One of the things that I’ve seen in many of the debates that I’ve recently entered about the origins of the world and the existence of God is really unfruitful and fails to recognize the complexity of the discussion.
It is rooted in the strong belief of the veracity of their side of the argument. Very few actually enter into this debate without a belief that they know the truth. I believe that if those people are present, they’re probably bystanders, watching exactly what will be said.
I believe that this a big hurdle to be overcome if we are going to have intelligent discussion. That means that each side of the debate must set aside arrogance and condescension and must actually listen to what is being said. Which is next to impossible, I will grant, because each worldview grows out of many years of thought.
One of the most unprofitable lines of argument for the believer is to be dismissive of the atheist/evolutionist based on the argument that “we know the truth.” I was reminded this morning as I left my house that Jesus died for all– and we all were enemies with God when He died for us. That means that we are to be treating others in love.
The other is when we do not spend the time to actually find out what the other side believes. Personally, I’ve done a lot of this type of thing. The problem is that when you leave the realm of the philosophical and approach the world of reality you’re dealing with another human being who has done a lot of thought (sometimes more) about what he’s saying and we need to actually find out what they believe and why if we’re going to have a civil understanding.
For the unbeliever, I find that the most unfruitful line of argument is the one where you declare the believer ignorant, dumb, and disparage their intellect. You assumptions toward the believer as just as distasteful as their assumptions of you. And there’s no better way to either inflame or shut down discussion than constantly impugning the intelligence of the other party. Attack the argument, sure. Point out its weaknesses, and make fun of it, but attacking the person will get you nowhere.
So, here’s where we get to the New Scientist. If you (unbeliever) can get past the philosophical challenge to the basis of objective truth (which I believe may serve to inflame more than actually advance the believer’s cause) you will notice something in this article. No, I’m not looking for a point by point refutation of everything that it has to say (though I’m sure someone will attempt to refute something).
What I want you to see in this is that each side has a well thought out set of beliefs, and worldview, and that the author spends some time critiquing this very tactic both sides use. We’d go a long way if we could eliminate this type of thing:
The author sets up a false dichotomy by sorting people into two groups: those who are merely amateur observers of biological origins and those who “really know” the truth (of which he considers himself). If you find the evidence compelling that evolution is not a valid explanation, then it is simply because you are not in the “higher” class. If, however, you believe that God has told us exactly how He created the earth and life, well, the writer has a special section just for you—on why you are wrong. Of course, for the amateur observers who accept evolution as fact, many of them do so out of indoctrination and not in-depth study (usually in a government-run schools), and have not heard the case against Darwin. We could also turn his argument around and say that those who “really know” are those who have overcome or see through this tax-funded indoctrination to accept the biblical account.
For more interesting reading, check out Rachl Lukis’ post.