Reasons to Believe

How Not to Handle the Creation-Evolution Debate

A few weeks ago I found myself in a conversation with an atheist about evolution and creation. What I noticed in our interaction was that he was initially hesitant to admit his belief in evolution (and disbelief in God), and not because he was uncertain of his beliefs. Past experience taught him that identifying himself as an atheist drew a hostile response from the Christians he encountered. Their debate tactics left much to be desired, to put it mildly. It was heartbreaking to imagine this kind, intelligent person in front of me being mistreated by anyone, but particularly by those claiming to be Christian.

Unfortunately “tact” in “tactics” is too often omitted when it comes to discussions about science and faith. The new DVD Evolution vs. God, the latest from evangelist Ray Comfort, sadly raised concerns here at RTB for its use of questionable tactics. Evolution vs. God sets out to shake evolutionists’ faith. Yet in its attempt to do so, it inadvertently undermines the mission: to reach people for Christ. Jeff Zweerink points out four key problems with the tactics used in the DVD. Here’s a quick synopsis:

The video:

  1. Claims to prove evolution has no supporting evidence In this goal, it fails miserably, Jeff says. Faculty remain unconvinced and students defer to authority. One student even acknowledged the need to think more deeply about the issue. We, at RTB, often stress the importance of investigating our beliefs. The video in a sense ridicules the very process of investigation we expect anyone (believer and nonbeliever alike) to follow.
  2. Resorts to an attack mentality Not only is the scientific community portrayed inaccurately, it’s implied that people believe in evolution (knowing there’s no evidence to support their belief) because they want to lead a hedonistic life. This accusation completely dismisses the fact that there are evolutionists who are strong, committed Christians (see BioLogos, for example).
  3. Breaks the Golden Rule Scripture calls us to treat others as we want to be treated. How many of us would want our thoughtful response reduced to an embarrassing sound bite—worse yet, particularly if the quote were incomplete or taken out of context?
  4. Does not follow Christ’s example Jeff points out that Jesus never attacked or ridiculed the truth-seekers He came to reach or made them look foolish. If the goal of Evolution vs. God is to reach people for Christ, it would seem wise to follow Christ’s example.

To share our hope in Jesus with a dash of disregard for others’ palate leaves a bad taste in their mouth, and they’re not likely to swallow what they’re being force-fed. Moreover, to distort others’ experience, their beliefs and reasons for them, effectively shuts down conversation and with it any hope to be a compelling witness.

Biology professor and evolutionist PZ Myers was one of the faculty interviewed for Comfort’s Evolution vs. God. Not surprisingly, he took issue with the way his interview was edited (read: butchered). Myers writes on his blog that “Creationists are welcome to ask me questions in the future, and to record them…but I’ll be recording everything they say, too, and it’ll be easier to expose their dishonesty.” Ouch.

If that’s the impression Christians make on others, perhaps we might rethink the way we engage in conversation and remember to blend some tact with our words.

Coincidentally, a recent episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman asked the question Did God Create Evolution? At the end of the program, Freeman offers some insight on the debate between creationists and evolutionists:

The debate isn’t likely to end any time soon. But there is one thing both sides do agree on—the sheer wonder of creation, no matter how it got here.”

Finding points of agreement sounds like a good starting point to me. What do you think?

–Sandra

Resources

Video – “A Review of Evolution vs. God

Article – “A Review of Evolution vs. God

Subjects: General Apologetics