Argument does make a difference, sometimes

Inspired by these words …

I know the common arguments go around and around, but sometimes it does make an impression. Unfortunately we don’t get to see the difference it makes.

The biggest one likely with the novice evolution deniers, armed with their crib sheet of arguments from AiG and ready to take on the Internet. These people are genuinely surprised to learn there really are answer to these claims, and evolution isn’t such an easy target as they were lead to believe. These people usually become discouraged after a time and wander off, never to be seen again. Do they change their minds? Probably not, but at least they have heard the other side of the story.

Then comes the hard core cases, very dedicated to their beliefs and ready for argumentation. These people won’t be moved, but you might, with considerable effort and lots of fighting, be able earn a bit of their trust. There may come a time when you can have a real discussion with them, at least on some topic other than evolution. I call this a win, a small win, but at least they are communicating.

There are worse. I won’t go into that, but you can find examples on FaceBook. Avoiding them is far better than engaging with them.

There are also the lurkers, who read but do not participate. These are also an unknown until they step out to comment. On those rare occasions they generally have nice things to say. I know some people who claim to argue for the benefit of lurkers. I’m not sure about that, but I try not to make an ass of myself. It never hurts to be a little bit nicer to others than others are to you.

Every now and then there is a person who says they want to learn, AND they aren’t a concern troll. All the more reason to be nice while you draw they into discussion. Trolls will get bored and reveal themselves, sincere people will ask good questions. Be content if they learn just a little, no need to hit them with a firehose of information.

And sometimes I learn something new too. You never know what you might turn up while Googling to answer the silliest questions.


I’m always amused by this sort of discussion, as if it’s an important scientific priority to proselytize. The fact is there will always be YECs in the world as long as Christianity and the book of Genesis persist, which they will till the end of time. If your goal is to eliminate YEC you will fail, utterly, spectacularly, epically fail.

On the other hand, virtually every scientific theory you currently believe and are attempting to proselytize will inevitably be subsumed in the future with a better theory. So you are tilting at windmills here. You are pursuing a goal which you can never achieve in service of ideas which cannot last. I honestly don’t get it.

Just a small point to add, which is that some times the mere contrast between people who try to explain things over and over, and those who refuse to “get it”, can be it’s own end.

If I’m wrong about something or persist in bringing up bad arguments, or not acknowledging valid rebuttals, then other people here who are ostensibly in “my camp” will call me out on it. I expect that to happen.

If between two opposing camps this doesn’t appear to happen in one of them, it shows. People notice.


Actually no. Current theories may be appended to or modified as new evidence becomes available. That doesn’t mean the current theory is wrong, just incomplete. That’s how all science works.

It’s much better to asymptotically approach truth about the natural world than trying to twist and torture the evidence to make it fit your pre-conceived notions.


Agreed. I’m wondering though if the community in which these debates occur is as small as PS.

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People’s beliefs about science have real world consequences, they’re not just a matter of opinion like their taste in art or music. They carry those beliefs over into the real world, where it influences their beliefs about who has the right to marry each other, who has the right to vote, their choices at the ballot box, whether to wear a mask to protect themselves and others during a global pandemic, etc.


The circular rehash of sea lioning old arguments with pathological tenacity? The community that cares about that is small indeed and does not include me.


The community of scientists who pay any attention to YEC is small indeed.


Sure, but nobody’s goal is that, surely.

As others have pointed out, theory usually tends to grow and be better elaborated, not be discarded, so that’s not likely true. But pursuing the goal of achieving respect for science, and for clear-headed modes of inquiry, is always worthwhile. Science isn’t just a pile of “answers” to fixed questions.


The goal is honest communication and understanding. People believe a great number of odd things, but they are still capable of understanding and performing science.

As for defeating YEC, according to Ken Ham 2/3rds of young people are leaving the church, and his response is to double-down on Genesis. Nothing I say or do can any more to defeat YEC than it is already doing to itself.


Yeah, if you wanted to eliminate YEC, that’d be a fool’s errand: too many people in the world for that to be probable. But if you want to make YEC look contemptible, the YECers will help you out!


My route out of my Young Earth Creationist background began with my Biblical Hebrew studies (which included a two-semester course sequence focused on Genesis). It was taught by a Jewish rabbi who was also chairman of that university department and Young Earth Creationism was in no way on his radar. We were simple dissecting the text. That process exposed the many problems of traditional Morris & Whitcomb Young Earth Creationist anachronistic hermeneutics. Years later when I retired I had time to really dig into the related science. I soon realized that following both the exegetical evidence and the scientific evidence to wherever they led gradually dissolved the pseudo-conflicts I had been taught to fear.

Contrast that with the AIG/Ham double-down strategy. Ham hopes that simply repeating old tropes (without any reasonable explanations of the exegetical and scientific evidence) while demanding blind loyalty to his particular brand of tradition-based hermeneutics will be enough for those young people. Yet, as even he admits, it doesn’t. And it never will. People do want answers—but Answers in Genesis provides slogans (e.g., “Were you there?”) and scare tactics ("If you don’t accept my set of Genesis interpretations, you might as well throw out the entire Bible and the message of salvation itself, aka the Slippery Slope Fallacy.) Those mantras may be enough for older ones who find comfort in familiar traditions—but most young people want real answers.

Despite Ham’s fear-mongering, I’ve discovered that lots of people raised in YEC-ism find their way out while maintaining a high view of scripture, including Genesis. Many come to realize that there is a big difference between popular traditions cultivated within twentieth century fundamentalist circles and what the Biblical text actually states.

Yes, there will always be lots of Young Earth Creationists. There is so much momentum from tradition such that we would expect many readers of Genesis to start from that position.

I believe that the Ark Encounter is already making a powerful contribution to that trend. In just a few more years we will be hearing/reading countless young people explain how, “When I was in middle school, my parents took our entire family to see the Ken Ham’s ark. It was then that I started to realize that so many of the exhibits made no sense and weren’t even based on anything the Bible states, for example, claiming a single ice age accompanied Noah’s flood.”

Of course, even my post is stating what I’ve already stated countless times on various threads and forums. I guess it is simply very human to rehash.


Here at least, we agree. In fact, it seems to me that YEC is becoming more entrenched. From my limited observation, back in the '70s, some form of old earth creationism was far more predominant among the fundamental churches than today, before the ascendancy of AiG in particular.

If people are happy with an integrated, YEC worldview, I avoid opening the discussion in personal spaces - I have no desire to instigate a crisis of faith. On the other hand, those who venture onto the forums are already engaged in these questions.

Somewhat true, but also misleading. In my engineering career, I never applied relativistic corrections to mechanical equations, that would not have been necessary. The theory that elements are infinitely divisible is not going to experience a come back any time soon. The Ptolemaic model is done. That organic substances can be produced from non living precursors will not be overturned. Much theoretical science is now applied science, and the technology works fine. Science does progress, and our understanding of nature does get better.

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From a historical point of view, scientific YEC is very recent.

I spend a lot of time with YEC raised students. I don’t think YEC will thrive in the internet age, except perhaps in communities that can maintain high control over children into their mid twenties or later. These students are very quick to take other options to origins, and fairly quickly find with a google search where YEC fails. They are curious, and curiosity crushes intellectual close-mindedness.


Not to mention oxymoronic.

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I’m betting on the theory that the sun is bigger than the earth lasting at least as long as YEC.


Dude! I can see the sun out my window right now. It’s WAY smaller!


As a matter of fact I’ve observed solar eclipses, and I can affirm that the sun is almost exactly the same size as the moon.


Thank you for actually answering my implied question. Nobody else seems to have attempted explaining why they are so concerned about proselytizing for science.

Of course, this answer also reveals that many science proselytizers likely have ulterior motives that have nothing whatever to do with science. Kuhn was absolutely right that science cannot be separated from society.

I guess, if ensuring that decisions that shape a society be based on correct information rather than on falsehoods is an “ulterior motive.”