It’s sometimes said that evolutionists come out on the short end of public debates with creationists, and this is evidence that evolution is a weaker theory than scientists are generally willing to admit.
But think about it.
The idea that evolutionary scientists are weak debaters is simply false. They debate among other scientists all the time, and their arguments can be read in scientific journals. The reality is that young earth creationists are not able to put together arguments for their position that can withstand the scrutiny of a panel of experts—and so reach publication.
Hence it is the creationist, and not the evolutionist, who habitually fails in debate.
What creationists thus do is bypass serious debate in scientific journals and attempt to appeal directly to audiences whose scientific literacy is uneven at best. Sometimes evolutionists who are scientists will play along, and because of the technical nature of their disciplines, not be terribly convincing to general audiences. But if young earth creationism had anything of scientific merit to say, it would appear in scientific journals and would be debated there very carefully, in detail, and in the full light of print.
When plate tectonics was first proposed it had to fight its way for status, not through plate tectonics debates held in church auditoriums, but in science journals. Now it’s a well established explanation for how the continents have arrived at their current positions.
But I suppose that young earth creationists also reject plate tectonics, and think that it too must withstand scrutiny in the hothouse realm of the one hour debate format to maintain its scientific status, right?
Let’s get real. Here is a list of three things every fundamentalist must confront at some point in her or his life:
—The Bible is not inerrant.
—The earth is old and plants and animals have changed over time.
All the blue pipe smoke of young earth creationism and biblical inerrancy is designed to avoid an honest and complex reflection on that last question. Young earth creationism and biblical inerrancy are popular because they are easy, not because they are true. The facts regarding both of these matters—the Bible’s errancy and evolution’s truth—are readily and easily attainable, and yet they are ignored or protected from honest confrontation through ad hoc rationalization and sophistry. Apologetic arguments with regard to these matters are ways for fundamentalists to avoid confrontation with harder questions. They are forms of whistling in the dark.