Civility?


            A few years ago I was an assistant coach to a high school debate class. One common thing that must be drilled into the heads of high school debaters is to do their best to avoid insulting the other team. I didn’t always follow this advice in high school which led to me making amazing arguments that the other team simply couldn’t refute, but losing the round because the conceited nature of my style. The point being – even if you make good arguments, it doesn’t mean a thing if people can’t see past the insults and arrogance you present.

            I now turn to the current debate over the movie Expelled. There’s a difference between being ‘quirky’ or ‘witty’ and down right insulting. Unfortunately it seems the critics of Expelled have simply helped to fulfill the accusations the movie makes against Darwinists.

“It’s completely stupid!”

“It’s idiotic!”

“Only someone who is brain damaged could possibly believe this movie!”

            These are the accusations I have heard against the movie. None of them make an actual claim against the content of the movie, other than “how dare they compare Darwinism to the Holocaust.”

            There is a great defense tactic used in court rooms that when all the testimonial evidence is stacked against your defendant, you begin to attack the people giving the testimony. It doesn’t change the facts; it simply charges that the person giving the testimony isn’t reliable.

            This, unfortunately, seems to be the tactic most often employed in the debate on naturalism vs. intelligent evolution. If you call someone “stupid” or an “IDiot” enough times, maybe people will ignore the substance of the arguments and buy into the talk-show like style of debate.

            I would ask those on the non-ID side to, instead of becoming so angry that they can’t form a coherent sentence without throwing an insult or two in there, actually treat this as an intellectual discussion between educated people. Is that really so much to ask?

            I understand that by no longer believing in a designer one’s ego is all one has left, thus one has to wrap one’s ego up in the argument one presents. At the same time, a little civility would probably go a long way.

            To my ID friends, maybe we too should think about the things we say. I know I’ve been guilty of ad hominem style attacks in the past. Being upset and mocking someone does little in the way of convincing an unconvinced public. We would be better to avoid stooping to the ‘opposing side’s’ tactics as it really gains us nothing in the end.

            Ultimately, I know that this post will do little to nothing to convince people to change their ways. I know that – if read – will end up being mocked as well, picked apart, inconsistencies shown, and the attempt will be made to show how I’m somehow a hypocrite. Even a call for peace is met with violence in this world. However, I feel it is my duty to at least ask for the chance at making these discussions a little more civil. Hopefully a few will listen and we can begin to have civil and educated discussions amongst each other. 

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