Greetings,

I am new to this site, but it looks like just the thing I've been looking for.

I write an article for the Examiner (online) and oftentimes I find myself engaging in debate with evolutionists.  Their final stab at me consists of telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm not a scientist.

What is the best response in this situation?

Yours in Christ,

Robert

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When debating with atheists they will nearly always resort to fallacious arguments if they see that you are knowledgeable. The types of fallacies that nearly always occur are:

 

- Reification

- Equivocation

- Ad hominem

- Straw man fallacy

- Faulty appeal to authority

 

The above are the main fallacies that I continually see and experience, but there are others equally used, but it depends on the subject argued. A good introductory book on this is found at this link “Discerning Truth” by Dr Jason Lisle  

 

It seems your difficulty with atheists is a combination of:

1. Faulty appeal to authority (you’re not a scientist)

2. ad hominem (you don’t know what you are talking about)

3. And No true Scotsman fallacy (inferred – you’re not the right kind of scientist)

 

ad hominem attack

An ad hominem attack, although stressful, is quite easy to defend because your character is logically irrelevant to the validity of your argument. You have to stay on the point and not allow the emotional trickery to detract from your logic.

 

no true Scotsman fallacy

The no true Scotsman fallacy is used on you by saying that you are not a scientist and by inference an evolutionary believing scientist. You don't say whether you are a scientist or not, but in the worldview of an atheists the definition of a scientist is a scientist that believes in evolution. To tackle this fallacy, I usually explain what the scientific method is, i.e. observation, testing, repeatable, falsification and explain evolution i.e. origins of life from pond-life to molecules-to man does not fit within the scientific method.

 

A faulty appeal

A faulty appeal will be combined with an appeal to the majority, so if you gave scientist names they will try to discredit them by saying they are not 'true' scientists because they are either creationists or scientists of faith and they are not of the majority. It's crucial that you reiterate the scientific method to nullify their fallacy. But the main attack on your argument will be for you to show a research publication, and here they will insist on secular research (which predominantly has evolutionary leanings).

Antagonistic witness approach

What I have used to successfully counter this argument is use the 'antagonistic witness' approach. This technique is used in a court of law. The objective here is to use research papers to prove your point, even if it is biased towards an evolutionary interpretation. For example, in one debate I used Lenski (an evolutionist) E. coli research results to prove that mutations didn't add the functions, but the functions in the bacteria already existed. Also use an evolutionist scientists own words to prove their inconsistency and irrationality. In this situation I used the atheists and discoverers of DNA (James D. Watson and Francis Crick) to show that Crick actually deduced that the DNA information could not have come from a random chance chemical pool, although they have suggested that aliens may have left the DNA, but the point is you are using the 'antagonistic witness' as your defense.

 

I hope this helps, but always remmember that they are scoffers and if they turn away from God all you can do is allow the Holy Spirit to take over after you have shown them their folly.

Floyd,

Thank you very much.  Your suggestions are much appreciated and are already helping me stay level headed in my responses to the evolutionist's jabs.

God bless you...and thanks again,

Robert

Floyd's already given a lot of good ammunition, but I would emphasize to them that your own credentials does not invalidate an argument, a resonable argument should stand on its own, regardless of source. 
Neither were Charles Lyell or Charles Darwin. Both were amateurs and neither had formal education in the fields they are known for.

I want to thank each of you for your replies.  I am coming to the realization that some people will reject whatever you say, no matter how good the argument.  I think I will pray more and talk less. 

Once again...thanks,

Yours in Christ,

Robert

As you have realized there is so much logic, reason, common-sense you can provide. The scriptures give fairly clear guidance as to what to do about those who reject.

 

Mockers and Scoffers

 

Why they are how they are

 

2 Peter 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires...

 

These desires are not new. We see the same reasoning in Asaph’s description of the wicked in Psalm 73:3-12

 

3 For I was envious of the arrogant, [As] I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble [as other] men; Nor are they plagued like mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of [their] heart run riot. 8 They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them. 11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased [in] wealth.

 

Best advice is from Christ

Christ gave guidance to his apostles when spreading the good news.

 

Mark 6:11 "Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them."


The instruction of shaking off the dust is related to a tradition of the Jewish people separating themselves from those who rejected the message of Christ.


All the disciples could do was present the good news about Jesus to the people. The 12 did not have power to force the listeners to believe it. The response was totally up to the people as to how they received the words.

 

Mockers are actually proof to the Christian of the wisdom and certainty of the coming of our Lord. There is no shame in not converting a mocker, for if God's spirit on their conscience can't make them turn from their folly. No amount of logic, reason and truth will convince them. But pushing the evidence for God out there will convert those who have an opened mind that is not controlled by lustful desires of the flesh.

 

This is where a valid argument without logical fallacies will win out on the internet because once the spirit works on the hearts of men and women your arguments will reinforce the power of the Spirit.



Robert Driskell said:

I want to thank each of you for your replies.  I am coming to the realization that some people will reject whatever you say, no matter how good the argument.  I think I will pray more and talk less. 

Once again...thanks,

Yours in Christ,

Robert

Thank you Floyd, good advice indeed.  I think one of the main things I had to overcome was the sadness I felt when I presented the Gospel and it was rejected.  I felt that I had failed somehow.  I understand now what you said in your post about the hardness of their hearts resisting the Holy Spirit and I take rejection much better now.

Thanks for your reply,

Yours in Christ,

Robert

Floyd said:

As you have realized there is so much logic, reason, common-sense you can provide. The scriptures give fairly clear guidance as to what to do about those who reject.

 

Mockers and Scoffers

 

Why they are how they are

 

2 Peter 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires...

 

These desires are not new. We see the same reasoning in Asaph’s description of the wicked in Psalm 73:3-12

 

3 For I was envious of the arrogant, [As] I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble [as other] men; Nor are they plagued like mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of [their] heart run riot. 8 They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them. 11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased [in] wealth.

 

Best advice is from Christ

Christ gave guidance to his apostles when spreading the good news.

 

Mark 6:11 "Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them."


The instruction of shaking off the dust is related to a tradition of the Jewish people separating themselves from those who rejected the message of Christ.


All the disciples could do was present the good news about Jesus to the people. The 12 did not have power to force the listeners to believe it. The response was totally up to the people as to how they received the words.

 

Mockers are actually proof to the Christian of the wisdom and certainty of the coming of our Lord. There is no shame in not converting a mocker, for if God's spirit on their conscience can't make them turn from their folly. No amount of logic, reason and truth will convince them. But pushing the evidence for God out there will convert those who have an opened mind that is not controlled by lustful desires of the flesh.

 

This is where a valid argument without logical fallacies will win out on the internet because once the spirit works on the hearts of men and women your arguments will reinforce the power of the Spirit.



Robert Driskell said:

I want to thank each of you for your replies.  I am coming to the realization that some people will reject whatever you say, no matter how good the argument.  I think I will pray more and talk less. 

Once again...thanks,

Yours in Christ,

Robert

There may be some merit to the argument that you don't understand a particular point, an position can be invalid if it is derived from a false premise - a premise you believe because of a lack of knowledge.

However, the correct action for them would be then to explain what mistake you made and, if possible, why it is a mistake. Pointing out you're not a scientist doesn't actually demonstrate you don't understand a particular point - educated laymen do exist.

So my advice would be to point out that, as others have said, your credentials don't impact the merit of your argument; but also ask them where, specifically, you went wrong. If they cannot then it shows that not only is it a illogical argument, but one they've pulled out a particular area of their body.

In keeping with that last point, I would also be sure to do a bit of "homework" and learn about a few evolutionary concepts to avoid making silly little mistakes they can throw back at you (it's best to do this from an evolutionist book as then you'll be using the same definitions so they can't claim you're using a strawman).

Adam's advice about reading an evolutionist book is spot-on, provided you can be discerning enough to recognize the fallacies  (I'm not suggesting you can't, incidentally, because you appear to have a solid foundation - that was mor a blanket advice for anyone else who may come across this).  Once I had actually read Darwin for myself and found out, for myself, what he was truly arguing, an entire world of debate possibilities opened up.  In fact, Darwin himself admits several problems with his own theory, problems that have yet to be resolved today.

 

Good hunting, Robert!

One should be careful about choosing what to read as the "new synthesis" (incorporation of genetics, amongst other things, into evolutionary theory) rendered a lot of early work, including parts of Darwin, moot. Whilst it still is interesting for background, some newer work would be better; lest you risk the response to your new knowledge being "we don't think that any more."

Any you would suggest?  Something in the beginner to intermediate range for me...nothing that takes a degree in biology or anything...ha...ha

Thanks again for your comments,

Robert

The best thing to do would be to see what evolutionists themselves recommend - it is hard to strawman an opinion they are giving you directly after all.

Darwinia.org, a collection of essays and such on evolution has a recommended reading list:
http://darwiniana.org/books.htm

Talkorigins.org, a site full of articles and responses to creationists (including the in/famous "index to creationist claims") has some highlighted the "must read" pages they have on their site:
http://talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-mustread.html

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