Thursday, March 19, 2009

My encounter with a creationist

First off, I would like to apologize for my utter lack of posts lately. I have a very bad habit of starting a project and letting myself slack off. I have also had a great deal of my time lately consumed by a musical I am in. However, I recently had an event occur that spurred me to attempt to breath this blog back to life. I was invited to sit in on a presentation by a creationist and debate him.

This man claimed to have believed in evolution until he was presented with a creationist argument upon which he decided to devote his life to spreading the word. Now for those freethinkers out there that have heard this line before, I'm sure you soon found out that such claims are dubious at best (to be clear, I am not claiming that this person was lying). The caricature of evolution he presented was almost laughable if not for the fact that many people have and will buy it.

Before he started his presentation, we agreed that I would be able to interject any counter argument or corrections as they appeared, so I did not try and derail him or blind side him with questions. In fact he was told about me a week in advance so he knew I would be there and openly questioning him.

Some of the erroneous data he presented were things like evolution creates no new information, evolution can not explain morality, irreducible complexity and many more of the typical talking points. In fact it sounded like anything put out by the Discovery Institute. Although one bit of misinformation that he put forth was one I hadn't heard before and I found quite confusing. Apparently he believed that the continents were formed before the oceans. Where he heard this, I have no idea as it is quite well known that the continents formed later. He also did not shy away from the famous creationist tactic of quote mining, which I called out much to his chagrin.

Each time an erroneous bit was presented I not only corrected it but explained why it was incorrect. I brought with me a few things for this such as a basic Cetacean evolutionary lineage, the workings and types of radiometric dating techniques and the book Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin for its great diagrams on embryology.

The way he countered any of my points can be summed up rather easily. It came down to either mocking the concept (I can't possibly see how such an absurd notion could ever be believed) or just ignoring it entirely. I was always respectful and never came to anger (although I did ask him quite a few times to stop talking over me and allow me to finish my point). I found him to be quite irritating for both his terrible inaccurate 'argument' and for what came down to essential blatant disrespect.

Although despite this, I had multiple people come up to me afterward who were quite interested in my points and showed interest in having me explain more to them at a future date, so it was not a complete lose. If I get just one person who was there interested in evolution, I will be quite proud.

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