How (not) to discuss evolution/sciene vs. religion/creationsim

  • Thread starter heusdens
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I am all for common misconceptions in science, although might work to post thing in the Science and Math Tutorial forum.
 
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Easy, because I've had similar arguments put to me (and considering that phase transition is something that we studied in condensed matter, it was right up my alley).

1. Ask him what evidence does he have that the universe had a "change of state". You'll notice that most of them do not have any. They'll just throw out the "change of state" phrase simply as a diversion. In other words, they just made it up. What they'll do very often after you call their bluff is that they'll ask you if you know that there has been no change of state. You then turn around and point to them that since they were the one making the assertion, it is for them to show that they are valid. You, one the other hand, simply have to stick with WHAT WORKS ALREADY.

2. They'll point to the "evidence" of the "changing speed of light". You'll then point out that (i) this is still highly controversial (ii) the evidence is still being debated (iii) the conclusion is still uncertain because it is based on a changing fine structure constant that does not necessarily mean a changing speed of light and (iv) even if there is a changing value, it is horribly so small that it would not cause a dramatic change in our understanding of cosmology.

3. They really have no idea what "change of state" means. If that's the case, you've already exposed them as frauds.

Zz.
Yeah, this line of reasoning sounds very familiar. In the end, these guys tell me that I fail to properly understand spiritual things, or that "the wisdom of God is foolishness to man" (quoted according to a very poor interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:25). The most troublesome thing is when they tell me, "you don't have all the facts." How the creation scientists have managed to convince people that they can't trust their own senses, I do not understand.
 

ZapperZ

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Yeah, this line of reasoning sounds very familiar. In the end, these guys tell me that I fail to properly understand spiritual things, or that "the wisdom of God is foolishness to man" (quoted according to a very poor interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:25). The most troublesome thing is when they tell me, "you don't have all the facts." How the creation scientists have managed to convince people that they can't trust their own senses, I do not understand.
You can always use their own line of argument and turn it around by saying that they don't understand physics either! They expect you to understand what they believe, while they put almost no effort in understanding the physics that they are trying to use. So if they are annoyed at you, tell them that you feel the same way towards them.

Zz.
 
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The reason for opening this thread is that people like Hovind which are at a fundamental level against anything that evenly remotely resembles science, is that in such debates, it is quite useless to provide scientific evidence for for example the theory of evolution, since your opponent (and part of your audience) misses the rudimentary basic facts about science to even be able to evaluate the difference in arguments make.

To (some) members of the audience, they just sit there and judge things on the basis of the skilfulness of the presentation and skilfullness of the speaker and debating skills. Like it is a voting campaing, where you vote for the most charismatic of both sides.

Hovind is able to play his part well, using all kind of pseudo-scientific arguments which only "sound good" (but are quite meaningless) and almost none of these tricks are rebuted and confronted with the necessary evidence .

But we must consider here is that in fact Hovind is attacking the heart of science, it's foundations and it's methodology.
He is very clever to in fact "steal" argument which would be more valid for the science arguments. He probably learnt to use the arguments put forward by science in past years, and now uses this arguments for his point of view.
He even "manages" to present his "theory" in a form that looks like a scientific theory.

Over and over he says that evolution is a faith, the basic facts that are needed to proof evolution theory (and other relevant scientific theories) correct are not provided, only some details of it, by his opponents.

And in many cases he is self-contradicting, using plain lies and misconceptions, although in most debates I've seen, these points are never adressed by his opponents.
Why? Are they frightenend of him? Are they somehow still thinking that anything he says make sense?

I simply do not understand.

His opponents (although they try to bring reasonable arguments) are simply to gentle in their proceedings I guess, and try not to offend anybody.

Well Hovind is not making any considerations about his opponents, and brings in the most ludricous arguments (like he often infers that evolutionary theory would lead to Hitler's holocaust, and also that evolution theory is the basis for communism, so makes an appeal on general misconceptions and misuse the anti-communist propaganda -- the science institutes are portrayed as stalinists institutes that repell anyone that do not agree on what science tells, etc.), whatever he can finds against you, that would appeal to the audience, he will use.

So it is already clear then that debating with mr hovind is not a "fair play" and on the basis of scientific principles. That makes it an unscientific debate by definition.

So, either a debate has to take place on fair and equal rules for both sides of the debate (both limiting the debate to a couple of subjects and applying that rule strictly) or the scientists should not let themselves be used in these debates, which mr hovind uses for his propaganda.

If you wanted to seriously raise counter arguments against this kind of rhetoric, you would need several hours of presentation and explenation to provide significant counter arguments.

Which of course in the given time frame is simply impossible.
Unless of course one would use a different debating method.
Instead of Mr Hovind dictating what science must do and fulfill, in order for him to put any belief in science, why not reverse that, and simply dictate mr Hovind what religion must do in order to fullfill a belief in his God of the Bible.

For instance:
- Let Mr Hovind explain why he doesn't belief in any of the other Gods (there are hundreds) and on what basis.
- If he claims that he interprets the Bible literally and that the Bible is his source of morality, he can be pointed out what moral standards actually are preached in the Bible. Let him take a point of view on that morality. If he declines to adhere to that moral standard, then it can be concluded he merely uses his own opinion, rather then the literal bible interpretation. If he acknowledges to such moral standards, he is obviously in contradiction with modern moral standards (which acc. to his interpretation must be absolute and not changing with time).
- And if also the Bible is to be taken serious on dragons, where is the unicorn?
- If his God of the Bible is not anywhere at anytime (as he himself claimed) and not material:
= On what (scientific basis) can it be (at all) assumed that such "being" is objectively there? And how does that prevent any other being (any being other then the God of the Bible) from not existing?
= How is it that God needs 6 days for his creation if God is "outside time" (from which we would rather expect the creation took no time at all)
= where did the matter come from? With what and how did God create it? (as God himself was not material, neither was there any matter, this still makes it totally incomprehensible where matter came from and how it got here, unless we assume that matter was in fact already here, but in a different form, and God "shaped" it, but that is not what he states)
= How did God do anything? Did it involve motion? If yes, this is impossible, if said that God is "outside of time". If not, then God is without change, which makes it impossible for God to do anything. Mystery remains: how did the creation took place.

The above methods (which of course is far from scientific, but just an offensive and agressive method to strangle him with his own nonsense claims, and putting the same rigid standard for "his" theory as he uses against science) might be the only one that could be effective.
 
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You can always use their own line of argument and turn it around by saying that they don't understand physics either! They expect you to understand what they believe, while they put almost no effort in understanding the physics that they are trying to use. So if they are annoyed at you, tell them that you feel the same way towards them.

Zz.
Yes, you're absolutely right. The vast majority of these people don't understand physics. I don't mean to sound elitist, but it strikes me as hubris for someone to think that by spending half an hour on the Answers in Genesis website, he can obtain the same education as people who have spent years in undergraduate and graduate studies. It's at the point where many fundamentalists are less likey to listen to a person who has a PhD as opposed to a nonscientist. It should not surprise us that most creationists do not have degrees in science. Kent Hovind, mentioned earlier, went so far as to obtain his degrees (which are also not in science) from diploma mills!

The funny thing is, I do understand what they believe. I've read many fundamentalist Christian apologetics, and made a genuine effort to understand why they believe in creationism. I've also read the Bible and a fair amount of theology, and ultimately, I'm not sure where these guys got their creationist models from. The young earth creationist model doesn't logically follow from a reading of the Bible. Nor is this interpretation consistent with the early church's method of understanding the creation account. What perplexes me the most is that creationism seems to have been carefully crafted so as to oppose legitimate science at every turn. And that leads me to ask what peoples' motivations are for believing in creationism. I must wonder, are they simply trying to rebel against the status quo?
 

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Mr. Hovind is clearly not a rational person.
Hence, the proper debate attitude towards him is ridicule and contempt, not arguments he is not competent to think through.

He is, quite simply, OUTSIDE the community of rational individuals, and should be told that firmly.
 
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Mr. Hovind is clearly not a rational person.
Hence, the proper debate attitude towards him is ridicule and contempt, not arguments he is not competent to think through.

He is, quite simply, OUTSIDE the community of rational individuals, and should be told that firmly.
Already taken care of. I neglected to mention this earlier, but Kent Hovind was recently convicted of tax fraud. Turns out that Mr. Hovind is a so-called "tax protestor," who believes that because he allegedly does the work of God, he should be exempt from paying taxes (btw this is happens to violate the Biblical commandment to pay taxes, found in Romans 13:6). As far as I know, Mr. Hovind is currently behind bars.

For instance:
- Let Mr Hovind explain why he doesn't belief in any of the other Gods (there are hundreds) and on what basis.
- If he claims that he interprets the Bible literally and that the Bible is his source of morality, he can be pointed out what moral standards actually are preached in the Bible. Let him take a point of view on that morality. If he declines to adhere to that moral standard, then it can be concluded he merely uses his own opinion, rather then the literal bible interpretation. If he acknowledges to such moral standards, he is obviously in contradiction with modern moral standards (which acc. to his interpretation must be absolute and not changing with time).
- And if also the Bible is to be taken serious on dragons, where is the unicorn?
- If his God of the Bible is not anywhere at anytime (as he himself claimed) and not material:
= On what (scientific basis) can it be (at all) assumed that such "being" is objectively there? And how does that prevent any other being (any being other then the God of the Bible) from not existing?
= How is it that God needs 6 days for his creation if God is "outside time" (from which we would rather expect the creation took no time at all)
= where did the matter come from? With what and how did God create it? (as God himself was not material, neither was there any matter, this still makes it totally incomprehensible where matter came from and how it got here, unless we assume that matter was in fact already here, but in a different form, and God "shaped" it, but that is not what he states)
= How did God do anything? Did it involve motion? If yes, this is impossible, if said that God is "outside of time". If not, then God is without change, which makes it impossible for God to do anything. Mystery remains: how did the creation took place.

The above methods (which of course is far from scientific, but just an offensive and agressive method to strangle him with his own nonsense claims, and putting the same rigid standard for "his" theory as he uses against science) might be the only one that could be effective.
Not sure that this is the best approach, though I think you've got a good idea in general. Certainly creationism should be fought with theological arguments, but we need to use the right theological arguments. Many of the things you mentioned above have legitimate responses. The unicorn, for example, is given mention in such Biblical verses as Numbers 23:22. However, it is based on translations into early modern English ("early modern" meaning the 1600s). Indeed in several instances, the Hebrew language employs words of unknown meaning. Thus the problem is purely linguistic. Indeed modern translations of Numbers 23:22 render the animal as a wild ox rather than a unicorn.

It seems to me that it would be better to point out to creationists that their beliefs don't logically follow from the Bible (assuming the scientific approach doesn't work first). The history of creationism can actually be traced by to fairly recent times, and it is fairly easy to cite examples of ancient Christians who did not believe in said dogma. Whatever we do, I think it is important for us to pry the creationists' grip on the American public, lest our educational system be littered with unscientific nonsense.
 

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