Tips for Dealing with Creationists

I hang out with Creationists occasionally and have seen many of the arguments they make. I’d like to tell you what I’ve found.

This isn’t a rebuttal against Creationist arguments (perhaps in a future post). Rather, I’d like to sensitize you to general errors that they make. Consider this a list of cautions when evaluating a Creationist presentation.

Check the speakers’ credentials. Almost no one who speaks as a Creationist or Intelligent Design proponent has credentials in the field he’s criticizing. I’m simply asking for speakers with doctorates in the field plus work credentials. That is, a biologist speaking about biology, a geologist about geology, a cosmologist about cosmology, and so on. There are hundreds of thousands of scientists. That this seems to be a lot to ask says a lot about Creationism and related dogmas.

There are journalists without scientific degrees who popularize science, but they follow the consensus. They don’t try to apply their own agenda to overturn it. Creationists attempting to overturn the biological consensus from outside biology—that’s something different.

Check dates of quotes or criticisms. Words can’t express how uninterested I am in what Darwin wrote or thought or did. Almost every Darwin quote that I’ve seen used by the Creationist/ID side has been taken out of context. Anyway, Darwin’s writings are not binding on evolutionary biologists today.

And don’t get me started about Darwin’s personal life—whether Darwin ate babies with barbeque sauce or plain (actually, he lived a pretty laudable life) says nothing about the question at hand: whether evolution is the best explanation for why life is the way it is.

Focus on the right bin. A popular complaint is to say that evolution led to eugenics, or that the teaching of evolution in public school correlates to the tragic downward spiral that society has made in the past 50 years, and it wasn’t like this when I grew up, and don’t get me started about the kids these days, and blah, blah, blah.

Evolution is science. Eugenics is policy. The scientists give society the best approximation of the truth, and the politicians decide what to do with this information. Don’t blame science for policy.

Watch for Hitler entering the conversation. Godwin’s Law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” Whether Hitler embraced evolution or not (unlikely, since Darwin was on the Nazi list of banned books—more at “Nazi Soldiers Indoctrinated with Darwin? Yeah right”), what Hitler liked has no bearing on the accuracy of evolution.

Beware lists of Science’s errors. I’m thinking of lists such as the greatest hits of evolution’s mistakes—Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, “Flipperpithecus,” and so on. Or theories that have been discarded—ether, phlogiston, geocentrism, the steady-state universe.

Yeah, science makes mistakes. Get over it. And what process discovered the errors? No, not Christianity or Creationism or divine revelation, but science!

Science clearly delivers pretty good approximations of the truth. For one glaring example, consider the science underpinning all the technology by which I communicate to you right now.

Watch for lots of quotes. Lots of quotes by scientists (often with missing or old dates) is another bad sign. Quotes simply invite counter-quotes, where I try to trump your science-y quote with one of my own, back and forth. For discussions between non-scientists, it’s better to stick with the consensus, which needs a reference but not a quote.

Expect “We’ve seen that evolution is wrong, so Creationism must be right!” This is simply a false dichotomy. Evolution might be wrong (though the evidence is so overwhelming that this is hard to imagine), but even if we discarded it, that wouldn’t leave Creationism the victor.

Did some Creator put life on earth? Wow—that’s an enormous claim. Provide the evidence.

Beware the “Gish Gallop.” Duane Gish pioneered this underhanded debate tactic. When interviewed with a biologist, he would say something like, “Well, what about X? And Y and Z? Evolution can’t explain these things.” The biologist probably has explanations for these puzzles and so begins a tedious (for the audience) explanation of why these are nicely handled by evolution. But when the biologist stops for a breath, Gish is back, piling on more examples. If your goal is winning the argument rather than engaging with the truth, these kinds of games can make an effective approach.

What I find especially annoying is hearing an issue get properly rebutted but then used by the Creationist in the very next encounter. How many times has a biologist destroyed Ray Comfort’s “Where’s the crocoduck?” argument? And yet it pops back up like we’re playing Whac-a-Mole. Does he just value effectiveness over integrity?

Beware lying. Okay, that sounds harsh, but I don’t know what else to make of nonsensical claims from people who should know better.

In 2007, I attended a lecture by someone from the Institute for Creation Research, a young-earth Creationist organization. This lecture was remarkable because the topic was geology, and the speaker actually had a doctorate in geology. He described taking rock samples from an amphibolite layer in the Grand Canyon and getting various radioisotope dating results. Though the rocks were all from the same layer, the date estimates were all over the map. His unsurprising conclusion: this dating technique is flawed, and the Grand Canyon layers were laid down by Noah’s flood, thousands of years ago, not hundreds of millions.

Only after the lecture, after I’d done some research, did I realize that amphibolite is a metamorphic rock, and radioisotope dating is typically used only to date igneous rocks. You’d think that a geologist would’ve made that clear in the lecture.

Beware “Science backtracks all the time!” Science does find errors and correct itself, but don’t imagine that the next correction to evolution is as likely to be a small tweak as the overturning of the entire theory. Once a field is well understood, changes obey a power law, like with the magnitude of earthquakes, the frequency of word use, or the size of cities and towns. For every big earthquake we see thousands of tiny ones, and for every huge correction in a theory we see many small tweaks. The overturning of a well-established theory is very unlikely.

Debating with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon.
It jumps on the board, knocks all the pieces off, craps on the table,
and flies off to its flock to claim victory.
— Anonymous

Photo credit: FreeThoughtPedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Danel Maloy

    BING BING WAKA WAKA HERE COMES THE SPIRIT MAN

    Dear Creationists,

    You are stupid.

    Genuinely stupid.

    By every conceivable metric that we can assess intelligence, intellect, mental ability, reasoning and sense, you’re stupid. Even the very ability to string words together in coherent ways, you’re stupid. You fail at all of this. You are fucking stupid. There is no way of getting out of this accusation; it is as close to an absolute, proven fact, that an honest assessment of the situation can get.

    Not ignorant; no, that’s something else. Ignorance is merely the lack of knowledge. That’s fine. I cannot blame someone for merely not knowing some random piece of shit, or not being exposed to information. You don’t get a choice in ignorance and merely not knowing. For a start, you’re born ignorant of everything in the entire world. New born babies don’t even know what things in the world are part of their own fucking bodies and what things aren’t – they really do have to learn this for themselves. So, no, you’re not just ignorant because if you were, I wouldn’t be here writing this.

    No, this is something fucking different, far fucking worse. What you stand not only accused of, but proven guilty of, shits and pisses all over the innocence of simple ignorance and goes into the dark territory of deceit and fucking lies. This is wilful ignorance. This is prideful ignorance. You take your fucking ignorance and wave it around at every opportunity to say “hey, look at me, I’m so fucking stupid” and expect people to give you some kind of shit-hot respect for it.

    Do I want to blame you for it? When your elders, and priests, and preachers, and the unqualified crank pseudo-scientific quasi-philosophers they get to back them up, have all conspired to brainwash you into thinking this is a good thing? Yes, I fucking do. You have made a choice to stay ignorant, and be happy with it. You’re a fucking idiot, and you damn well know it. You’re probably a right-wing homophobic little shit as well, so probably think being gay is a choice. So here’s one for you; being a fucking fruit-loop imbecile is a choice, a choice you made when youdecided that thinking was too much fucking effort and just let some cockend from Answers in Genesis do it for you.

    “We don’t see ants coming out of peanut butter, therefore evolution is wrong.” – you’re a bunch of fucking idiots.

    You know it. You know it, and you Just. Don’t. Fucking. Care.

    Why do I bother with you? Just why? Why do I drag myself down to that sort of level? I continually drag myself down to the level of creationist cock-ends but just can’t figure out why.

    Let’s look at some clear facts here.

    I have a fucking masters degree. I took four years out of my life learning quantum mechanics; management; nuclear physics; organic, inorganic, analytical, green, environmental, atmospheric chemistry; mathematics; and a fuck-ton of life skills and problem solving skills possessed by a tiny fraction of people. Oh yes, now that’s some fucking catharsis right there.

    I can write, I can draw, I can play and compose music, and I can program a computer to do a little fucking jig. Importantly, I know the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re” – and fuck knows that’s a rare skill. I can do most of that without getting my cock trapped in a blender, too. I’m even nice on occasion and, if I try, even likeable. I’m just going to blow a trumpet and say I have most talents bar singing (le sigh).

    I wrote a whopping four-hundred-fucking-page book to get a doctorate. It’s sat there on a table right now, all bound and shiny with gold letters and my name on it, looking thick enough to bludgeon someone to death with. To get that far, I was locked in a room with two experts who read it and who spent nearly three hours ripping it to shreds and finding any excuse they could not to give the final award to me. At the end of it all, half a dozen people with the same level of qualification and beyond have all conspired to say “you’re good enough to be one of us”. I fucking starved. I fucking wrote ’til I dropped. I stayed up late and got up early. All to get that. And as blasé and modest as I try to come across in public, I wouldn’t have done any of that if I didn’t think it was all worth it.

    And I’ve taught students. People even better than me, who have fought their way through the same shit and more, have said I’m good enough to be their proxy or their replacement to teach the next generation. I’m actively passing on knowledge, whether established or cutting edge, to students who one day will grow up to be the next me. Some days I hate those little shits, but to be fair to them, one day a good chunk of them will also be locked in that room with a pair of experts, shitting themselves and wanting to all go away. They will come out of it alive, as One Of Us, and they will fucking well deserve every bit of it. I am a cog in that academic and scientific machine, and damn well proud of it.

    In short, I’m smart. I’m intelligent. I’m rational. I’m reasonable. I’m “brainy” as fuck as some might want to put it and have the paper to prove it. By every conceivable metric, I am at the top of the grey matter tree. In pleasant company, of course, but it’s still spacious at the top. If I believed in the absoluteness of the IQ test, I’d be bragging my ass off about being in the 98th percentile (I dunno, actually, last time I took one I was, like, 15 – who gives a shit?).

    That’s me.

    “There are no transitional forms. There are no transitional forms. There are no transitional forms.” – This is the face of stupidity, the kind of stupidity there is no excuse for outside of having your brain removed.

    You, however, as someone who thinks the planet magically poofed into existence 6,000 fucking years ago, you’re at the bottom of that tree. Right down there in the grim dark bottom amongst the detritus, the worms and things that couldn’t even pull on a fucking pair of trousers without falling arse-over-tit to the floor. I may well be in the 98th percentile or wherever, but you, you dumb fuck, wouldn’t even know what “percentile” means without Google – which, by the way, has been built by the kind of people who know what “percentile” means without using Google. Because they had to have some way of knowing what it meant before they fucking built the thing – since you, you dumbfuck imbecile, need every little fucking thing explained to you in small words that don’t tax your brain too hard. Got that one? Need it dumbed down further? Fuck off.

    You, because you manage to be mentally retarded in such a way that it’s actually offensive to those with genuine learning difficulties, couldn’t fucking understand the mere basics of anything I could possibly teach you about anything. Chemistry, biology or physics; it’d be all like fucking magic to you, and all the research and understanding would be like something that just happens to other people. Even the fucking basics of logic, or language, or how to frame an argument, or what evidence is, or why it’s important, or how science even works would be something beyond your tiny brain to fathom for even a second. Hell, the hurdles I would have to leap just to get you people to the point of discussing actual evolutionary biology, or actual geology, or actual radiometric dating would require me to type thousands of words, spend months of my life and back-up to the basics of how if you have two beans and then two more beans you have “some beans”. We’re talking some seriously fucking basic shit, here, that I’d have to cover first.

    “The Grand Canyon could have formed in about five minutes” – in your fantasy world were physics doesn’t exist.

    And after all that effort and time and even sincere attempts to get your fucking brain to learn something, it still wouldn’t be worth it. You would ignore it anyway. You’d just let it go in one ear and out of the fucking other as if the squishy shit between them that others take for granted was just a gloopy transparent mess for you. You wouldn’t even address the fucking basics of what I could tell you. I could try to exemplify every nuance, meaning and deconstruction of, say, the phrase “evolution is a religion”, and you’d zone out as soon as I broke into fucking polysyllabic words and then, just as a little bit of drool came out, you’d say “but evolution is just a religion”. It’s all just fucking voodoo shit to you, something you’re actively scared of and don’t want to understand. You’ve rendered yourself physically incapable of understanding and basic comprehension and so I find myself almost constantly, every time I see one of you dumb shits opening your fucking mouths, struggling not to outright scream from the rooftops shouting “Fuck. This. Shit!”. Every single word in this extensive rant has been compressed in my head into a single thought; a thought that fires in my brain every time I see you slack-jawed fuck-tards speak, or type, or even making a motion to open your mouths or put fingers to a keyboard.

    You sit and worship people like Kent Hovind, whose entire thesis wouldn’t even count as a winning entry in NaNoWriMo (which requires 50,000 words in a month) and has a Flesch reading age of a pre-teen (by contrast, the Flesch-Kincade reading complexity for my own thesis goes to the part of the scale where “reading age” stops being a meaningful concept, and a single chapter is larger than Kent Hovind’s entire derp-fest, and there’s fucking diagrams to boot – fucking suck it). Or you shout “amen” after every little tiny piece of faeces that oozes out of the mouth of Ray Comfort – a man, lest we forget, who thinks the word “bibliophile” is a fucking insult derived from “paedophile”. These aren’t just people amongst your ranks, these are your fucking experts. Your fucking experts can’t even wrap their heads around the simple shit understood by even the amateurish of Internet Atheists or pop-science enthusiasts. Hell, I know people who would faint at the sight of an integral, but hey, that shit ain’t for everyone and they’restill fucking smarter than you, since they’re not so stupid as to think evolution requires goldfish giving birth to zebras.

    “Hello, my name is Kent Hovind.” – Opening sentence of Kent Hovind’s doctoral dissertation.
    “The C-H and H-H bonds are two of the most neglected structures in classical chemistry, despite the fact that the C-H bond is ubiquitous in organic compounds and dihydrogen is one of the most common substances in the universe” – the opening sentence of mine.

    You repeat mantras that have been refuted countless times. “Evolution is a religion!” “How do you know? Were you there?” “If we evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” What the fuck do these things even mean? Really, it proves nothing. I means nothing. It’s bollocks, the lot of it.

    Even if you ever get around to addressing any of the countless refutations to this simplistic fucking bullshit, all you can ever come up with is restating the point again, or whining about some other pathetic and irrelevant detail, or – and with fucking depressing regularity – spouting some bullshit about how people like me are suppressing your freedom. You know what? Go fucking jump off a bridge, and test your freedom to not believe in gravity. Literally, go do that now. I’ll wait.

    I’m not even going to bother with refuting any examples here or going into specifics about evolution myself. I’m breaking plenty of my usual rules about dealing with you stupid-as-fuck individuals already, so I’m going to break another and tell you to do your own simple cursory fucking research on this. Not that you’d manage that, as anything you ever cite must always come from an approved source like “CreationWiki” – a site, may I add, that actively makes a point, and a proud point at that, of stifling any potential disagreement by not allowing any edit that is “pro” evolution. Do you see that bullshit on skeptic or “evolutionist” websites?

    Target demographic; white Christian males, somewhere between the ages of 35 and 42.

    No. You fucking don’t.

    You want to know why? Because we want the world to see the best you dumb-fucktarded intellectual rejects have come up with, in all their mundanely pathetic glory, just so everyone can see how fucking terrible each and every one of your so-called “arguments” are. Sometimes, we don’t even bother responding, we just quote you verbatim (that means “unaltered” (which means “we didn’t change it” (ooh, look, nested parentheses (that means “brackets”) I bet that’s blown your tiny fucking mind))) because even casual scrutiny makes your points look terrible; and frankly, a full refutation just isn’t worth the fucking effort. Not because we can’t, but because – as I said above – I’d practically have to teach you the English Fucking Language from scratch to point out the flaws.

    You, who thinks a fucking single man and rib-clone woman and their two sons populated the entire earth without any freaking-frakking-fucking incest occurring because “hey, don’t ask awkward questions”, hold in high regard people who aren’t even worthy of pissing in the academic shadow of people like me. So where does that place you in that pecking order? You intentionally refuse to understand simple things; like how irrelevant evolution by natural selection is to abiogenesis; like the fact that “macro” and “micro” evolution are just things you made up (at least in the way you morons use those terms); or like how natural selection has nothing at all to do with eugenics. It’s all OH-YOUR-FUCKING-GOD-IT’S-HITLER all the fucking time. I mean, seriously, you intentionally avoid learning. You avoid understanding. You actively train yourself to not understand and you fucking revel in all this. You memorise your silly little one-sentence replies that mean sweet fuck all, and, by some magic, expect educated people like me to bow down to your right of free expression; well this here is my “free expression” in response you fucking lunatic, you’ve damn well driven me to it over the years.

    You have no intellectual rights to this “debate” at all because you cannot even speak the language it requires. Even worse, you seem to think this actually qualifies you more.

    How the fuck does that logic work?

    “Have you ever told a lie?” – selectively editing your interviews, re-recording questions to replace the context of the answers, or pretending that your most embarrassing moment had “always” been satire really, doesn’t count.

    Hint; it fucking doesn’t. It never will.

    Get with the fucking programme already; if you cannot comprehend basic facts, you cannot expect to be invited to the debating table as an equal. It’s like you’re coming into a boardroom, full of people with projections and presentations and graphs and calculations, and then you start smearing the table in bullshit (actual shit, actual bull’s shit) and rolling around in it, flinging it at people, painting the window with it, flailing your arms up and down to make a little bullshit angel in the faeces-strewn floor, and then standing up to shout “Ta-da! Give me a Nobel Prize”. You’re not my academic equal. In terms of intelligence and knowledge you’re fucking scum rotting at the bottom of a dark and forgotten barrel while I’m basking in the sun. I would love, genuinely love, to help raise you up to being on my level. I would love it. But you wouldn’t listen. That’s not really a prediction, it’s experience. I’ve seen you fucks talk under a Ray Comfort Facebook update. You just don’t listen. It’s a fact. I would tell you to read X, Y and Z. Hell, I’d even write my own summary of X, Y and Z, but you wouldn’t listen or even care. It would fall onintentionally deaf ears. As I said earlier, you’re not merely ignorant, you’re fucking wilfully ignorant.

    Le sigh…

    But you know what the worst thing is?

    The worst part is that some creationist out there, probably you because it’s being addressed to you, is probably going to find this rant and say “oh look at the little evolutionist, running out of points and resorting to insults”. Well fuck off. Fuck the fuck off. Fucking fuck the fucking fuck off. Lube up some vegetables in your own bullshit and cram it. You think this is my attempt to prove you wrong?

    No. Not at all.

    It’s funny because it’s true.

    This is my attempt to insult you.

    This is my attempt to degrade and belittle you, your beliefs and your reasons all in one. They’ve already been shown to be wrong. I don’t need to add to that. It’s done, it’s dusted – there is no fucking debate you morons. The world ain’t 6,000 years old, women weren’t made from ribs, dinosaurs didn’t go onto a big boat to escape a flood, and natural selection doesn’t mean bacteria turning into chickens in a Petri dish overnight so that Hitler could kill Jews. You lost this good and hard the day science started digging through the geological column. If you want to complain that I’ve ran out of legitimate responses by writing this, then that just proves every single point that I’m making in this profanity ridden rant; that you don’t fucking listen, and are even proud of the fact that you’ve left yourself bereft of the ability to do so.

    You’re not stupid because you believe the world appeared out of nowhere sometime more recently than the domestication of the dog – and no, I’m not going to tentatively say something like “evidence suggests that” it’s more recent than the domestication of the dog. No, it’s aFucking Fact that the dog became domesticated in the tens of thousands of years ago. I don’t really give much of a shit that you believe it, that doesn’t concern me. You’re a fucking shit-faced idiot because of why you believe it. If you haven’t got the gist of this already; you’re proud of being stupid, you actively refuse to learn, you don’t examine anything critically, you fall for any piece-of-shit “evidence” your masters tell you. You don’t question them. You don’t realise they’re just out there wanting to keep you stupid, to keep you ignorant and to keep you not wanting to learn about the universe from sources that actually took the time to look at the universe. They want to keep you that way because you buy into their shit, with money. Your actual hard-earned money. You actually value these people with your working time. You go out, slog away in some backwater burger-flipping hell hole and actually give part of your monetary reward to people who want to keep you stupid. That’s galling to the rest of us who have a working and fully functioning brain that we deign to actually use.

    You pay them. You donate to them. You buy their books and DVDs that they produce for fuck-all money and sell at a premium. Seriously, how much money does it cost Ray Comfort to show up to a college campus with a cheap camcorder to make one of his derp fests? Fuck all. Yet you’ll pay him $15 plus postage for the privilege of sucking his cock and reassuring yourselves over it – meanwhile he practically fucking swims in cash. Your cash. And it’ll keep going because he wants you to be stupid. Follow the fucking money, right? It’s in their best interests to trick and con you’ wake the fuck up to it.

    You show this crap to your kids so they grow up stupid and buy more DVDs and books by the Comforts and the Hovinds and the Hams and the Gishes of this world. You show them Jesus riding a fucking dinosaur and pictures of Noah mucking out a boat that’s chock-full of animals that somehow managed to survive and reproduce to form every living thing we see on the planet in a geological blink of an eye (breathe…) and you think this is right? You don’t think this is the most ridiculous idea in the world? If it wasn’t for the coincidental fact that you’re backed by a non-falsifiable belief shared by a significant proportion of the population, you would actually be declared clinically insane. No fucking joke here, there are actually people with more coherent and rational beliefs in their head being secured in mental health wards.

    Despite being as embedded as you possibly can in the evidence for it, you don’t realise that there’s an entire industry that makes a fortune from retarding your ability to think. You accept this, and refuse to actually exercise your innate abilities to think, question and explore so long as you say the magic words “but I am thinking, questioning and exploring”. No you’re fucking not. If you were, you’d be in my position. You, too, would find yourself locked in a room, actively battling and fighting with people tearing your ideas apart and demanding that you defend them and stand by them and justify every single thing you say. But you’re not. You never will be. Though, let’s be fair to the non-doctorate holding, non-creationists reading this for a brief moment; you don’t even have to be in that position of getting an academic qualification, you just want to be in the position where you’re willing to explore, and learn, and discuss and adapt. You don’t have to have any pieces of paper to be my equal; you just have to have the curiosity and a bit of genuine passion for learning. That alone more than qualifies you.

    “The Tyrannosaurus Rex was created to eat plants” – the only reason Creation Today employs Paul Taylor is because his vaguely English accent makes him sound sophisticated next to Eric Hovind. It can’t possibly because he has a functioning cortex.

    Creationists, on the other hand, they refuse even that… and worse they think it’s a good thing.

    There are a lot of people I think are stupid. Really fucking stupid. I mean, you might think it’s a long way down to the shops, but that’s peanuts compared to this stupid. There are people who think the World Trade Centre wasn’t hit by planes, but by holograms. There are people who think the skies are filled with mind-altering chemicals that can be dispersed – from miles away, no less – by spraying vinegar in the air. There are people who think we’re not being faced with a potential disaster of epic proportions because of how our society has polluted the planet. There are people who think vaccines cause autism and will find any old piece-of-shit evidence to prove it no matter how many times even the mere correlation is disproved. There is serious fucking stupid out there in the wide, dark and idiotic world.

    But creationism is something else. It has that industry supporting it and perpetuating it, and it has people who buy into it so willingly. And you, because you think that everything came from nothing in a fucking click of a magic man’s fingers, are part of this. You’re out there derping on daily about something that we, using the entire knowledge collectively gathered by the human race, know is a lie. Honestly, though, you probably think it’s a lie too – but you’re both too damn proud of yourself and too damn proud of your stupidity to admit it. That’s your problem. It’s not about fossils, or genetics, or radiometric dating, it’s about your unwillingness to learn and better yourself. And it always will be.

    In conclusion. Fuck you. Go fuck yourself. And may the god you believe in have mercy on your pathetic, idiotic, morally and intellectually bankrupt soul.


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