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Tips on Evangelizing Evolution from Aron Ra

Ray Comfort noticed that a lot of atheists visited his Facebook page, and it occurred to him that he could train other Christians to witness to the “unsaved”.

“The average Christian can’t stand on a soapbox at a university and preach, but he or she can now engage the unsaved and have their comment read by multiple people, all from the comfort of their own home. It means that a stay-at-home mom can reach out to the lost during a break from the kids. It means that those who are busy at work can reach the unsaved during their lunch breaks.”

Here are a few nuggets from his page to tempt atheists to believe…

That which is considered by those who are anti-God to be hateful threats of torture, are loving warnings of justice.

He isn’t so much threatening you with eternal torture; he is simply lovingly warning you about justice. And just for fun another nugget…

Your casket isn’t the end. Think outside the box

So far, I am not convinced.  May be other atheists just groan when they hear about Ray Comfort’s antics because they are passe. Have you ever groaned when he gets a nonbeliever on the street, and they can’t answer him especially when it is well known science?

Like Ryan the agnostic in this video…

Comfort starts off with the question, “Why do you believe in evolution.”  Ryan flounders a bit about logic and finally adds that there is a similarity between chimp and human DNA.  Comfort comes back with no that is actually evidence for a common designer, who used DNA to create life. Let’s be fair to Ryan, he is on the spot and Comfort is interrupting and shouting at him.  Ryan still fumbles the ball though.

Let’s ask Aron…

This unsupported hypothetical magical designer put into our DNA genetic markers, dysfunctional genes, ERVs, sequential mutations indicating our ancestry with other apes and confirming our classification as primates?!

 May be you are at a level where that is low hanging fruit for you too. Perhaps, you’ve run across a person who has been taken in by more advanced pseudoscience.

For a lot of evolution supporters there can be different reasons why you can’t answer pseudoscience swiftly and adeptly.  You may know it sounds wrong but you can’t articulate why. Sort of like how I grew up around the Vietnamese language, but I speak barely any of it.  So if someone jokingly makes fun of an Asian accent; they have a chance of getting a laugh.  I can’t joke like that because it sounds wrong to me, because I’ve heard a genuine Asian accent. It just doesn’t sound right, but I can’t articulate why it is incorrect. Similarly, evolution supporters often want to defend evolution against annoying pseudoscience especially from family members and authorities, but can’t articulate why the pseudoscience isn’t correct science.

When it comes to evolution, we all have different starting points.  Growing up in the South, I was almost completely ignorant of my own biological origins, when I met Aron in the Crevo forum of Christian Forums. I still have complete noob posts that embarrass me to this day.  The point is everybody is at different levels, which is something you have to bear in mind when you try to convince people about evolution.

Anyways, Aron often gets emails from people, who are really interested in how to answer a question about evolution that is stumping them from a believer.  Obviously, he can’t come in and debate everyone, and in a lot of cases the person is better off doing their own research because they will learn better what to say to people.

However this weekend, he has graciously in his own surly way agreed to give tips to people to help them be better defenders of anti-faith. You can post questions here on his blog or join us in a Google Hangout this Sunday at 12:00 PM. Event location: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cmgcc50rv9t5ae884sv3eh6286k

It will be my second podcast of the n0nes.

Send us your google hangout information to thenonesoftheabove@gmail.com if you would like to join in the discussion.

 

 

Comments

  1. Justin says

    This is quite gracious of the both of you and definitely appreciated. I have a more general concern when it comes to debating. I don’t debate often, but I find I tend to cede more ground than I should, perhaps in an effort to be more respectful than I should, but also not always having the counter-arguments at the forefront of my mind. I know some of this is a matter of actually participating in more debates, getting more practice (if only I did that in high school!) and preparing by knowing all the counter-arguments, but even with practice, sometimes people will throw you a curve ball that you just can’t prepare for ahead of time.

    So basically, what advice can you offer for best maintaining your position “in the moment?”

    • says

      The best way to be prepared in the moment is to know the basics of evolution, if it is a pseudoscience curveball.

      Quick example using other science:

      People used to assert that homosexuality was a mental disorder. This lead to the faulty assumption that it should be treated or could be cured.

      Now that the science behind homosexuality is better understood, if someone tells you it is a mental disorder you know what to say in response.

      Homosexuality results from exposure to sex hormones in the neonatal environment. It is a very real biological phenomena.

      So similarly, if you understand even basic evolution you will have a quick answer to rebut the pseudoscience no matter how complex it sounds.

  2. lordofsporks says

    I read that article on the Christian post, and I really loved this bit of projection:

    “In regards to engaging with atheists, Comfort added some caution. “You will need a lot of patience because many show up as though they are God’s intellectual gift to the world. They are extremely arrogant, very condescending, they say things that aren’t true, and they use worn out arguments.”

    I’ll definately be watching your podcast.

  3. L.Long says

    I have gone back to the basics…….
    Keep your fairy tale BS out of science class and I’ll keep my science out of your House of Fairy tales.

    Debating 1-on-1 is a total waste of intellectual energy.
    In a large crowd you might reach someone in some small way.

  4. Kees says

    I hope this is not to late to make it on the show…

    So, I’ve never actually had these used against me personally, but I imagine I would be stumped if someone asked me what came first, the chicken or the egg. Obviously, eggs evolved way before birds, but at some point the evolution of eggs must have started somewhere. How do we know what happened?

    Secondly, how did multicellular life evolve from single celled organisms? I believe I have a pretty good laymans understanding of evolution within multicellular organisms and within singlecellular organisms but I’ve never understood the process that bridges between the two. By the Wikipedia article it seems that this is somewhat of an open issue, but also that it has happened multiple times independently. Indeed, there are multiple hypothesis of what happened. What is the evidence for the different hypotheses?

    I think that on both these issues the Wiki pages are a bit hard to understand to a layman, let alone explain to a creationist.

    tl:dr version:
    – What came first, the chicken or the egg?
    – How did multicellular life evolve?

  5. godlesspanther says

    The argument from design, Ray Comfort’s favorite, is noting more that a pathetic attempt at an analogy. If the building is very large and very old, we know that there were many builders involved, all of whom are dead. The universe is much larger and much older than anything human-made. Therefor…

  6. Ben P says

    Secondly, how did multicellular life evolve from single celled organisms? I believe I have a pretty good laymans understanding of evolution within multicellular organisms and within singlecellular organisms but I’ve never understood the process that bridges between the two

    There was a pretty good experiment within the past year or two that shed some light on this.

    http://www.nature.com/news/yeast-suggests-speedy-start-for-multicellular-life-1.9810

    Short version: They put yeast in a culture and deliberately set up the experiment to select for those that stuck together. (Sticky yeast would sink, they culled the floating yeast over successive generations).

    60 some days (and untold generations) later, they had a “snowflake” of genetically identical yeast cells that would bud and then stick together, and that they found acted like a multi-cellular organism, growing first, then seperating when fully grown to form new organisms.

  7. billyeager says

    As has been said before, what is it about religion that encourages so much dishonesty?
    The ‘debate’ is rigged by the theist from the start. As the article explains, debunking pseudoscience is often a frustratingly laborious task, with the goalposts being eternally moved about and rules made up on the spot to ‘excuse’ each debunk. There is no limit to pseudoscientific bullshit claims because there is no limit to human imagination.

    Why should we, the atheist skeptic, be made to do all the feckin’ work as usual?

    I contend this, don’t answer that question, correct it.

    Comfort starts off with the question, “Why do you believe in evolution.”

    Answer: “I don’t ‘believe in’ Evolution, I hold the Theory of Evolution as being the most likely correct explanation on the basis of multi-disciplinary scientific fields providing hypothesise and objective experimental data to support said hypothesise which can, as a whole, present a unified theory. You, however, ‘believe in’ [insert hokey bullshit theist creationist nonsense here], because that is all you can do with that particular arbitrary assertion.”

    • Lord Narf says

      Reminds me of the radio debate that PZ Myers had with Geoffrey Simmons, on some Christian radio station. About 24 hours before the debate, Geoffrey Simmons changed the topic of the debate from “The Evidence of Evolution vs. the Evidence of Intelligent Design” to “Are Darwin’s Theories Fact or Faith Issues?” He automatically lost the debate, before it even started, because of his little switch, and then he got completely crushed in the debate on the new topic. It’s about what I expect out of a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

    • DaveX says

      What is it about religion that encourages so much dishonesty? Because at its root, it is based on a lie.

  8. says

    “What came first, the chicken or the [chicken] egg?”

    This is a creationist question that doesn’t really make sense from an evolutionary perspective. The reason is that if you take a bird from history and say, “This is it. Genetically, this is what we will call the first chicken. This is chicken DNA.” Well, then the next generation of chicken-like birds are no longer chickens, are they? Only a creationist that thinks they are always chickens won’t accept the continuing change.

    The reason for this is that species designation is a human construct. There is no “real” speciation event. A species is a population that is consistently and significantly different from their closest cousin population. There are different, competing ideas for what makes a species a species, but none proposes a single individual can be considered to have speciated. But let’s take the definition that a new species arises when two populations are no longer able to interbreed. It’s clear there can be no first chicken, otherwise it can’t breed with any other individuals and is also the last chicken. Any definition of species that doesn’t fall here is a definition that makes every living organism a different, and new, species.

    Because species are in a constant state of evolution, even with punctuated equilibrium there is still just a gentle and imperceptible change from generation to generation. Since we decide on species definitions the characteristics of a group and not on individuals from bird x to bird y, there is no first member of a species.

    • Lord Narf says

      Eh, speciation is a real thing. It’s just not as clear-cut as it sounds.

      Take two groups separated at generation 0. Generation 4,000 of group A and Group B are completely incapable of interbreeding. Generation 2,000 of group A and Group B can interbreed, but the males are sterile. Generation 2,000 of group A can breed true with Generation 1,000 of Group B, but Generation 2,000 of Group B bred with Generation 1,000 of Group A has the sterility issue.

      Clearly, speciation happened, somewhere in there between Generation 0 and Generation 4,000. At which generation did it happen? That’s … muddy, to put it mildly. It doesn’t help that we don’t have a solid definition for what makes a species.

      There are several species that we can induce to interbreed, and they produce viable offspring. They just don’t tend to breed in the wild. There are other species that we can interbreed which produce viable but sterile offspring.

      • says

        I didn’t say speciation wasn’t real. I said speciation events are not real, as in there is no moment in time that you can point to and say, “There, right there! A new species!”

        Because a species is a population and can never be an individual (unless that individual is the last of a previous population, RIP Lonely George) no point of conception or, for asexual species, single mutation can be said to be a speciation event. Every individual is a member of the species that its parents and grandparents and children and grandchildren are a part of. This is because we don’t consider speciation on such small time scales as 4, 5, or 6 generations. The fastest speciation that I know of happened over the course of some thousand generations (asterinid sea stars) and even then still has some large margin of error, since as I said, 4, 5, or 6 generations are too short a time to study for this purpose. 1,000 generations is happening so fast the species boundaries are too blurred to measure. So no, we will never have such a definition down to a single generation. It’s not that our measurements are too crude, it’s that it’s a meaningless distinction. Unlike any other linear progression, there is just too much genetic variation among individuals of a species to have such fine divisions.

        This is essentialism, the idea that there is a “pure chicken” or “pure daffodil” with which to measure other individuals of a species against. There isn’t. Like Aron Ra said in one of his videos, there is no way to define monkeys so that all monkeys are included but not humans. And there is no way to define chickens so that all chickens are included but not one generation earlier or one generation later. This isn’t to say that speciation never happened, though. We can easily define fish so that all fish are included but birds and mammals are not. We can easily define Homo sapiens so that all H. sapiens are included, but H. heidelbergensis is not.

  9. says

    The egg. Eggs were very very early in evolutionary development. 600 million years or more ago.

    The first “chicken” (gallus domesticus) is a relatively modern adaptation — about 6000 years ago — from a creature known as a red junglefowl (gallus gallus), which still exist in the wild.

  10. L.Long says

    What!!! Chickens evolved from red jungle fowl which still exits! Obviously that is wrong as if the chickens evolved from them then why are there still red jungle fowl????? We know that they were intelligently designed.

  11. grumpyoldfart says

    I know practically nothing about the theory of evolution (until a few years ago, for example, I had never even heard the word “clade”) so there is no way I can debate the subject. Here’s what I do instead:

    When a Christian tries to engage me in the subject I tell them that just for the sake of argument I will go along with whatever thoughts they have about evolution and therefore, since we are no longer in dispute regarding evolution, the ball is back in their court and they should go ahead and prove god exists. “I’ll stay quiet while you do,” I tell them. They invariably insist that as an atheist I MUST defend evolution, but I refuse to be distracted. They usually finish up by doing a flounce.

  12. says

    There is the strategy too of asking them to “show their math”, which a lot of regular creationists can’t do. Technically the professional creationists can’t do it either, because they don’t know what they are talking about.

    However, If you quick google their argument they are for the most part already rebutted. They are PRATTS. I learned a lot about evolution that way.

  13. kelvin scale says

    My problem is that I have a horrible memory and can’t remember the finer points like specific examples of experiments, etc. The two arguments I have the hardest time addressing is: “That’s proof of a common designer” like the one AronRa responded to. Also, I hate confrontation and in person when I try to explain these things to people I get flustered and can’t think clearly. I forget the fine points like that humans and chimps share many traits in their DNA that would be odd to match up by a common designer. The second argument is: “But it’s still a dog and will always be a dog”. I know the correct answer is that that is a very non-Darwinian view of evolution and this whole dog is a dog business a Platonic concept of some essence of dog that all dogs are to be measured against. But I don’t know how to articulate that to someone that already is entrenched in this kind of thinking.

    • Lord Narf says

      Yeah, fortunately, I’m an asshole, so I kind of enjoy getting in someone’s face, when they’re being aggressively, idiotically wrong. I swooped in a engaged a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Walmart, a couple weeks ago, so the poor woman they had cornered could escape. I freely admit that rescuing the woman was only a secondary goal.

  14. says

    I’m not sure if this is the right place, but the article did invite people to post questions. I’m not wondering about Creationism per-se, but about what one ought to say to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m sure you can’t deprogram someone cold, but what if more people who answered the door kept up the skepticism and were knowledgeable about his cult?

    From other comments on this post, I think there are some interested peers. Feel free to point me to the right place for an extended discussion, or reply to my own blog post on today’s visit.

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