I recently encountered another example of the strategy of finding an excuse for dismissing claims without examining them, on the blog of a woman who homeschools her children and teaches them young-earth creationism. I posted a comment on her blog contradicting some of her specific claims, and pointing to Christian sources (both old-earth creationist and theistic evolutionist sources) contradicting them. Here's her dismissive response:
She made the issue not about YEC claims, but about me--an ad hominem argument. She says I "seem" friendly, but suggests, via remote psychoanalysis, that I'm not. Rather, I'm an angry atheist who wants to wipe her out in debate, and I'm angry because I'm searching for God. Therefore, there's no need to consider anything I've said, and she can continue teaching her children falsehoods from Answers in Genesis.
Shortly after you initially posted, I formed a point-by-point rxesponse. I posted it, and it got lost in the internet ether. I wrote it out again, this time meaning to copy it onto a document in case it got lost again, but clicked on “Submit Comment” out of habit before I did so, and whaddya know? It disappeared again. Wireless connection problems, or something. I wasn’t really up for writing it a third time, so I backed off, which gave me time to better-consider my answer.
I’m ready now to respond, but it’ll be in a way in which you’re probably not going to be satisfied.
Reading your post here, and following up a bit by looking into your blog and the site you moderate (www.talkorigins.org), and reading the e-mail you sent to me offline, I was struck with this parallel: You remind me of a pro-choice activist. I have this theory — I’ve had it for so long, I don’t remember if it’s an original thought, or if I gleaned it from someone else — that one of the reasons that many women pro-choice activists are so vehement in their stance is that they have actually had an abortion, and are desperate for someone to not be able to tell them, legally, that it was wrong. They’re desperate to avoid that judgement; they don’t want anyone to tell them that they were wrong in aborting their baby. SO, they take up activism to ensure, to the best of their abilities, that no one will be able to do just that.
Similarly, I had a good friend in college who was gay. He startled me by stating that it was well-understood in the gay community that the men who most assertively proclaim their hetero manhood are the ones most likely to be harboring some homosexual tendencies, and by their “super-hetero-manly” actions and/or words, are overcompensating to hide/stuff/avoid such tendencies. Oddly, sadly, ironically, the men who actively are hateful towards the gay are very often “closeted” themselves.
Not that you are either an abortion activist or gay. My point is that your time spent proliferating the anti-creationism message is EXTREME. You have admittedly “spent over a decade researching the creation/evolution controversy”. You have just about every book on the topic, and have written much on it yourself. You (co-) moderate probably one of the largest anti-creationism websites out there. [This is an error on her part--I'm a listed moderator of the talk.origins Usenet newsgroup, not the website, and the newsgroup's actual moderation is completely automated. -jjl] You obviously have such topics on an RSS feed, or are trolling in some other manner for articles/blog posts/etc. on the topic; you found my lowly blog post a little more than 7 hours after I posted it. It appears to me that you are *highly* preoccupied with what, truly, should be a fairly peripheral topic.
Your tone in this post (and in your e-mail) is very friendly. However, my suspicion meter is blipping.
I think it would be unwise for me to embroil myself in a debate with you. Not because I’m wrong, necessarily, but because you’re better armed.
I don’t think you’re really interested in what I think, other than to shoot me down. On the surface, anyways, that’s how I think you’d react. However, I think there’s something deep inside you that really longs for creationism to be right & true, and you’re waiting for it to be “proven” to you. While I think God honors a truly searching heart, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll find what you’re looking for. Not here, anyways. What I believe you truly want, you going to have to ask God to speak to your heart, in a way — language — that you understand; in a way that’s meaningful to you.
Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for compelling me to pray for both yourself and others who may read our posts.
I fully understand her desire not to get involved in a debate. While I used to actively debate a variety of subjects online, I don't have time for it anymore. When people try to engage me in an email exchange on subjects like creationism, I'm glad to help out those who are inquiring for information, and occasionally will engage in discussion if the other party seems rational and not just a parrot of ridiculous views who's not willing to think. But the parrots are only worth my time to respond to publicly, where somebody else can potentially get some value from it--the parrot isn't going to get any.
The reason I posted on her blog was that in her initial post, which I found while looking for blogs commenting on the Answers in Genesis/Creation Ministries International dispute--she was raising potential doubts about YEC and the idea of OEC. This led me to believe that she is not just a parrot, and is someone willing to consider other ideas. So I shared my experience with young-earth creationism and pointed to sources I thought she and her readers would find valuable.
Perhaps if I had not been an atheist, but a Christian advocate of old-earth creationism, she would not have felt the need to be so dismissive. This is why I support non-atheist responses to creationism--I think that in many cases, OECs have the best chance of communicating with YECs, theistic evolutionists with OECs, and so forth. There are exceptions, however--sometimes it's the opposite extremes that communicate best with each other, like fundamentalists and activist atheists who see the world in black and white. It's common for new converts/deconverts to swing from one extreme to the other, from evangelizing fundamentalist to evangelizing atheist, with both criticizing the liberal believer who's willing to accept ambiguity and thereby exhibit "wishy-washiness."