I have had two very spirited debates as of late, and like others, am noticing a trend of debate mistakes that reoccur, understandably so, because of the emotional nature of the topic. Though one must ask, if your default position is atheism, why adopt the aggressive freedom fighter mentality that usually decays in to insults and personal attacks. I stipulate that both sides do this often, but I suppose I can understand religious fervor to save one’s soul more than a fervor to prove Christians ignorant, fact-denying, brainwashed pseudoscience following imbeciles. I suppose it boils down to what’s at stake. If God and the bible are real, then that means a real creator, real sin, real judgement, and a real way to inherit that kingdom that was denied by said atheist. If Christians can be bullied into submission despite facts to the contrary, I suppose payoff for the atheist is obvious, a life that is consequence free.
During the debate, no evidence was put forth to diminish the word of God, and no evidence was put forth to bolster evolution, nor undermine the creation model. Statements were made such as:
“Christians and Americans are reaaaally good at spreading misinformation, because they don’t understand history”
“countless scientific facts that disprove so many statements and ideas in the bible”
“Believing the words of the bible is no different than believing the earth is flat”
“It is one of the most factually incorrect group of texts ever collected, outside of accepted fiction”
“[The bible} is entirely false. Christian scientists are amazed at their own ability to twist facts to fit their beliefs, but that’s about it.”
“most people who grow up in religious families … choose the much easier path of disbelieving overwhelming evidence and fact”
“Simply, you don’t know what you’re talking about”
“Christians would still stick their heads in the sand and keep believing all the incorrect, illogical, contradictory nonsense written in the bible. Keep believing what suits you, to the detriment of future generations”
Notice anything about these statements? Who was being attacked? Any scientist who is Christian or believes in intelligent design; Christians who are unlearned; religious families; anyone who does not fit with the debater’s presuppositions. I remind you that no evidence was given to support these claims; these were just brazen arrows shot across the proverbial debate table. This brings us to our first debate error, the ad hominem personal attack, and more specifically the ‘Guilt by Association’ technique, which states you must be wrong because you are part of a certain group. Both of these are fallacies, and attack the person for being who they are, which is not a valid reason for giving into that person’s position.
Secondly we find the ‘Hero-Busting’ argument, in this case levied towards Christianity as a whole, stating that because of certain faults, crimes, or errors in the past, the group itself must be wrong on all accounts. Essentially, there are no heroes, and since your hero is wrong, then you obviously are too.
Finally we have two other fallacies utilized often against the creation model, and thosee who espouse them. They are related. One is called ‘TINA’ (There Is No Alternative), and the other is ‘Essentializing’. TINA is stating this is the way it is, so get over it, basically squashing any alternate ideas as ludicrous and a waste of time. This is a bullying tactic, that eliminates all other positions without having to defend them. Essentializing, is also called a ‘default bias’, and just means, something is what it is, and there is no point in discussing it further. This position doesn’t allow for growth in knowledge, or in solutions, and minimizes the efforts of the other position as pointless.
All of these were used on me during my last few debates, and weeding through them on the fly is a challenge. As an example to those reading, the statement was made that Christians don’t practice actual science, they twist facts, practice pseudoscience, and ignore the “actual scientific process”. My response was as follows:
“To dismiss the education of a people based on faith is to be ignorant of how many doctors and scientists are at present Christian, and or believe in intelligent design. For example CMI (Christian ministries International) employs more doctors than any other ministry the world over, all of which believe in a literal six day creation, and the authenticity of scripture… To simply negate all christians who are scientists as pseudo-scientists, and bad at science is an ad hominem attack that cannot stand up to genuine scrutiny, for many of the the fathers of science were believers.”
There are many examples, and I have in the past posted an extensive list of Christians who were not only the fathers of science, but who made vast contributions to many fields. This illustrates that the previous emotional statements are not true; that in fact some scientists who are believers do practice real science. This point was unfortunately never conceded to, and on went the denigration of anyone who claimed to practice science but actually believed in intelligent design. This is not an intellectually honest position to have, as one example would crumble the hypothesis.
Since anger was blocking any ability of mine to make headway, I chose to thank him for the spirited debate, and can only hope and pray that God will set learned and strong Christians in his path until his heart is changed. I would count myself blessed to be part of that chain of salvation. I would reiterate to everyone, I know it isn’t facts that change a heart, but God does use the word, sharper than any sword and a conviction to mankind, to change people’s hearts. But sometimes we need to be able to understand that it is possible to rely on the authority of scripture, even though the world does all it can to make it seem foolish. Sometimes just being confident in it can throw others for a loop, and I don’t think that is a bad thing, if it helps others ask questions.