know more about this subject than most laypeople (I go nuts on stuff I'm interested in), but I'm not a professional. They're pretty good at digging up specific papers (one of them is an entomologist, and a very good one too), so if you're interested in more specific evidence and you don't want to find it through Google, they can probably suggest some if I ask.


I am... demoralized, I guess you could say. Did I present enough evidence? Was my case really weak? I suppose I got too far into rhetoric. Anyways, I figured you guys like stuff like this. I'm pretty confident in my last point... there is nothing I think I can say to convince a creationist, even one who doesn't consider himself one. Also, am I not understanding how the scientific process works here, am I putting to much confidence in its rigor? He apparently worked on it in higher education... did he just forget about it, or am I not understanding how evolution works?
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#2  Postby Fenrir » Aug 20, 2017 7:28 am

Get better friends.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#3  Postby Pebble » Aug 20, 2017 10:18 am

This is a long standing argument. Your interlocutor simply has not moved on in generations. Don't expect any results now however good your arguments.

I think the following from nearly a decade ago encapsulates the issues nicely.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lenski_affair
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#4  Postby laklak » Aug 20, 2017 1:55 pm

Stupid is as stupid does, and there's one fuckton of stupid out there.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#5  Postby proudfootz » Aug 20, 2017 4:26 pm

It's best not to talk about sensitive topics on FaceBook unless you don't mind losing your FB friends.
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#6  Postby Zadocfish2 » Aug 20, 2017 5:39 pm

Well, he's a friend of a friend. Here's how the conversation ended:

Other person: So, anyone who challenges your evolutionary ideas is labeled a creationist just because they may use some of the same arguments? That’s disturbing. Nothing like labeling the opposition with assumptions about where they’re coming from in order to “win” the argument.

Believe me, I know how the scientific process works and I have pointed out many of your flaws on how you view science. I can tell you that using the scientific process on evidence that cannot be replicated or directly observed is problematic and open to invalid interpretations based on false assumptions. I know, you don’t agree.

My questions:
1) I didn’t ask if science proved this. I asked what you believed about when souls became part of people. Until you answer this question, we have nothing more to talk about.
2) You have amazing faith…and have listened to nothing I have said. (Guess you’re feeling the same way about me.)

Your question:
I did answer this. I said I don’t think you’re ever going to come up with any valid evidence, only interpretations, because you are dealing with circumstantial evidence (nonrepeatable in the lab AND not observable). However, perhaps I didn’t answer this well. What would it take? This is tough because our perception of how to read the fossil record is probably so extremely different. Say, we could agree on the fossil record. You’d have to have more intermediate fossils (I can’t say missing links anymore because then I’d be a creationist) than you have now (lots and lots more, and not just guesses represented by the example link you gave me). Guess that would do it.

You are probably right about my “leading questions.” However, I was just curious where you’re coming from and in fact your answers were very helpful. They are telling me that we will be talking about this for hours upon hours upon hours…and get nowhere. I think that's one thing we agree on. Debating about evolution just isn’t my thing anyway. I’m more interested in taking care of the earth than figuring out how it all came about and about teaching others about nature (though I do find the topic interesting and important). However, I disagree that my questions are “beside the point.” Your reply or not tells me what you really care about and that’s important to me.

If the theory of evolution would be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, it would only improve my worldview. If the theory of evolution was proven to be true then that’s the way “it” happened. I’m not afraid of that. However, good luck on proving something based on circumstantial evidence based on bias I’ve described earlier, but you don’t connect with because you’re coming from an entirely different worldview. In other words, we’re just not communicating and I don’t think it’s going to happen.

No, I’m not objective. I have my own biases. Everybody does. Also, if I see compelling evidence I am willing to change my belief system. I have in the past on issues. Have you? Are you willing to change?

Yes, I can define evidence. I gather evidence all the time in quantitative and qualitative research. Again, if your evolutionary theory was proven, then that’s the way it is…so I’d have to change. It’s not like everything I think is inerrant.

I can’t believe you would say “you’ve already brushed away evidence that would go a long way in convincing someone without bias.” EVERYONE has bias! None of us can escape our world-views. No one can be totally objective in anything. I get it, too. You’re convinced that there are mountains of scientifically-valid evidence. Great. I just disagree for reasons previously stated (which I don’t think you’ve thought about much).

You said, “Even in this discussion, you haven’t brought up any new points or proposed any counter-solutions.” That’s because this isn’t my field of study. I really don’t have any. I simply see major gaps in the evolutionary record that cause me skepticism that evolutionary theory has been proven and I’m going to point them out. However, you don’t see them because you’re sold on evolution completely and totally. You are so much more inflexible in your beliefs than I…more than you realize.

Also, I do not understand when you stated: “you have illustrated that you believe it conflicts with your ideas about the human soul.” I did not say that. And the rest, I don’t even know how to respond to you putting me into a box of what I believe and how I approach learning. Perhaps you’re talking to others whom you’ve had this conversation with before?

You sure have a lot of questions that demand some very complex and detailed answers. However, I really don’t think you’ve spent much time thinking about my previous replies anyway so why bother. You can count that as a victory if you wish…that I don’t have the time to respond and that this is just a cop-out on my part. However, I think we both know that you’re not going to consider anything I say as valid anyway. I really just need to spend my time taking care of what we’ve got left and teaching others about the environment, rather than endlessly debating on how it got here.

Concerning your last post.
I earned a Master’s degree in Botany from the University of Manitoba in 2009 and am currently working on a PhD in Environmental Science (my dissertation is a qualitative study on place-based education at a graduate school and I way behind in my research)
I have no idea how Genesis 1 can be explained from a scientific point of view, nor has evolution ever been my major field of study. However, I can see incredible holes in evolutionary thought as I studied the process while getting a Bachelor’s in Biology and Master’s in Botany.
So, you are a Christian evolutionist? If so, then when do you think humans first received their spirits from God? Read into it any way you like, but I’d sure like an answer.

Thanks for the discussion. Makes me think and question what I believe and how to improve how I communicate (which at this late hour and after driving 12 hours probably isn’t very good…sorry).

One last thought: Honestly, I really don’t understand how the Earth can only be 6,000 years old. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on that claim? Justin, where does that put me in who and what you’ve perceived me to be?

Other Person: Thanks for the offer of more specific evidence, but I am absolutely buried in PhD work right now. Coding transcripts takes so much time and I have to be done within a year. Keep me in mind though, because I'm especially interested in the evolution of birds. Guess what I'm saying is I just can't debate this anymore. Thanks for being a respectful person. Not much of that going around these days.

---

Me: One last post, just to address the last bits of your last couple posts. I'm fine with saying the debate is done; these things really are completely circular, so they're stimulating only to a certain point, as you know.

"Say, we could agree on the fossil record. You’d have to have more intermediate fossils (I can’t say missing links anymore because then I’d be a creationist) than you have now (lots and lots more, and not just guesses represented by the example link you gave me). Guess that would do it."

Well, again, every single animal is an intermediate, so there you go. With almost all fossil animals, thousands upon thousands, we have a good idea of where they fit into the tree of life by comparative anatomy, dating, analysis, and various other methods which generally agree with each other. The problem you bring up does not exist.

"Also, if I see compelling evidence I am willing to change my belief system. I have in the past on issues. Have you? Are you willing to change?"

I used to be a creationist. I grew up with it. I started researching, and found that the case for evolution was absolutely air-tight, and adjusted my beliefs accordingly. If another theory comes up that better fits the facts, I'll be all into it. It just hasn't happened yet.

"However, you don’t see them because you’re sold on evolution completely and totally. You are so much more inflexible in your beliefs than I…more than you realize."

It's not a matter of being "sold," it's a matter of understanding it. Your arguments aren't against evolution as a theory. Gaps in the fossil record aren't a "problem" for the theory because every single new fossil discovery fills a supposed "gap" by the very nature of the theory. If I appear inflexible... well, you're a botanist. Imagine if someone were arguing that photosynthesis theory was incorrect because "we don't know, for sure, why the color green is used by plants." It's about that level of misunderstanding. If I was trying to make that point, you might come across as inflexible when claiming that I was incorrect. I could potentially argue that anything you said about what we know about photocells in plants is "meaningless guesswork, based on faulty presuppositions about plants," or something similar.

Basically, by claiming that the fossil record can't be used as evidence, you're claiming that an entire branch of science, archeology, is completely worthless because the things it studies aren't happening currently. Even astronomy makes discoveries based on "circumstantial evidence"; humans have only observed a nova directly on rare occasions, but we know how it works for stars we don't observe because millions of years ago, novas left nebulas as explosion debris. Even if we never observed a nova, we would be able to tell that those nebulas were formed from stars exploding in the distant past by radioscopic analysis (if I'm thinking of the right process) and other methods. Really, we only know anything about black holes from looking at their surroundings, and observing their effects. The fossil record is the same way; we can draw conclusions from analyzing life's leftovers.

"However, I really don’t think you’ve spent much time thinking about my previous replies anyway so why bother."

I've considered them. I've seen them before, and they don't really hold water. Like you said, "Perhaps you’re talking to others whom you’ve had this conversation with before?" That's kinda what's happening on my end. I've had these conversations before.

"However, I can see incredible holes in evolutionary thought as I studied the process while getting a Bachelor’s in Biology and Master’s in Botany."

You've only mentioned two (intermediate fossils and supposedly-unreliable methodology), and understanding the theory and the reasons behind it removes these two supposed "holes" very quickly. That's probably why I don't seem to be giving due consideration to your points... you seem to be talking about a completely different theory to the one I've researched.

"So, you are a Christian evolutionist? If so, then when do you think humans first received their spirits from God?"

The term "evolutionist" isn't really a thing in relevant scientific circles... the theory is an integral part of our understanding of biology at this point and while it's constantly being refined, the only people really against it as a whole are the ones who don't work in fields where it's heavily involved. But yes, I am a Christian and I acknowledge common descent.

As for the second question... well, Dad (who puts more thought into that kind of thing) would probably say it was when humans reached the point of cognition where they could recognize the supernatural as separate from the natural, and that sounds reasonable to me. The point where humans would stop being animals and gain a spiritual sense... kinda hard to pin down, exactly, but I guess it had to happen at some point.

"One last thought: Honestly, I really don’t understand how the Earth can only be 6,000 years old. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on that claim? Justin, where does that put me in who and what you’ve perceived me to be?"

I'm not sure. The Earth isn't just 6000 years old, you're absolutely correct there. The ideas supporting that "theory" come from misunderstandings about geology, mostly, and from lies propagated by people like Ken Ham. As for what I perceive... well, I can now tell you're not a young-earth creationist, so that's good. I still don't get a lot of your questions about evolution... even less so, actually, if you don't believe in a young earth. You acknowledge observable evolution and natural selection, and the kind of large-scale evolution we observe in the fossil record is the natural extension of that process, because it's the same process as viewed over nigh-incomprehensibly long periods of time. There's really no reason to think that it isn't. If you acknowledge an old earth, the arguments you brought up go from not really making much sense to just... kind of evaporating altogether. So it actually just makes me more confused. But, it's late so maybe that's why.

"I’m more interested in taking care of the earth than figuring out how it all came about and about teaching others about nature."

Let's end on that note. We certainly agree there.

"Thanks for the offer of more specific evidence, but I am absolutely buried in PhD work right now. Coding transcripts takes so much time and I have to be done within a year. Keep me in mind though, because I'm especially interested in the evolution of birds. Guess what I'm saying is I just can't debate this anymore. Thanks for being a respectful person. Not much of that going around these days."

Sure... if anything, I probably wasn't respectful enough. I certainly appreciate the discussion. And yeah, the evolution of birds is absolutely fascinating. They're basically small, toothless dinosaurs, and that fact always tickles me.

God bless, man. Good luck with your PhD! That stuff can't be easy.

---

Other Person: Up again, but it will bother me if I don't say, "I may not understand how the Earth can be six thousand years old, but that doesn't mean it's not." You think we know so much more than we do, decree theory as fact because it makes logical sense to you, and too easily accept data into an assumed framework "that had to have happened in a certain way" because the evidence says so (and it may if you twist it to your way of thinking). Just your claim that some do not have bias throws up myriads of red flags and the idea that on one magical day a person was born that had a spirit/soul - well, to that idea I don't even know how to respond. I'm glad I perplexed you with what appear to be inconsistencies, but so much of what you claim as absolute truth is built on current knowledge that is incomplete and biased (e.g. radiometric dating). Your faith in evolution as fact is greater than you know. Perhaps you should read over things I've said and think about it more. And yes, I agree with virtually everything that Pastor Don said. Perhaps one day we can visit in person. I'd like that because writing over Facebook like this is just too time-consuming and too many miscommunications occur. Maybe talk to you in a year or so :) .


So that's the end of it. Very respectful, as far as these things go, but I still think maybe he doesn't understand the subjects at hand... Ah, well, this is about as well as these things ever go. He seems like a nice guy, anyways.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#7  Postby laklak » Aug 20, 2017 5:46 pm

He doesn't understand anything. Not physics, astronomy, cosmology, paleontology, geology, chemistry, history, pick a discipline, any discipline. In order for it to be true ALL the knowledge from ALL those fields (and many others) would have to be wrong. Not "mistaken", or "misconstrued", but flat out wrong. Or a gigantic conspiracy.

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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#8  Postby Calilasseia » Aug 20, 2017 7:35 pm

One way of dealing with him ... tell him to come here if he thinks he's hard enough ... the regulars here will soon carpet bomb his canards into their constituent quarks ...
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#9  Postby Rumraket » Aug 20, 2017 7:58 pm

Here's the problem as I see it: You have some sort of expectation that an argument should end with one part making some sort of concession speech.

That almost never ever happens. And by almost never I mean that I'm actually not aware of a debate that happened that concluded with one side ending up conceding to the other right then and there. I have a pretty strong suspicion this never took place in actual history.

You might actually change another person's mind, but s/he's not generally going to sit there and admit to you that this has happened. At best, in the rare cases where people change their minds, what happens during a debate is that it stops the way it always does, with both parties walking away from it thinking the other person is an idiot.

And then when they are away from it and they have calmed down and have taken their minds off it and theyr'e in the shower, or doing the dishes, the arguments and the evidence will start to weigh in and make people think. Then, in the quiet of their own heads, they might change their minds.

But you personally will never get to see this happen real time. It happens in the privacy of people's heads, and maybe, just maybe, many years later you'll hear from the person's mind you changed. But don't count on it. You do these debate to put the ideas and information into a place where they didn't before. That's it. And then you can just hope that someone who reads it at some point thinks about it.

Do not EVER go into a debate in order to SEE people change their minds. If that is your debating goal, you will fail ALL debates you ever have, because the goal you have set for yourself is UNATTAINABLE given human nature. It simply isn't how the nuclear-ape works. So let go of that desire. Just keep informing for it's own sake, don't do it because you want to enjoy the spectacle of a concession speech, they are total fantasies.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#10  Postby Calilasseia » Aug 20, 2017 8:08 pm

Frequently, the best approach is not to try and educate those who are immune to education, but to demonstrate to a surrounding audience, that the canards erected by such persons are subject to proper discoursive attention.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#11  Postby proudfootz » Aug 20, 2017 8:26 pm

Yes, I often find myself hoping it is the lurkers who might be open to reason.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#12  Postby Zadocfish2 » Aug 20, 2017 9:39 pm

Rumraket wrote:Here's the problem as I see it: You have some sort of expectation that an argument should end with one part making some sort of concession speech.

That almost never ever happens. And by almost never I mean that I'm actually not aware of a debate that happened that concluded with one side ending up conceding to the other right then and there. I have a pretty strong suspicion this never took place in actual history.

You might actually change another person's mind, but s/he's not generally going to sit there and admit to you that this has happened. At best, in the rare cases where people change their minds, what happens during a debate is that it stops the way it always does, with both parties walking away from it thinking the other person is an idiot.

And then when they are away from it and they have calmed down and have taken their minds off it and theyr'e in the shower, or doing the dishes, the arguments and the evidence will start to weigh in and make people think. Then, in the quiet of their own heads, they might change their minds.

But you personally will never get to see this happen real time. It happens in the privacy of people's heads, and maybe, just maybe, many years later you'll hear from the person's mind you changed. But don't count on it. You do these debate to put the ideas and information into a place where they didn't before. That's it. And then you can just hope that someone who reads it at some point thinks about it.

Do not EVER go into a debate in order to SEE people change their minds. If that is your debating goal, you will fail ALL debates you ever have, because the goal you have set for yourself is UNATTAINABLE given human nature. It simply isn't how the nuclear-ape works. So let go of that desire. Just keep informing for it's own sake, don't do it because you want to enjoy the spectacle of a concession speech, they are total fantasies.


Maybe I was doing that... whoops. I actually do concede points when I'm proven wrong, so I guess I expect other people to do the same? Eh. I really just wanted to inform.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#13  Postby talkietoaster » Aug 23, 2017 12:13 pm

Read my quote.

Beating with experience usually leads to try and respond to multiple of ignorant claims and answer them fully because they do not want to find out themselves.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#14  Postby pelfdaddy » Aug 23, 2017 11:04 pm

zadocfish,

I've been ruminating on your dilemma, and wish to share a few thoughts if that's alright. I really want to start by praising your grasp of the subject matter as well as the quality of construction with which your side of the dialogue took form. There certainly is no reason to think that you've left anything of substance unstated or neglected.

And while I certainly believe that the attempt to persuade is never wasted time, there is something of value in the advice given by others, to the effect that a full mapping out of the applicable data is unlikely to lead the ignorant to Sophia's veranda. This is because you are dealing with an individual who wants to call himself a seeker after wisdom and truth, but is not willing to begin with genuine open-mindedness and objectivity.

Now I realize what I am about to draw to your attention applies to religion generally, and for this I apologize, because you are a professing Christian who has come to this forum in good faith not inviting us to attack your beliefs about Jesus. Having thus disclaimed, I wade into the surf...

I never doubted the truth of Christianity until I became truly objective. This is impossible when one is standing in the locked vault of Faith; since the quality of objectivity requires that we set aside biases, favoritism, and previously established commitments. Faith holds us in place, warns us away from the edge, shouts at reason to be careful, begs that we not stray from the center.

Something has to happen to make us respond, "Hold on a minute while I drop my guard and explore what is beyond this door."

For some people, it is the injustice of gratuitous suffering, or the existence of Evil, or the death of a child, etc. For me, if I must abbreviate an otherwise protracted autobiography, I would have to boil it down to the behavior of the ministry. Every preacher I had encountered who revealed in one fashion or another his darker motives, when placed like sheaves of straw upon the camel's aching back, left the poor beast groaning in such pain that relief was paramount. I had to loosen the belt just a little.

I became willing to actually question the things I believed. Most apologists will tell you that they do question their beliefs, that they really have challenged them and done their homework honestly. But they do not know what an honest challenge is, because they dare not expose themselves to what is beyond the door of the room called Faith. But as soon as I became willing to risk my faith for the principle of "Believing only what is true", as soon as I became eager to find out if faith would really stand up to the challenge of reality, I stepped outside of my safe room and looked around. It was only the corrupt behavior of preachers, the rotting fruit of all the ministries with which I had come into close contact, that made me willing to do this. I actually backed away from my faith. I stood at a distance as though I were a teenager embarrassed to be dropped off at school by his mommy. I looked at Christianity as an outsider would, and began to examine its many claims.

When I really gave the matter some thought, it became clear that the story of the Tower of Babel could not literally be true. It was clear from history, archeology and anthropology that languages originate in a much more complicated manner over many years, beginning prior to the setting of the biblical account. Was this then a mere parable? Or was it more likely a fabrication arising out of a culture that simply did not know the truth and therefore concocted a story to serve its own ends? Observing my faith with the detachment of an outsider, I knew the answer had to be that it was a mere concoction.

And like that one pesky Jenga plank, this piece of information, once pulled free from the larger structure, caused the entire edifice to destabilize, teeter, lean heavily to one side, and finally come cascading down in catastrophic, noisy ruin. Again, apologies for the veiled attack on Christianity when no such offense has been invited; but for illustrative purposes, I could do no better than this.

Your friend needs to have a Jenga moment.

Something has to happen, something very powerful, that will dislodge his mind from the unquestioning devotion with which he embraces his faith in the divine authorship and guidance of Life's multiply speciated Tree. And make no mistake, he is correct when he says that an unguided evolutionary process causes problems for the account of Genesis. For example, the Bible is very explicit when it explains the theology--the mathematics, really--of vicarious redemption. Sin entered the world by one man (Adam), and so by one man (Jesus) sin is vanquished by the crucifixion. If Adam is only a metaphor, then Christ is only a metaphor, because the two are equated as bookends on God's plan. Therefore, if you accept the gift of salvation, you really have to acknowledge that your affliction of Original Sin came as the result of a single sudden act of Adam's disobedience. Problems like these may not seem like complete proofs that evolution destroys faith, and I know you can reconcile one with the other if you try hard enough--but these kinds of problems are still problems, and your friend recognizes this.

This is why he sits in the center of the room of faith. This is why he flees from the side of the ship, taking up his sea-heavy rope and lashing himself fast to the mainmast that is His Lord and Savior, as the waves of opposition and the winds of doubt surround his storm-tossed ship until she is listing near to scuppers, all the while claiming to have honestly examined biology, paleontology, etc.

It's not about science. It's about fear of what's behind the door. It's about the risk of falling overboard if you brave the wind and lean too far over the rail. He will undertake this risk the day something happens to dislodge his reason from his need for eternal safety.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#15  Postby laklak » Aug 24, 2017 1:26 am

Damn, that was good, pefdaddy. :thumbup:
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#16  Postby pelfdaddy » Aug 24, 2017 1:48 am

Gee Lak, you're very nice. Fact is, when I compare what you and I have said in the same thread, I usually think, "Yea, Lak said it better and way shorter". I wish I could do that.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#17  Postby Zadocfish2 » Aug 24, 2017 5:07 am

Thanks, Pelfdaddy. I appreciate the feedback! I was kinda proud of the "echolocation" thing, actually. He ceded that point, but somehow he didn't see the validity of the Evolution of Whales video... which is why I came to the same conclusion about his reasons for doubting science as you did.

Also, if it was the ministers that were troubling your faith, remember that even in the Bible it's mentioned that such people were around. It's not good to judge the philosophy and voice of a faith by people who only want to use it for personal gain; many of the pastors I know have sacrificed much for others, rather than the other way around.

If you found other reasons for unbelief after that, of course, I totally understand... faith is its own thing, I know that. I honestly left the faith for reasons of doubt for a while until some stuff happened that I couldn't satisfactorily explain away (see the "Coincidences: Spiritual Experiences?" thread for details on that; not especially convincing, but impossible to shake for the one it happened to).

God bless, man.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#18  Postby mingthething » Aug 24, 2017 6:07 am

Calilasseia wrote:One way of dealing with him ... tell him to come here if he thinks he's hard enough ... the regulars here will soon carpet bomb his canards into their constituent quarks ...


He'll do something to get himself banned, then proudly proclaim that the 'evilutionists' were too afraid of the truth and decidde to censor him.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#19  Postby Rumraket » Aug 25, 2017 11:33 am

Zadocfish2 wrote:Maybe I was doing that... whoops. I actually do concede points when I'm proven wrong, so I guess I expect other people to do the same? Eh. I really just wanted to inform.

Yeah but there's a big difference between conceding on some minor point (maybe you got some definition or a word wrong, or something was off by a factor of ten), and completely changing your mind on the major topic of the debate and walking away with a completely changed perspective and belief.

Humans don't work like that. Ever. It takes time. And by time I mean months, to years.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#20  Postby Matt_B » Aug 25, 2017 12:53 pm

Yeah, you can never win an argument with a creationist. All you can do sow the seeds of doubt for the possibility of future contemplation.

Oh, and provide any bystanders with corrections for anything they say that's flat out wrong.
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