Hate Mail

Joe Marino

[Editor's Note: this is his first E-mail, which was sent the morning of September 22, 2004]

I found your Creationism vs. Science site this morning, and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading it. It is refreshing to find a well-thought and clearly stated exposition of this debate.

I, personally, am a staunch seven-day Creationist. However, before you cringe, let me assure you that I am not so blind in my faith as to discount all scientific history and achievement, contarily to many of those who share my beliefs. In my opinion, it is the greatest of follies to believe in something without understanding why you believe. And this is a folly to which many Christians need to be held accountable.

To that effect, I plan to regularly give out your URL to friends, family, and fellows when discussion of this comes up. I love the Creationist/Evolutionist debate; it has been a favorite pasttime of mine since I was trying to argue it in the fourth grade. I wage the debate on two fronts: Science and Faith. Not opposing fronts, mind you, just separate ones.

When I am speaking with a non-Christian about the subject I tend to keep two things well in forethought. Firstly, any religious "evidence" or faith based assumptions automatically fail. Secondly, any attempt to prove Creationism is true will fail. Just as any attempt to prove Macroevolutionary models to be true will, ultimately, fail. They are impossible to prove, though evidence may be presented towards each case.

When arguing with a Christian on the subject, I love to play Devil's Advocate. I am sure I do not have to tell you how many Christians there are out there that think themselves infallible and proof from inaccuracy. I catch a lot of flak when I do this, but in my opinion, it's like any sort of training: without tough opposition, one will never improve. Frequently, I am faced with Christians who support what you refer to as "intelligent design," or macroevolution which was "watched over" by God. These people are as ridiculous to me as they are to you. It's like someone took half a glass of milk and mixed it with have a glass of orange juice and stated, "Now I have the perfect drink!" Both elements lose their defining elements when combined in such a manner.

Anyway, I suddenly realize that I've jutted off into a diatribe here. Again, I just wanted to thank you for the time and effort you've put into this page. If I have one suggestion, it would simply to be the removal of the less-than-scientific descriptions you give to those who hold Creationist views. After all, calling Creationists "kooks" and "loons" is no better than one of them calling you a "sinner" or "Satan Worshipper." It's all just grade-school level namecalling, and it's unbefitting as intelligent a discussion as you offer here.


Wednesday 22 September 2004 10:39 am:

I found your Creationism vs. Science site this morning, and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading it. It is refreshing to find a well-thought and clearly stated exposition of this debate.

I, personally, am a staunch seven-day Creationist. However, before you cringe, let me assure you that I am not so blind in my faith as to discount all scientific history and achievement, contarily to many of those who share my beliefs. In my opinion, it is the greatest of follies to believe in something without understanding why you believe. And this is a folly to which many Christians need to be held accountable.

Interesting.

To that effect, I plan to regularly give out your URL to friends, family, and fellows when discussion of this comes up. I love the Creationist/Evolutionist debate; it has been a favorite pasttime of mine since I was trying to argue it in the fourth grade. I wage the debate on two fronts: Science and Faith. Not opposing fronts, mind you, just separate ones.

How can you wage a debate about the scientific validity of a scientific theory on any front other than science?

When I am speaking with a non-Christian about the subject I tend to keep two things well in forethought. Firstly, any religious "evidence" or faith based assumptions automatically fail.

Obviously, if you concede that the scientific validity of a scientific theory is determined by scientific methods. That is why I am curious why you say you can argue evolution vs creation on the basis of both science and faith.

Secondly, any attempt to prove Creationism is true will fail. Just as any attempt to prove Macroevolutionary models to be true will, ultimately, fail. They are impossible to prove, though evidence may be presented towards each case.

This is a black/white fallacy: you are arguing that if a theory is not perfect, it can be considered no more valid than any other theory.

While you cannot absolutely prove anything as a matter of philosophy, you can say with confidence that evolution theory incorporates a physical mechanism, hence it can generate rational predictions and these predictions are highly accurate. Creation theory has no physical mechanism whatsoever, hence it cannot generate rational predictions, accurate or otherwise. Therefore, it bears no resemblance to any kind of scientific theory or rational explanation.

When arguing with a Christian on the subject, I love to play Devil's Advocate. I am sure I do not have to tell you how many Christians there are out there that think themselves infallible and proof from inaccuracy. I catch a lot of flak when I do this, but in my opinion, it's like any sort of training: without tough opposition, one will never improve. Frequently, I am faced with Christians who support what you refer to as "intelligent design," or macroevolution which was "watched over" by God. These people are as ridiculous to me as they are to you. It's like someone took half a glass of milk and mixed it with have a glass of orange juice and stated, "Now I have the perfect drink!" Both elements lose their defining elements when combined in such a manner.

On this point at least, we are in agreement. Intelligent design theory is either "creationism in a clown suit" (where people say that evolution doesn't work, so God made billions of miracles over billions of years to fake it for some perverse reason) or it's evolution theory with the word "God" stuck on the end of it.

Anyway, I suddenly realize that I've jutted off into a diatribe here. Again, I just wanted to thank you for the time and effort you've put into this page. If I have one suggestion, it would simply to be the removal of the less-than-scientific descriptions you give to those who hold Creationist views. After all, calling Creationists "kooks" and "loons" is no better than one of them calling you a "sinner" or "Satan Worshipper." It's all just grade-school level namecalling, and it's unbefitting as intelligent a discussion as you offer here.

Thanks again,
Joe Marino

Actually, a creationist does fit the literal dictionary definition of a lunatic, since he believes in something that does not appear to exist. Nevertheless, I agree that creationists probably do not appreciate having their religious zeal characterized (however accurately) as a delusional state.


[Editor's note: his reply]

How can you wage a debate about the scientific validity of a scientific theory on any front other than science?
...
Obviously, if you concede that the scientific validity of a scientific theory is determined by scientific methods. That is why I am curious why you say you can argue evolution vs creation on the basis of both science AND faith.

I will be the first to concede to you that when I engage in this debate, I do not attempt to put forth any evidence to further validate Creation Theory. I understand full well that there is no physical evidence (at least none I've come across) which points towards Creation, and I fully admit that my current knowledge of quantum physics too incomplete to make any attempt at plausible mathematical explanation.

So, in all honesty, it was a mistake for me to say that I argue FOR Creation on the basis of science, when in truth I do no such thing. Rather, I tend to point out the major cracks in Evolution theory and argue against evolution. The debate takes less of a Creation-versus-Evolution form and more of a simple questioning of Evolution in and of itself.

I do not attempt to push Creationism onto those with whom I debate; in all honesty, I detest the in-your-face evangelism that many of my Christian "peers" ridiculously think they are doing "for the glory of God." Yelling at people and calling them sinners does absolutely NOTHING to bring people a better understanding of our Faith. In fact, more than otherwise, it does the complete opposite.

That being said, when I am engaged in an Evolutionary debate, my goal is merely to get the other person to question Evolution. It has been my experience that the average person latches on to Evolution theory just as strong, and with as little personal understanding of it, as the average Christian latches onto Creationism. A large majority of people out there do not understand that Evolution is simply a model, a possible explanation for what could have birthed humanity. They believe it to be set-in-stone truth as vigilantly as any Creationist I've ever met, and will adamantly deny any protests with just as much fervor. It's an issue of Faith in Evolution replacing Faith in Creation.

As I mentioned early in my initial letter, I believe it is the greatest of follies for one to believe in something without understanding of why it is one believes. That is why my debates are usually in the effort to simply produce a line of questioning in my "opponent's" mind. I'm not out to convert everyone on earth; I just want people to understand their beliefs for themselves.

This is a black/white fallacy: you are arguing that if a theory is not PERFECT, it can be considered no more valid than any other theory.

While you cannot absolutely prove ANYTHING as a matter of philosophy, you CAN say with confidence that evolution theory incorporates a physical mechanism, hence it can generate rational predictions and these predictions are highly accurate. Creation theory has no physical mechanism whatsoever, hence it cannot generate rational predictions, accurate or otherwise. Therefore, it bears no resemblance to any kind of scientific theory or rational explanation.

It's not so much a black/white fallacy as an oversimplification, I would say. In the science of logic, we have only two states: true and false. Logic bears no acceptance for a middle-ground. Something cannot be mostly true, or partially true. It is one or the other.

That being said, as rational and intelligent human beings, we realize that it is not always possible to prove truth. In fact, it is very often not possible to prove truth in a case. As such, we take whichever theory we find to be more acceptable. In the case of atheism, Evolution is the most acceptable and most plausible model, since it requires no need for any god or creator model. However, for people who believe in a god (not just Christians, but most faiths). Evolution does NOT explain our origins well since it requires no need for any god or creator model.

Re-iterating what I mentioned earlier in this letter, I'll be the first to admit that I can't provide scientific evidence for the case of Creation. My belief in Creation theory is based on faith and personal experience, two things which are impossible to recreate for an impartial observer. Again, I'm not so much attempting to persuade belief in Creation as I am trying to dissuade belief in Evolution.

Actually, a creationist does fit the literal dictionary definition of a lunatic, since he believes in something that does not appear to exist. Nevertheless, I agree that creationists probably do not appreciate having their religious zeal characterized (however accurately) as a delusional state.

Well, by that definition, doesn't EVERYONE classify as a lunatic? For example, you'd be hard pressed to find someone out there that doesn't believe in the existence of Thought and Memory, however there exists no PHYSICAL evidence of these things. We cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear them, but they do exist. Granted, we know where they are stored, even down to which lobe and cortex of the brain houses them. We also know that the brain carries electrical impulses which can be observed to create different patterns for different moods experienced. However, science has yet to uncover any physical understanding of exactly what these things (thought, memory, emotion) are.

Thanks yet again for this provocative correspondence!

Sincerely,
Joe Marino


Thursday, September 23, 2004 12:31 pm:

I will be the first to concede to you that when I engage in this debate, I do not attempt to put forth any evidence to further validate Creation Theory. I understand full well that there is no physical evidence (at least none I've come across) which points towards Creation, and I fully admit that my current knowledge of quantum physics too incomplete to make any attempt at plausible mathematical explanation.

So, in all honesty, it was a mistake for me to say that I argue FOR Creation on the basis of science, when in truth I do no such thing. Rather, I tend to point out the major cracks in Evolution theory and argue against evolution. The debate takes less of a Creation-versus-Evolution form and more of a simple questioning of Evolution in and of itself.

Ah, I see. I've run into this approach before. It's quite effective on people who aren't actually that familiar with evolution theory and who won't be clever enough to point out that you're employing a logic fallacy: "if A is less than perfect, then B becomes viable automatically."

I do not attempt to push Creationism onto those with whom I debate; in all honesty, I detest the in-your-face evangelism that many of my Christian "peers" ridiculously think they are doing "for the glory of God." Yelling at people and calling them sinners does absolutely NOTHING to bring people a better understanding of our Faith. In fact, more than otherwise, it does the complete opposite.

True. In fact, I did not develop an active dislike of organized religion until some people who fell into this category attempted to aggressively force the issue with me in various ways, primarily by attempting to break up my marriage because it was "against the will of God" for an "unequally yoked" Christian and a non-Christian to be married. It seems self-evident that attempting to destroy someone's marriage based on Bible quotes is a good way to engender hostility toward the Bible, but I suppose they didn't care about that.

That being said, when I am engaged in an Evolutionary debate, my goal is merely to get the other person to question Evolution. It has been my experience that the average person latches on to Evolution theory just as strong, and with as little personal understanding of it, as the average Christian latches onto Creationism. A large majority of people out there do not understand that Evolution is simply a model, a possible explanation for what could have birthed humanity. They believe it to be set-in-stone truth as vigilantly as any Creationist I've ever met, and will adamantly deny any protests with just as much fervor. It's an issue of Faith in Evolution replacing Faith in Creation.

That is very true; high school science education is seriously lacking in effectiveness, because people do not understand the distinction between facts (ie- observations) and theories (explanations of the facts). A theory can be regarded as fairly rock-solid if it's the only explanation that makes sense, but many people do not understand these distinctions.

As I mentioned early in my initial letter, I believe it is the greatest of follies for one to believe in something without understanding of why it is one believes. That is why my debates are usually in the effort to simply produce a line of questioning in my "opponent's" mind. I'm not out to convert everyone on earth; I just want people to understand their beliefs for themselves.

As I said, your tactics are no doubt highly effective on people who don't really understand science. Unfortunately, your tactics are also quite dishonest, in the sense that most people do not understand most of science, and while it is arguably bad for them to simply trust scientists, the fact remains that science is a very complex field and the average layperson can't be expected to understand all of it. You could pull the same trick with electromagnetism if you tried hard enough, and what would that accomplish? All you'd accomplish is to show that Joe Average does not really understand it well enough to defend it from attack, not that there's anything actually wrong with it. If you want to show that there's anything actually wrong with evolution theory, you should go after an expert in evolutionary science who will give you the best possible adversary, but creationists never do this; their pitch is tailored toward the layperson. It's a sales job, not a legitimate line of scientific inquiry.

Or, to put it more succinctly, why does a used-car salesman prefer to talk to a customer that doesn't know much about cars? So he can bullshit him. Same thing with creationists going after laypeople rather than scientists.

It's not so much a black/white fallacy as an oversimplification, I would say. In the science of logic, we have only two states: true and false. Logic bears no acceptance for a middle-ground. Something cannot be mostly true, or partially true. It is one or the other.

Incorrect. If the correct answer is 100, then 99.9 is far more accurate than 79.8, which is in turn more accurate than "God". As I said, you are relying upon a huge logic fallacy, called the "black/white fallacy", in which you refuse to acknowledge the existence of anything other than binary black/white states of truth/untruth rather than "more or less accurate". You are also grossly misrepresenting the scientific method, which recognizes that nothing can be shown to be perfectly true, hence it employs a method of developing highly accurate models of our universe. You live in a society whose technological grandeur is a direct result of the success and wisdom of this method.

That being said, as rational and intelligent human beings, we realize that it is not always possible to prove truth. In fact, it is very often not possible to prove truth in a case. As such, we take whichever theory we find to be more acceptable. In the case of atheism, Evolution is the most acceptable and most plausible model, since it requires no need for any god or creator model.

However, for people who believe in a god (not just Christians, but most faiths) Evolution does NOT explain our origins well since it requires no need for any god or creator model.

See above. Evolution produces predictions which are highly accurate. Creationism does not. Ergo, there is simply no contest. Your tactics are tailored toward people who do not understand the philosophy underlying science and who won't be clever enough to notice your black/white fallacies and false dilemma fallacies for what they are.

Re-iterating what I mentioned earlier in this letter, I'll be the first to admit that I can't provide scientific evidence for the case of Creation. My belief in Creation theory is based on faith and personal experience, two things which are impossible to recreate for an impartial observer. Again, I'm not so much attempting to persuade belief in Creation as I am trying to dissuade belief in Evolution.

In short, you are looking for people who aren't very well-versed in biological science, taking advantage of their ignorance in order to convince them that there are glaring problems with evolution theory (even though an actual expert would effortlessly shoot down your arguments), and then hopefully convince them that evolution is some kind of sham, or giant mistake on the part of the scientific community. As I said before, this is exactly like the salesman who seeks out a customer that obviously doesn't know much about the product.

Actually, a creationist does fit the literal dictionary definition of a lunatic, since he believes in something that does not appear to exist. Nevertheless, I agree that creationists probably do not appreciate having their religious zeal characterized (however accurately) as a delusional state.

Well, by that definition, doesn't EVERYONE classify as a lunatic? For example, you'd be hard pressed to find someone out there that doesn't believe in the existence of Thought and Memory, however there exists no PHYSICAL evidence of these things.

Nonsense; memory can be demonstrated to exist by simply testing the model against observation. Show a child something, take it away, ask him to recite it, bingo. You have demonstrated memory.

We cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear them, but they do exist.

They exist as attributes of the human brain, which is known to exist. You are engaging in obvious and disingenuous sophistries by pointing out that they do not exist independently. Does "blue" exist? It is an attribute, not an object. God, on the other hand, is defined as an object; it is claimed to exist independently, people such as yourself even claim to have contact with it, yet there is not a shred of evidence [for it].

Granted, we know where they are stored, even down to which lobe and cortex of the brain houses them. We also know that the brain carries electrical impulses which can be observed to create different patterns for different moods experienced. However, science has yet to uncover any physical understanding of exactly what these things (thought, memory, emotion) are.

The fact that we don't know exactly how they work does not mean that they are not real. God, on the other hand, is an idea for which there is simply not a shred of evidence. For you to compare your religious beliefs to the easily-tested principle of human memory is simply laughable. I reiterate: like it or not, no matter how much it annoys you, your religious beliefs fit the textbook definition of a delusional state. You claim to have directly experienced contact with something which does not appear to exist.

Thanks yet again for this provocative correspondence!

Sincerely,
Joe Marino

Any relation to Dan? ;-)

[Editor's note: he has not yet responded. Most unfortunate, since I was curious how he would respond to the points raised, particularly the one about the used-car salesman]


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