Creationist Tactics

We’ve all encountered creationist tactics — hell, many of us once used them. But it’s nice to have a list of them in one place, and that’s what “Creationist Tactics” aims to do. Here are the main points:

  1. Interpret any uncertainty anywhere in science as implying total uncertainty everywhere in science.
  2. Trumpet any mistakes made by any scientist, and ignore the fact that these mistakes are corrected.
  3. Shift the burden of proof to your critics any way you can.
  4. Any facts or explanations not immediately at hand may be regarded as nonexistent.
  5. Bury your opponent in quotes.
  6. Use “cafeteria science.”
  7. Find an instance of a scientist behaving badly, and use it to make the claim that all scientists will do the same.
  8. Scientific facts and theories need have no effects except where convenient.
  9. When cornered, change the subject.
  10. When really cornered, call names.
  11. When an explanation shows you to be absolutely wrong, ignore the explanation and reassert the original claim.
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  • LRA

    Ha! Nice list! ;)

  • Jabster

    So true yet so sad. One thing missed from the list is trying to show that science is all “rubbish” and then quoting a scientist as proof. To add insult to injury it’s almost always a scientist in a totally unrealated field or just someone who has a PhD/degree in something or other.

  • claidheamh mor

    “Cafeteria Science”
    Hahahahahahaha! Perfect.

    For #7, we all have to chorus back to Xians: “But he’s not a TRUE Scientist!”
    And as for #4, why should Xians treat science any differently than the way they treat their bible? Hahahahaha!

    Creationism, Hanna-Barbera Style!

    • Yaro

      I’m confused. What is cafeteria science?

      • claidheamh mor

        I think it’s a parody of the phrase “cafeteria Christianity”, also called “cherry-picking” from the bible, referring to selective reading, selective listening, and selective believing. Christians quote the parts of the bible they like and ignore, gloss over, apologize for, claim as not true now that God changed his mind and word, anything in the bible that they don’t like. People who don’t share christians’ belief in that particular mythology point that out. There are examples of people calling this out all over this website.

        So a christian trick or strategy to demean science would be to accuse scientists of selective, biased science. You know, sort of like christians’ own selective, biased refusal to consider anything outside of their beliefs. But they call cafeteria christianity “Nothing will change my faith”. They call anything that disagrees with their mythology biased or worse, because it’s so… so… so unchristian and godless!

        Well, like explaining a joke, that was long. The original list is funny! Wish it weren’t so damned true.

  • nomad

    Darn! There are eleven of them! Oh, well:

    12. Thou shall have no explanation before Me.

  • Personal Failure

    I love to ask these people why they use the internet and go to doctors. Hello, it’s science!

    • Kmuzu

      Actually … the internet is more engineering and doctors are more the application of science .. not really science … but I get your point.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Technology is applied science. Meanwhile, Pope chooses cardiologist as new personal physician. Doesn’t the Bible tell us that Jesus and his followers can heal? Why does God’s best buddy on the planet need a doctor?

        • Roger

          I guess for the same reasons that God needs a starship.

        • Yoav

          The same reason he need a bullet proof armored car.

        • Francesc

          The same reason he is affraid of death?

        • nullifidian

          The same reason he became his god’s bestest mate because his other mates in Rome voted him Jesus’ Bestest Friend (Until He Dies) Evar™?

  • Vastdistances

    Personally I find the first point particually insulting. If we had absolute certainty in science, we’d be a religion.

  • Mark D

    I heard this one church many times “Millions of scientists don’t believe in evolution but are affair to speak out because they would lost their jobs.”

    My own opinion, millions of church (or mosque) attendees don’t believe in god, but are affair if they speak out they would lose their friends or worst.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      “Millions of scientists don’t believe in evolution but are affair to speak out because they would lose their jobs.”

      Pthththt. I work with a couple of Creationists in a university research setting. One is a YEC and an engineer. Another is a physicist who is soft on ID. Their jobs are not in jeopardy. Notably, neither one is a biologist, so their Creationist leanings do not show incompetence in their field of expertise. And in both cases, the Creationist leanings are definitely attributable to a prior religious commitment; they most certainly have not been led there by the accumulated scientific evidence.

      • LRA

        There’s a DI’er (Discovery Institute) who works at my university. He is in the philosophy department, not in science. Even so, he doesn’t get fired, no matter how ridiculous the DI is.

  • trj

    12. Science is really just another form of faith, and therefore both are equally valid.

    • Fentwin

      Are you serious? Or just joking?

      • Elemenope

        I’m pretty sure he means that it belongs on the list.

        • trj

          Yup. I’ve heard it mentioned countless times: Science is simply a point of view, the same as religion, so both are equally valid.

          - which is doubly stupid. Science is more than a point of view, and, besides, two points are not automatically equally valid.

          • trj

            Applying it to creationists, it typically sounds like this:

            “You interpret the evidence from a viewpoint that says God doesn’t exist, whereas I interpret the evidence from a viewpoint that says He does exist. It’s simply a matter of where you start from.”

            What they’re really saying is: “Evidence is simply what I decide it to be.”

            • Tilly

              I’ve been told this exact same thing. At the time I thought it made sense, and after replaying the whole conversation in my head, I felt like I was tricked into agreeing. Those crazy christians and their circular talk.

          • Siveambrai

            This point may originally had some philosophical grounding. If you look at the Philosophy of Science, and in particular at the works of Feyerabend he makes an argument about this. However, in no way is the argument is meant to mean the thing that creationists boil it down to. In most cases it seems the meaning has been twisted to fit a pre-determined philosophical standing.

          • Fentwin


            Sometimes I suffer from “sar-chasm” -the gulf between the author of wit and the intended target. :)

            • Roger

              I like “sar-chasm”–that’s pretty cool and I must find a way to use that.

        • LRA

          @ Nope– a list for you:

          Enjoy!!! ;)

          • Elemenope

            That’s some good stuff! The Descartes, Leibniz, and Davies ones got me to LOL.

      • aproustian

        trj is adding another tactic

  • Kmuzu

    Creationist are on – what we in Vegas call – The Crazy Train. These are the same type of people who think they’re going to win it big playing slots or quit their job to become a professional poker player.

    Don’t mess with the crazy people. Stop poking them with a sharp stick. It only makes em more crazy.

    • claidheamh mor

      <blockquote?Don’t mess with the crazy people. Stop poking them with a sharp stick. It only makes em more crazy.

      I agree. Don’t feed the trolls. Attempts to reason are futile!

      But bunches of us still reply to (or about) John C. in spite of our better judgment, anyway!

  • Jeremy

    1. Interpret any uncertainty anywhere in science as implying total uncertainty everywhere in science.
    2. Trumpet any mistakes made by any scientist, and ignore the fact that these mistakes are corrected.

    4. Any facts or explanations not immediately at hand may be regarded as nonexistent.

    These are basically different ways of pointing out the same fundamental flaw in the creationist way of thinking: they cannot accept that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

    We often call it arrogance on their part, but honestly I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s insecurity. The idea of “we don’t know, but we’re learning” is scary: they would rather “know” for sure the answers to all these questions. So God made the earth in 6 days, and all of its species, and humans were made separately, and he gave us the breath of life, and all our ducks are laid out in a row nice and easy to understand.

    • Blue Nine

      It is interesting that scientists not having an answer invalidates science for a lot of Christians, but they think that their not knowing something proves their faith. Of course, they always seem to know what God wants other people to do with their lives.

  • Jim Etchison

    This list is great–and true. The thing I’ve learned after debating Christians (too often) is that we have to hold ourselves to the same standards, or the sharper Christians will call us on it. We can’t use the mis-steps of Christians (i.e., Ted Haggard) as evidence against Christianity, because it is just as much an ad hominem as when Christians decry the evils of the “atheist” Pol Pot regime.

    Also, sometimes we get so frustrated that we just call our opponent a moron and move one. But name-calling is evidence that you’ve lost the argument … even if you haven’t.

    • John C

      You said “but name-calling is evidence that you’ve lost the argument”. If that’s true, then I’m like the undisputed winner of like 1000 or so discussions on this forum of which AOR himself accounts for some 500 or so? lol. I’ve been called every name in the book, and not the “good book”, :)

      But seriously, Jim makes a good point that name calling is utterly pointless and actually self-defeating (will someone please tell AOR & Claidemhor and Boomslang & so on and so forth ad nauseum) but I still love those guys!!

      All the best…

      • Reginald Selkirk

        You said “but name-calling is evidence that you’ve lost the argument”.

        In your case, it’s done after you’ve lost the argument, you moron.

        • John C

          You just lost Reg, strike one (thousand), lol. :)

          • nullifidian

            I wouldn’t call that name-calling, I’d call that an “observation”.

      • boomslang

        Disclaimer: Derrogatory name-calling is/was never meant to support why I do not(CANNOT) adopt a belief in “God” —whether it be “Christ”, or any other supposed invisible, conscious being. I rarely, if ever, lash-out with insults, without *first* attempting civil discussion, to include, giving detailed reasons for my position. It is when those reasons/explanations are continually ignored or dismissed, that enough frustration sets in to hurl a juicy insult.

        Theists want me to accept their personal experiences as good reasons for why I should adopt their personal beliefs, yet, they will not count my personal (NON)experiences as a valid reason for why I cannot adopt their “spiritual” beliefs.

        • John C

          No worries Boomslang, as we have previously discussed I both understand your position, the why’s, etc and your frustration with “believers” who make various, non-verifiable claims. I hold nothing against you or anyone here, was merely a poor attempt at making a “funny” follow up comment to Jim’s name calling post.

          I wish you the very, very best.

      • Aor

        Name calling as a last resort to continue or ‘win’ when you have nothing else of value to add to the discussion is indeed evidence you have lost the argument. On the other hand, calling a person a liar when you catch them lying is merely descriptive. Calling a person a lying douchebag when they lie and shift the blame and try to change the topic and repeatedly refuse to concede simple points is not losing the argument.. the argument is over by that point. Those insults are part of a new discussion, not the is-my-religion-real discussion.. its now the is-john-c-a-lying-douchebag conversation. See? Its really quite easy.

        • John C

          I have never lied to you AOR, not in my heart to do so. The problem lies in your inability or unwillingness to believe the best about Father and His heart of love toward you. In that regard you are not alone, although you are more direct and abrasive. So, when I write of the goodness of God you say “no, that cant be true” and so it wont be to you, until you agree with Him, until you believe. And what a day that will be.

          • Sunny Day

            “The problem lies in your inability or unwillingness to believe the best about Father and His heart of love toward you.”

            I see. It’s not that John C is a lying scumbag, its AOR’s fault for not believing in a a airy-headed faerie tale thought up by John C that is actually the problem.

            Take some responsibility for your words John C. It’s not that hard.
            It’s what I’ve come to expect adults to do.

            • John C

              The truth is that God IS love (1 Jn 4:16), dont know how much plainer I can say it for you Sunny. The problem truly lies in your unwillingness to believe it, sorry but its…true.

            • Aor

              If you expect me to take those words as gospel, then you must take those similar claims from EVERY SINGLE OTHER RELIGION in the entire world as gospel. Does that sound ridiculous to you? It should. Somewhere in your head right now, the remaining rational neurons should be firing in sequence reminding you of how out of touch with reality the rest of your neurons are. If you do not take the claims of a Hindu or Muslim or Wiccan as truth, why should others take yours as truth? You know it is ridiculous. Deep down inside, you know how unconvincing and downright stupid that kind of talk is because when you put yourself in another persons shoes you don’t react the way you expect me to react. That is called hypocrisy. You are feeling it right now, feeling that you are wrong and are aware of how wrong you are but can’t bear to admit it because that would imply some weakness in your belief system. This is why I get on your case. You lie, and know you lie. So I call you a liar. See?

            • Aor

              No response, I see. So when confronted with a problem in your position, when the reality makes it clear that you are a hypocrite.. you respond with silence. This is just another example of how unreliable you are as a Witness. You are not honest in these discussions. That is inescapable, so you do not and cannot respond.. all you can do is leave the conversation and then restate those same ridiculous things in another post later on.

              You are a coward. You are afraid that you will lose your beliefs if you admit the truth, so you lie. So, to make a long story short, I call you a lying coward because your behavior is deceptive and cowardly. Deal with it, you lying coward.

            • boomslang

              “The truth is that God IS love (1 Jn 4:16)..”

              The “truth” is that you cannot substantiate your assertions with any sort of objective evidence. Nothing new; the same bare assertion fallacies that we are accustomed to.

              “…dont know how much plainer I can say it for you..”

              Your making it “plain”, or simplified, is immaterial to the fact that it’s just your words; your opinion.

              “The problem truly lies in your unwillingness to believe it…”

              And here you are once more, blaming the nonbeliever, accusing them of (wilfully) refusing to believe what they don’t find believable in the first place.

              “sorry but its…true.”

              Sorry, but you cannot know the minds of other human beings.

            • John C

              Why would I say something that isnt true? My Father is incapable of lying and I am “of” Him. Man was created in His image and likeness, so I dont understand what you are saying my friend. There is one who is a liar, and was from the beginning, but he is not my Father, not my Source of origin.

              Man is more than you know, so much more.

            • Kodie

              It’s not that your father is incapable of lying, it’s that you’re very certain of it that you can’t see around it to know the …real truth. I think you are overly concerned that people have tried “religions” and that’s why they can’t see god, because of the corruption that you speak of very often, and that’s not the real god.

              When you believe what you want to believe so hard that it becomes the truth, then there’s really no arguing it from you. You’re stuck in it but good. That’s your bear and you’re going to hug it ’til the stuffing comes out, and everyone should know this bear, it’s a real good bear, and one day you’ll know the bear, the bear is light, the bear is LOVE ITSELF, the bear makes promises if you listen and the bear cannot lie, evar. You continue to babble about your bear and how keen it is. I don’t think you’re reasonable or even participating in the conversations here, you’re just interjecting about your bear again and again.

              That is what you sound like you are talking about, so maybe if you had something new and interesting to share, it would productive for all of us.

            • Aor

              @John C

              Oh so now you are incapable of lying? Is this related to your claim to be a different species than atheists are? Is this related to your talk about how atheists can’t experience emotions the way you can? Remember those utterly insane claims you made? Can you see how hateful they are, how separating yourself from other human beings with these crazy claims makes you a bigot?

              You feel that those who are not of your religion are less human. Less capable of feeling emotions, less capable of love. Not saved = less in the eyes of your god. Weak. Inferior, doomed, lost. You are superior because you are incapable of lying, while atheists are inferior. See? Bigotry. Open your eyes.

            • boomslang

              John C….”Why would I say something that isnt true?”

              You’ve got to be f%cking kidding me. For the same reasons a Muslim proposes things that they believe are true, but that you and I know are *not* true. Here’s a couple of possibilities that come to mind: Either, a) they don’t know that what they are proposing is not true, or b) they are being deliberately deceptive in an attempt to defend a religious philosophy that the know they cannot prove. You blithely speak as though belief and Truth are mutually exclusive, but yet, you certainly don’t allow people of opposing religious faiths to apply the same theory in substantiating their personal beliefs, do you?

              BTW, I totally agree with one poster’s assessment where they point out that your “spiritual” beliefs(religious beliefs) have made you bigoted, arrogant, and condescending.

            • John C

              What if the truth were so much better than you could ever dream, ever imagine it might be? And what if that Truth would dwell within your very being? What if, as in OT passages we see Him (Truth) march victoriously thru your enemies camps, the unconquered lands within you until finally the Light brigade broke thru in triumphant jubilation and the result was…the real you unveiled in love, mercy, righteousness and restoration?

              Have we lost our sense of dreaming, of wonder, of childlikeness?? There is more guys, a whole lot more.

              When will you long for the…more that He would give if you would only ask.

            • JonJon

              is condescension no longer allowed on these boards? bummer…

            • Janet Greene

              John C – what if, what if, what if? What if you are the only person still residing in the matrix? what if atheists have found their way out, and are listening to you talk about the glories of living in a dream world? What if your claims have already been explored ad nauseum by most atheists, and have been rejected because they are immoral and false? what if?

            • John C


              I have read nearly all your posts, listened carefully to your story re your parents, your religious background, etc. First, please understand that I am so happy that you have couragously unbound yourself from the death grips of religious thinking, this is a giant improvement over the conditioning that you suffered thru. It did not bring liberty, therefore it was not “of” God.

              The problem you struggle with imho is your steadfast association of “Christ” with the IC (In stitutional Church) you just cant (yet) seem to separate the two. Let me ask you, who was it that Jesus (in the fairy tale, ha) had the hardest time with, had the strongest words of rebuke for? It was the “religious” leaders of the day right? Guess what? Nothing’s changed. The “Pharisees” are still the long robed pious ones who claim to speak for God but put endless burdens on people who want to know Him.

              You had a “religious” experience meaning burdensome rule keeping rituals, dead external practices, doctrines of man, etc. Christ is a liberator, an emancipator. No one longs for your freedom more than He, freddom from the tyranny of what we call religion. When I think of you a book comes to mind, “The REST of the Gospel” by Dan Stone. If you cared to “hear” afresh, anew there is much truth,much “above the line” (if you read it you will understand) liberty in this revelation, in his words.

              Glad you “escaped”, shed the condemning, shame-filled false teachings of religion. Now you are in a good position to “unlearn” and know the truth. Maybe your journey is not yet over? All the best.

            • Aor

              @John C
              Respond to the points about your hypocrisy. What you are doing right now seems to be a combination of #9 and #11.

              You are a lying cowardly hypocrite. Congratulations.

            • Janet Greene

              John C – thank you for your beautiful and inspiration words. And I mean that – I’m not being a “sarcastic atheist” when I say that. And certainly my journey is not over. I’m learning and growing every day (except maybe the days I dumb down watching family guy & simpsons maybe). But I grow forward, not backward so I will not be moving closer to religion. If anything, my growth leads me further from it. As for being inspired by christ, I agree that there are things we can learn from that story and ways in which he was an example. Caring for the poor, rebelling against the establishment…these are things I relate to very well. But that is a far cry from believing that jesus was divine, or believing that the bible is true. Most of the bible is obnoxious to me on a moral and ethical level, and this becomes more and more clear as time goes by. I have found joy and freedom in letting go of the bondage of religion, and by that I include your christianity. I am not confusing religion with “true christianity”. Because I believe in the natural world, and it is beautiful (not for everybody – I’m fortunate to have been born in a wonderful country so I’m one of the lucky ones). I do not need to create anything supernatural in my head to be ok anymore. Hopefully, neither of our journeys are over. Thanks for responding!

            • Janet Greene

              Aor – hope you don’t mind if I give Mr. C a little support on this one!!!! Something that doesn’t happen often on this thread lol!

              I don’t think I agree with you – I don’t think he is a liar. As for hypocrite, I can’t say because I don’t know him. But he seems like a nice person, a very decent human being. I think he is just fully deluded and brainwashed, just like many of us used to be. I think what he is saying is coming from an honest place though, and he is very sincere about it. I honestly don’t think he notices the fallacies and inconsistencies – not because he is not intelligent, but because it is part of the dogma of christianity that you cannot see those things. The brain shuts that down because otherwise you cannot rationalize your supernatural beliefs. I feel this way about my parents too – decent people, but just terribly misled.

            • Aor

              The fallacies have been pointed out and the inconsistencies also, many times over many posts. At some point it becomes impossible to ignore the pattern of disappearing from the conversation when he is asked a tough question, only to reappear babbling the same silly things. There is never an attempt to learn from an error or concede a point when it is proven or deal with a difficult issue openly, only relentless Witnessing. Honest people would feel shame at having to abandon the conversation when those simple questions are asked, possibly enough shame bring up that topic again. Only a liar would have the balls to bring those same points up again and again while knowing they not only couldn’t defend them but had continually run away from the opportunity to even try.

    • Blue Nine

      I think that the behavior of Christians IS a good argument against Christianity. They say that their god is alive, is active, can transform people’s lives, and has great power. But if they act just like non-Christians (or, like Mr Haggard, break god’s rules while expounding from the pulpit), then I think that questioning the truth of their religion is perfectly legitimate.

      • John C

        But you haven’t yet met me Blue! Ha.You make some good points which I agree with. All the best Blue.

        • Aor

          Do they pay you to witness so relentlessly? Do you get rewarded with chocolate covered raisins in heaven for every time you make those sugar coated attempts to convert with artifical niceness?

          • John C

            Caramel covered raisins.

            • Aor

              You are a cowardly liar, John. You lack the guts to respond to what I pointed out above, yet you babble your inanities here instead. Why is that? Are you ashamed of something you said? I sense deep deep shame in you, John. That is probably why you believe in an invisible man in the sky who always watches you pee.

          • Janet Greene

            I was always told it was jewels in my crown, but i was never one for gaudy jewellery. And John C, having been on both sides of the discussion in my life, I can tell you that I understand where you are coming from. I also used to believe that I was somehow transformed because I was a christian. It’s amazing I believed that, because I clearly wasn’t. It took hard work to transform me. Therapy, honesty, self-love, taking responsibility for my actions (not giving it over to jesus) were the keys to my transformation. Now I really feel. I often feel joy, overwhelming gratitude, overwhelmed by the beauty and mystery of the universe. I didn’t even realize that when I was a christian I was numb to many of these things, and yet was trying to tell people I had found “the answer”. i feel like a real idiot now about that. You have been brainwashed, John C. This is why you believe the way you do. There is no rational explanation for it. If only you would open your eyes, and be honest. Read the bible with a critical eye, not through rose-colored glasses. Maybe there would be hope for you too.

      • boomslang

        “What if the truth were so much better than you could ever dream, ever imagine it might be?”

        “What if”, you (again) ask? Then I’ll believe that “Truth” when/”if” it can be objectively confirmed TO ME. Thus far, you have not presented any such objective confirmation. Simply repeating your assertions over and over and over, ad nauseam, doesn’t make them any more believable.

        “Have we lost our sense of dreaming, of wonder, of childlikeness?? There is more guys, a whole lot more.”

        You silly man—-our ability to “dream” doesn’t mean that whatever we can concoct in our imaginations will be/can be real. If that were the case….. good grief, you and your superstitious beliefs would be long gone.

  • Anders

    Is there a list of how many of the ten commandments god himself breaks in the bible?

  • UNRR

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 6/19/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  • Lost Boy

    Indeed. A cyclical, nonsensical argument that distracts itself from itself every two or three tactics. Dismiss things as non-existant, meanwhile putting absolute stock in an invisible man in the sky they’ve never met.

    Sounds about par for the course. Good show!

  • Heidi

    Another point to add to the list:

    -Pretend Einstein was a Christian, and Hitler wasn’t. If you keep saying it, it must be true.

  • Janet Greene

    Speaking of debating with bible literalists…I just had a HORRIBLE conversation with my elderly, fundamentalist parents. I love them and do not want to hurt them, but they keep bringing up religion, the bible, etc., to the point where it becomes impossible not to engage. They did a lot of #11 – reasserting the original claim – ie – when I mentioned the atrocities in the OT, concept of hell for almost all his precious children, etc., they just kept saying that we can’t understand god, our minds too small, we don’t know perfect justice but god does, etc etc etc. They absolutely would never confront the facts before them. Just a closed door. And panic because they think their children are going to burn eternally. It was SO awful…and pointless…and needlessly painful.

  • David

    Good and valid points, Daniel. These weasel tactics, though, are available to everyone. Do I have your permission to apply them to your blog? Or are you confident that you’ve committed none of these intellectual “sins”?

    To wit:

    1. Interpret any uncertainty anywhere in (field of knowledge) as implying total uncertainty everywhere in (field of knowledge).

    I just have a question about this one. Think carefully: how many uncertainties are permissible?

    2. Trumpet any mistakes made by any (proponent), and ignore the fact that these mistakes are corrected.

    In other words, ad hominem attacks, or featuring the weakest player. What about your use of the “God Hates Fags” wingnuts? You think they fairly represent Christianity?
    Or this:
    Nobody in the Reformed, conservative church takes this guy seriously except his (few) followers.

    The Christian ideology is not monolothic, any more than than evolution ideology is. Can we agree on that?

    3. Shift the burden of proof to your critics any way you can.

    Yes, well, technically the burden of proof is on you since you are the one making multiple assertions about Christianity in this blog. The burden of proof is on you to defend your theses, not just attack those of others.

    4. Any facts or explanations not immediately at hand may be regarded as nonexistent.

    This is an easy one, what with the interweb and all.

    5. Bury your opponent in quotes.

    Also an easy one. Wikipedia.

    6. Use “cafeteria (field of knowledge).”

    This is also called “confirmation bias.” You continue to find evidence to support your own (foregone) conclusion. Tell me Daniel, have you found anything to challenge your lack of belief? Are you even looking for anything? You say you are open to new evidence. Do you actually claim that no new evidence for Christianity exists?

    7. Find an instance of a (proponent) behaving badly, and use it to make the claim that all (proponents) will do the same.

    This blog is filled with people doing idiotic things in the name of Christianity. That’s fine. What’s missing is the fact that people do idiotic things in the name of, well, anything. People just do idiotic things. Do you agree with this? Or are we to take (as I take it) the actions of a few crazies as representative of the entire Christian faith?

    8. (…) facts and theories need have no effects except where convenient.

    Another instance of confirmation bias. Covered.

    9. When cornered, change the subject.

    What were we talking about again? :)

    10. When really cornered, call names.

    While you generally seem pretty gracious, Daniel, your commenters, on the other hand…their sophistic tactics above to justify blatant name-calling are not only laughable, but sad. Can you imagine calling someone a douchebag in any formal debate, no matter how frustrating they may find their opponents arguments? (I won’t respond to any of these people)

    11. When an explanation shows you to be absolutely wrong, ignore the explanation and reassert the original claim.

    We’ll wait and see about this one, shall we?

    • fftysmthg


    • Aor

      I call douchebags douchebags. It is never a first choice of tactic, it comes after a person has shown themself to be a douchebag. For example, if someone says atheists cannot feel love the way a believer can, I call them a lying douchebag. This is because that particular belief is bigotted and hateful, and when no soft-touch approach is likely to get a person to admit their bigotry there is no point being nice about it. Point, laugh, insult the bigot. Name calling and shame work to teach children on the playground how to play properly with their peers and fit into groups, those methods teach things in very primitive ways while calm and rational approaches may fail. Basically, once a person shows themself to be unworthy of respect I cease to show them respect. There is no single approach to confronting people who are bigots, and I refuse to hold back from calling a bigot a bigot. That would be to tolerate bigotry, and I think most people agree that is bad for society as a whole.

      As for your attempt to reverse these points in the original post, I think you may have provided us with an interesting example. Your response to #1 seems to be an attempt to use method #1, in fact. Odd, isn’t it? Even your attempt to refute a point uses that very point! Your retort to #2 is a straw man unrelated to the actual point at all. Your #3 is either a straw man or a spectacular example of not knowing what you are talking about at all.. are you attempting to shift the burden of proof on the issue of who has the burden of proof? Wow. In fact, isn’t your entire post an attempt to shift the burden?

      Thanks for playing. Your participation is a key part of the process of deconverting others like you.

    • Roger

      Yep. Douchebag.

    • Elemenope

      You hit about as often as you miss, if the responses before me are any indication. But that there is some similarity in the types of argumentation tactics used is not license to draw a direct equivalence, which I think is fairly off-base. Part of the problem is that the situations are not symmetrical; a skeptic attacking a theological claim using these tactics may charitably be called a jerk, but a theist attacking scientific findings using these tactics is not only a jerk but also betraying a lack of awareness of the differences in epistemological situation. The claims are constructed differently, justified differently, and most importantly falsified differently. The major problem with creationism in the first place is that it is an attempt to “dress up” a theological claim as a scientific one, in order to divert powerful criticisms of the justification hypotheses of the original claim by asserting that a different justification hypothesis (the scientific method) be used instead, even though it is plain that the scientific method is not an appropriate mechanism to analyze the claim.

      • David


        Fair enough. I do not actually intend to take on the creation/evolution argument here. My point is that poor argumentation exists on both sides of the fence, including this blog. I don’t deny my ideology, my presuppositions, or the biases I bring to the argument. What bugs me is a dogged insistence on a kind of disinterest and objectivity that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t exist on the other side of these arguments any more than it does in mine.

        • Elemenope

          Well, there isn’t objectivity amongst commentators, but there is a distinction to be drawn between scientists doing science and commentators talking about science. The problem, from my point of view anyway, seems to be that arguments on blogs generally are arguments about differing conclusions, where very few of the participants were involved in or qualified to comment upon the process used to arrive at the conclusions. When there are (like, for example, LRA has actually worked as a biologist) they are far outnumbered by people that are only working off of their conclusions with no benefit of the understanding of the processes that created them.

          The problem then becomes that the people defending the conclusions are doing so on the basis of their faith in science as a truth-seeking methodology, at which point it is merely a rhetorical competitor with special revelation as a truth-seeking methodology. And that would be it, except that creationists by-and-large are not launching their objections at conclusions generated by commentators, but on conclusions generated by science using a well-tested and exacting process; and yet, arguing with the commentators, and not the scientists. It’s much like winning an argument with a friend in English class about something your chemistry teacher taught, instead of winning the same argument with the chemistry teacher.

  • David

    I don’t deny your distinction. In fact, I would be happy to concede that faith is not the measure of science, if others would be willing to concede that science is not the measure of faith. Do I filter science through my own ideology? Sure. Do I expect scientists to operate on the basis of bible verses? No.
    I’m trained in theology. Yet there are commentators in this blog who would try to to apply to the scientific method to the (historical/theological) claims of Christianity.
    If I showed up in a science grad program with the reverse tactic, I’d be laughed out of the place, but here, it seems to be ok.
    It’s an odd contradiction, but it exists.

    • Elemenope

      It’s appropriate to judge historical claims in an empirical manner. Definitely less so for theological claims. The problem is that sometimes they cannot be disentangled, such as, for example, when the theological claim’s truth is dependent upon the truth of an enabling historical fact. And that is usually the point of argument; not that the theological fact is true or false (since that cannot really be argued persuasively with someone who doesn’t share the same episteme) but that some enabling historical/scientific assertion, which is testable, is disputed.

      For example, in the context of the gospel narratives, many people (including me) look askance at the veracity of one of the claims that at some point the graves of people in Jerusalem opened up and the dead were walking around. We are justified in our skepticism because a bunch of dead folks wandering the land would be noteworthy, and hard to miss, and the Romans were notoriously meticulous at writing events down, and yet no independent record of such an event exists.

  • David

    Well, we’re back to the same impasse. I appreciate the fact that you seem at least willing to accept historical testimony as evidence. Many aren’t.

  • acce245

    I must say, this sound a lot like how the government justifies just about everything it does too…