Speaking Creatively

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Creationists and evolutionists are interesting groups of people.  It would seem that both sides of this debate are so passionate that the sound of the blood pumping in their ears prevents them from really hearing the other side very clearly.  Oh, I know, it is all about “intelligent conversation,” but if we are honest there are too many times that both sides are at fault for giving in to subjectivity.

A friend sent me a link to the following article just today.  While there are plenty of issues that I have no doubt will be hot points for debate, there is an excellent sentiment in the tone of the article as well as the challenge to discussion at the end.  The author, Alan Dowd, suggests that his fellow creations speak respectfully, humbly (yet boldly), intelligently, and personally.  He is quick to acknowledge that the debate, as much as we want to say is completely academic, is of such concern on both sides of the table that it is sincerely difficult to have apart from emotional context.

Click here for the full text of the article.  Then come back here and comment until your heart’s content.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

25 responses to “Speaking Creatively

  • RBH

    Dowd’s advice boils down to

    Recite your misrepresentations and falsehoods about evolution respectfully.

    The reason scientists like me get frustrated, passionate, and even angry is that creationists like Dowd make false statements and then build huge edifices of faulty conclusions on them. And they persist in doing so in the face of repeated refutations, with evidence, of the falsehoods and misrepresentations. Consider this from Dowd:

    Today Darwin’s tree of life has been uprooted and disproven by science itself. The wondrous universe within the cell and molecular DNA—both hidden to Darwin—were the culprits.

    Lawton notes that molecular DNA revealed that life was infinitely more complex than Darwin theorized. Instead of a “neat branching pattern,” as Lawton writes, there is an “impenetrable thicket of interrelatedness.”

    Just as bad for the Darwinists, for Darwin’s theory to be correct the fossil record would include countless “transitional links,” as Darwin labeled them—branches and limbs bridging one species and another. He predicted these links to be “inconceivably great.” Yet the fossil record, which was hidden to Darwin, reveals no such evidence.

    Since Dowd doesn’t give a reference for those claims it’s a little hard to find the context and evaluate the claims. But as it stands there are several falsehoods, or at least serious misrepresentations, embedded in that quotation. Lawton’s remarks about confusion in the tree of life, for example, apply to the base of the tree of life, where horizontal gene transfer blurs the clean tree structure. But that in no way weakens the case for common descent, which is what the tree metaphor originally represented. More complicated? Yes. Invalidates common descent? No.

    And consider that Dowd has the brass balls to recommend Francis Collins’ The Language of God as a resource. Has he actually read it? Collins presents a powerful case for acccepting both evolution in the sense of common descent (the ‘tree of life’ metaphor Dowd trashes) and the theory of evolution by natural selection. If all Christians read and accepted Collins’ argument there would be no creationists in Dowd’s sense, the Answers in Genesis sense, or the Discovery Institute’s sense.

    Repeating falsehoods and misrepresentations politely is no improvement. They’re still falsehoods and misrepresentations.

  • Boz

    Aaron, You are asking for a dispassionate, unbiased duscussion, yet you link to an extremely biased article that produces the same old tired canards that have been debunked thousands of times before. Are you a creationist, Aaron?

    (1) “Darwin’s hypothesis that all life can be traced to a universal common ancestor evolved from theory into dogma.”

    The use of the word dogma shows the author’s bias. Acceptance of the scientific theory of evolution is no more dogmatic than accepting general relativity, or the germ theory of disease.

    (2) “”Darwin said “I think.” Not “I know.” Not “This is what science tells us.” Not “Here are the facts.””

    He said this because he was not 100% certain. Unlike many creationists, who are absolutely certain that the earth magically appeared 6000 years ago. Doubt is a virtue.

    (3) “They were bold and big thoughts, to be sure, but they were just that—the thoughts and theories of a 19th century thinker.”

    This is conflation of the colloquial and scientific meanings of the word theory. (Equivocation.)

    (4) “Today Darwin’s tree of life has been uprooted and disproven by science itself. The wondrous universe within the cell and molecular DNA—both hidden to Darwin—were the culprits.”

    This is true, and misleading at the same time. Darwin was wrong about many things, and where he was wrong, his scientific theory was updated. The writers implication, that Darwin was wrong, therefore the scientific theory of evolution is false, is both a strawman and a non-sequitur.

    (5) “Just as bad for the Darwinists, for Darwin’s theory to be correct the fossil record would include countless “transitional links,” as Darwin labeled them—branches and limbs bridging one species and another. He predicted these links to be “inconceivably great.” Yet the fossil record, which was hidden to Darwin, reveals no such evidence. ”

    The author is lying here. There are hundreds of millions of fossils of living things that have been found. This is not an exaggeration. Every one is a transitional fossil, because all living things are permanently evolving.

    (6) “But incredibly, the offspring of Darwin’s tree of life—his twin theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest—not only persist but are considered beyond dispute by many.”

    Natural selection and survival of the fittest are the same things, and they are not theories. The central principles of the theory of evolution are beyond dispute. There is valid disagreement on minor, periphery points. E.g. was the common ancestor of humans and chimps bipedal?

    (7) “evolution [is] a “theory, not a fact””

    It is both a scientific theory and a fact. It is a fact because it is occurs in every living species, and this can be observed. The scientific theory explains how it happens.

    (8) “Rather, they[Discovery Institute] recommend that teachers, in Campbell and Meyer’s words, “present the main arguments for Darwinism and encourage students to evaluate them critically,” which is exactly what Darwin would have expected.”

    The amount of of knowledge needed to critically evaluate the Theory of Evolution cannot be obtained in the time currently given to the subject of evolution in schools. A university degree, or equivalent, is required. DI knows this, but continues to make this recommendation, as part of their ‘Teach the Controversy’ strategy.

    (9) “Remember, too, that it takes a lot of faith to be a Darwinist.”

    Another specious canard.

    (10) “Scores of scientists reject Darwin’s creed. In fact, the Discovery Institute’s running list of scientists skeptical of Darwinism numbers some 738 names.”

    The number of scientists that accept the theory of evolution numbers many millions of names.

    Aaron, why are you peddling this BS here?

    Would you consider writing a blog post about the debate between the theory of universal gravitation, and the rubber band theory of attraction?

  • Aaron

    Read my post again… I was not commenting on the entire article but the idea that he is trying to say that we need to sit down and actually hear one another out. Did you not get that from his piece?

    BTW HERE IS THE EMAIL RESPONSE I SENT BACK TO THE FRIEND WHO ORIGINALLY SENT ME THE LINK:

    Interesting…

    Glad to see that Answers in Genesis (the Creation Museum people) is NOT on the list under the heading “intelligent”! 🙂

    But the ones he has listed are also a bit shadey, at least those I am famaliar with. Francis Collins, while a very smart guy, does not advocate for creation, firstly. Second he has some other interesting ideas that really don’t hold water even for me as an amateur at this stuff. He discusses the problem with holding a “God of the gaps” concept… and I agree that there are problems with it, but not sure that I appreciate his solution.

    The movie Expelled is definitely of the Michael Moore ilk, and so just as reliable as anything Moore puts out. True that the film presents little snips of acutal conversations, but it can hardly be considered an “intelligent” perspective on the issue of creation and evolution. If a person were to reference the film to anyone on the evolution side of the issue, it would be met with nothing more than a scoff.

    Dawkins does an excellent job of describing the way that nearly infinite complexity can be explained by the theory of evolution, so the “tree of life” concept that he references would also hold very little water for an atheist. Dawkins acknowledges that there is a very low probability, for instance, that the eye could have developed. But breaking down large improbabilities into very small ones makes them infinitely more probable, and thus the eye could have developed by an evolutionary process. There still exist creatures that having no eyes are “photophobic,” magets as an example, and as they bob their heads from left to right they can sense which direction the higher intensity of light is and then move in the opposite direction.

    The fossil record has actually shown many varieties and transitional specimens. It has to also be added to the discussion that a vast majority of specimen could never be complete enough to show enough detail to complete the fossil record. No evolutionist would carry that as a good argument.

    I would like to know where he is getting his numbers, but either way the number of scientists being only a little more than 700 is not a very large group and there is no account of how skilled or studied these men and women are. Numbers are not a good judge for the health of a congregation and equally they are not good judges for the strength of a group of creationist scientists.

    He also quotes Einstein out of context. Most people agree that Einstein was an atheist; he does reference “God” in his work, but with further study the “intelligence” he refers to is something more like Mother Nature or the design that is implicit in the evolutionary process.

    I very much appreciate his encouragement to approach the issue with respect, humility, boldly, intelligently, and personally. This is the main problems that I have seen with much of the “dialogue.” People on both sides of the issue appear to be completely opposite of this and so no one really is able to even have dialogue. The blame can easily and honestly put on both sides… and people like Ken Hamm and Answers in Genesis do not help this because of all the things that they have made up and bolstered as Biblical truth just to see their theory out. It makes creationists look entirely foolish, and so they get written off. But people like PZ Meyers also scoffs and ricidules so often that he is not taken seriously by the creationsts because they are so often just laughed at and brushed aside, even when they have intelligent and good things to share (https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/aig-you-got-this-one-right/).

    How’s that for a few thoughts?

  • Boz

    Aaron, I fully agree with hearing each other out respectfully. I did understand that from his article. Since I agree with it, there is really nothing further for me to say.

    However, on the creationism/evolution dialogue, many times I have seen a discussion where both sides respectfully explain their positions, and then one participant, almost always the creationist, is demonstrated to be wrong on a particular claim. This person then ignores the fact that they have been demonstrated to be wrong, and continues to repeat the lie. This person is a hypocrite, because they say that they want a respectful discussion, but in fact only want a platform to announce their rhetoric, while paying lip-service to their partner. This is extremely disrespectful.

    Unless Alan Dowd has never been shown to be wrong on these issues (very unlikely), he is a hypocrite.

  • Aaron

    Alan’s article was written to other Christians. I think that his point really was to present some of what he sees as evidence for creation, but then to say, “Seriously, guys, if we want the evolutionists to listen to us, then we really need to start listening to them.”

    I agree that I too have been in situations where the creationist reacted this way. The curiosity for me is if it is as simple as they are wrong or if they are just not educated enough on the topic to defend their position. Of course, both could be true.

  • Renier

    Aaron: “Read my post again… I was not commenting on the entire article but the idea that he is trying to say that we need to sit down and actually hear one another out”

    We heard them out, a zillion times over. It always boils down to “goddidit” and they fail to provide evidence but are fat on the lies, quote mining and plain god mongering. Respect is someone to earn and I honestly cannot see that creationists have earned one grain of it.

    So what are we to do Aaron? Sit still, nod our heads and smile while they are up to their usual dishonesty and falsehoods? As RBH said: “The reason scientists like me get frustrated, passionate, and even angry is that creationists like Dowd make false statements and then build huge edifices of faulty conclusions on them. And they persist in doing so in the face of repeated refutations, with evidence, of the falsehoods and misrepresentations.”

  • Renier

    Boz: “This person then ignores the fact that they have been demonstrated to be wrong, and continues to repeat the lie.”

    You are lucky. I usually get a frakking Gish Gallop with a string of lies and cannot get the creo to focus on one of them at a time.

  • Jesse

    Maybe you’ve answered this already and I haven’t found it (when I try searching your archives off the tags at the bottom I seem to get all wordpress blog entries, not just yours), but I’d be really interested in hearing your specific beliefs about creation, Aaron.

    As for the actual blogs intention, I fully admit that there are some atheists and Darwinists who give us a bad name (ugh, PZ Myers and Dawkins come too mind, I wont even talk about Sam Harris) and that there are creationists who give you guys a bad name (Answers in Genesis, Michel Behe…), but I think the biggest problem doesn’t come from a lack of respect… its a lack of understanding each others bias.

    People say “you are an atheist/creationist” or whatever, and believe that they now understand each others point of view. You’re average atheist really just doesn’t understand the power that Biblical Authority has to a Christian, and your average creationist just doesn’t get what it means to back up a scientific statement with evidence. I have had very few discussions where both sides were willing to break down their arguments all the way to the most basic fundamentals and then build them back up piece by piece comparing them with each other. It’s a ridiculously time consuming process, and actually intimately personal on both sides.

  • Aaron

    Beautifully put, Jesse.

    I especially appreciate the fact that you are willing to call out the foolishness of Meyers and Dawkins. I have no doubt that these are intelligent men, but their tactics certainly cause them not to be trusted by many.

    On the other side, there are men like Ray Comfort and others who make the creationists look very stupid and foolish. I do not know the author of the article personally, but it is true that, even if his points were not well supported, his tone and the challenge to have a different dialogue still mean something.

    Reiner, if more people followed Jesse’s example and admit problems with both fronts (even if one is more right than the other) then perhaps this conversation could begin to actually mean something rather than just rehashing the same ridiculous arguments about how the other side doesn’t listen.

    As for my own thoughts on creation or evolution, I honestly have a good impression of the concerns of both sides and can honestly say that the meaning of the argument is completely different on each side, not even mentioning the evidence, facts, and opinions. With the understanding that I will be accused of avoiding the question, I honestly do not have a firm opinion either way… I am much more concerned about the dialogue. I think that there are alternative ways to read the creation story in Genesis and do not see evolution undermining the story of the Bible. That certainly makes me in contention with both sides in some ways, but it also allows me a perspective to encourage open dialogue.

    To get a comprehensive list of my posts on the topic, use the links under “Common Topics” on the sidebar, which is generated by the tags on each of my posts. That will get you just my posts instead of the entirety of wordpress.com.

  • renier

    Aaron: “I especially appreciate the fact that you are willing to call out the foolishness of Meyers and Dawkins. I have no doubt that these are intelligent men, but their tactics certainly cause them not to be trusted by many.”

    Could you please explain what is wrong with Dawkins’s tactics?

    Aaron: “Reiner, if more people followed Jesse’s example and admit problems with both fronts (even if one is more right than the other) then perhaps this conversation could begin to actually mean something rather than just rehashing the same ridiculous arguments about how the other side doesn’t listen.”

    Perhaps. But may I suggest you test you idea and go and do a civil argument with a creo about evolution?

  • Jesse

    Reiner, I’ll field that one about Dawkins. Dawkins is genius (or used to be, at least, he’s become pretty dogmatic over the whole individual/group selection debate). He is also an ass. He has no interest in having a reasonable dialogue any more, he just wants to show everyone the dumbest of creationists. Even his new book The Greatest Show on Earth, which SHOULD be just showcasing the evidence for evolution (which it actually does a very poor show of, which is too bad because he hints at evidence he never gets into) spends an inordinate amount of time bashing what he calls ‘the fortypercenters’. Dawkins actively seeks out the most ridiculous and closeminded of Christians. Can you imagine him doing an interview with someone like Aaron? I can’t, Dawkins whole stick is too push out even the idea of moderates and leave behind just the crazies.

    Seriously, read God Delusion or Greatest Show on Earth objectively. The tone is ‘this is science, if you don’t believe it you’re a f*cking moron’, when it should be ‘this is science, this is the weight of evidence, at least learn it properly before rejecting it’.

    The real tragedy is; his earlier books, like Selfish Gene or Blind Watchmaker, are really quite good. But I can’t even get moderate religious people to read them because they so strongly associate Dawkins with blind angry rhetoric. And before you accuse them of not being willing to see the evidence, I CAN usually get them to read Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, or Shermer’s Why Darwin Matters. They just don’t trust Dawkins.

    I actually HAVE had many good debates with creationists before. The internet is not usually a good place to have them though. I’ve challenged evangelical preachers on the beach in Australia and Christians on street corners in my home Canada. You can do it. It doesn’t always work (I stopped a rabbi in Melbourne because he was doing the old ‘there are no transitional fossils’ bull and, being an artist, started drawing the various fossils in the sand, he got very angry), but a lot of the time it does.

    It helps that I have a fairly strong grounding in scripture, I certainly can’t go toe to toe with a preacher quoting Bible verses, but you’d be surprised how often people soften up if you just demonstrate that you HAVE heard their side before. It makes them more willing to listen to your side.

  • Renier

    Jesse. Your description above would fit for someone like Hitchens. You have your perception that his tone is ‘this is science, if you don’t believe it you’re a f*cking moron’. It is however not near to the impression I have of him. I find him pretty mild. He speaks clear and is not afraid to call a spade a spade. In line with the subject he comments on he is bound to step on some toes.

    I have read a couple of his books. Busy with Greatest Show. Have read God Delusion. Did not find the tone you were referring to, perhaps though were he asks (with good reason) not to be quote mined.

    Jesse: “spends an inordinate amount of time bashing what he calls ‘the fortypercenters’”

    Science, and evolution in particular does the bashing of the “fortypercenters”. I would hardly blame Dawkins for pointing out the obvious.

  • Renier

    Jesse: “The real tragedy is; his earlier books, like Selfish Gene or Blind Watchmaker, are really quite good. But I can’t even get moderate religious people to read them because they so strongly associate Dawkins with blind angry rhetoric.”

    And the bias towards Dawkins is his own fault, and not the devil horns painted on him by people who hate evolution?

    Jesse: “Dawkins actively seeks out the most ridiculous and closeminded of Christians.”

    So do I. They are the nutters who push creationist/ID nonsense down the throats of children wherever they can. They rape science, are dishonest while claiming to be holy. At least Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Denette are out in the open exposing this madness. It should however be the moderates who deals with this lunacy, but very few actually do. In that I think there is a need for “in your face” people like I mention here.

  • Aaron

    Renier, my critique is on both fronts. I agree that creationists have to bare just as much of the burden in this regard. I am ashamed of people that you have apparently interacted with that are trying to represent what they see as biblical truth but are unwilling to listen to you perspective on evolutionary science.

    When Dawkins uses tactics where he seeks out the most marginal and close-minded Christians, as you are admitting to as well, then it really does nothing to engage conversation, but instead reinforces the negetive perception that creationists have of evolutionists. I have cited earlier that people like Ray Comfort do the same thing on the other side of the issue.

    Would it be more wise to seek out people who actually know what they are talking about? Or are you to afraid that they may actually make viable points?

  • Jesse

    I’m going to step out of this conversation now Renier, the fact that you casually throw around phrases like “rape science” and “hate evolution” as well as all the other comments I’ve read of yours disinclines me to believe you’ve ever had a respectful conversation with someone who doesn’t agree with you.

    I’m not going to quote Dawkins too prove to you he’s an ass, if you can’t see it for yourself, then you wont see it.

    If more atheists could set aside their own dogma and admit that people like Dawkins and Myers are a hindrance to dialogue (even if you don’t believe it, set it aside for the purpose of discussion) then maybe we could get somewhere.

    The fact of the matter is that going after the ‘crazies’ is never going to work. Fundamentalists, of any creed or ideology, never change their minds. It is the responsibility of moderates on both sides to work together to have a stronger voice then the crazies.

    If atheists like you and I wont be respectful, why should believers even care what science says?

    Evolution is one of the most succinct and beautiful theories out there. It describes and predicts the biological world with such precision and clarity I cannot see how it couldn’t be true. However, abiogenesis is barely a collection of hypotheses right now, which makes theistic evolution (the idea that evolution happened but was started by a divine spark) as reasonable as any other idea. Its a wonderful point of commonality we could have with believers, something we could spread and share and drown out the crazies who corrupt the argument! Can you imagine an atheist and an evangelical standing on the corner together, one sharing gospel, the other sharing what little we have of a hypothesis of abiogenesis, and both sharing evolution, with passers by? You’d change peoples minds forever in America and finally get the damn country to work like one unit for once.

    Instead we have Ken Ham and PZ Myers screaming at each other about saddles on fiberglass triceratops for kids.

    It’s pathetic, its the fault of both sides, and its both bad science and bad theology.

  • Boz

    “The tone is ‘this is science, if you don’t believe it you’re a f*cking moron’,”

    On this point, I weakly hold this opinion. It seems pretty reasonable to me. Is this a false, or inappropriate position to hold?

  • Cally

    Ok, I haven’t had time to read all the comments, but this post led me to Darwin’s autobiography and I just needed to add a quote from it:

    I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement. Darwin

    I laughed out loud:

    http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=side&itemID=F1497&pageseq=1

  • Cally

    I guess I have a lot more respect for Darwin now that I know he had a love for things created, understanding that it takes time for things to evolve. 🙂

  • Jesse

    @ Boz,

    If I understand you correctly you are saying you slightly agree with Dawkins.

    I think its an inappropriate view, but its also complicated to explain why I feel this way.

    If Dawkins were saying “This is science, this is the weight of evidence showing it to be true. I feel that it would be foolish to understand this evidence and still reject it.” I would agree pretty much wholeheartedly.

    Except, to really get the evidence you need to be grounded in scientific theory, for radiometric dating to be considered evidence you need to understand how atomic decay works. To understand why major transitional fossils are evidence you need to have a knowledge of anatomy, etc etc.

    Without that grounding, the evidence is merely someone Arguing from Authority.

    Now if you teach someone the background of it so that they can understand the evidence for themselves, and they still reject it, I will be critical of them. But rejecting an Argument from Authority is a rational thing and praiseable thing.

    Richard Dawkins “you’re a fucking moron” approach is a bad one, and I think a disgraceful viewpoint, because it acts as a barrier to giving people that background. If you shove Tiktalik or Acanthostega in their face and scream “HAH HAH! SEE A TRANSITIONAL FOSSIL YOU RETARD!” should you really be surprised when they aren’t interested in learning the anatomy to understand why its a transitional fossil?

  • Boz

    Jesse said: “If Dawkins were saying “This is science, this is the weight of evidence showing it to be true. I feel that it would be foolish to understand this evidence and still reject it.” I would agree pretty much wholeheartedly.”

    I agree with you here, you have changed my opinion. It is important to be respectful, as Aaron notes in the op.

    Jesse said: “But rejecting an Argument from Authority is a rational thing and praiseable thing.”.

    In regards to science, if you want to have even a low level of knowledge, it is impossible to dismiss the argument from authority.

    Take for example, the distance to andromeda galaxy, one of our nearest galaxies, 2.5m light years away. If I want to convince myself of this fact, without accepting an argument from authority, I would have to understand the parralax method used to calculate it. To understand the parallax method, I would have to understand why the speed of light is equal to c, the radius of earth’s orbit, why trigonometry is accurate, etc. And then each of these questions raises several others, all the way back to first principles. This is an impossibly arduous task to satisfy a small curiosity.

    Dismissing the argument from authority is foolish, for you would have almost no knowledge if you did.

    A more appropriate question is which arguments from authority to accept, and which to dismiss. http://www.fallacyfiles.org/authorit.html

  • Jesse

    You’re right Boz, too get anywhere in science you do need to accept many Arguments from Authority.

    I guess where I feel the difference lies is how many barriers there are to changing it from an Argument from Authority to one from Evidence.

    Physics, like the theorems you point out, is actually a great example for me. I have, from a scientific perspective, very poor math skills. From pretty much polynomials on forward I get disheartened and confused rather readily. I have to take nearly all physics on Authority. However, and I know this from experience, there are many physics professors and scientists out there who will, and have, painstakingly taken me through the calculations. They have spent hours taking me through things they intuitively understand until I actually grasp the concepts, not just memorize them.

    The barrier to my understanding comes from within, not without. No one is imposing it on me.

    If we act belligerent to people then we are putting up a barrier to them potentially changing what starts out as an Argument from Authority into an Argument from Evidence.

    It just feels different to me. Perhaps I am using fuzzy logic here. I will go read your link now.

  • Renier

    Aaron: “When Dawkins uses tactics where he seeks out the most marginal and close-minded Christians, as you are admitting to as well, then it really does nothing to engage conversation, but instead reinforces the negative perception that creationists have of evolutionists.”

    I honestly do not think, that not engaging the creationists are going to give them a better understanding or a better perception as far as “evolutionists” go. In addition to this, perhaps “conversation” is not what is needed but exposure and resistance to the anti-science culture they spawn. Exposure of their lies is what is required here and I do not think that being quiet about their lies/ignorance are going to make them feel warm and fuzzy towards people and ideas they regard as Satan’s plan to corrupt the faithful.

    Aaron: “Would it be more wise to seek out people who actually know what they are talking about? Or are you to afraid that they may actually make viable points?”

    I think we might be missing each other here. Point me to wise evolution deniers who know what they are talking about and I will hear out their possible viable points. The underhanded accusation of fear for viable points is uncalled for though, since you yourself are most welcome to make them if you wish to, and so is anyone else.

    Jesse: “disinclines me to believe you’ve ever had a respectful conversation with someone who doesn’t agree with you”

    I disagree with you. Do you therefore accuse me of being disrespectful? I disagree with Aaron sometimes. Is it done in a “disrespectful” way. And I must mention, I am open to be convinced of another’s view/positions, and it has happened in the past. I have often been wrong and shown to be wrong about things and I do welcome critique.

    Jesse: “I’m not going to quote Dawkins too prove to you he’s an ass, if you can’t see it for yourself, then you wont see it.”

    I am still reading the latest book but have not gotten to the parts where he is an ass. Quotations (and page numbers) would in fact really help me in understanding your view.

    Jesse: “If more atheists could set aside their own dogma and admit that people like Dawkins and Myers are a hindrance to dialogue”

    It is a dogma to not think they hinder dialogue? What? I disagree with you there I must have a dogmatic view? What? PHz is a bit over the top and “uppity”. Harris, Dawkins, Denned… call a spade a spade and some people are bound to dislike it.

    Jesse: (even if you don’t believe it, set it aside for the purpose of discussion) then maybe we could get somewhere.”

    Assume the point you are trying to make thus?

    Jesse: “The fact of the matter is that going after the ‘crazies’ is never going to work.”

    40% of Americans prefers a story with a talking snake instead of well founded science. I think it is viable going after the 40%. After all, the other 60% is not the problem.

    Jesse: “Fundamentalists, of any creed or ideology, never change their minds.”

    They do. I am here as evidence that they do. Deconversion stories are there as evidence that they do.

    Jesse : “It is the responsibility of moderates on both sides to work together to have a stronger voice then the crazies.”

    Yeah, well, I agree. So what prevents them?

    Jesse: “If atheists like you and I wont be respectful, why should believers even care what science says?”

    What does atheists and what believers think about science have to do with each other? There some moderates, who accepts science. Are they also disrespectful towards the fundies (when engaging) since the fundies still hates evolution (I know you don’t like me using the term “hate evolution”, but I am afraid I cannot find a more accurerate description. “Dislike” or “reject” simply does not cut it, for me).

    Jesse: “However, abiogenesis is barely a collection of hypotheses right now, which makes theistic evolution (the idea that evolution happened but was started by a divine spark) as reasonable as any other idea.”

    A god waving his magic wand, causing a “divine” spark, is just as reasonable as naturalistic processes? I do not agree, for various reasons such as that Occam inquires after his aftershave.

    Jesse: “Its a wonderful point of commonality we could have with believers, something we could spread and share and drown out the crazies who corrupt the argument!”

    The “Divine spark” argument? sorry, but I do not believe in anything supernatural unless provided with evidence. I do not wish to assume the existence of anything supernatural simple to accommodate people’s desire to bring their god into the picture, for no good reason at all.

    Jesse wrote: “Can you imagine an atheist and an evangelical standing on the corner together, one sharing gospel, the other sharing what little we have of a hypothesis of abiogenesis, and both sharing evolution, with passers by?”

    No. Sorry. I can see a Christian standing on a street corner “sharing” his preferred holy book and I often have. But “sharing” evolution on street corners? Really?

    Jesse: “You’d change peoples minds forever in America and finally get the damn country to work like one unit for once.”

    Perhaps the various moderate Christian sects can set the example. I am not American, bet even so, I do not think science and religion is in agreement. I do honestly think science has refuted various religious claims to the point that many religious people retreated to vague deistic definitions in order to preserve their faith.

    Jesse: “Instead we have Ken Ham and PZ Myers screaming at each other about saddles on fiberglass triceratops for kids.”

    It is silly. Though, perhaps, not pointing out how Ham is lying to children might be a dangerous omission. You know, he really does teach them that humans rode on Dinos, and claims he has science and the Bible to prove it. That’s why I think people like PZ are needed. Or are there various moderates currently engaged with Ham in polite and respectful dialog about the lies he is peddling. Perhaps they will come to a mutual agreement soon and Ham will post a letter of sincere apology about the mistake he has made.

    Jesse: “It’s pathetic, its the fault of both sides, and its both bad science and bad theology.”

    Okay… I need to ask for clarification. Could you perhaps point out the “bad science” on PZ’s side. Or if you referred to the rude atheists in general, I would still like an indication of the “bad science”, if you do not mind.

    *In a bit of a rush. Please excuse bad spelling and grammar.

  • Renier

    Jesse: “Richard Dawkins “you’re a fucking moron” approach is a bad one, and I think a disgraceful viewpoint, because it acts as a barrier to giving people that background. If you shove Tiktalik or Acanthostega in their face and scream “HAH HAH! SEE A TRANSITIONAL FOSSIL YOU RETARD!” should you really be surprised when they aren’t interested in learning the anatomy to understand why its a transitional fossil?”

    So Jesse, you think the reason they (creos) reject Tiktaalik (and all other transitional fossils, even before Tiktaalik) are because people mocked them with it? Same with the evidence from DNA?

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but I do not think the reason creationists reject evidence we present is because of the way it is presented to them. We could sugar coat it, stick a cherry on top and deliver it in a tuxedo with books on anatomy to assist them and even respectfully bow while whipping out DNA comparisons. I honestly still do not think it will work.

    I am no expert on anatomy, but simply looking at the front limb/fin contraption should have been a clue worth investigating to them and if anatomy books were required it should have been obtained if they had an earnest desire for knowledge and understanding. Respecting them might just make them think they are more clever than the vast majority of biologists and specialists of anatomy. Oh… wait, that is already the case.

  • Boz

    I find it odd that theists and faitheists chastise PZ for being rude, when the extent of his rudeness is calling particular people stupid. The same theists and faitheists say nothing about people that implicitly or explicitly call for the death/imprisonment/ostracision of atheists, homosexuals, muslims, etc.

    As an example, scroll through the pictures and related articles on this page: http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousright/ig/Christian-Propaganda-Posters/Godless-Sodomites-Disease.htm

  • Renier

    Don’t worry Boz. I am sure the moderates on both sides are sorting it out. Of course, the real problem here are the rude gays calling these people stupid and not treating them with respect. If they would only show respect, the fundies will listen to their arguments and consider it, but shoving evidence such as gayness in the animal kingdom in their face and saying “HAH HAH! SEE gayness amongst chimps, penguins etc YOU RETARD!”

    Should you really be surprised when they aren’t interested in learning genetics to understand why its a natural thing for some people and they are born with it?

    As for me, I’ll just display the utter contempt I feel for wilful discrimination and arrogant idiocy. It does not deserve respect, well, at least not mine.

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