Fargo tonight

Oy, it’s an evening for a debate with a creationist. Hey, Matt Dillahunty, would you like to jump on a plane and zip up here to Fargo, North Dakota to take over for me? You’re so much better than I am at this stuff.

Probably not. I just have to brace myself up, I guess. Anyway, it’s going to be packed with Christians — I think the 7th Day Adventists are sponsoring this thing — so any friendly godless faces in the audience will be appreciated. It’s at 7pm, in the Ramada Inn (1635 42nd St S), and the topic is “Is there evidence for a creator or not?”. I’m “not.”

I’ve got an opening statement prepared, but otherwise, the thing about these events is that I just have to wing the rest. I’ll post my opener tomorrow and let y’all know how it turned out — I’m kind of suspecting that my planned intro of howling “RENOUNCE YOUR FALSE GODS!” and flinging lightning bolts from my fingertips might not go over real well.

Just to add to all the fun, it’s going to be a very busy weekend, as I’m flying off to Los Angeles on Saturday, and on Sunday, my planned intro for that talk is to howl “RENOUNCE YOUR FAITH IN OMNIPOTENT ADAPTATIONISM!” and turn random members of the audience into amphibians.

There’s a chance of crucifixion. That always spices up a weekend.


  1. says

    Well, I wish you luck. Maybe you could also have a conversation with Scott Walker:

    Walker in London gets asked about views on evolution. “I’m going to punt on that one as well” says not something a pol should be involved in.

  2. voss says

    We know that a debate is a poor venue for this subject. The pro-creationism side will be doing a Gish Gallop and stressing hope and awe (appeal to emotion). In these circumstances reason usually comes in a distant second to the faithful.

    Seeing as how the creationism side will inevitably side-step your challenges, I hope you will also ignore their challenges long enough to offer the hope and awe that comes from science. While this may have little effect on the religious adults in the audience, it may begin a train of thought in their children.

  3. Sastra says

    Given you’re going against a 7th Day Adventist the likelihood is that it will be an evolution vs. creationism debate. It’s a safe assumption, at any rate.

    Safe, but not foolproof. Sometimes they surprise you — and sometimes they try to trick you and lead you into a trap. Just in case, it’s not a bad idea to mentally brush up on cosmological or fine tuning arguments or whatever else you might need if your opponent happily grants that heheh of course they believe in evolution, but First Cause (or Ontological or — d*g help you, TAG.)

    It won’t matter if the audience is packed with Young Earth Creationists, they will still cheer on whoever is giving it to the atheist and godly debaters know that.

  4. Larry says

    Just write your answer to “if man came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys” onto your hand, you’ll do fine.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Just say:
    “If God placed all the fossils into the rocks as a practical joke on paleontologists, it shows God is actually Loki, the viking trickster god!”

  6. Menyambal - not as pretentious as I seem says

    So are you the evidence that there is not a creator?

    I got my moniker while working for/with Seventh Day Adventists. I should send you my ADRA t-shirt (it doesn’t fit me any more, for some reason), that’s Adventist Disaster Relief Agency, if you want to name-drop. Ask them about the fish with scales that are invisibly small, but still there, so the fish is okay to eat, and why the creator would create that.

    They are good people, really, the ones that I know. Less hate for other people than paranoia about other people doing the hating. During the end times, everybody else is going to realize that the Adventists were right, and chase them up into the hills (heh, I have had their survival training, and know where they are going to hide).

    Good luck with the debate. Remember that the other guy is just going to be preaching a sermon, and you are the devil.

  7. twas brillig (stevem) says

    “evidence” is the key component there. I know your opponent will have a completely different definition than you do. Probably where the Gish will gallop. So just ask for his definition and if he answers, say, “Okay, by YOUR definition, YOU see evidence; but my definition is […], and by that definition, there is no evidence for G*d. So it’s clear, isn’t it, that by our separate definitions, we both win this debate. Thank you for attending, audience, no need to vote as you leave, we both won, no argument here, by DEFINITION.”
    Have fun (don’t laugh out loud, though)

  8. Trebuchet says

    Do keep an eye out for wood chippers.

    Adventists tend toward vegetarianism. You could always try having a burger while you’re debating.

  9. Menyambal - not as pretentious as I seem says

    The SDA vegetarians that I knew tended to eat fake meat – vegetarian imitations of beef and pork, that tasted and looked and sounded as much like meat as possible. I asked once why they did that, and was told it was to ease transition to vegetarianism. I think it is what Jesus would call lusting in your heart, and should be a sin. (Oh, Jesus, I remember my brother and I, as teenagers, getting served “Wham” sandwiches and going off into unstoppable giggle fits.)

  10. dick says

    PZ, don’t forget to ask them for a description of their “creator”, before you say anything else.

  11. Pianoman, Church of the Golden Retriever says

    Who schedules a debate in North Dakota in February?? Who, I ask?

  12. freemage says

    Yup, getting that definition of “Evidence” up front should be a requirement before you even take the stage.

  13. Rich Woods says

    “Is there evidence for a creator or not?”



    (Sorry, couldn’t help it. It’s been a long day.)

  14. Menyambal - not as pretentious as I seem says

    So creationists like to claim that the Horrendous Space Kablooie was God creating, as if the “Let there be light” from the book somehow matches the science. Well, I was just reading Brian Greene’s _Elegant_Universe_, and at the end, where the string theory gets really speculative, he was going on about random strings aligning to make space and time, and I heard “and the earth was formless and void, and God separated …”. I had a different analogy, but that one somehow popped up. Yeesh.

    I hope the PZed hasn’t had any unpleasant surprises in Fargo. Those creationists are tricksy.

  15. Azuma Hazuki says

    You can stymie these idiots with three words: “define your terms.”

    Much too often we let apologists just say whatever the hell they want without pinning down exactly what they mean. Latest example was some idiot who insisted that Yahweh was morally perfect, but that moral perfection did not entail “does not allow, create, or fail to stop evil, howsoever defined, to the best of its abilities” (and, being omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, time-transcendent, and absolutely sovereign, there is no “to the best of;” Yahweh’s abilities are infinite and all-encompassing).

    I really wish this kind of stupid were slowly and lethally painful to the person spouting it…