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How to debate Creationists without being boring

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2004

How to debate Creationists without being boring. “God spoke to me and told me that you are wrong.”

Reader comments

mApr 14, 2004 at 11:45AM

i find this whole argument a tool of the powers that be. much like all the current rhetoric about christ being married. insofar as any of these debates ever being solved through verbal discourse, that’s about as likely as kennedy walking in here right now (cue) and telling us all who really shot him. as far as having a lasting effect on your life…does it? does it really matter? no, not really, and quarreling on and on in debate about topics like this, in life and media, only fuel fires of dissent for the pigopolists to divide and conquer us. but people like to talk about arguments with no solutions, where the argument itself affects their lives not one iota, except in the fantasy world they desperately try to inhabit. if they ever woke up and looked at the struggles that are happening right under their noses they would probably get really shaken up about the real world situation. oh, uh, I’m sorry…I thought this was the meeting down at the docks, that’s tomorrow night.

Sam CormierApr 14, 2004 at 1:34PM

The scary part was that we were all following that. Yes, we’re really that cynical.

RobertApr 14, 2004 at 3:44PM

It’s kind of funny when someone who is really kind of boring thinks they are really kind of funny. I’d rather read about some guy’s doormat.

JApr 14, 2004 at 5:15PM

Adequately delightful writing, but yeah… I agree with Robert.

StephenApr 14, 2004 at 5:21PM

My doormat smells of cat food.

shmuelApr 14, 2004 at 6:20PM

But which is better? Cats or dogs? Come on now, tell me what you really think.

StephenApr 14, 2004 at 6:41PM

Dogs. They are better conversationalists.

Christian DesrosiersApr 14, 2004 at 7:06PM

Eh, I thought of that argument a while ago but it doesn’t get you anywhere because you have taken a step off the ledge of rational thought when you have used that argument.

RobertApr 14, 2004 at 8:40PM

Yes Dogs. If all cats died, our nation would be a more secure place. They are ruthless and terrible, and they do awful things with their own people.

Christian - I agree, I mean - it may be funny, but at the end of the day, you’ve just sort of made yourself irrelevant, and nothing more.

JennaApr 14, 2004 at 9:26PM

I recommend Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel on this topic. Dont worry, its not a bible humper book at all - infact, insofar, I dont recall it mentioning the bible - just scientific evidence. However, It convinced me to second guess athiesm

RobertApr 14, 2004 at 11:20PM

The burden of belief is actually greater for atheism, because that is the nature of negative proof. You can’t prove God isn’t hiding between the last rock in the outermost corner of the universe, unless you’ve looked under every rock. Until then, you can only have a persuasive scientific case - but whats interesting to me is that atheism requires a greater degree of belief than any other, whereas some don’t realise it requires belief or say…faith, at all. Any journalist will tell you that the hardest task of all is proving without a doubt that someone or something does not exist.

yafujifideApr 15, 2004 at 1:36AM

Religion is dying. The burden of proof is in their court, and most of them will admit you can’t prove God exists.

KaijimaApr 15, 2004 at 3:43AM

You know, anymore, this is one debate I just ignore. My experience has been that it’s largely composed of rival camps of fundimentalists and neither side has much interesting to say - for all that fundimentalist creationists engage in pure logical rudeness more often than not, I’ve seen too many cocksure athiest materialists spout stuff that’s little better in principle. And of course, it so often seems to come down to one side or the other being certain that their opponents must be eradicated for the good of humanity - under the banner of “saving souls” or “ensuring correct and rational thinking”, it all reeks.

gummiApr 15, 2004 at 8:12AM

Actually, all this talk reminds me of an anecdote about some guy who wanted to identify the taste of Cyanide. He opted for a simple ‘Sweet’ or ‘Sour’ classification. His dead body was found next to his notebook where he had written the letter ‘S’.

DavidApr 15, 2004 at 8:56AM

And still, no picture from Jason of his doormat. I am beginning to believe that the doormat doesn’t exist, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to search every foyer in NYC to prove/disprove the existence of the mat according to the methodology of Bingaman. So I guess I’ll take the lazy role and be a doormat agnostic.

StephenApr 15, 2004 at 9:44AM

Don’t you atheists know that Jesus died for you? Haven’t you seen the Gospel According to Mel? But seriously, as hard as it is to prove (conclusively) that God exists, the religious will always have the upper hand in a spiritual debate. Even if an atheist proves beyond any doubts that God is nonexistant, a religious person can always state “Well, that’s why it’s called faith.”

RobertApr 15, 2004 at 10:00AM

David, your “time is money” approach makes sense. You haven’t offended me. I think it is worth noting that there are some who may be inclined to argue for the side of God but don’t. I have close friends who believe differently than I do, and if they’d like to shoot the bull - then sure, I’ll toss the idea around, and its usually a fair, intelligent conversation. I’m not going to “save” anybody, or even change anyone’s mind for that matter if I just hop on a bunch of threads and attack all naysayers. It happens on both sides, and it doesn’t make any sense to me. Have you ever seen a mind truly changed in such a debate? I haven’t. But I have over long periods of time, by circumstances of relationship, not debate. You see it in the political spectrum as well. People have a propensity that forces them to use the opposition’s worst, most elementary example as the only example, and its just noise. Even if I am wrong, based upon experience, I like to think there are smart and decent atheists, creationists, republicans, and democrats - though they may be hard to find. If anything, this “belief” allows for me to once in a while have a good conversation, instead of a raunchy debate, and once in a while - I change my mind.

barnesApr 15, 2004 at 4:02PM

I’m of the belief that the “Arguing is Futile” argument is futile. I also believe that someone will want to debate this point.

DavidApr 15, 2004 at 4:11PM

Robert, I’m glad that I didn’t offend you, as that was not my intent. While my first post was typed light heartedly, I can follow up more seriously now and echo the net effect of all the posts and say that the truth as to the existence of God is unknowable or unproveable by either side. Having slid from the position of one zealous for the cause of Christ to one comfortable thinking that the question as to the existence of God is less interesting than what one intends to do with that knowledge, I value the discussion but don’t care to argue a position.

RobertApr 15, 2004 at 8:10PM

David, your story sounds interesting. Though we may fall on different sides of the argument, you seem to have a tone that is similar to mine, as at this point - you must have real relationships and experiences from each point in the spectrum. I think that sort of “slide” story can give someone a great deal of the knowledge you speak of, and also help one realize that said knowledge is much more valuable than opinion.

What I meant to get across when I said you didnt offend me is that nothing I’m going to read in this thread is going to offend me, and your rational approach certainly won’t.

anon.Apr 16, 2004 at 2:56PM

“The argument goes something like this: `I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’

“`But,’ says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.’

“`Oh dear,’ says God, `I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.”

-Douglas Adams

leonApr 16, 2004 at 3:17PM

As long as people are sincerely seeking to find out whether God exists, that’s the true issue, IMO. The debate/discussion is the thing.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.