Should Scientists Dialogue With ID, YEC, and OEC?

An interesting and important question has arisen about when or if we should dialogue. There are five examples below that have recently come up. Some argue that we should not engage. I think we often should, though there are some situations we should not. What do you think? When should we engage, and when should we not?

@Winston_Ewert (DI) and Peaceful Science

Which was an ad hoc and effective conversation on a new paper from DI: Winston Ewert: The Dependency Graph of Life.

@AJRoberts (Reasons to Believe) and Peaceful Science

And of course, there is the coming conversation here: AJ Roberts: One of The Biggest Questions.

Joel Duff (Naturalis Historia) and Nathaniel Jeanson (AIG)

Dennis Venema (BioLogos) and Nathaniel Jeanson (AIG)

And we also discussed: Venema and Jeanson SEBT Debate

@AGauger (ID) and @Swamidass (Peaceful Science)

We also exhumed an old conversation between @vjtorley, @Agauger, and myself.


Here’s a review of Replacing Darwin:

But when should we and shouldn’t we engage?

I think we should engage when they are doing things the right way. Like @Winston_Ewert here recently. But if they are going to act like Cornelious or Bechly then we shouldn’t. They don’t deserve our attention. But those like Winston and Gauger do

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Also we should engage when a person’s actions could be harmful to science education

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Here is my opinion. Real Scientists spend a lifetime painstakingly establishing their credentials doing real science, publishing in prestigious journals, giving talks at real scientific meetings, conferences and symposium. When speaking at a conference they expect other experts to be sitting there examining in finest detail their work. The old guard scientists will also be there to keep order but mainly waiting to see if the “torch has been passed to the new generation of scientists”. Someone will ask a question shooting down the paper. The speaker will fire back. Someone else will concur. Consensus is being establish. Rancor ensues. The old guard scientist stands up and says “interesting paper - session closed.” The old guard passes the torch.
This is how real science works. It is the big leagues. It is hard work. It is very rough and tough. You are judged by science itself -either confirmed or falsified. You don’t know the verdict for a long long time.

In the theology vs. science world, it is all about playing to your base. It has nothing to do with the science. It is all about the ideology.

For those actually doing science well, those on the top of their game, keep doing the science. Don’t punch down. Jeanson, Lisle, Gauger are not standing on the shoulder’s of giants that you are. Don’t engage them, it will be very frustrating because you think you are at a scientific conference with real experts around you, you are not. These folks are NOT real scientists. They are paid faith-based hacks. Real Scientists like Nathan Lents learn the hardway.

There are plenty of non-experts to go after Jeanson, Gauger and the next Ken Ham stooge. Don’t waste your time on them.

And we do through the courts.

Let Gauger go to a real scientific conference or publish in a real scientific journal or even respond to an editor about real gaps in a published paper FIRST, and earn some respect from real scientists FIRST.

Very good description.

It is about the base, but it should be about the science. It should be about honesty.

This is 100% the standard advice. Though, I am questioning it because of my experience with @Agauger two years ago, and also with others. There are a few things on my mind.

First, we think that if we ignore them, they will go away; but this is just false. We have abundant evidence that ignoring them will not destroy them, but it in fact perpetuates the conflict. The more we ignore, they more standing they have to complain of bias against their amazing arguments.

Second, we think that nothing will change their mind, or ours, but this is false. It might be true of many of the polemicists, but there are also many of very good intentions on the other side. Sometimes they come with the right questions, and our understanding can really improve.

Third, we think that it is enough to be right, but we also have to be trusted. One ways to build trust is to take questions and proposal from others seriously. There is real value here, so then maybe we might build friendships, and maybe even then be understood.

The type of engagement I think is totally unproductive is when celebrities engage with YEC (e.g. Bill Nye). It is better for actual scientists to engage, as part of our service for the common good. My scientific work is important, but I also believe public engagement is important too. I believe is part of the intrinsic responsibility every scientist has to the public that funds their work


I am saying YOU (top notch practicing scientists) to ignore them. And let the thousands of ant trolls chew them up piece by piece. Do you really think they can survive that?

You will never change their mind. A senile 90 year old Ken Ham will still be a YEC. It is in-grained in their brain. But they are aging out. Work on the millienials who are as Ken Ham says “already gone”.

The science is right and will continue to lead the way with new discoveries and surprises everyday. Keep doing science and leading the way. Building friendship is great. Especially when you can trust what another person stands for. Can that person admit their wrong about their beliefs if overwhelming evidence shows that their beliefs are incompatible. Can they change? If the answer is yes, they are friends worth having. If the answer is no, then they are not friends but merely indoctrinated paid hacks.

Nye base is teaching kids science by making science fun. He is not a debater, he is a TV personality for children. He went into the debate to talk to kids. Ham instead was fund raising. Ham raised money while Nye tried to reach the poor indoctrinated YEC children.

Your scientific work will lead to the public engagement. At the appropriate time, tell the public how your work could help them in the future. Explain it well and they will see the possibilities in it. Be like Francis Collins. He cares more about the NIH success than Biologos’ success. (or at least I hope he does.). Putting in stark terms, how many people could be helped by your research? How many people can be helped by formulating a theological GA?

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You make some important points. I will have to think about it. Thanks @Patrick.

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But quite often, in my experience, is that transitions happen when people find someone they trust with a different view. I was definitely influenced by Francis Collins, not so much because of rock-solid arguments, but because I grew up in a culture that didn’t think he could exist (an Evangelical Christian, credible scientist, mainstream view on evolution). He established that it was a legitimate possibility to hold to mainstream science without tossing orthodox Christianity. Darrel Falk was another influential person for me because he, unlike some others in the TE camp, was understanding of good intentions of the vast majority of YEC/OEC people.

You’re not going to convince Ken Ham, but you may convince many people who currently listen to Ken Ham.


How about engaging guys like richard Dawkins…?

Perhaps a lot of the problems we are facing today is because scientists didn’t engage with anti-theists who used science as a weapon to push their agenda.

The current narrative in the public sphere including text books are way off from where the science stands now… perhaps rectifying that would help.


Are you so perplexed by Christian Scientists finally talking about God… you think starting arguments with Atheist scientists is the only thing left to do?

This site is called Peaceful Science. Let’s engage the Atheists once the Evangelicals adopt the dual creation model.

scientists like @swamidass and even athiests like @patrick claim that science is neutral when it comes to religion/metaphysics.
So Creationists and so called scientists such as Dawkins are indulging in the same misuse of Science. Why dialogue with only one group?.

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Science is SUPPOSED to be neutral on God. When the Creationists stop rejecting piles of evidence regarding the speciation of primates… then will be the time for both Christian wings to engage the Atheists.

Francis Collins and Darrel Falk are the kind of Christians that most atheists would admire. They are not an impediment to the progress in science, reasoning, nor social change, Collins is an actual driver of that change through NIH. The real problem with all of the discussion around various creation beliefs and science is that it is holding back science and progress in social change. Christianity and Islam are holding back global social change and progress. Christianity is no longer the beacon of freedom for the oppressed. It has become the oppressor by holding on to archaic morals, values and ethics in gender, sexuality, freedom of thought, immigration, pursuit of happiness, even how we can die.

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Patrick on Dawkins

I do dialogue with atheists. See, for example, these two events: Veritas Forums the Week Dad Died (January 2018) - #4 by swamidass and Veritas Forums the Week Dad Died (January 2018) - #6 by swamidass.

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21 posts were split to a new topic: Patrick on Dawkins