I know you are fed up, but please help me out with arguments against creationism

Hello all, I’m new to this forum, is there anywhere newcomers indroduce themselves?

My problem: I am currently involved in a debate with a firm creationist. IANA molecular biologist nor an evolutionary biologist. I’ve only taken short courses directed towards specific questions in those subjects. Now, this creationist doesn’t have any prior knowledge whatsoever about the basics of evolution. He makes all the standard comments like “a complex organ like the brain must have been designed” “life can’t spring for non-life” etc.

(You might ask yourselves “why don’t I simply ignore this guy?”, but since he’s posting at a public message board and in a tone that is quite disrespectful to other people, I think it’s important that somebody dispute his rather demagogogic posts.)

I’ve read most of the material at talk.origins, and some old threads here. (I can’t get the search function to work). Still, I have no idea how to explain processes such as the abiogenesis and how accumulated changes can lead to different species, especially not in a way that would make sense to him.

Anyone here who would care to help me out with suggestions?

(Btw, I’m not a native English speaker, English is only my 2nd language, so please bear with grammatical flaws and mispellings.)

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

Welcome, wiwaxia! Your English skills are better than those of many native speakers, so fear not. And thanks for putting your question in the right forum! You’re off to a good start.

You might want to point him/her to Ben’s stumper questions. Problem is, you’re going to have to try to explain complex things.

Another possibility is to attempt to explain why creation fails to be scientific. That’s my preferred route, as I’m not a professional scientist.

Best of luck, and welcome to the SDMB!

It will never make sense to him.

If you’re searching for people who are highly trained in debatting with creationists and always willing to enter a fight, perhaps you should check the alt.atheism, alt.atheism.moderated, etc… on the usenet.

If you’re searching for people who are highly trained in debatting with creationists and always willing to enter a fight, perhaps you should check the alt.atheism, alt.atheism.moderated, etc… on the usenet.

My response:

That can be something that a creationist might love. A creationist’s basic premise is that evolution conflicts with God’s plan, and it tries to indoctrinate people into atheism. If he learns that you are using pro-atheist’s arguments, then he would do a couple of Bible quotes, be convinced that he is right, case closed, la la la la la he can’t hear you.

A much better idea is to enlist someone like Mangetout or Triskadecamus to your side, for they believe in the Divine as I do and creationists profess to do.

Thank you all for your replies and your welcome :slight_smile:

I am a professional scientist, but my opponent is not, and he doesn’t care if creationism is un-scientific or illogical. Furthermore, he loves the Scotsman argument, so any christian who doesn’t fit his subjective definition is not a “true christian”.

When he found out I don’t believe in any transcendent beings, he started quoting the bible a lot, but he has ceased that, and as a response to my arguments, he has also stopped using “C-14 flaws” and “no transitional fossiles” as arguments.

The current position is that he has read a post I made about basic evolutionary mechanisms (a step forward!) and now, he has many questions. He’s not defending his former arguments any longer, but instead, seems willing to listen to mine. So, my task is now to explain my point as simple and pedagogic as possible, and here, I appreciate all advice I can get!

Hie thee to http://www.talkorigins.org and read the FAQs. Pretty much any objection to evolution that someone can come up with has been addressed there.

It is really simple, IMHO. The typical creationist ploy is to throw up a million facts on “things which prove that evolution could not have happened.” There are two approaches to the debate:

  1. Learn evolution well. Learn the creationist nitpicks. Learn to debunk these.
  2. Learn the definition of science. Learn what exactly constitutes a hypothesis and a theory. Learn about predictive value of evolution. Ask the creationist to defend creationism as a science. Only a scientific theory would be able to supplant evolution, and nitpicking points about evolution never makes creationism a more favorable alternative.

Point 2 is obviously easier, and as a newbie in the field you can argue it more effectively. If you are really interested in evolution, you will eventually learn all of Point 1 and be able to defend against the nitpicks. Point 2 is still a more effective argument, though, because it serves to inform people that just because there may be holes in the theory of evolution does not automatically mean that creationism wins by default. If the debatee tries to steer the debate to Point 1, just remind him/her of the premise – you are debating each as a science, based on their merits. Evolution wins hands down every time.

Lemme just mention that arguing Point 2 has been used quite effectively by Frank Zindler to outdebate the big, bad Creationist Daddy of them all, Duane Gish.


I have found the best defense is a good offense.

There are three approaches:

  1. The philosophical approach. This involves hacking your opponents arguments into bits by noting their philosophical and logical flaws. Particularly logical flaws. This is very effective if you are trained in critical thinking and all you want is you shut your opponent up instead of make him see your way.

  2. The scientific approach. Challenge your opponent to formulate creationism as a scientific hypothesis. All the usual restrictions apply.

  3. The religious approach. By noting the flaws in the Bible and Christian doctrines, you attack the fundation of this silliness.

If he is, in fact, willing to listen and learn, I’d direct him to the talk.origins faqs and let him learn on his own. If he isn’t willing to listen and learn, I’d direct the audience to http://www.talkorigins.org and let them see why he is wrong. Remember, convincing him is less important than convincing the audience.


You people still arguing over this evolution/creation thing? :smiley:
Carry on!

Thanks for your replies.

@edwino: I am a scientist in another area, and I’ve been through point 1, but as I said above, he doesn’t care whether his ideas are un-scientific or not, so alt 1 is what I’ve started to do.

@Urban Ranger: I actually started out with the philosophical approach, and that made my opponent change topics and not reply to my questions. It’s a dangerous strategy in a non-scientific debate, since it easily makes you opponent look stupid. Good for winning the audience, but bad for the dialogue.

@Ben: You are hitting the nail on the head: I’m more concerned about the audience than about him, although I’m still trying to show him that abiogeneis and evolution is not as “improbable” and “totally unproved” as he thinks. Since I’ve got him to back off at some of his other arguments by presenting facts, it seems he’s not totally closed. His main arguments right now is that there is “nobody can know” how old the earth is, how life began, and how different species are related to each other.

I don’t think my opponent is ready for talk.origins yet. I’ve had to work pretty hard to make him listen to me and reply to my questions, so directing him to a site that devouted to the evolution v creation debate, would perhaps make him suspicious and put an “evolution conspiracy” label at me, as he has done with others. But it’s a very good idea to direct the intersted audience there!

And Ben, your essay is excellent :slight_smile: Perfect for the interested layman!

Thank you! I appreciate that.

BTW, have you heard of Cairns-Smith’s ideas about abiogenesis from clays? Or are you familiar with the RNA world hypothesis?


@Ben: Cairn-Smith: No, never heard of.

RNA world hypothesis: Yes, I’m vaguely familiar with this at a layman level, ie I’ve read some popular science papers about it.

I’ve just been on holiday in Cornwall and I kept on seeing sedimentary rocks that have been turned on their side by geological forces, it is absolutely inconcievable that so many layers of rock could be laid down in a few thousand years and if you accept that the rocks were created like that, then you have to accept that the fossils in the deep layers are faked, but others on this board can elucidate the ‘Divine Weasel’ scenario far better than me.

Then there’s the thick layers of chalk around my home town; chalk is composed of the remnants of tiny organisms, again, such a build-up of chalk in so short a time would (I think) require unsustainable populations of the said organisms.

My main gripe with creationism (as an ex-creationist myself) is that it pushes God into a hole which is getting smaller (the so-called ‘God of the gaps’) - anything for which science does not yet have the complete answer is attributed to (and cited as evidence for the existence of) God, but this means God gets smaller and weaker with every breakthough in science, which I know isn’t true.

There are those who claim that it was all laid down in a year, and claim that they have scientific proof of it.

Yup, but the “creation scientists” almost always stop thinking as soon as they formulate a hypothesis that fits their preconception.

whilst I’m sure this can be proven (or at least viably asserted) in relation to some sample of sedimentary rock from somewhere in the world (maybe rocks that were laid down when some cataclysmic flood took place, like the Black Sea Flood)*.
But I can’t see how this can be made to fit all the evidence - the rocks I was looking at in Cornwall were shales and slates with thousands upon thousands of clearly defined layers (which could easily be examined because the geological column has been tipped over on it’s edge) - I’m pretty sure that I read somewhere about dating of these layers being done by examining the types of pollen that could be found in them, pollen of varying types from arctic to tropical and back several times (suggesting long ice-ages interspersed with warmer periods) - difficult to see this all happening in a single year, but as you say:

*Don’t get me started on the global flood topic - I have one thing to say about that: “Banana” - banana plants and seeds cannot survive immersion in seawater, so were they on the ark?, were other plants like cacti and lychees on there too? where did it all fit? what about the fish that couldn’t tolerate salt (or fresh) water, what about the Galapagos Tortoises (did Noah go all the way there to put them back after the flood?) oops, that was a bit more than one thing wasn’t it?

Yes indeed. It really depends on what you want to accomplish: to win over the audience or to make your opponent to see the light, so to speak.

My suggestion is not to bother with abiogenesis. Just make sure your opponent acknowledges it has nothing to do with evolution. Abiogensis is pretty iffy at this point in time and has nothing to do with the main point anyway.