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Teaching evolution to a creationist

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Teaching evolution to a creationist
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AronRaContributorUser avatarPosts: 511Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:47 pm

Post Teaching evolution to a creationist

a recent email wrote:2014/01/31:

Dear Mr. Ra,

I watched you video entitled the falsehood of creationism. In the video you stated that if asked, you could simply teach evolution to someone if they are willing to listen. Just for the record, I am a conservative Christian and I am a creationist, however I do not espouse all of the close minded views that you ascribed to us. I know that there are however people out there that do blindly follow what they are being told and do not try to look at the other side or weigh all of the evidence presented to them. I would love to hear your explanation on how we evolved from nothing and then would like to answer any questions you might have, even if the answer I give is I don’t know. I know that you are probably busy and if you can’t then that’s fine. Thank you for your time and consideration and I hope that we will be able to exchange our views.


You said you would love to hear my explanation for how we evolved from nothing. We evolved, yes, but not 'from nothing'. So that is not my argument. If you're serious, then I can and will prove evolution to your satisfaction. The first step will be to get you to understand what it really is, and then to recognize what we can prove is really true about it.

I have noticed that if I simply tell creationists what the facts are, they'll ignore it and dismiss it without consideration. So the biggest challenge will be to get you think about what I'm telling you, to discover the truth for yourself. So it will have to be done in the form of inquiry. It won't take more than a couple dozen mutual exchanges at most. You'll pose the questions you need answered, and you must properly address all points and queries put to you too. If you repeatedly dodge or ignore direct questions, then it is off. Otherwise the onus is entirely on me, and I can't meet my goal unless you concede that I have. Once you know what the initial realities are, you'll set your own criteria accordingly, and by the end, -regardless whether you still believe in God or not, you will be an 'evolutionist'. You'll be that way for the rest of your life, and you'll be much more confident about that than you ever could be regarding creationism, because you won't need any faith at all. You will truly know better, and you'll be able to prove it.

I really don't have much time these days, but If you're serious, I'll find a way to accommodate you. I will not do this in private emails however. The whole conversation must be accessible in public archives. I used to post this sort of thing on ChristianForums, but the moderators had a tendency to edit, sensor, or purge a lot of my posts. Now I prefer the League of Reason forums, simply because I can show all the necessary evidence there, and I know none of will be deleted.

I will speak for myself, as you should also. You won't be required to read other people's work or watch any videos, but I will make these things available to you should you choose to investigate further.


Mr. Ra,

Thank you for your response. I went on to the Forum and have read “THE RULES”… Would you like for me to sign up and go to a specific site. Also, as I am sure that this is not the first time you have done this, is there somewhere I can go to read your initial explanations/arguments so that you do not have to waste time and repeat something you already have written? Thank you again for your time.
I have attempted this conversation at least a half dozen times, but I usually don't get very far. I thought I was making progress with BoranJarami. He dropped out when a mob of creationists jumped into the thread and derailed it. A year or so later, one of them, [RichardT] emailed me to confess that he was no longer a creationist. Most people flee just at the challenge alone, preferring to believe as they do, rather than know what is really true. The only time I ever made it to the end, the person on the other side of that discussion conceded the point, and accepted evolution right then. ConsideringLily had been a creationist her whole life, and was in her 30s when she changed her mind, and changed her handle to LilandraX. A few years later, she changed her sur name too -to mine. We've been together five years now.

I also find that the very basics are absolutely the toughest part. I once had a moderated debate against a pair of evangelical ministers, one of which [Mark Cadwallader of Creation Moments] insisted that evolution teaches the religion of atheist godlessness -with some version of that actually expressed in the lesson plan. I showed him citations from a handful of Texas college and high school textbooks, all of which paraphrased the same definition I gave. He didn't care that he could find not even one text or syllabus anywhere to support his allegation, that didn't mean they didn't exist, and it didn't mean that classes didn't teach that in secret. Nor did it matter to him that every source anyone produced showed that I was right. He would not admit what evolution really was. He simply would not concede any error whatsoever, no matter how obvious or well-documented it proved to be. His partner [Mark Ramsey of the Greater Houston Creation Association] refused to even discuss definitions, stating instead that we should leave all our terms undefined and allow the readers to decide what they think these words should mean. That to me is deliberately dishonest. So I suggest that we start with that, and I'll be happy to show that mine are quite accurate, even if they're phrased more precisely than common dictionaries would typically put them.

I will ask that you be patient with me though, because time is an issue for me. Apart from my grudging obligation to a soulless corporation, and the demands of my now-extended family, I also have original presentations to prepare as well as positions and projects requiring my involvement. I do a weekly show on iHeart Radio. I'm also narrating an audio-book for a friend, and I'm slowly writing one myself -whenever I can find a productive moment. So I cannot be consumed with this conversation, but I will still try to give it the attention it deserves.
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." - Friedrich Nietzsche.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Tue Feb 04, 2014 6:25 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

Good to see you're still kicking, Aron. I hope your job won't consume you. Also, shame you couldn't make it to the UK last summer, I really wanted to meet up with you again. I'm still broke so the US won't be a possibility until next year...
Will you have the discussion in the debate-forum or will you take your chances and talk here, knowing that we'll but in?
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:13 am
he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3318Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

AronRa wrote:
a recent email wrote:Mr. Ra,

Also, as I am sure that this is not the first time you have done this, is there somewhere I can go to read your initial explanations/arguments so that you do not have to waste time and repeat something you already have written? Thank you again for your time.
I have attempted this conversation at least a half dozen times, but I usually don't get very far. I thought I was making progress with BoranJarami.


I feel it may be worth your time, AronRa, to repost that challenge here or on your blog. That way you do not have to keep referencing ChristianForums. I am suggesting this just in case they tamper with it, as you said they have done in the past. Than you can provide a link to it from your website/YouTube channel, so people can easily find it.
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Tue Feb 04, 2014 6:10 pm
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reasonablechristianPosts: 2Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:12 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

I have now registered for the site and am ready to begin our conversations. I can appreciate your being busy. As the saying goes 10% of the people end up doing 90% of the work.... I am patient and look forward to our exchanges. Just as I agree to keep an open mind during our discussions, I ask that you do as well. I listened to the debate that you had with Ray Comfort. I have heard Ray Comfort before at our church. I will definitely concede the fact that your arguments were better than his. The problem I have though as sometimes in arguments you could be screaming "The sky is blue" in which I respond back "No the grass is green". Both positions could be correct and you could argue until you are blue in the face but would get no where. To the point that all humans are apes, (to which Ray vehemently disagreed). Yes if you look at the classification system that has been set up we humans do indeed belong to the super family Hominidae which apes are also a part of. So you were completely correct. You could also have said that we are vertebrates, or animals, which by classification would also be correct. I agree that I share many characteristics with gorillas, much more so than I do with a shark or a rose, but I am not a gorilla as I am not an ape. I am a human or Homo Sapien. My species is specified and unique apart from any other species, though I share common characteristics with many others. Would you agree with that assessment?

looking forward to your next post,

Paul Karbley
Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:39 am
Gnug215ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2560Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:31 pm

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

reasonablechristian wrote:I have now registered for the site and am ready to begin our conversations. I can appreciate your being busy. As the saying goes 10% of the people end up doing 90% of the work.... I am patient and look forward to our exchanges. Just as I agree to keep an open mind during our discussions, I ask that you do as well. I listened to the debate that you had with Ray Comfort. I have heard Ray Comfort before at our church. I will definitely concede the fact that your arguments were better than his. The problem I have though as sometimes in arguments you could be screaming "The sky is blue" in which I respond back "No the grass is green". Both positions could be correct and you could argue until you are blue in the face but would get no where. To the point that all humans are apes, (to which Ray vehemently disagreed). Yes if you look at the classification system that has been set up we humans do indeed belong to the super family Hominidae which apes are also a part of. So you were completely correct. You could also have said that we are vertebrates, or animals, which by classification would also be correct. I agree that I share many characteristics with gorillas, much more so than I do with a shark or a rose, but I am not a gorilla as I am not an ape. I am a human or Homo Sapien. My species is specified and unique apart from any other species, though I share common characteristics with many others. Would you agree with that assessment?

looking forward to your next post,

Paul Karbley



Hi Paul,

I just approved your post, in case you were wondering where it went. :)

All new users need approval for their first post. This is done to combat spam bots.

Given the nature of this forum, our membership will mainly have... a differing opinion than yours in this matter, so you may get a few posters opposing your views. If there are too many people to respond to, feel free to simply state this and focus on only a couple - or just stick to responding to AronRa. It's up to you, but I feel it's always a good idea to make your feelings known in that regard.

Feel free to ask us about anything.

I hope you will enjoy your stay.
- Gnug215

YouTube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Gnug215


The horse is a ferocious predator.
Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:49 am
AronRaContributorUser avatarPosts: 511Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:47 pm

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

reasonablechristian wrote:I agree that I share many characteristics with gorillas, much more so than I do with a shark or a rose, but I am not a gorilla as I am not an ape. I am a human or Homo Sapien. My species is specified and unique apart from any other species, though I share common characteristics with many others. Would you agree with that assessment?
No.

Imagine a dachshund admitting that he shares many traits with a German Shepherd, but he says he is not a German Shepherd, because he is not a dog. He is a dachshund. You could imagine the same hypothetical conversation with a parrot saying that he is not a duck because he is not a bird; he's a parrot, and his species is unique.

Humans are not just similar to apes; we ARE apes -in precisely the same way that parrots are birds, and dachshunds are dogs, and lions are cats, and iguanas are lizards, and so on. As you noted, we are also mammals and vertebrates, and all of that as well. But it is important to know what that means.

Systematic classification isn't an arbitrary construct of man's design; it is an observation of branching lineages which can be proven to really exist. If it were just a human-contrived world-view, then we could say that koalas are bears, and they would be bears. However the reality is that marsupials are a different distinction than eutherian, [placental] mammals, and real bears are born in from placenta. These are not things we simply made up; these are things we observe. Understanding phylogenetics is key to understanding evolution. I would argue that you can't really have a good grasp of evolution if you don't understand that aspect of it; and if you do, then it isn't even possible to be a creationist.

I would also say that we're going about this backwards. We should come at this from the other direction.

There are replicative polymers, and organic chemicals that reproduce themselves, and there are even some which have been observed to become increasingly complex under natural conditions. Scientists have even seen RNA spontaneously generate itself when the right componants were left to simmer in a repeating cycle of inundation, dehydration, and irradiation. RNA builds DNA, but viruses are cellular structures made by RNA alone. They can reproduce, they can evolve, and they can even be killed. Yet they are not alive. That's why antibiotics don't necessarily effect viruses. Antibiotics are only designed to counter living pathogens. Living things are distinguished from protobionts and viruses by the fact that living organisms are independent cellular structures which have achieved homeostasis, a balanced internal chemical environment.

In my previous debate with Mark Cadwallader, he insisted that we were not organisms, because that word applied only single-celled microbes, but it actually applies to every form of life.

All life on earth can be divided into two categories, Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes. Prokaryotes include bacteria and archaea. Eukaryotes are any metabolic organism with nucleic cells, sort of like multiple bacteria cells fused together and inverted. Cadwallader also failed to realize that all his cells have a neucleus, -including blood cells -at least initially. So we are not just similar to Eukaryotes; we ARE eukaryotes by definition. Do you accept this assessment?
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." - Friedrich Nietzsche.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:42 am
VisakiUser avatarPosts: 765Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:26 pmLocation: Helsinki, Finland Gender: Male

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

Gnug215 wrote:Given the nature of this forum, our membership will mainly have... a differing opinion than yours in this matter, so you may get a few posters opposing your views. If there are too many people to respond to, feel free to simply state this and focus on only a couple - or just stick to responding to AronRa. It's up to you, but I feel it's always a good idea to make your feelings known in that regard.

Feel free to ask us about anything.

I hope you will enjoy your stay.

Welcome, reasonablechristian, and all that.

I'd like to say once again that our membership can be a bit.. vocal in these discussion threads so if you want to have a more one-on-one discussion with AronRa you can ask for the discussion to be transferred, as Inferno pointed out, to the debate forum where only you and Aron can post. The rest of us will be contained in the peanut gallery-thread to comment on your discussion.
Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:45 pm
fightofthejellyfishUser avatarPosts: 62Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 5:34 amLocation: Australia Gender: Male

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

Hello to reasonablechristian,
I am not a regular poster around here, but I've read a quite a few of Aron's discussions. As he said they often don't get past the basics usually not getting beyond the need for precise definitions. Hoping you can buck the trend and hold on for the ride, Good Luck.

Hi Aron,
AronRa wrote:Scientists have even seen RNA spontaneously generate itself when the right componants were left to simmer in a repeating cycle of inundation, dehydration, and irradiation.
It doesn't change the substance of what you said but if I remember correctly this process was for producing pyrimidine nucleotides (cytosine, thymine and uracil), which prior to this discovery were thought to be difficult to produce abiotically.
As far as I know, short strands of RNA do just form by nucleotides bumping into each other in solution, no more complicated process needed.
Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:15 am
AronRaContributorUser avatarPosts: 511Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:47 pm

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

fightofthejellyfish wrote:It doesn't change the substance of what you said but if I remember correctly this process was for producing pyrimidine nucleotides (cytosine, thymine and uracil), which prior to this discovery were thought to be difficult to produce abiotically.
As far as I know, short strands of RNA do just form by nucleotides bumping into each other in solution, no more complicated process needed.
For the sake of accuracy then, let me cite the Wired article where I read it.

Researchers synthesized the basic ingredients of RNA, a molecule from which the simplest self-replicating structures are made. Until now, they couldn’t explain how these ingredients might have formed.
“It’s like molecular choreography, where the molecules choreograph their own behavior,” said organic chemist John Sutherland of the University of Manchester, co-author of a study in Nature Wednesday.
RNA is now found in living cells, where it carries information between genes and protein-manufacturing cellular components. Scientists think RNA existed early in Earth’s history, providing a necessary intermediate platform between pre-biotic chemicals and DNA, its double-stranded, more-stable descendant.
However, though researchers have been able to show how RNA’s component molecules, called ribonucleotides, could assemble into RNA, their many attempts to synthesize these ribonucleotides have failed. No matter how they combined the ingredients — a sugar, a phosphate, and one of four different nitrogenous molecules, or nucleobases — ribonucleotides just wouldn’t form.
Sutherland’s team took a different approach in what Harvard molecular biologist Jack Szostak called a “synthetic tour de force” in an accompanying commentary in Nature.
“By changing the way we mix the ingredients together, we managed to make ribonucleotides,” said Sutherland. “The chemistry works very effectively from simple precursors, and the conditions required are not distinct from what one might imagine took place on the early Earth.”
Like other would-be nucleotide synthesizers, Sutherland’s team included phosphate in their mix, but rather than adding it to sugars and nucleobases, they started with an array of even simpler molecules that were probably also in Earth’s primordial ooze.
They mixed the molecules in water, heated the solution, then allowed it to evaporate, leaving behind a residue of hybrid, half-sugar, half-nucleobase molecules. To this residue they again added water, heated it, allowed it evaporate, and then irradiated it.
At each stage of the cycle, the resulting molecules were more complex. At the final stage, Sutherland’s team added phosphate. “Remarkably, it transformed into the ribonucleotide!” said Sutherland.
According to Sutherland, these laboratory conditions resembled those of the life-originating “warm little pond” hypothesized by Charles Darwin if the pond “evaporated, got heated, and then it rained and the sun shone.”
Such conditions are plausible, and Szostak imagined the ongoing cycle of evaporation, heating and condensation providing “a kind of organic snow which could accumulate as a reservoir of material ready for the next step in RNA synthesis.”
Intriguingly, the precursor molecules used by Sutherland’s team have been identified in interstellar dust clouds and on meteorites.
“Ribonucleotides are simply an expression of the fundamental principles of organic chemistry,” said Sutherland. “They’re doing it unwittingly. The instructions for them to do it are inherent in the structure of the precursor materials. And if they can self-assemble so easily, perhaps they shouldn’t be viewed as complicated.”
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." - Friedrich Nietzsche.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:56 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

AronRa wrote:
fightofthejellyfish wrote:It doesn't change the substance of what you said but if I remember correctly this process was for producing pyrimidine nucleotides (cytosine, thymine and uracil), which prior to this discovery were thought to be difficult to produce abiotically.
As far as I know, short strands of RNA do just form by nucleotides bumping into each other in solution, no more complicated process needed.
For the sake of accuracy then, let me cite the Wired article where I read it.


So the answers is: "Yes, fightofthejellyfish, you were right. They didn't actually see RNA form, at least not in the papers mentioned, they saw ribonucleotides form. In particular, Powner et al. found, after having seen the old way fail, a simple way to synthesize ribonucleotides which is even more plausible because the materials are "prebiotic feedstock molecules"."

Aron, for the sake of fairness I'll chastise you for the same thing I also call creationists on: Don't quote from the popular press (or the abstract), go directly to the paper. Here even more so because they give the citations.
However, I appreciate that you have little time on your hands.
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:47 am
reasonablechristianPosts: 2Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:12 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

Sorry that I have been MIA as of late... I have not given up on you guys but I had Army Training all weekend and had to drive from Arkansas to Indiana to get there. I thought I put a reply on here before I left on Thursday but it did not get posted. I will post it as soon as I am done with work later today. As all of us on here, I assume, are all intelligent hard working people with busy schedules, we must do this at our leisure. Thank you for your patience.

Paul
Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:40 pm
he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3318Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

reasonablechristian wrote:I have not given up on you guys but I had Army Training all weekend and had to drive from Arkansas to Indiana to get there.


Thank you for your service.

reasonablechristian wrote:I thought I put a reply on here before I left on Thursday but it did not get posted.


If I can suggest one thing; when you sign into this forum, click the “keep me signed in” box. If you are not refreshing the pages on this forum, you are automatically logged out. That means, if you are taking several minutes to type up a post, you may be logged out and all that time that went into your post will be lost.
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Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:54 am
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Estheria QuintessimoUser avatarPosts: 67Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:36 pmLocation: EVE Space Gender: Female

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

How should I engage a believer, who believes and claims he saw, that during a prayer-session, the leg of a handicapt man with one short leg, grew to full length ?

I see no way in to discuss with such religiouys observations.

And I am not making this up.
Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:28 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

Estheria Quintessimo wrote:How should I engage a believer, who believes and claims he saw, that during a prayer-session, the leg of a handicapt man with one short leg, grew to full length ?

I see no way in to discuss with such religiouys observations.

And I am not making this up.


I agree, that's just crazy. No point talking to such a person.
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:25 am
WarKChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1184Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:59 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: Teaching evolution to a creationist

Estheria Quintessimo wrote:How should I engage a believer, who believes and claims he saw, that during a prayer-session, the leg of a handicapt man with one short leg, grew to full length ?

I see no way in to discuss with such religiouys observations.

And I am not making this up.


Show them this video
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:32 pm
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