mrmmarc (mrmmarc) wrote in atheist_debate,

Know your enemy...

The Creationist.
"Why do people sprout this bullshit and how do you beat them?"

What follows is an entirely personal guide to blowing Creationism out of the water. It also illustrates why they haven’t been blown out of the water just yet.

I post this because I believe, simply, that Creationism and its variants, such as ‘Intelligent Design’, to be flawed and harmful teachings; they subvert and corrupt the teachings of the Christian faith; they are accepted by the MINORITY of Christians on Earth who use them to curtail science teaching for their own agendas; in all ways a way of thinking can be wrong, they are wrong.

I also believe that all those who have been fighting Creationists have seriously dropped the ball and are really, REALLY missing the point. Simply put- the War Against Ignorance/Creationism is being lost because Atheists/Scientists are, I believe, using the wrong tactics.

So… I offer this as my humble opinion of how we CAN beat ‘em, which I will hold until someone rips a hole in my argument.

Know your enemy:
Why preach Creationism?

The biggest flaw in defeating Creationists is simply- no one sees WHY they preach Creationism. Most opponents of Creationism simply listen to them sprout off and suddenly go ‘A-ha! Christians! Attacking evolution! Again!’ and leap to the defence of intelligence over ignorance.

They see Creationism as a crude belief system (which it is), but take no time to examine the root causes of Creationism.

Which is a BIG mistake.

Most opponents of Creationism I have found are unaware of the following:
- The MAJOURITY of Christians do not believe in the six/seven day creation.
- The majority of Christians (we are talking GLOBALLY here) do not accept the Bible as ‘literally true’.

So, where do Creationists get this stuff from?
The core characteristic of a Creationist/Dogmatic Christian (and to be blunt, Creationism is just one manifestation of Dogmatic Christianity) is the insistence of the literal ‘truth’ of the Bible.
What you see is what you get. This is the TRUTH.
Not one word in it is a lie.

From this stance comes the Dogmatic’s- a sub-sect of Xians who maintain that the Bible is the core fundamental of their faith; some have accurately described such people as ‘Biblicists’- a new church who worship the Bible as opposed to Christians who worship Christ, but I digress.

The difference between mainstream Xianity and Biblicists stems at the very heart of the religion of Christianity itself.
A Christian (main stream definition) believes that Jesus (or Yeshua bar-Yesef if you want) was a man, who lived in the Palestine region about 2000 years ago, and was created “of the same essence” of God (who we also believe in). He died at the hands of the Romans, suffering torture and death to create a ‘new deal’ with God, and though him our ‘sins’ and failings are forgiven and we can find hope and salvation in his name.

Cute huh?
Rather nice.

Note also- not ONE mention of anything WHATSOEVER from the Old Testament. All to do with Jesus.

Indeed, the Christians (or more formally ‘The Jews of the New Testament’) have no need whatsoever for the Old Testament. Not a sausage.
All ya need are the Gospels.
I could go on here- most of the Letter’s are by Paul- Paul is not Jesus so you don’t need him; the book of Revelation is spurious- and argue that all you actually need to read to be a Christian is the four Gospels!
But while that may be true, it also misses out on some great writings, so I never actually do go that far, but the argument is there.

So why DO we on the Xian side use the Torah/Talmudic writings of the Hebrew?

Several reasons-
One is proof of Christ. The crucial element in Christ’s story as relayed by the writers of the Gospel is that he lived in ‘fulfilment of prophecy’. Throughout history Jewish mystics had been saying he was going to come and lo and behold he did!
So you include it in there to show he was coming.

You also include it in there because without it- the story of Jesus gets really confusing.
Remember- Jesus was born a Jew; lived a life as a Jew; practiced and worshipped God like a Jew and died a Jew.
Jesus was NOT a Christian after all.

Finally the Jewish Holy Books are included in the Bible because- it is the same God. God, Elohim, Yahweh, the God of Moses, Abraham, Saul, Solomon etc. is the same God Jesus worships. Jesus is as I said ‘of the same essence’ as God. Part of him.

So this is why we even have the Jewish Holy Book in the Bible and why we can use cute nicknames such as Jews of the New Testament. Still with me? Cool.

OK, so the debate about Creationism is NOT about Jesus. Let’s get this right. Creationism is about the first book of the Bible- Genesis. Jesus appears much, MUCH later, but for the reason explained above we have brought in a completely separate book- the Book of Genesis- and with it the description of the Creation of the world by God.

Now for the record- to be a Christian you have to believe God created the world. Annoying for some, but there it is. God/Yahweh is known as the CREATOR, and the most base definition of a Jew/Christian/Muslim is the acceptance that ALL things seen and unseen were created by God.
You don’t believe that- you are NOT a Christian.

HOWEVER- you do not have to accept the version/versions in Genesis.

You can (like me) look towards science and see this amazing series of events- the formation of the universe, the formation of the Earth, the development of the conditions to produce life and finally the wonderment of evolution and see God there. In fact you can believe that God is manifest in science.
Einstein thought so. So did Newton. So do many great scientists. They see God in the majesty of science.

There is nothing to stop you. Indeed it humbles you. The realisation that God didn’t make the grand canyon by snapping his fingers, but by just creating the universe and watching the world and in particular the Colorado river, create the Grand Canyon.

Creationism of course is opposed to this. They maintain the creation in 7 days.

Because they, like all Dogmatics, insist it is literally true.
And why do they do that?

Because they have, believe it or not, very little FAITH.
To a Dogmatic faith is a scary thing. Faith is an illogical statement- it is belief in something you cannot prove; something that may not exist. A statement of faith has no backup. It is without the safety net of proof or certainty.
I for example believe totally in God. I cannot imagine my life without God being in it. I see his existence in all things- rain, science, art, love.
I have no proof that he is there. I cannot show you God, just what I believe are his manifestations.

I have a faith- so when asked about God, I espouse my view- my faith- usually with a big proviso that this is just my opinion, it rings my bell, but if you can’t get it and find some other way of spiritually/intellectually floating your boat, as long as it harms none- good for you.

Wherever you find Gnosis bubba- cool by me.

Dogmatics are not like this. They NEED proof. They need concrete proof to believe.
It’s odd isn’t it? The most fanatical Christians on Earth are actually very weak in faith. This by the way is why they are so fanatical.

How do I explain this simply?
My fave way is the example of the Man Screaming About Sunrise.
Tonight the sun will set.
You know that, I know that, we all know the sun will go down this evening. This is because the world is spinning around on its axis. It always goes down. And some hours later the Sun will rise up again. It always comes up.
We know this. We accept this. Apart from explaining the mechanism of sunrise/sunset- the rotation of the Earth is something the majority of people do not really comment on the fact; that the life giving sun has suddenly been taken from the sky is not a topic of conversation every night. Nor do we sit around and worry about the fact the sun has gone from the sky.

Now imagine one evening you are walking to the shops.
There on the street corner is a man. He is standing on a small box. He is screaming and shouting. He is telling everyone that the Sun is going to come up in the morning. He INSISTS the Sun is going to come up in the morning. He DEMANDS you also believe that the sun is going to come up in the morning! He condemns all those who suggest that the Sun ISN’T going to come up in the morning! He quotes the PRECISE times of sun set and sunrise!
And you are like ‘Well, d’oh! Of course it is! What’s his beef?’

And then you realise. The reason the man is screaming about it is to cover his fear.
He is AFRAID the sun isn’t going to come up; he is afraid the world is going to be dark forever; he doesn’t believe in the rotation of the Earth. He covers his lack of certainty with screaming and shouting.
You, you KNOW the sun will rise. You just kinda shrug and get on with it. He doesn’t know- and into that fear he drowns out said fear with noise.

This is very much a good metaphor for understanding Dogmatic Christians.
Christians tend to have faith. We KNOW. We don’t need to scream and shout. We just accept and get on with it, very certain in our faith.
Dogmatics do not have faith- or very little. They have a huge fear that they are wrong.
They cover this lack of faith by making noise and quoting facts.

They need facts.
They don’t have any. What they have is Christian Dogma.
And thus they insist that Dogma is TRUTH. Without it being truth their whole belief system is invalid.

This brings us neatly to the current situation.
Why do Dogmatics savagely attack evolution?
Because to accept evolution means that you have to accept the first two sections of the Bible (Genesis 1 and 2) are wrong. If you accept THAT, then for the poor Dogmatics, the entire edifice of their faith falls down. A Dogmatic cannot accept ANY of the Bible is wrong- without it there is no ‘proof’ and without proof their belief simply ceases to be.

Creationists are a group who focus entirely upon those two beginning section of the Bible. They are obsessed with Genesis Chapter 1. The opening words.
Again- because to dismiss those opening words, means that the whole edifice of THEIR faith is weakened, and ultimately destroyed.
How can they preach if what they say is not the TRUTH?

Please note- this is THEIR problem. Not any problem for the Christian faith.
There are millions of Christians who do not need DOGMA to be true; we see dogma as just that- dogma. We use the Old Testament to understand the story of our God, how the way he was worshiped changed and evolved, how the Hibaru became the Hebrew and how in time the conditions for Christ’s birth came about.
It’s a good read. But we do not need it to be true.

The Creationists, simply, have issues.
Which like all good neurotics, they like to impose upon the world.

Beating Creationism-
Where we have been going wrong?

OK, this amazes me.
Creationists HAVE TO attack evolution. They have to. It isn’t evolution per se they are attacking however. It is that which deviates from the TRUTH that is the Bible right?
So they must attack.

And what do we get?
Well what we get are some of the finest minds in the world defending evolution. Scientists whose skill and arguments are unbelievably more complex and wonderful than my crude words produce eloquent and passionate discourses upon the reality of evolution.
They defend evolution and go beyond- they use tools such as rationality and logic to react as any human would react to an unprovoked attack.
Indeed, some of the passion felt by defenders of science is caused because of the savage nature of the attacks they face. Creationists are VICIOUS in unprovoked attacks.
Evolution does not attack Christianity. Not at all. But to these people it does completely undermine their faith- so they attack full on.

This is why they keep doing this.

The debate is now about 100 or so years old.
It has become clear to both sides that neither side can convince the other.
Indeed Creationism was losing. It was losing because science had explained the world wonderfully and its truth being self-evident it was accepted by our civilisation as something all children should be taught in schools. Good. It should.

Creationists saw diminishing numbers of their kind. Dogmatics saw their arguments flawed by it. So they went on the attack- their sole and most crucial aim- to allow Creationism (Dogmatic Christian version of the creation of the Universe) be taught in schools ALONGSIDE evolution (notice the tactical retreat- they once espoused it should REPLACE evolution- they know they cannot win this, so go for parity).

This now is the debate- the main battlefield in the war against ignorance. Our schools. Our children.
Intellectually speaking, no other cause is as important- the education of the next generation and in particular the allowing of flawed religious theology into the same room as evolution is a crucial battle that we must win.

But the fact they are still here shows while we are curtailing them, we are not winning.

SO how DO we win?

So, lets see how the argument goes.
Creationist argues the world was created in seven days.
Scientist laughs a little and argues back with evolution and even better geology.
It goes back and forth.
Crucially however the Creationist does not CHANGE their views. They have their Bible, and they use it to attack science.

The flaw on behalf of science is that it is defending itself in the first place.

To defend oneself means you allow Creationism into the same room as evolution in the first place. You grant Creationism more legitimacy than it deserves.
Remember- Creationism is nothing more than a reaction to reality by a bunch of people whose faith is so weak that without the Bible being literally true they would have no faith at all.
Creationists are merely exposing their little neurosis- but to defend evolution is to grant them ‘a seat at the table’. You give gravitas to their views; you give validation.

When the worlds top scientists attack Creationism it means they have the attention of the World’s Top Scientists. It gives it weight.

You have to not defend evolution.

Now, this is not to say you don’t defeat them, or argue with them, but crucially you do not give way on this. It’s like those pushy door to door salesmen. The SECOND you let their foot in the door, they are in and you have to deal with them. Keep them on the doorstep.

Simple- when a Creationist enters the debating chamber, put down Dawkins, and put down Darwin… these men are inspirational writers who WILL help and whose arguments are the definition of science defending itself from ignorance; but they are no use here.
You know who your Creationist is now. A lost person trying to cover up the emptiness of their heart by adhering to the belief that some words in a book are literally true.
You have one weapon to silence them with. One weapon to utilise against them- one that allows science get on with science.

That weapon is the Bible.

It seems obvious, but so many ignore it. If Creationism is founded in the Bible- then one must understand the Bible in order to deflect their arguments. Many Atheists do not like to utilise the bible- personal taste probably; or if they do, they look at it from their own bias and therefore try and trash the whole edifice.
You cannot trash the whole edifice of the Bible to a Dogmatic. You say ‘The Bible is bunk’ it will fall upon deaf ears. The Creationist isn’t going to believe you.
What is worse is that to explain WHY the bible is bunk and to be able to truly justify your words, you need to construct long arguments- and that doesn’t work for kids.

A Creationist picks up the Bible and says ‘Look, the world created in six days’ and it WORKS. It’s easy for kids to accept that. It’s a simple and powerful message and it hits home every time.
Evolution isn’t that simple to explain. It’s harder because it is correct.
But that doesn’t help us.

Your retort must be as simple as their statement.
And it must be hard-hitting. Hard enough to stop ‘em dead.

This is where Theology and Biblical Study comes into it.
Know your Bible.
Know it for different reasons- if you a Christian because it is your book and you must read it as it’s a cracker.
If you are an Atheist however you need to know your enemy. You need to not read the opinions on it just yet, you need to go to source. Read the Bible.
In it is all the ammunition you need to rip holes in a Dogmatics ignorant view of Christianity.

Practical Example:
What follows is a summery- of a debate I have had many times. There have been variations, but this is an accurate approximation of a simple, basic and powerful argument to use against a Creationist. I will try and break it down to simple statements

Creationism is simply to maintain that the creation of the world as described in the Book of genesis is LITERALLY true.

At NO point in Genesis does it state it is nothing but the truth. At no point do the writers of Genesis state what they are writing is literally true.

The belief therefore of the literal truth comes from a human imposed belief that the book of Genesis was written by men directly INSPIRED by God. God put the words into their heads.

Only two religious books make such a grandiose claim as far as I can tell- the Koran (the words of God as spoken by the Angel Gabriel unto the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and the Book of Mormon (the words of God as passed on via an angel to John Smith).

The Bible is VERY precise about when God himself speaks. He directly appears to certain individuals (Abraham, Moses, others- leading eventually to the appearance of Jesus himself who is God made manifest), and clearly the Bible does NOT say that Genesis Chapter 1 is the actual words of God.

The literal truth of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis is self-evident to Creationists. By maintaining its TRUTH they are able to justify its validity.

However- the story of the creation in Genesis Chapter 1 is invalidated in Genesis Chapter 2. Chapter 1 of Genesis clearly states that Gods creates the world in the following order- plants, all animals, and then man and woman.
In Genesis Chapter 2 he clearly creates man FIRST. After man has been created he creates plants, then he fashions animals and finally he creates woman.

Question- if the Bible is literally true- which version do we follow?
Genesis 1 or 2?

If it is literally true and there is no ambiguity in said truth then we must ask- which version must be taught in schools? Genesis 1 or Genesis 2?

They contradict each other.
Which came first- man or the plant?

It is unimportant- all that matters is that god created the world.

It IS important. Creationism depends upon the Bible being LITERALLY true not on God creating the Universe. Many scientists believe God created the universe. Charles Darwin believed God created the Universe. One does not need to believe in the literal truth of the Bible to believe God’s hand is everywhere. Indeed evolution shows you do not NEED to believe in the Bible’s version of Creation and yet remain a Christian- as millions of Christians believe in evolution.
You are only here because YOU say the Creation is literally true.
Therefore- which version do YOU say is literally true? Genesis 1 or 2?

It is one minor detail. It is unimportant.

No it is one HUGE detail. You are only here because you say it is an absolute truth. Absolute truths do not have contradictory statements in them. This is a big issue. You are only saying it is unimportant because you know that if you say otherwise the whole Creationist debate falls over. Which version is true?

Genesis Chapter 2 only clarifies what was said in genesis Chapter 1. There is no contradiction.

Yes there is.
It does not say it is clarifying. It does not follow on at all. The story of the creation in Genesis Chapter 1 carries on until Chapter 2: Verse 4- ENDING with the words- “Such was the story of heaven and Earth as they were created”.

The end.

Genesis 2:5 STARTS with the story all over again.
It does not say it is clarifying. It does not say it is explaining. We know the Bible does clarify things- during the Gospels it often says ‘Jesus said that which means that’. Clarification is VERY clear in the Bible.
You yourself have said the Bible is literally true, and has the weight of the word of God- therefore, considering he DOES clarify things throughout the Bible, then he must point out the clarification here. He does not.
We are left with contradiction.
Which is the true version?

You are mistaken. Chapter one clearly goes on about the Creation of the World. Chapter 2 goes on about the creation of man. The two stories do not contradict they are here to compliment each other.

Obviously you have done some reading. Good. However now you can answer me the second, more important contradiction- Chapter 2 clearly states that all of life (plants, animals, birds etc) were created within the Garden of Eden. Eden was the place of creation. Man was placed within Eden. Eden was the reason for all of life- all of creation to take place. Chapter 1 does not mention Eden once. Chapter 1 states that god created life, and then man- the world was filled with life- the seas, the lands, the skies were all covered in life- the planet ‘teemed’ with life to be precise.
Chapter 2 clearly states that Eden was a specific place- a VERY specific place- Eden, formed by four rivers, and placed clearly in the middle-east.
The question now becomes- did God create life in Eden or not? Was Eden the place of creation? If SO- why does the first chapter not mention Eden? Why does it very clearly say the world was teaming with life?

You are being too literal and reading your own bias into this. The two stories contradict do not each other.

Riposte to the 2nd Counter:
But I must be literal. You are here because you have stated that the Book of Genesis is the LITERAL truth. That is the only reason you are here. We started with a question- which came first, man or plants- a contradiction in the literal truth. Now we have also, was life created IN Eden or elsewhere? You have not said one or the other.

There is no flaw- God spoke through the writers; the writers are merely human; any contradiction you see is not from GOD, but how man interprets God. Small apparent contradictions such as this come about because man is not perfect- the basic truth is still real.

WAIT! You accept that the books of Genesis were written by men and now accept that there may be a flaw caused by mans interpretation. That means it is not LITERAL truth. It is approximated truth. You concede that there are flaws. But if there are flaws then it cannot be TRUE. It can only be opinion. And indeed, this does explain why we have two versions- because it is not literally true is it? It is just subjective personal opinion.
And if that is the case- then you have NO reason to be in a science classroom- because if we allow you in we must allow in those people who believe the moon is made of cheese. They have nothing but subjective opinion either.

You are splitting hairs! The bottom line is God created the Universe!

NO- the bottom line is not that God created the universe. The bottom line is that you contend that Genesis is LITERALLY true.
As I said earlier- you can believe in God and Not believe in the Creation. Try it- BILLIONS of Christians do this everyday.

Just because WE as imperfect humans do not understand it, does not mean it is not true. It is true- we are flawed humans; God’s majesty and brilliance is such that where we see contradiction; there is none- just the fact that we cannot comprehend God’s full plan; he is too big and we are but merely human.

Untrue. God is always clear. God is very precise. If you read the Books of Moses, the words of Jesus- you see some very clear messages. The argument used by those who say God cannot be understood is one used to explain away the contradictions in the Bible- and it is used mostly by those who have to maintain the Bible is true.
The MAJOURITY view by Christians on Earth today is that contradictions in the Bible are caused by the fact that lots of people wrote it and many had very differing opinions and views; many had differing bigotries and issues; problems and agendas. Their agendas get into the Bible.
God speaks; Jesus speaks- these are the words of God. Everything else is written by men who are simply just like me and just like you- they view things there way.
God’s Bible is clear to understand and has no contradictions in it- unless you labour under the view that everything is literally true, in which case you HAVE to say that to justify why the Bible is so obviously NOT literally true.

If God didn’t create the world who did then?

No. The argument is not about God creating the world. It is about the Creation as described in Genesis.
Maybe you shouldn’t attack evolution.
Maybe you should have a Religious Education lesson straight after a Biology lesson and in that point out that you can be Christian AND believe in evolution/not believe in the first chapter of Genesis. That gets everyone involved.

If you do not believe in the Creation you are presenting an unmoral view of the world.

WHERE does it say that? Where in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 does it state that fact? Answer- it does not. That is your personal opinion. I counter with this personal opinion- by saying it that belief in the Creation is a moral stance you diminish morality, and you actually are doing harm. You are saying unless you accept something that has NO link to morality or Christ message (do unto others as you would have do unto yourself for example) you invalidate Christ’s message. That is your view. Your version of Christ’s teaching are clearly flawed. The issue is your very blinkered and biased version of Christ message, NOT science or evolution. You are twisting the words of Christ. NOWHERE in the Bible does it say you MUST believe in the Creation. NOWHERE. If the Bible, as you say is literally true- you are NOT ALLOWED TO MAKE SHIT UP!

And so on and so forth.

HOURS of debate, and all of which about Creationists justifying themselves in line with their own faith.
Never once getting a foot in the door. Never once do you defend evolution.

And this is only the tip of the ice burg. This is basic rudimentary stuff. Once you get into proper Biblical scholarship you can keep on going for YEARS.

The main tool in Dogmatic Christians arsenal is the Bible. It is also the only weapon to use against them.

Ok- hope that helps some
(the above was written by marc (me)- if you wish to repost it, all I ask is for a credit).

Edit- hopefully cut now!
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