In my last post I talked about how to really win an argument with creationists. Not to leave anyone out I’ll talk more casually about how to win an argument with an evolutionist. Let’s say you’re a young earth creationist.
You find yourself on the internet and you’re feeling adventurous enough to trade-in your allowed daily hour of GodTube for its more risque older sister YouTube. You check out the latest hit from the album “Death Metal and Resurrection” from Knights of Bethlehem when you notice a recommended video titled “How to win an argument with an atheist.” You click on it and it’s just a guy with a terribly-accented drawl making fun of creationists. This now has you belligerently enraged with love for Jesus and you decide to pick a fight in the comments. You begin by citing the Bible and that’s where you immediately lose. This tragic situation happens every day.
If you read my last post then you know I’m going to say that you must address an evolutionist on their terms. This may be a problem for stricter creationists as it seems difficult for them to switch epistemologies even on the surface. You also need to attack, to keep the debate alive, keep evolutionists answering questions rather than asking them. You believe that this is literally a fight for peoples’ souls and a fight over whether civilization will be based on religious principles or atheistic materialism. Your ultimate goal is to save souls by letting people know that they can embrace God but you also know that any little seeds of doubt you can plant would be above expectations on this socialistic cyber hellscape. Unlike my recommendations for arguing with a creationist, what strategy you use will largely depend on what type of person you get. Let’s revisit the four types.
1. Dull and stubborn – Oddly enough, this type of person isn’t that difficult to beat as they’ll often drag out the argument when less stubborn people would have given up and hurled scatological slurs. Having a long dialogue with someone less knowledgeable and articulate than you looks great for the creationist cause. Being on the attack by raising problems with evolution might also even cast doubts in their own mind.
2. Dull and persuadable – Bingo, this is who you want, a troubled soul feeding a newly-discovered atheist persona. They may have even been a creationist before but after two weeks away at college, they’re really discovering themselves. For these people you might not even have to address them on their own grounds but appeal to their spirituality with confidence and conviction. They are prime brainwashing targets.
3. Intelligent and stubborn – These people can be the gift that keeps on giving. If you encounter an arrogant atheist the best thing to do is play the fool to lure them in. Begin with something like, “Well how did evolution create consciousness?” At its heart it’s a stupid question and therefore both angers the atheist and marks you as easy prey; furthermore, you have addressed an issue on their grounds while still keeping a metaphysical outlet. From here the debate can go in any number of directions which I’ll discuss below.
4. Intelligent and persuadable – Like before we need to ask whether the beliefs are articulated or not. If they are, then the goal should be compromise, if not, then philosophy and casting doubt should be the focus. You will have to change their assumptions before they start weighing the options.
How to win an argument
First, to reiterate, you’re not so much concerned with converting people as you are with keeping a lively debate going and placing evolutionists on the defensive. You will also have to discard your intuition to talk about your theology – the second you come off as a Bible-thumping creationist, people start viewing you as the William Jennings Bryan character in Inherit the Wind. If you approach in their own scientific paradigm you’ll still get branded as religious, but people might pay attention. After all, there are many Christians who believe in evolution; only 15% believe in non-guided (Darwinian) evolution, but 35% believe in God-guided evolution. Further, while evolutionary scientists might hold the view of strict Darwinian evolution, many of them are also Christians believing that science only studies the material world. and the spiritual world holds separate truths.
For all these reasons the first rule in debating an intelligent evolutionist is to never use the term Creationism. You could use Intelligent Design, but this is also pretty bad if the person knows their stuff. The term got a terrible lashing at the Dover trial where the plaintiffs showed a conscious effort to replace Creationism with it. Instead, focus on Science Criticism. This emerging re-branding does not focus on teaching creationism in the classrooms but on undermining evolutionary theory; it also provides your best attack. You will need to know your philosophy of science and pray that the other person does not. Philosophers like Karl Popper and Paul Feyerabend both argued for teaching Creationism in the classroom at one point or another, and their theories can be useful during a debate.
Science Criticism, while designed by creationists to specifically criticize culture war issues like evolution, climate change, and stem cell research, must, at its core, question the scientific method. Popper’s notion of falsifiability has been used in the past against evolutionists, accusing them of relying on retroactive explanations. Be warned though, if an evolutionist knows their material they can point to numerous ways evolutionary theory may be falsified and that it has withstood such tests. Feyerabend provides a better mode of attack as he stated that there is no such thing as method and that science progresses through anarchism. You can use this argument to essentially attack any definition of science and open the door for intelligent design arguments.
There is another route to take, more rooted to the issue of evolution itself – purpose. Darwinian evolutionists hold that evolution has no purpose; that is a fundamental belief, yet one that most people have trouble grasping. This aspect of the theory also caused the schism between evolution and religion and may explain why most people who believe in evolution don’t really believe in Darwinian evolution. Purpose also brings up a lot more questions, which as you now know, is great for your side. For instance, nature exhibits a stunning degree on intelligence in even the simplest organisms. Is this intelligence a product of purposeful selection? Or, in other words, natural selection favors a greater problem-solving ability for some specific situation, providing a blueprint for some sort of purpose. Epigenetics also brings up a whole host of new issues, forcing evolutionists to reassess some of their semantics so feel free to go down that path as well.
These strategies and argumentation are probably all for nothing, as no creationist wants to learn about such matters and was most likely not converted this way themselves. I wrote this piece to make the larger points that people who debate are not the ones who will be persuaded. Winning an argument is about public appearance and for creationists, that means an offensive and aggressive campaign to ask as many questions as possible. Above should serve as a primer extending the fight and arguing within an atheistic and materialistic paradigm. Of course, if the evolutionist has read my previous post then you just wasted a whole bunch of time.