Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Creationism Discussion (cont.)

Kel (of Kelosophy fame) was nice enough to respond to my critique of his critique of creationism.

Nothing like a good heated debate but I'm sure we agree more than disagree. I believe our differences lie in tactics.

As a "wannabe contrarian" I want to try to look at it from a different point of view, i.e. the creationists point of view. There are some fantastic articles on the facts of evolution. From talk.origins to YouTube videos (cdk007, Thunderf00t, DonExodus2, etc) and blogs (such as Kelosophy, Pharyngula).

I percieve these as being effective on one front (getting the facts of evolution out there into the infosphere - spreading memes) yet ineffective at tackling the root cause of creationism and this is what I am calling our "Fallacy Against Creationism" - the fallacies lies not in the logic (which is sound), but in the methodology - which may be flawed.

Good Mockery

One way mockery has been used for good effect is on Scientology. By exposing their bizarre claims to the masses we effectively "immunise" the population to this meme. Unfortunately this ridicule wouldn't work on someone who is already trapped in this delusion as Kel notes
As far as ridicule goes, it may simply put those being ridiculed further into their shells and feed their persecution complex.
I suspect that because we got in early with Scientology, it should not gain traction as anything other than a fringe cult. *fingers crossed*

Locational Context

In Australia we are lucky that we can laugh and mock those who believe in creationism (even Christians get in on the act). For some communities in the USA, this is not possible. Apart from the possibility of getting lynched, you will never win over these people with ridicule. I wouldn't even risk mocking people at Graceland because there might be a sizable proportion who believe Elvis still lives - but perhaps that makes me a coward.

Kel writes,
Hypothetically, think of a scenario involving a discussion on the holocaust. On one side, there is a world war 2 historian with decades of research into the field. On the other, there is a holocaust denier who has never even picked up a history book. Now the debate starts and the historian lays out all the evidence for the holocaust, dispels the myths that are around, and generally gives a convincing historical analysis of what happened. Now the denier stands up and says "If the holocaust happened, why don't we see the ghosts of dead Jews haunting children of Nazis?"

This sounds absolutely absurd and the holocaust denier would be laughed out of the debate hall.
Although I agree with Kel, imagine if this debate hall was in Iran? Suddenly, the holocuast denier isn't laughed out of the debate hall and the crowd agrees with the off-beat question. It's vitally important that the debater make inroads to those in the crowd lest the holocuast denial meme spread.

Professional Creationists

When it comes to professional creationsists such as Kirk Cameron, they know they are onto a good thing with the crocoduck! Not because it is a correct representation of evolutionary theory (whether they understand this or not isn't the point) but because it strikes a chord with folk-biology (how lay people view evolution) and gets a chuckle from those whose jaws are not agape. As a marketing ploy - it's really quite impressive!

Kel is correct in his approach to these people,
Pointing out the ridiculous nature of creationism with the evidence that's available makes for a far more convincing case.
However there is also a chance that using science to prove science may be like using the bible to prove the bible in the minds of those who are unable to appreciate the difference and who distrust science.


I hate to use this as an authoritative source for the mentality of conservatives who believe in creationism but they make a number of parroted claims which reveal how they view the debate.
Creation scientists tend to win the Creation-Evolution debates and many have been held since the 1970's particularly in the United States. Robert Sloan, Director of Paleontology at the University of Minnesota, reluctantly admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter that the "creationists tend to win" the public debates which focused on the creation vs. evolution controversy.


In an article entitled Are Kansas Evolutionists Afraid of a Fair Debate? the Discovery Institute states the following:

Defenders of Darwin's theory of evolution typically proclaim that evidence for their theory is simply overwhelming. If they really believe that, you would think they would jump at a chance to publicly explain some of that overwhelming evidence to the public. Apparently not.

Given the recent debacle and dishonest tactics a "Christian" radio station took when dealing with PZ Myers, they got their wish now that he does not want to debate with them. Making them act as if he has no argument. Devious, isn't it!

What is Mockable

Mockery can quickly be turned around to the absurdity of the claims of evolution whether we hold that position or not. An entire intellectual discourse can be muted with a "but it's only a theory". How can we compete with that?

How many times have we heard zingers which require a complicated explanation to explain why they are in error, from "goo to you" or "monkey's uncle" or "you believe an explosion caused this" or "It's just a theory" (this is a favourite of my Dad's - he mentions it every time the topic comes up)?

For those who followed the presidential race, there was a fundamental difference in approach to discourse: feelings vs facts, zingers vs intelligent discussion, Republican vs Democrat.

Worse still I feel theistic evolutionists can be found theologically wanting and have yet to hear a good explanation as to why a conservative should believe in theistic evolution. In a game of knock-out this puts the atheist on the other side of the debate.

It all boils down to this
provided we can maintain society

1 comment:

Kel said...

I've continued it on. Not taking personal offence at it, I'm loving the chance to discuss this.