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Essay:Debating creationists

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Debating creationists is an interesting project.

It's one thing to refute their tripe as "published", but another whole kettle of fish to engage in real-time argument with them about the origins and development of life on Earth.

The crux of the concept is that in order to discuss these issues with a creationist/ID proponent, one must be fully and thoroughly versed in every branch of science, and be familiar - fluent and expert in, even - with the scientific literature at the journal level, again, in every branch of science, and philosophy of science.

The reason for this is that the cdesign proponentsists will bring up whatever arcane aspect of what they call "science" in order to try to trip you up.

  • Don't know the whole history of Piltdown man? Evolution is a hoax.
  • Didn't realize that the peppered moth photos weren't taken in situ? Evolution is a hoax.
  • Don't how to refute the "polystrate fossil" "argument"? Evolution is a hoax.
  • Don't know the context of a given quote they are using? Evolution is a hoax.
  • Haven't you read x paper by y in the Journal of Z? Evolution is a hoax, the paper's flaws prove it.

Until you master the rebuttal to any and every possible claim they might raise over some paper, they act like they hold the "high ground", since they read a synopsis in the cretinist literature telling them how to present it and argue for or against it. Or maybe they even found it themselves (the smart ones). But until you can fully absorb the paper and understand it and discuss it, they think they are "winning".

An example of this comes from the creationists' wanton love of quote mining. When our Sterile gave ASK's PJR some links to books and papers about information theory, PJR found a "quote" in Küpper's book which he thought justified his silly DNA-as-language analogies. Has PJR read the book? No, he has only been exposed to the 20% redacted version in the googlebooks link. In order to respond, however, I had to go get a copy of the book from the local University library. I will have to read and understand the whole thing - which is a hard slog, since it is philosophy, the most notoriously hard to read material ever produced by humankind - research Küpper's place in the story of the philosophy of science (not that such endeavors are bad things, of course), and in the end, we all know what will happen. PJR will brush me off with tripe similar to his "melodies do not contain information" dismissal. Or he'll change the topic, or redefine the words he is using to meet the circumstances.

In the meantime, any presentations to the Creationist/IDist of what science has explored regarding so-called "deep time", the origins of life, and how life developed on Earth are met with yet another random arrow from the quiver every C/ID freak has memorized - that usually has nothing to do with the information one just gave them. Now, one is once again forced to research and understand that which the C/IDist usually has not and does not, by which time they are spouting more nonsense on another topic...

ad infinitum