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How To Successfully Debate A Creationist?


Deidre
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I've been in discussions both online and offline with Creationist Christians (not all Christians are Creationists, but that's another story) and I tend to come away feeling deflated. Not defeated, for I'm not looking to 'win' any arguments, but at the very least, I sometimes wish I could at least come away feeling that the other person sees my point of view...or at least believes to some degree that yes, there is supporting evidence for the theory of evolution.

 

When I was a Christian, I believed in the theory of evolution...I pretty much always have, when one also believes in the literal interpretation of Genesis, it becomes difficult for them to be open minded to all that science holds. Why, I'm not sure.

 

Some of the rebuttals I've been receiving are...''you are making baseless claims,'' or ''the evidence you have is circumstantial'' (huh?) or ''Darwin's theory has been proven to be riddled with errors,'' etc...etc...

 

So, wondering if any of you have ever entered a debate with a Creationist, now that you are no longer Christian yourself, and have had a productive/fruitful discussion? :)

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Realize that they have the burden of proof.  The onus is on THEM because they've made the positive claim that their god (specific christian god) created everything.

 

Also, Aron Ra's presentations are wonderful.  I've learned a lot from them, the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa

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Realize that they have the burden of proof.  The onus is on THEM because they've made the positive claim that their god (specific christian god) created everything.

 

Also, Aron Ra's presentations are wonderful.  I've learned a lot from them, the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa

ahhh! this too. I hear this very rebuttal...I'm glad you mentioned it. I hear that the burden of proof is on me to show all of this 'evidence' for the theory of evolution. Then, I say it's their burden, and then...it goes nowhere. I'm going to look up the presentation you mention, thank you! edit, i see the link above, for some reason it didn't show when i posted this earlier)

 

great!

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Tell this to them next time.

 

The burden is on them and that's because they claim it's their particular god that created everything.  Not the Hindu gods, not the Mayan gods, not the Chinese god, THEIR particular god.

 

Them saying "the universe can't come from nothing" or "someone had to have made it, look at its design!" does not fly.  They posit that it's their god, yaweh/allah (yes, allah, same guy)/jesus made it. 

 

An atheist does not posit anything.  It is a rejection of all the gods posited thus far.  They are atheists concerning Zeus, Ra, Baal, Shenlong, etc.  You just take it one particular god further. 

 

No, science does not know exactly how the universe formed.  But that's what separates religion from science.  Science is cool with "I don't know" as the current answer.  Religion posits the claims it makes "god x created it all!"

 

Sorry for the lecture, it's just that I've had these talks before with my church elders.  Good luck D!  Knock em out cold zDuivel7.gif

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So, wondering if any of you have ever entered a debate with a Creationist, now that you are no longer Christian yourself, and have had a productive/fruitful discussion? smile.png

 

Yes to the first question and no to the second.  My experiences have been exactly as you described.  

 

I agree the burden is on them, when they said Darwin is riddled with errors I asked them to tell me one.  One person presented Piltdown man, which I pointed out was not Darwin.  I also pointed out that hoax was discovered using the scientific method.  Most can not name any error besides "why are there still monkeys?", which again is not Darwinian.  

 

I find it's not really worth it, but it is good to study it for yourself.  You will never convince them, but you can show them science has the evidence and they are making the unfounded claims.  You can get them to admit they have never studied Darwin and don't know exactly what is wrong with it.  It's not a "win" per se, but it is something...

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I sometimes wish I could at least come away feeling that the other person sees my point of view...or at least believes to some degree that yes, there is supporting evidence for the theory of evolution.

 

Good luck with that. Faith can't even be dented by mere facts and logic.

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Try having this debate with your brother, who just happens to be a scientist. It takes about two minutes before he's so far over my head it sounds like he's speaking a foreign language. At least he no longer believes in young earth creationism.

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Why don't you put the ball in the creationist's court by telling him that since he is claiming that  Geneses is true, and he is claiming that god made the universe and everything in it, what evidence does he have of this supernatural creation? Since he's making the miraculous claim, and not one based upon science which is not supernatural, it is his burden of proof. Just as though there were a claim that a man hit a baseball 20 miles in a horizontal path before hitting the ground. and his opponent claimed the ball could not have gone 20 miles, It is the burden of the one claiming the 20 mile hit  to prove that the ball, against all natural laws went 20 miles, This is particularly true in view of the fact that, even if he could prove that the current theory of the beginning of the universe is not true, that would not in any way support the claim, that genesis is correct. So he doesn't advance his claim by attacking the current theory. There is significant evidence to support the current theory but why go through all of that if it does't help his case?   bill

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Would you play checkers against a pigeon?  Same difference.

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Realize that they have the burden of proof.  The onus is on THEM because they've made the positive claim that their god (specific christian god) created everything.

 

Also, Aron Ra's presentations are wonderful.  I've learned a lot from them, the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa

ahhh! this too. I hear this very rebuttal...I'm glad you mentioned it. I hear that the burden of proof is on me to show all of this 'evidence' for the theory of evolution. Then, I say it's their burden, and then...it goes nowhere. I'm going to look up the presentation you mention, thank you! edit, i see the link above, for some reason it didn't show when i posted this earlier)

 

great!

 

The Biological Theory of Evolution is the best explanation of the relevant empirical evidence, at least to any rational and unbiased thinker who studies the theory and the supporting evidence.  This position has no burden of proof concerning the theory because it is not claiming it is true, it merely sets forth an opinion concerning the actual relevant empirical evidence.  There may be a burden of persuasion by stating this position, and you can support that by providing some of the actual relevant empirical evidence, although it would likely take years if not decades to find and post all that has already been documented.

 

In my experience, most creationists (nearly all?) are ignorant of the Biological Theory of Evolution in most respects.  They have not studied it, they have not considered the relevant empirical evidence, and they have not looked at it rationally or without bias.  Indeed, the only tactic they employ is to attempt to refute the theory with a mixture of nonsense, fallacious reasoning, lies and canards. 

 

And, as others have stated, it is the Creationist who is making a positive claim (my sky fairy exists, my sky fairy created everything, look out if you don't believe, ad nauseum).    Hold them to their burden of proof.

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Realize that they have the burden of proof.  The onus is on THEM because they've made the positive claim that their god (specific christian god) created everything.

 

Also, Aron Ra's presentations are wonderful.  I've learned a lot from them, the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa

ahhh! this too. I hear this very rebuttal...I'm glad you mentioned it. I hear that the burden of proof is on me to show all of this 'evidence' for the theory of evolution. Then, I say it's their burden, and then...it goes nowhere. I'm going to look up the presentation you mention, thank you! edit, i see the link above, for some reason it didn't show when i posted this earlier)

 

great!

 

The Biological Theory of Evolution is the best explanation of the relevant empirical evidence, at least to any rational and unbiased thinker who studies the theory and the supporting evidence.  This position has no burden of proof concerning the theory because it is not claiming it is true, it merely sets forth an opinion concerning the actual relevant empirical evidence.  There may be a burden of persuasion by stating this position, and you can support that by providing some of the actual relevant empirical evidence, although it would likely take years if not decades to find and post all that has already been documented.

 

In my experience, most creationists (nearly all?) are ignorant of the Biological Theory of Evolution in most respects.  They have not studied it, they have not considered the relevant empirical evidence, and they have not looked at it rationally or without bias.  Indeed, the only tactic they employ is to attempt to refute the theory with a mixture of nonsense, fallacious reasoning, lies and canards. 

 

And, as others have stated, it is the Creationist who is making a positive claim (my sky fairy exists, my sky fairy created everything, look out if you don't believe, ad nauseum).    Hold them to their burden of proof.

 

Agree, yes, of those I've been in recent debates with, just a basic understanding of evolution seems to be lacking. I'm not an expert, but I know the basics, and have a good understanding of how it has benefitted mankind, in the long run. It doesn't make anyone smarter than another, but it just shows that when you are religious, there is a tendency to not 'care about' facts, for lack of a better phrase. Idk. Even when I was a Christian, I believed in the theory of evo, but there are so many, mainly fundamentalists, who won't open their minds up to that there really could be another explanation as to how we arrived here.

 

I appreciate your reply, I'm going to refer to this.

 

 

Thank you everyone for your input here. I have other questions, based on your replies here, and will pop in tomorrow to discuss.

smile.png You guys are the best!

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Deirdre, it can be fun to push the cretinists' buttons and see them squirm but you better not expect to convince any of them. Unless they secretly struggle with doubts already, they're not out to have a discussion. They're "debating" because that's what their führers tell them to do, and because they feel good fighting (what they think is) the good fight. You "debate" them, you're trying to fight Orwellian doublethink and crimestop in this real world. I won't say that you can't win EVVAH, but be aware that your chances are close to those of Winston in 1984. :Hmm:

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I agree with others on two points:  You'll rarely ever convince anyone and the onus for proof is on the claim-maker.

 

With that said, if you want to stock your arsenal with some really powerful weapons, I recommend Thunderf00t's "Why Do People Laugh At Creationists" series and also The Living Dinosaur's channel, both of which can be found on YouTube.

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I think that, especially with regards to your own question, the most telling part of the Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate was when they were answering audience questions. Someone asked, for both of them: "what would change your mind?" The video link's only three minutes long, but well worth a watch.

 

So... there's your problem. People who take faith as sufficient proof aren't having a reasoned debate in the first place. As far as they're concerned, they must believe that their faith provides them with Truth beyond all doubt, evidence and logic be damned. Or, to be more accurate, any evidence and logic that contradicts what they believe must be somehow wrong. You can't debate people like this; they're not playing by your "rules" of reason. Nothing can change their mind, and they see this as a virtue, not a fatal weakness.

 

You can, however, take ruthless advantage of this dynamic, because it exposes a critical weakness. I say "ruthless" because, if you do exploit it, it tramples all over a few social rules of conduct, like refraining from attacking people's beliefs themselves. We're all conditioned to "respect what other people believe," to the point that we're not socially allowed to question the "because it's what I believe" justification. This is socially strong, and most people, for most purposes, back off at this point. It is, however, the weakest possible logical point anyone can make. Anything justified by "well I believe it" is circular logic, a confession of confirmation bias, a lame excuse to avoid putting forward any evidence of your own. In a debate about creationism, a lot of people back off, when the creationist goes into "well, I believe it" - they think this would be changing the subject, because you're not there to debate the existence of God, or Christianity, you're here to debate creationism. Well, if they justify creationism by "well I believe it" (and, given what creationism is, they ultimately have no choice) they're putting forward a very weak logical point to hide behind social niceties. Logically, since belief is their justification, it is a point that is now open for debate. I'm sure you can muster plenty of evidence and reasoning for these points, but that's the general strategy. A debate that goes there can get very ugly, so it's sort of the "nuclear option" socially, so you'll have to weigh just how much you're willing to antagonize people. Ultimately, though, any debate about creationism IS a debate about the logical validity of Christianity.

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

Yes, and the main contention being that they don't see how natural selection is beneficial to adaptation etc...furthering of a species.

It's like really? :-/

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

good question. that would narrow it down considerably.

What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

good question. that would narrow it down considerably.

What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

 

I also think many do not want to understand it because they know, deep inside, science is right.  They use cell phones, drive cars, watch TV, surf the internet, use electricity and modern appliances, most of them vaccinate their kids from disease, they have surgery and take medicines, they know we've gone to the moon and Mars and are currently at the outer edges of the solar system, just to mention a few of the triumphs of science.  

 

If they took the time and understood evolution, they would then know genesis is myth and not fact, and they do not want that to happen...I don't think you can be a christian without willful ignorance.

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

good question. that would narrow it down considerably.

 

What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

 

I also think many do not want to understand it because they know, deep inside, science is right.  They use cell phones, drive cars, watch TV, surf the internet, use electricity and modern appliances, most of them vaccinate their kids from disease, they have surgery and take medicines, they know we've gone to the moon and Mars and are currently at the outer edges of the solar system, just to mention a few of the triumphs of science.  

 

If they took the time and understood evolution, they would then know genesis is myth and not fact, and they do not want that to happen...I don't think you can be a christian without willful ignorance.

 

A fundamentalist, of course. There are some liberal Christians who accept science and evolution, and their theology is based more on ethics and social issues. "Christian" is word with such broad-ranging definitions.

 

A while ago I was browsing christianforums.com sub-forum on creationism vs theistic evolution (I stumbled on that particular sub forum from someone's post here at ex-christian). From the discussions that happened there apparently christians cannot be lumped together either as 6000 year old creationists or as theistic evolutionists. There are many different beliefs that they held. Another thing that I learnt from that sub-forum, their theistic evolutionists had solid grasp of evolution and very well informed. I learnt a lot from them.

 

Edit to add more information: We can learn from their theistic evolutionists how to debate creationists.

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

 

good question. that would narrow it down considerably.

What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

I also think many do not want to understand it because they know, deep inside, science is right.  They use cell phones, drive cars, watch TV, surf the internet, use electricity and modern appliances, most of them vaccinate their kids from disease, they have surgery and take medicines, they know we've gone to the moon and Mars and are currently at the outer edges of the solar system, just to mention a few of the triumphs of science.  

 

If they took the time and understood evolution, they would then know genesis is myth and not fact, and they do not want that to happen...I don't think you can be a christian without willful ignorance.

A fundamentalist, of course. There are some liberal Christians who accept science and evolution, and their theology is based more on ethics and social issues. "Christian" is word with such broad-ranging definitions.

A while ago I was browsing christianforums.com sub-forum on creationism vs theistic evolution (I stumbled on that particular sub forum from someone's post here at ex-christian). From the discussions that happened there apparently christians cannot be lumped together either as 6000 year old creationists or as theistic evolutionists. There are many different beliefs that they held. Another thing that I learnt from that sub-forum, their theistic evolutionists had solid grasp of evolution and very well informed. I learnt a lot from them.

 

Edit to add more information: We can learn from their theistic evolutionists how to debate creationists.

That's a great point, and I've been a member there for a few months. I've met some wonderful people who despite our faith differences, treat atheists with respect. I've met some very smart atheists there too. The challenge though is that most people who are creationists, are not open to Darwin at face value. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

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What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

 

yes, it takes a lot a faith to be a good Christian if one knows the details of evidence to the contrary. And it takes much relevant knowledge to be a confident atheist.

 

For me I find no purpose for debating Christians. They may be misinformed or misguided, but the old philosophical question comes to play: Which is better, to have a happy highly-functional life, but be mistaken as to the cause and foundations of reality, or a person who has the correct knowledge and understandings of reality, but is neither happy or highly functional? There is no correct answer to this question so that my teachings to a Christian, if they finally "see the light," would not necessarily help them -- which would be my reason for explaining things to them in the first place. smile.png

 

Some maybe less educated atheists might have real debates with Christians whereby both consider the possibility that they might learn something. There's nothing wrong with that IMO.

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Deidre, one question.  Are these creationists YECs?  (Young Earth Creationists, think Ken Ham's 6000 year old earth)

good question. that would narrow it down considerably.

 

What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

 

I also think many do not want to understand it because they know, deep inside, science is right.  They use cell phones, drive cars, watch TV, surf the internet, use electricity and modern appliances, most of them vaccinate their kids from disease, they have surgery and take medicines, they know we've gone to the moon and Mars and are currently at the outer edges of the solar system, just to mention a few of the triumphs of science.  

 

If they took the time and understood evolution, they would then know genesis is myth and not fact, and they do not want that to happen...I don't think you can be a christian without willful ignorance.

 

A fundamentalist, of course. There are some liberal Christians who accept science and evolution, and their theology is based more on ethics and social issues. "Christian" is word with such broad-ranging definitions.

 

A while ago I was browsing christianforums.com sub-forum on creationism vs theistic evolution (I stumbled on that particular sub forum from someone's post here at ex-christian). From the discussions that happened there apparently christians cannot be lumped together either as 6000 year old creationists or as theistic evolutionists. There are many different beliefs that they held. Another thing that I learnt from that sub-forum, their theistic evolutionists had solid grasp of evolution and very well informed. I learnt a lot from them.

 

Edit to add more information: We can learn from their theistic evolutionists how to debate creationists.

 

Thanks for the link! smile.png

 

Oops... here the link: :P

 

http://www.christianforums.com/f143/

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What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

 

yes, it takes a lot a faith to be a good Christian if one knows the details of evidence to the contrary. And it takes much relevant knowledge to be a confident atheist.

 

For me I find no purpose for debating Christians. They may be misinformed or misguided, but the old philosophical question comes to play: Which is better, to have a happy highly-functional life, but be mistaken as to the cause and foundations of reality, or a person who has the correct knowledge and understandings of reality, but is neither happy or highly functional? There is no correct answer to this question so that my teachings to a Christian, if they finally "see the light," would not necessarily help them -- which would be my reason for explaining things to them in the first place. :)

 

Some maybe less educated atheists might have real debates with Christians whereby both consider the possibility that they might learn something. There's nothing wrong with that IMO.

This is a great post. I agree. It's weird. If the Christian is rude, obnoxious, I have no problem debating them. It is some humble Christians that I run across online or my own friends offline who I struggle to even want to debate. Perhaps I fear alienating them? And for what? To prove what?

 

On online forums, I've engaged in debate and those sites are designed to debate and disagree. But when it comes to people you know in offline life, your words can wound a good thing.

 

I also find sometimes that if I'm on a roll, some anger kicks in. Not at them, but at having spent so many years pursuing a lie. You know?

 

Thank you for taking the time to say this.

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What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

yes, it takes a lot a faith to be a good Christian if one knows the details of evidence to the contrary. And it takes much relevant knowledge to be a confident atheist.

 

For me I find no purpose for debating Christians. They may be misinformed or misguided, but the old philosophical question comes to play: Which is better, to have a happy highly-functional life, but be mistaken as to the cause and foundations of reality, or a person who has the correct knowledge and understandings of reality, but is neither happy or highly functional? There is no correct answer to this question so that my teachings to a Christian, if they finally "see the light," would not necessarily help them -- which would be my reason for explaining things to them in the first place. smile.png

 

Some maybe less educated atheists might have real debates with Christians whereby both consider the possibility that they might learn something. There's nothing wrong with that IMO.

This is a great post. I agree. It's weird. If the Christian is rude, obnoxious, I have no problem debating them. It is some humble Christians that I run across online or my own friends offline who I struggle to even want to debate. Perhaps I fear alienating them? And for what? To prove what?

 

On online forums, I've engaged in debate and those sites are designed to debate and disagree. But when it comes to people you know in offline life, your words can wound a good thing.

 

I also find sometimes that if I'm on a roll, some anger kicks in. Not at them, but at having spent so many years pursuing a lie. You know?

 

Thank you for taking the time to say this.

 

 

 

You're welcome, an interesting and relevant thread  smile.png

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What is somewhat scary with one of my friends is that he doesn't understand why there are still apes if we evolved? I go over why and still...he seems lost. Sometimes I think it is ignorance and not a lack of understanding when it comes to creationist mind sets. There's a difference. :-/

 

 

yes, it takes a lot a faith to be a good Christian if one knows the details of evidence to the contrary. And it takes much relevant knowledge to be a confident atheist.

 

For me I find no purpose for debating Christians. They may be misinformed or misguided, but the old philosophical question comes to play: Which is better, to have a happy highly-functional life, but be mistaken as to the cause and foundations of reality, or a person who has the correct knowledge and understandings of reality, but is neither happy or highly functional? There is no correct answer to this question so that my teachings to a Christian, if they finally "see the light," would not necessarily help them -- which would be my reason for explaining things to them in the first place. smile.png

 

Some maybe less educated atheists might have real debates with Christians whereby both consider the possibility that they might learn something. There's nothing wrong with that IMO.

 

I find no desire to debate christianity or jesus with my real life christian friends ( They are nice and I enjoy their friendship). However, I feel I am obligated to correct them about creationism because they have children whom they home school. I haven't told them point blank that creationism is bogus, I just correct some of their misinterpretation of evolution whenever the subject comes up in conversation. Every time we talk about evolution we always end up just talk about something else and that is fine with me for now.

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