Can/should I "convert" my creationist friend?

Note to Mods: Sorry if this is the wrong forum, but it deals with that whole Evolution/Creationism thing, so I decided to put it here.

For some time now, I’ve known that a good friend of mine is pretty much a creationist. I learned this when I brought up the backward ruling of the Kansas Board of Education (since reversed) about the teaching of evolution in school a few years ago. I said it was terrible that they did that in Kansas, and she replied back that there should be room made for other ideas (i.e. creationism) in the curriculum because, after all “evolution is just a theory. It’s not proven.”

So then I asked her what she believed and she said she pretty much believes the Genesis creation story. I was shocked. Here’s a person that excelled in classes throughout public high school and college, including science, telling me she believes an idea with no scientific justification. Among the things she said was, “well, I do believe that Adam and Eve may not have looked exactly like we do today.” Of course, being the devout evolutionist that I am, I believe there was no Adam and Eve to start with. I have years of scientific study to back me up. She has a 5,000 year old folktale (albeit, a well-written one with a great message.).

She has some of the same misconceptions about evolution many other creationists do: That it somehow results in spontaneous generation of a new species from an old one, that it’s “just a theory” and therefore not scientific fact.

A couple other small facts that may be relevant to the discussion:[ul]
[li]She did say to me that the Genesis creation story “may be a folk tale”, but she believes it, others believe it, so that’s why it should be taught. I include this item to show she’s at least somewhat open to other views.[/li][li]We’ve talked about the Bible several times, and I asked her about books that tell us all about how to sacrifice animals and other things. She said, “the exact words aren’t important. What’s important is the message.” It seems odd that you could say one part is literal truth and one part is only symbolic truth, at least to me, and then also say the whole thing is the direct Word of God (which she believes).[/li][/ul]
Another friend of mine, when I asked him about this, said, “Her thoughts on the origin of man really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Lay off it.” And maybe he’s right. But it just keeps grating on me more and more, to see someone who is very intelligent in almost every respect fall for something that’s been disproven time and time again.

I tell her that the more I learn about evolution and how man came about, the more my belief in God is actually strengthened, and that believing in evolution does not have to compromise a belief in the Judeo-Christian God. But it just doesn’t work and I’m just sick of seeing her fall for this garbage. She has an open-minded attitude on just about everything else (abortion, gay rights, etc.), so it shocks me that she would believe in something like this.

And even if I were to decide to do it, how in the heck to you bring something like that up? And has anyone actually succeeded in doing this, just so I can get some pointers on how to make a persuasive argument? I see this as combating ignorance, so hopefully I can get some pointers here.

Believing in the bible is one thing. Trying to assert that it should be included in a science class is another.

I do agree that other theories, besides evolution, should be taught…such as the big bang theory and others.

One thing you might want to say to your friend is that if science class opens the door to christian creationism, where should it stop? I mean we can’t discriminate can we? So shouldn’t we include every other religious creation story too? I mean if christian creationism is all fine and dandy then shit, I want to petition for egyption creationism. I feel that it is entirely possible that we came from spit.:rolleyes:

How much do you want to keep this friendship and how would you feel if she was trying to turn you into a YEC?

If she’s internet literate, I’d put her in touch with and let her be.

I sometime manage to make my wife confess that she’s wrong about something (usually it’s politics that are in dispute in our house), but nine times out of ten, she’s just saying what I want to hear to shut me up.

It seems like you might be able to sway your friend to your way of thinking, but I wouldn’t push too hard. If she doesn’t want to change her mind, she won’t, and arguments about stuff like religion have been known to ruin friendships.

Me and one of my friends frequently find ourselves on opposite sides of some of the Big Arguments (abortion, gun control, his miguided views about the Middle East), and generally we just agree not only to disagree but to just not talk about it anymore.

Maybe buy her a book that deals with Darwin and religion and then just leave things alone? That way somebody else is doing the arguing, the person doing the arguing is a professional, if she’s got questions about the book she can come to you, and if she still thinks it’s bullshit, well, at least you tried, you’ve probably expanded her mind anyway, you’ve bought her a gift which is a nice thing, and your friendship is still intact.

Or you could just let her follow the arguments on this subject at :).

WOW…How on earth does one learn that skill?? :smiley:

I mean I guess I just assumed that I was automatically wrong when I disagree with my SO. :stuck_out_tongue:

My graduate advisor has warned her students against getting in “debates” with creationists. They are futile because you can’t change the mind of someone who’s argument is based strictly on faith and no physical evidence. Thus, they will always have the upper hand and win the argument.

I don’t know why you feel like you have to “convince” your friend. She’s just as entitled to her beliefs as you are, and I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate it if she tried to convert you. I think the subject of evolution vs. creationism should be off-limits to you. It will only frustrate you and probably make her resent you for not accepting her as she is if you continue to badger her about her ideas.

The only other thing I would recommend is that you encourage her to take a formal class in evolution, at the univesity level. I’ve always accepted the theory of evolution, but I didn’t truly understand it (and thus, truly accept it) until I took a class in graduate school. Most people don’t know what evolution is–they only think of humans evolving from apes. If she doesn’t want to take a class (which she probably won’t, unless she’s as “into” this as you are) then you should–as I said–forget about it.

I’m generally in agreement with other posters here. I have intelligent, educated, thoughtful friends that believe in astrology, palmistry, homeopathy and whole lot of other things I think are rubbish. Hell, I even have friends that are huge fans of N’Sync ( to the point of having scary bobblehead dolls :smiley: ). But I don’t see the point in harassing them to get them to agree with my views. First of all, it probably wouldn’t work, second of all their belifs aren’t hurting either them or me. The big thrid of all, is that there is no point in alienating friends over such matters.

If she finds this debate a topic of real interest, fine, continue to discuss it with her. Otherwise I’d recommend following tomndeb’s and/or monstro’s advice.

  • Tamerlane

One constant untrue claim by creationists is that orthodox science won’t even give creationism a hearing. By this they really mean that they should be allowed to use the power of law to shoehorn creationism into the science curriculum.

Creationis has, in fact, been tried in the scientific balance and found wanting as a scientific approach. In fact, very few creationists have even proposed an alternative to the theory of evolution that had any scientific basis.

Some of the scientific responses to creationism are found in this link: In addition there is a big thick volume (Science and Earth History) by Aurthur N. Strahler, emeritus chair of the Geology Dept. at Columbia University, that also addresses creationist claims from a scientific viewpoint. And another book is Scientists Confront Creationism edited by Laurie R. Godfrey (Dept. of Anthropology, University of Mass., Amherst, MA) and containing essays on various creationist claims by well known and respected scientists, Stephen J. Gould among them.

I doubt that you can convince your friend, but this should help you not fall into the trap of thinking that maybe scientists are repressing a possible valid alternative.

I’m a staunch anti-creationist, but I really have to say that her beliefs are HER business. I think that it would be a good idea to inform her of the scientific definition of “theory”, but otherwise, she should be left to her beliefs. I find it incredibly rude when someone tries to persuade ME to convert. So I think, as Tom implies, that it would be a grave test of your friendship and courtesy to try to disabuse her of her notions.

If she’s in a position to make policy for public schools, that’s another issue altogether.

I’m not sure I’d call it a “win”, more of a stalemate. You can use as much logical and scientific evidence as you can. But you’ll back them into a corner where they’ll say “I don’t care, I have my faith.”

Call it the argument from fideism

(1) I want my religious claim “A” to be correct
(2) Therefore, A is correct

Trying to change people’s mind on creationism is impossible; they will change their minds because they have decided differently, not because someone told them they should change their minds.

If you have the sort of relationship in which you enjoy debating with each other, then you might be able to have some fun debates on certain pro-creation arguments, such as the water canopy theory.

However, if you don’t have that sort of relationship, your best bet is probably just correcting her misconceptions of evolution, and being able to provide her with better information about evolution if she wants it. Don’t push, just offer the information.

I am in agreement with most of the other posters here.

Try these questions on for size:

Can/should I “convert” my meat-eating friend?
Can/should I “convert” my atheist friend?
Can/should I “convert” my Christian friend?
Can/should I “convert” my vegetarian friend?
Can/should I “convert” my gay friend?
Can/should I “convert” my straight friend?

They sound like pretty obnoxious propositions to me.

No one likes being the subject of a sustained “conversion” campaign, especially when it comes to personal things, (like religion, diet, or sexual orientation, etc).

You won’t be able to “convert” her, because this is a matter of faith for her, not facts/logic.

As you point out, she is happy to take some of the Bible as literal, and some as figurative. This doubtless suits the teaching/indoctrination of her church, and yes - she may be misguided, deluded, even brainwashed - but there really isn’t much you can do about it. So don’t waste your time.

You all are probably right: A concerted ‘conversion’ effort won’t do any good, and will most likely do harm to our friendship in the process. Actually, I have backed her into the “I have my faith” corner before, and the argument pretty much stopped there.

I just know there’s a fully rational person inside her waiting to get out, that’s what bugs me about it. To paraphrase Skywalker, I can feel the conflict within her.

At least, however, this thread has given me some great resources the next time the topic comes up. explains things much better than I ever could, and in a way anyone with a modicum of intelligence could understand.

Does anyone know any YEC’s that have actually “seen the light” of Creationism? I’d be interested to hear their stories.

Oh geez… I mean seen the light of Darwinism/Evolutionism. Whoops…

I thought I would chime in as a Christian and ex-creationist.

I’m glad that I no longer have to warp my mind in such a way as to swallow whole a story which so patently isn’t presented as scientifically factual; oddly, I think my faith has deepened as a result; I’m certainly happier now that I am allowed to serve God with my mind.

It was on and because of this very board that I made the transition, but I was happy to enter into a debate on the subject; if your friend genuinely wants to openly debate evolution/creation with you, then I think it’s OK, but all too often this isn’t the case and it may only cause strife.

I’m in full agreement with those who say leave her beliefs alone, as long as she doesn’t somehow push them into the school system.

If she does go that route, I want them to teach about Xenu and the Thetans. :smiley:

Note to lurking friends of Xenu: Have I made the SP list yet?

I would say, bring it up in as non-confrontational way as possible. I know I’ve changed my mind on many issues because of discussions with friends. Often I’ll argue like hell against their position, then, weeks or months later, find that I’ve come around to the same point of view.

I like the book idea. Another possibility is to hand her a magazine article, like the one on whale evolution in this month’s Scientific American, and ask “What do you think about this?” (This article has a whale ancestor whose blowhole is in an intermediate position between nostril and top-of-head - yet another “transitional fossil”!)

Don’t give up the fight!

Individually, all you can do is present the evidence and let that person decide for themself. Be strong, but don’t expect to make a conversion.

Save your fighting energy for when Creationists try to sell it as science in a public forum (like in public schools, etc.)

Just chiming in to agree with what Mangetout says. It is possible to change the minds of at least some creationists. I speak as a current Christian and former creationist.

If she is genuinely interested in the truth, and realizes that no one’s salvation depends on the literal interpretation of Genesis, reasoned arguments may reach her.

I find one approach with a chance of success is to point out that the only importance Christians attach to the Old Testament is because it was the background and culture that Christ grew up in. We (at least I) study the OT because of the insight it offers into what Jesus is talking about.

If it is perceived as an attack on her faith, you aren’t going to get anywhere. If it is perceived as an explanation, you might.

If it leads to hard feelings, drop it. And see to the log in your own eye before you try to remove the speck from hers. If you know what I mean.

In other words, do as I say, not as I do.