:: Running from the Thought Police ::

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:: Friday, December 09, 2005 ::

Index Of The Evolution/Young Earth Creationism Correspondence Series

Longer-term readers may remember my project last semester, the Evolution/ID Correspondence series, which was sparked by my rebuttal of a rather crappy flier a creationist named Doug was dumb enough to put up on a bulletin board near the university's Anthropology department. This semester I managed to get into another correspondence series, this time with a Young Earth Creationist named Eric.

Reading through this, you'll probably note that there are two major differences on my side of the "debate" from the last time we did this: first, I am a lot more aware of the resources available on the internet for dealing with Creationists of every stripe, the most important being TalkOrigin's Index to Creationist Claims. The second difference is that I spent this semester in IB 402: Molecular Evolution, which touches on a lot of the abiogenesis and very early evolution events that creationists like to take the most potshots at. Rather than pulling things out of my ass, as I did with Doug, I am now fully armed and able to dispense with Eric's copious "refutations" of modern science rather than quibbling with "maybes" and "possiblies."

Be warned - a number of the posts for this series are quite long, and are not casual reading.

The spark for the entire thing was provided by the UIUC Objectivist Club, which sponsored a lecture, "Creationism in Camouflage: The 'Intelligent Design' Deception." The lecturer laid out the history of Intelligent Design just fine, but when the local thumpers opened up on him in the Q&A, his Objectivist agenda caused him to be caught with his pants down. After the lecture, I stayed behind and talked to a couple who were obviously Fundamentalists, and thought I made some minor headway with them, even though they sparked a post on why I generally discount creationist "refutations" without bothering to research them.

So I came back from the lecture, wrote a couple posts on it, and that was that - or so I thought. A few days later, a letter appears in the DI claiming that evolution was crap based solely on the performance of one Ayn Rand flunkie. Besides writing my own letter to the editor in response (which I won't link to; the stalkers'll need to do a little work to get to me), I emailed its author, Eric, directly. One of the things I did was to introduce him to TalkOrigins, and suggest that he look there before pulling stuff on me. He replied, mostly by suggesting a Creationist lecture right before Thanksgiving break. I begged off, saying I had to go home, though I gave him some a question to ask the lecturer. All three emails are in the same post.

After a bit, Eric responded, mostly by pulling out some references to the conversation we'd had earlier (at which point I realized he was one of the people I was talking to after the lecture). In this letter, he quibbled a bit with one TalkOrigins point - that dealt with scripture, not science - but mostly stayed away from stuff I could easily lob at him. What he did do was quote mine, and did so poorly.

I was mostly amicable in my reply, except for when I hit the quote mining - especially since he'd mined a quote from Steven Jay Gould, one of more important evolutionary theorists of his time, in order to "disprove" evolution.

Eric's next email showed that he had a short memory - namely, he forgot that I'd told him to check TalkOrigins first before sending stuff to me. I had mentioned Miller (1953) and had done a casual (though appropriate) hand wave towards Eric's attempt at the "Pasteur disproved abiogenesis" line, and in response he opened up with a lot of unsubstantiated crap about the results of those two experiments. After doing that, he dared to tell me that I was believing a lie.

Because of Eric being obviously unable to navigate the TalkOrigins site by himself, my response to his letter was filled with links to that site and a couple other debunkings on other sites. I also threw in the text of a comment that trashed Eric's use of a paper that said something opposite of what he claimed it to say. At the end of it all, I recapped all the crap I'd caught him at, and reminded him that of the two of us, I certainly wasn't the liar and wasn't being lied to.

This is where the correspondence currently stands, with the ball in Eric's court. Posts directly pertaining to the series will be linked to from here, and all other references to Eric will link to this post.

:: The Squire 10:38 PM :: email this post :: ::


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