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Evolutionists don't accept debate challenges (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Evolutionists don't accept debate challenges (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CA340:

Evolutionists are unwilling to debate creationists.

Brown, Walt. 1995. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, 212.


CreationWiki response:

A proper reading of Dr. Brown's book shows that the claim is not correctly portrayed. Brown offers tips on how to debate evolutionists, including a written debate offer. Brown writes in part,

"Encourage knowledgeable evolutionists to enter either written or oral debates on this question of origins. If they decline, make a point of asking, 'Why won’t evolutionists debate the scientific evidence?'"

Note that Talk.Origins does not implicitly deny the claim until the last of their four responses. The first three responses justify not wanting to engage creationists in debate.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)


The proper venue for debating scientific issues is at science conferences and in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In such a venue, the claims can be checked by anyone at their leisure. Creationists, with very rare exceptions, are unwilling to debate there.
Main Article: Peer review

Many aspects of evolution are already challenged in peer-reviewed journals, though not necessarily by creationists. However, since polls consistently demonstrate that evolution is losing in the arena of public opinion, and since the vast majority of US residents are not scientists, these debates should focus on the evolution and creation debate from a layperson's perspective.

Public debates are usually set up so that the winners are determined by public speaking ability, not by quality of material.

This quote assumes that no evolutionist can compete with creationists (or intelligent design advocates) with respect to public speaking. According to evolutionists, the vast majority of scientists adhere to evolution, and only a tiny minority buy into creation. Would evolutionists have us believe that this tiny creationist minority is comprised solely of professional public speakers (whom evolutionists simultaneously accuse of being scientifically illiterate), while the vast majority of evolutionists are poor speakers?

Debate formats, both spoken and written, usually do not allow space for sufficient examination of points. A common tactic used by some prominent creationists is to rattle off dozens of bits of misinformation in rapid succession. It is impossible for the responder to address each in the time or space allotted.

This works both ways. Points are likely to be overlooked in any debate, no matter what topic. Public debate is not a fool-proof forum for persuasion. It is a basic venue for two sides to present an overview of their perspectives and permit the audience to decide based on those presentations. Overlooking a few points is no excuse for not debating. Points can still be refuted on either side, and a bottom line conclusion can still be reached.

Notwithstanding the above points, there have been several debates, both live and online.

This is true, and readers are encouraged to seek out these debates and make a decision for themselves on which side has the stronger argument.

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