Atheist gives improper advice on debating creationists


A reader sent me a link to the following, which was written by Victor Stenger, titled How to Debate a Christian Apologist:

Recently there seems to have been a rash of debates between atheists and Christian apologists. Of course, we had the much-ballyhooed debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye on creationism versus evolution…

During their opening statements and throughout the debate, apologists are likely to make arguments with which atheists may not be so well versed. So, when the time comes for rebuttals, atheists often cannot provide cogent responses, or any responses at all, and so lose debating points.

An experienced debater will make note of every point his or her opponent makes and try to provide at least a one sentence response. That will prevent the opponent from coming back and saying, “My atheist friend never replied to this point.” This takes experience. I never had enough to be good at it. In a debate, impressions are more important than the substance of an argument…

Dan Barker, who is probably the most experienced atheist debater, with over a hundred under his belt, offers this advice:

“Debating is tough…Few people will walk away remembering even 10% of what was said, so impressions are important. Humor helps…Sometimes an audience member will walk away with nothing more than an impression, a leaning toward or away from one of the debaters, which will influence their future learning.

. . . in addition to the facts.”

Science and religion are compatible as evidenced by the fact that many scientists are believers.

They are actually a relatively small minority. Only 7 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, the elite of American science, believe in a personal God. Believing scientists compartmentalize their brains, leaving their critical thinking skills at the lab when they go to church and leaving their Bibles at home when they go the lab. God is not a coherent part of the scientific model of any believing scientist.

Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible because of their contradictory views on the source of knowledge. Science assumes that only by observation can we learn about the world. Religion assumes that, in addition, we learn by revelations from God…

The obvious presence of design and complexity in the world, especially in life, proves there was a designer.

That was a good argument prior to Darwin when people had no idea how life came about. Darwin showed that complex organisms evolve from simpler ones by purely natural processes, without the need for a more complex designer…

Science still has not shown how life began.

That is true; but it does not follow that life had to be created by God…

The big bang proved the universe had a beginning. Everything that begins has a cause. Therefore the universe had a cause, which was God (Kalām cosmological argument).

Modern cosmology implies that our universe began in total chaos and so possesses no memory of a creation or creator. A number of models, fully worked out mathematically, show that no laws of physics were necessarily broken to produce the universe.  Quantum mechanics demonstrates that not everything that begins has a cause…

Atheists claim that the universe just “popped” into existence. I can’t believe this. It’s preposterous.

Just because you can’t believe it, doesn’t mean it could not have happened.

I considered the Ham vs. Nye debate as a waste of time as Ken Ham did not properly understand creation nor did he have the scientific background to properly deal with key aspects of the issue.  According to many who watched that debate, Bill Nye came across more credible, but Ken Ham and his organization seemed to benefit more from the publicity.

That being said, I would like to deal with some of the arguments that Dr. Stenger raised, including his reference to Dan Barker.

First, notice that Dr. Stenger, who claims to be representing science, is indicating that the truth and facts are less important than impressions.  This, in my view, shows that he realizes that his side really does not have all the facts to support their position.  As a scientist, I have long known that proponents of evolution treat the subject more like a religious view than a scientific theory. This is somewhat also what the Ben Stein movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed revealed (see Ben Stein’s Expelled).

Which was?

Scientists who challenge too many claims associated with evolution are shunned by many academic institutions, as there is a tremendous amount of pressure at most “leading” academic institutions to squelch research that is not in support of evolution because it will affect their beliefs. Thus many ‘accept’ evolution and act like it is a scientific fact, when instead it is an unproven model that can scientifically be rebutted at various stages.

There is no real scientific doubt that evolution as the origin of life is false. It violates too many known laws of biology. It has gotten so bad, that some so-called ‘scientists’ are now claiming that life on Earth probably came from Mars as the Earth did not have certain building blocks like Mars does (see BBC: Life may have come from Mars?). This is additional proof that some scientists who profess evolution as life’s origin realize that it does not hold up to true scientific scrutiny.

Various scientists know that the facts do not support that life could have spontaneously began on planet Earth, so they keep looking for other explanations that they hope are more plausible.

Last year, atheist Richard Dawkins, instead of having a real answer to life’s origin, basically referred to it as a mystery (see Richard Dawkins refers to ‘mysterious origin’ of the universe).

As it turns out, the one explanation that is plausible and fits with know laws of biology, etc. is that a Creator started life. But many evolutionists do not wish to accept the scientific inevitability that this is the only explanation that does not violate true science.

True science is compatible with the Bible–it is only that which is falsely called science that is not (cf. 1 Timothy 6:20-21, KJV).  Atheist scientists, according to the Bible, are fools:

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:20-22).

They have intentionally overlooked what should be obvious.

Evolution has led to the intentional ignorance of appropriate scientific methods. It became a religion for many in the 19th century, and remains one for many today. Shunning or insulting scientists who come out with the truth is one way that they hope to control public debate on the matter.

Dr. Stenger’s bringing up Charles Darwin the way he did was wrong.  Charles Darwin taught that if cells were more complicated than he thought that they were (and they are), that his theory was false.  Notice that Charles Darwin wrote the following in his book The Origin of the Species:

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down (Darwin C. The Origin of Species. In Chapter 6, Difficulties on Theory. Cricket House Books LLC, 2010, p. 124).

And although Charles Darwin did not believe that was demonstrated to his satisfaction when he wrote that, the truth is that cellular life was simply much more complex than he at that time realized.

Thus, even Charles Robert Darwin’s writings contain an admission that he understood that additional complexity would disprove his theory (perhaps it should be noted that the discovery of DNA would seem to qualify as sufficient complexity that he was unaware of). Of course, scientists know that random amino acids also do not come with DNA. And while this was not known at Darwin’s time, this is known now.

Darwin himself seemed to acknowledge that life could not have started on its own. He seemed to, some degree, rely on the biblical account in the Book of Genesis as he wrote:

There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one (The Origin Of Species By Charles Darwin, 2nd and subsequent editions).

Thus, apparently Darwin recognized the impossibility of life starting on its own without a Creator (God).  But Dr. Stenger neglected to bring that up.

Not only can science not truly explain how life began without a creator, as Dr. Stenger admits, it never will be able to.  The evolutionary claims about life starting violate too many known laws of biology.  Dr. Stenger probably realizes that, but probably hopes that there will be a discovery that gives his side a valid argument.  But the truth is that his view his wrong.

Furthermore, Dr. Stenger is also wrong about mathematics and the universe according to some recent scientists.  Mathematicians at Tufts University recently concluded that the physical universe must have had a beginning and that the ideas that it did not are mathematically flawed.  For more details, check out the article Is God’s Existence Logical?.

For Dr. Stenger to conclude that the universe could have popped out of nothing is perhaps the most unscientific thing he said.  Which is why I decided that was enough of his points to address.  But I will add that he also made many false statements related to Jesus existing, but Jesus did exist (some details are in the article Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour).

Dr. Stenger is trying to act like his side has science and truth on its side, where instead, it has a false religion that contradicts many known laws of science (and history in the case of Jesus).  So, he must push towards ‘impressions’ instead of the truth to obfuscate the reality of a creation by a Creator God.

The truth is still the truth, as “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), etc.  Atheists hope to cloud that by insulting true scientists and hoping that they can influence people who do not realize many of the facts that disprove the evolutionary model.  But they must violate science and common sense in order to do that.  They are not true scientists.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Is God’s Existence Logical? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true? Here is a link to a YouTube sermon titled Is it logical to believe in God?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what ‘pseudo-scientists’ refuse to acknowledge. Here is a link to a YouTube video titled Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.
How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Does the Bible allow for the creation of the universe and earth billions of years ago? Why do some believe they are no older than 6,000 years old? What is the gap theory? Where the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Where Did God Come From? Any ideas? And how has God been able to exist? Who is God?
How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? Here is a biblical article which answers what many really wonder about it.
Has time been lost? It Saturday the seventh day of the week?
Why Were You Born? Why did God make you? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject. You may also wish to read the article What is Your Destiny? or watch the video, also titled What is Your Destiny?
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally? There is also a video titled What is the meaning of your life?

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