Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Doing the Homework

I've been thinking back on a lot of the conversations, or maybe they're arguments, I've had with creationists and one thing stands out. I've read their bible and I've read some of the books written by Xian apologists, but it is clear that most, maybe all, of the creationists with whom I've conversed have never read anything that actually explains evolution, not even a Wikipedia article.

They all think they know what they're arguing against, but I seem to spend a lot of time explaining that the ideas they oppose are not really part of evolutionary theory and the ones who think they are most knowledgeable on the subject have only read the books that argue against evolution so they're just more adamant about their misconceptions. Basically, they are like someone who thinks he's an expert on a book because he's read a few reviews.

I was going to say something about how I wouldn't base my opinions on a critique of an idea without researching the actual idea, but that may be a big part of why I argue in support of evolution, and education in general, and they don't.

What I plan to do, and suggest others who support reality based concepts may also want to try, is start insisting that before a person can argue evolution, they must read at least one real book on the subject. If it's someone I trust I'll even loan them a book by Dawkins, Gould or the like. I also think I'll recommend, especially to those who have read some the apologist junk, that they read On the Origin of the Species just so they can see how often it is misrepresented. Everything by Darwin is available on line, so they have no excuse for not reading it unless they're Amish.

I don't know how well this strategy will work; maybe some people will end up reading some real science or maybe I'll just stifle communication, but it seems to me that we need to be more insistent that those who oppose evolution demonstrate that they've at least done a little homework on the subject they argue against. What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think you'll have many takers. In my experience, they're not actually interested in evolution qua evolution but in disproving evolution which is antithetical to their belief and the bible. The more I hang out at PZ's blog and other biology info sites, I see how dense, wide and deep the evidence is for evolution. Doesn't even count the other sciences, which back up and confirm the major tenets.
As an ex-evangelical, my own experience is that anyone not in Christ is wrong and trying to lead you away from God. The only thing you can do is challenge them to come to the Lord and forget all that nasty sciency learning, all the time sticking fingers in your own ears, singing la la la.