Thanks for your message and apologies for the delay in replying. As is my usual practise when I receive a private message on a creation/evolution topic that I consider to be of general interest, I am copying your message (minus any personal identifying information) and my reply, to my blog CreationEvolutionDesign. I have further made my words bold to help distinguish them from yours and minor changes.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2006 6:00 AM
Subject: Thanks for your site
>My name is AN and I am a Christian and creationist living in …. I had occasion to come across your site recently when searching for quotes to use in a debate on a forum site. I wanted to write and introduce myself to you and thank you for your site.
Thanks for your encouraging feedback, which is much appreciated.
AN>I read your testimony and thought that you seemed quite experienced in the battle and this seems to be reflected in the way that your quotes are given in such detail.
When I terminated my Yahoo group CreationEvolutionDesign in July 2005, I had been debating against all-comers, on almost a daily basis (except for holidays) from early 1994, that is for over 11 years. Most of that time (1995-2001) was on evolutionist-run lists, the last 4+ years (2001-2005) being on my own list which did not allow personal attacks.
AN>I have been a Christian for 16 years and have followed the debate for all that time but apart from discussions at work this is the first time that I have actively taken part in any discussion forum about creation/evolution. I lasted 1 week on the forum before I was kicked off by the evolutionist cabal that seemed to control the thread and would brook no dissent from the "party line" I received all the usual treatments, ridicule, mockery, changing definitions (evolution is just change through time etct) being accused of being a creationist (even though I never claimed to be) despite trying to argue from a logical position and not mentioning the bible. I was not surprised by this of course as I didn't really expect anything else.
Although I was never actually forcibly removed from an evolutionist list, on the last such list I was on, I found answering the abuse and ridicule to be a waste of time, so I left it to start my own list.
Indeed, I agree with Phil Johnson that the nasty way that evolutionists argue their case is itself evidence that they have something to hide (and deep down they know it ):
"In the final analysis, it is not any specific scientific evidence that convinces me that Darwinism is a pseudoscience that will collapse once it becomes possible for critics to get a fair hearing. It is the way the Darwinists argue their case that makes it apparent that they are afraid to encounter the best arguments against their theory. A real science does not employ propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked, nor does it rely on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story. If the Darwinists had a good case to make, they would welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate, and they would want to confront the best critical arguments rather than to caricature them as straw men. Instead they have chosen to rely on the dishonorable methods of power politics." (Johnson P.E., "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, p.141)
However, I am not saying my entire ~11 years debating evolution was a waste of time. It wasn't - I learned an enormous amount about creation/evolution/design issues, and I would recommend it to any creationist/IDist who is prepared to put up with the constant ad hominems. What I meant was that after ~7 years on evolution-run lists and then another ~4 years on my own list, I had by then completed a biology degree (2000-2004) and so I had for many years been travelling down a path of diminishing returns, where I was learning increasingly less from my debates. Indeed, most of what I was learning was from my researching webbed articles and posting them with my comments, not from my opponents' arguments about my comments. I came to a point that I realised (with the help of Denyse O'Leary) that I could better spend my scarce time starting a blog and posting to it, as well as writing my book, "Problems of Evolution."
AN>The reason for my email is to say hello as I think it is important for fellow creationists and believers to stick together. This quote from your testimony expresses it best I think and is one which I would agree 100% with.
>"Evolution, particularly the reigning Darwinian version, has had a catastrophic effect on Christianity8, and more than anything else is responsible for the evils of our modern world, including Nazism, Communism and, strangely enough, `robber-baron' Capitalism9. These are all manifestations of the underlying philosophy of materialism-naturalism which holds that either God doesn't exist (materialism), or if He does exist, then he doesn't intervene in nature (naturalism). I therefore conclude that belief in evolution is a "strong delusion" (2 Thess. 2:11), a terrible consequence of rejecting the plain evidence of creation (Rom. 1:18-32), and part of Satan's torrent of lies directed against the Church (Rev. 12:15-16). This is not to say that I believe that individual evolutionists are evil (I don't), but I do believe that Evolutionism, which functions as a modern secular "creation-myth"10, is evil and must be resisted to the end by all Christians."
I made that distinction between "evolution" (i.e. the actual scientific evidence of biological change over time) and "evolutionism" (the materialistic-naturalistic philosophy) which is fallaciously piggy-backed onto the scientific evidence, way back in 1999. Interestingly, the Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse is making that distinction in his new book, "The Evolution-Creation Struggle":
"All told, Ruse claims, loading values onto the platform of evolutionary science constitutes `evolutionism,' an outlook that goes far beyond the scientific acceptance of evolution as a means of explaining the origins and development of species. Provocatively, Ruse argues that evolutionism has often constituted a `religion' itself by offering `a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans,' while its proponents have been `trying deliberately to do better than Christianity.''' (Dizikes P., "Evolutionary war," Boston Globe, May 1, 2005)
But I have since realised that as nature does not come with "made by evolution" stamped on it, the labelling scientific evidence "evolution" is necessarily a philosophical choice (i.e. evolutionism). The same facts of nature could just as reasonably (in fact more reasonably since other evidence shows that naturalism is false and Christianity is true) be labelled "creation" (i.e. mediate creation):
"Mediate and Immediate Creation. But while it has ever been the doctrine of the Church that God created the universe out of nothing by the word of his power, which creation was instantaneous and immediate, i.e., without the intervention of any second causes; yet it has generally been admitted that this is to be understood only of the original call of matter into existence. Theologians have, therefore, distinguished between a first and second, or immediate and mediate creation. The one was instantaneous, the other gradual; the one precludes the idea of any preexisting substance, and of cooperation, the other admits and implies both. There is evident ground for this distinction in the Mosaic account of the creation. ... It thus appears that forming out of preexisting material comes within the Scriptural idea of creating. ... There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate, progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second causes." (Hodge C., "Systematic Theology," , James Clark & Co: London, Vol. I, 1960, reprint, pp.556-557. Emphasis original)
AN>I noticed in your testimony that you made this statement. "Evolution seems to me like a fierce giant in a computer game I once played. No matter what I did, this fierce giant killed me. If I picked up a weapon to defend myself the giant killed me. If I ran away the giant killed me. If I stood still and did nothing the giant killed me. The giant seemed unbeatable and so I felt very discouraged. Then I did the only thing left I could do. I advanced unarmed straight towards the fierce giant and it backed away! Similarly I have found with evolution that the evolutionists act fierce and intimidating, but it is mostly bluff. When one advances towards them without fear they invariably back away."
That was a memory of my earliest days when I knew very little about evolution and felt intimidated by evolutionists. I don't feel that way anymore. Maybe I should update my testimony, but: 1) I don't have the time; and 2) it is a historical record of how "how I became involved in the Creation/Evolution debate."
AN>While I don't think I got killed in any way ( I have thick skin and know who I am in Christ) I do take your point and would be interested to know if you have any advice on tactics or any arguments that you have used which you have found to be particularly effective in advancing unarmed into the face of the giant.
One tactic I found useful when I was still finding my feet was to ask the evolutionists exactly what they mean by "evolution" (and other terms). I found that one can go a long way in the creation/evolution debate just, as Johnson put it "analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments":
"Before undertaking this task I should say something about my qualifications and purpose. I am not a scientist but an academic lawyer by profession, with a specialty in analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments. This background is more appropriate than one might think, because what people believe about evolution and Darwinism depends very heavily on the kind of logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make. Being a scientist is not necessarily an advantage when dealing with a very broad topic like evolution, which cuts across many scientific disciplines and also involves issues of philosophy. Practicing scientists are of necessity highly specialized, and a scientist outside his field of expertise is just another layman." (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial," , InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, p.13)
However, it definitely does help to eventually master the scientific evidence. That is the ultimate "tactic", "knowing your stuff":
"Thus we come to another powerful winning technique: knowing your stuff. If you listen to many arguments you will quickly notice how many people have very little grasp of the facts. They depend mainly on their own prejudices and inclinations. To these they will add selectively from bits and pieces they have read, or television and radio programmes they have listened to. However, you can safely bet that their knowledge of the facts is sketchy at best, and probably most of their so-called facts are downright wrong. Someone who has the patience to commit facts, figures, names and dates to memory is in a very powerful position to win arguments. ... Nothing, but nothing, is more destructive to your case than to be caught out in an error of fact. If you want to be taken seriously you must have the facts straight. What is more, you must be able to quote the source of your facts." (Allen R., "How To Win Arguments: The Complete Guide To Coming Out On Top," Thorsons: London, 1996, pp.49-50)
AN>My concern in this issue is not so much for the dogmatic evolutionists as I doubt whether I will change any minds but I sometimes wonder how many undecided's are watching who may be influenced to take a deeped look at the issues and come across God in the process.
That is something which helped keep me going for as long as I did. Those evolutionists who debate on Internet discussion groups tend to be hard cases who suffer from the `disease' called "invincible ignorance", the symptoms of which are "no amount of evidence seems to be clinching":
"There does remain, nonetheless, a cast of mind which seems peculiarly closed to evidence. When confronted with such a mind, one feels helpless, for no amount of evidence seems to be clinching. Frequently the facts are simply ignored or brushed aside as somehow deceptive, and the principles are reaffirmed in unshakable conviction. One seems confronted with what has been called `invincible ignorance.'" (Fearnside W.W. & Holther W.B., "Fallacy the Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, 25th printing, p.113)
AN>Any advice you can give would be most appreciated.
Have you considered a blog? That way you can make your arguments without having to put up with nastiness. If you post interesting posts and regularly, you should attract readers.
But if you want to debate on an evolutionist-run list (which is where you learn the most, the quickest, albeit by the sink-or-swim method!) that may have some control over evolutionist ridicule and abuse, you could try the list I left, CreationEvolutionDebate (not to be confused with my now-terminated list, CreationEvolutionDesign).
Thanks again for your message and God bless you on your apologetic ministry. However, it is my long-standing policy, not to get involved in private discussions on creation/evolution/design issues.