Pharyngula

I was cured of any interest in debating creationists by Jerry Bergman, that astonishingly awful whiny young earth creationist I crushed last November. It was embarrassingly bad — Bergman wandered all over the place, made absurd claims (did you know the periodic table of the elements was irreducibly complex — even Behe says it isn’t), and spent more time bragging about his many degrees and his evangelical history than he did on the topic at hand. Everyone I talked to, including the creationists, thought Bergman’s performance was dreadful. And you know that the hosting organization, the Twin Cities Creation Science Association knew it was bad for one obvious reason: they brought in a a lot of video gear, recorded the whole event, and “promised” (we all know how little a promise means to a Christian) to send me a DVD copy, but for some reason, the DVD has never appeared, and the debate also hasn’t appeared on youtube or any other video sites. They are doing a good job of burying it.

But here’s why it’s a waste of time to debate these frauds. The TCCSA immediately sent me a letter trying to spin the outcome in their favor. As is their usual M.O., the local evangelical radio station brought Bergman on afterwards to defend himself — of course I was not invited. The TCCSA also surveyed the audience: there was little change in opinion.

So I come home to several emails from some radio wacko named Bob Enyart challenging me to a debate — and after I briefly and rudely told him to get lost, I get the lame retort that if he’s so stupid, I should be able to demolish him easily, so I must be afraid to debate him. Jebus, talk about not getting it — I’ve come to the decision not to debate after one-sided triumphs with people like Bergman and Simmons — it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about how the creationists will lie and twist and distort no matter how it goes.

For example, they tried to pad Enyart’s résumé to make it sound like he was a worthy opponent. In particular, a previous debate was crowed over, in which Enyart’s opponent praised him for his intelligence.

Richard Dawkins once said that “if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” It rapidly became clear that Bob was none of these things. For a start, I know a fair bit about evolution and genetics. But when it came to familiarity with the arguments, he was way ahead of me. On epigenetics, RNA/DNA chemistry, and animal physiology, I was hopelessly outclassed. Bob is not ignorant. And it is pretty clear he is neither stupid nor insane. He came across, in fact, as extremely intelligent. So perhaps he is wicked? Well, despite a brush with the law a few years ago, I am sure he is nothing of the sort. Comments such as those made by Dawkins only further undermine the presumption of good faith on the part of creationists and Darwinists.

Wow. This summary was written by James Hannum, a theistic evolutionist who has written a book about medieval history and philosophy. Enyart had to find a medieval historian to find someone who might think he was scientifically competent.

As for “a brush with the law a few years ago”, that’s painting lightly over the facts. Enyart has a history of law-breaking derangement. He was an activist with Operation Rescue and was frequently arrested for his, shall we say, vigorous protesting style. He was divorced, and was later convicted of child abuse for beating a girlfriend’s son — he’s very big on beating up children. He was most recently arrested for trespassing at Focus on the Patriarchy — they weren’t conservative enough for him, having endorsed John McCain for the presidency.

I think it’s safe to say that Enyart is both insane and wicked. Ignorant, too, and maybe even stupid. I tried listening to the Enyart-Hannam discussion for evidence of his knowledgability about biology, but I’m sorry — tl;dl. It’s mostly Hannam and Enyart fawning over each other and not talking about biology, which neither know anything about anyway. I did hear enough to learn that Enyart is a young earth creationist and Biblical literalist, which is enough to indicate that he’s pretty damned ignorant.

So I poked around to see if I could find something shorter and clearer in which Enyart would demonstrate some scrap of sense about science. And what did I find? A mutual backslapping session between Bob Enyart and Jerry Bergman! Listen and be amused — it’s like a two-stooges routine.

Of course they start by being awed by Jerry Bergman’s NINE DEGREES, as if they indicate some great intelligence. Sorry, guys, you’ve got it backwards. A graduate program is a training program that culminates in the award of a degree — it is not an accomplishment to require multiple education attempts. Somehow, I think that if I mentioned that I had a bike with training wheels for a month or so when I was six, Jerry Bergman would try to top me by claiming that he kept his training wheels on his bike for 9 years, and is currently getting it fitted with a new set.

They then spent some time talking about vestigial organs, one of Bergman’s favorite topics, because he thinks if he finds some tiny function for an organ, it’s proven to be non-vestigial. This has never been the criterion for assessing whether an organ is vestigial or not, and Charles Darwin himself was very clear on the topic.

An organ, serving for two purposes, may become rudimentary or utterly aborted for one, even the more important purpose, and remain perfectly efficient for the other.

Bergman tried flailing away on this hobby-horse during our debate, too. All it tells us is that he doesn’t understand evolution.

Another topic discussed was sexual selection, in reference to the peacock’s tail. Bergman doesn’t believe in it! And worse, he lied shamelessly about the science, claiming that peacock tails have no influence on female mate choice, when exactly the opposite is true. Enyart really revealed the depth of his competence in evolution when he claimed that these fancy patterns on tails were evidence against evolution because…well, look at his analogy.

If tattoos become really popular so that women are attracted to men who have tattoos, how long will that be the fad before kids start being born with tattoos? When is that going to happen? How stupid could Darwin be and all the world full of evolutionists?

Oh, gosh, I guess that settles it, then — how dare all those scientists believe so fervently in the inheritance of acquired characteristics?

Sorry, Bob Enyart, I won’t be debating you. I don’t respect you in the slightest, and I’m not going to give you an opportunity to claim parity. You’re a raving loony!