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Ordinarily I would say that talking about science to people who believe the Book of Genesis is fact would be a pointless waste of time and thought, but I had sort of an epiphany arising from a little internal dialog I was running with an imaginary Amish person (I've been watching TV shows about the Amish, so that's not entirely random).  This thought experiment was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed mentally having to break down science to its essence and communicate it to people who choose to avoid complex academic subjects.  I don't put words in the mouth of the imaginary other, but rather establish a pattern of argumentation on my own part that is simple, understandable to anyone, and leads inexorably to the foundational essence of science.  Now, that is not to say it would or could persuade someone who is robotic in their faith, but it would at least show sincerely devout people common sense on a level that is virtually universal.  

I should emphasize that in practice, if it were to work at all, all of this would have to be said in a spirit of respect and light-hearted conversation, not as a lecture or sermon.  In fact, a perfect opportunity to begin such a discussion is when a devoutly religious person who denies scientific understanding is proselytizing to you - at least if they themselves seem amiable rather than hostile.

1.  After making clear that you want to start out by establishing some common ground, begin with a simple question: What is 1 + 1?  If they are any kind of competent missionary for their beliefs, they will want to dispel what they view as miconceptions that believers are ignorant fools, so I wouldn't expect much evasiveness or rhetorical garnishment on this point - they'll just say 2.  

2.  Now ask them if God could make 1 + 1 be anything other than 2.  Could God make 1 + 1 equal 3?  Could he make it be 11?  Could he make the answer be orange?  Of course they will say Yes, and probably throw some Bible quotes at you.

3.  Return to their response to the original question.  When I first asked you what 1 + 1 is, you responded 2.  Why?  It could be anything at any time, right?  You believe God can intervene in this matter, and routinely does intervene in the course of events, so why would you agree with the statement that 1 + 1 = 2 if it's not really settled?  

4.  They may become thoughtful at this point, but don't count on it.  Most likely you will have to explain their own thinking to them: You said it was 2 because that is your experience and your common sense, despite the belief you've expressed that God could make it anything.  When you count one and one, you have always gotten 2.  Thus when asked by others what 1 + 1 is, you will say 2 as a matter of fact.

5.  Extend the point a bit further, setting up an eventual contrast with how they respond to certain scientific subjects.  If a child you were teaching wrote that 1 + 1 is 2 on a math test, you would not mark their answer wrong, I assume?  And if their answer on a test was that 1 + 1 = Whatever God Says It is, would you mark that correct and give them the same credit as the child who marked 2?  Or would you believe the child was just trying to hide the fact that they hadn't paid attention in class?  

They might begin to hesitate at this point and sense that you may be leading things in a direction they don't want to go, so don't be surprised or distracted if they start to throw in tangential or even completely irrelevant Bible quotes as a smoke screen to break the momentum of your points - but at this point they aren't sure where you're going with it, so you should be able to get them to take a firm position on the question.  If there is any spark of adult intelligence in their heads - and it is a fact, though baffling, that not all Creationists are morons - their answer will be that they would mark the answer 2 correct and the answer Whatever God Says It Is incorrect.

6.  Appeal to their sense of authority, which is very strong among the religious.  If it were you taking a math test and came across a very complicated question you didn't entirely understand, would you expect to receive credit for answering "God only knows"?  Since they have already said they would mark such an answer wrong if they were a teacher, they will have to say No - or if they are dim enough to say Yes, you can point out the conflict with their earlier statement.  Would you trust the teacher who says the answer is 4.5, even if you did not understand their explanation for why that's the answer?  They will most likely answer Yes.  

7.  Now bring the point home.  What if they tell you the equation you didn't understand describes the age of the Earth, and the 4.5 answer corresponds to billions of years?  We've agreed that you are willing to set aside your religious beliefs in favor of your knowledge, reason, and experience when asked what 1 + 1 is.  You are also willing to set them aside when dealing with purely abstract questions you don't understand or when asking someone more knowledgeable than you about it.  So why are you not able to do that when literally every scientist in the world - people who know more math than most people can even imagine, and spend their entire lives using it to discover things about nature - tells you that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that all living things including human beings developed through a process of evolution?    

If 1 + 1 = 2 is correct in all practical terms despite your devout belief in divine intervention, how can you justify brushing off the conclusions of people with far more advanced skills than you?  Why can't you acknowledge that insofar as 1 + 1 = 2, even though you believe it might not be, it is also just as correct to say that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and all life evolves despite your faith in the Book of Genesis?  You cannot have it both ways: Either it is blasphemous to say that 1 + 1 = 2, or it and every other conclusion that follows from human logic and scientific inquiry are perfectly compatible with your faith.  If you can believe that God can make 1 + 1 = 3 and yet still understand and say that it equals 2, then you can believe in Genesis for whatever "spiritual truth" you see in it and still understand and acknowledge the facts of planetary formation and human evolution.

Obviously you're not going to convince any of these people right then and there, and they might politely disagree and end the conversation; or storm off in a huff; or become hysterical and start vomiting hellfire and brimstone verses at you.  But I think any of them with even the dimmest spark of human intelligence flickering in their brains would remember and ponder your conversation for a long time to come, and in a few of them, additional thoughts would bloom.

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Comment Preferences

  •  numerology might (not) work outside of base 10 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Bob Love

    to get people to disbelieve their tenets of faith http://www.matematicasmisticas.com/...

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:49:39 PM PST

  •  I've been doing it wrong. (13+ / 0-)
    In fact, a perfect opportunity to begin such a discussion is when a devoutly religious person who denies scientific understanding is proselytizing to you
    I usually begin by telling them that teaching hell to children is child abuse. It usually stops them in their tracks.
  •  Possible in Principle, Arguing Purely From Their (10+ / 0-)

    own beliefs.

    It's well represented in scripture that God sees and understands in ways people do not. And the final word from God when ejecting Adam & Eve from Eden was that we would have to make our way in the world by the sweat of our brow.

    This creates the opening, entirely within their own frame, for them to accept both religious and scientific views about the creation or anything else where there is a conflict in claims.

    6 day creation can be literally true, but we simply are not able to see it that way ourselves when we study the world with the sweat of our brows. It looks to us like billions of years, and that conclusion enables us to learn more about the world as we are able to see and manipulate it.

    There's no necessity for them to abandon their belief if only they will confine it to ultimate truth that's beyond the everyday abilities and reality of humans.

    I don't see that they will however. They don't want sentences that contradict scripture being accepted in any sphere. They don't want to live together in our society, they want to rule.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:02:46 PM PST

  •  Very logical. (7+ / 0-)

    Proving that you still don't understand these people. They do not wish to follow logic, and have steadfastly decided against logic many times in their lives. So they're not going to fall for this. They want to live in their illogical fantasy world, and all this logic is the work of the devil to them (as is carbon dating).

    •  I think I meant people who *happen* to believe (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, memiller, Translator

      in Genesis because of culture - not people who are personally fanatical.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:22:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do You Know Such People? (5+ / 0-)

        Biblical creation is just that, it's a teaching of a religion, in fact fanatical religion. Non-fanatical religion doesn't teach it, non-fanatical schools don't teach it. The opposite is taught in non-fanatical schools beginning I think at the elementary level, certainly by middle school.

        I don't see that there's a cultural path to biblical creation other than fanatical religion.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:37:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've met tons of such people. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          memiller, Translator, Ahianne

          Folks are dumb.  Most people's understanding of human origins - at least in this country - are an incoherent stew of the Bible, New Age gibberish, and X-Files episodes.  Those who grew up in devoutly religious households may just assume the Bible is reality without putting any particular thought into it.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:02:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Either you're using "fanatical" atypically (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          memiller

          or you don't understand how widely people vary in their internalization of, and interpretation of, Biblical teachings.

          Short form: that isn't remotely true.

    •  Mandela won by removing people's fears (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      If you read what these people have to say with an empathetic but analytical eye, the apparent explanation is that they're afraid of being in a moral void.

      In their eyes, unless we're the special creation of a lawgiving God, there's no basis for any morality. If we're "just" evolved assemblies of matter, they don't understand why we'd be bound by any more ethical code than a toaster has.

      This explains apparently bizarre statements like blaming school shootings on the teaching of evolution.

      That's the root of it, and if you try to use reason against a gut moral reaction, you might as well try to stop a freight train by barking at it.

  •  Or try multiplication: 222 x 3 =??? Kidding! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, Troubadour, Roadbed Guy

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

    by plankbob on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:05:55 PM PST

  •  Unfortunately, (6+ / 0-)
    Obviously you're not going to convince any of these people right then and there-
    Unfortunately, you are not going to convince any of these people ever.

    They have faith.  Faith is the belief in the unbelievable - and the more unbelievable the more faith.

    It isn't helped by sources like the "history" channel playing Chariots of the Gods, or as they did yesterday, a bizarre "history" of Jesus with the sun standing still in the sky, etc.

    Like you, I would rather live in a world where the laws of physics were constant. But they would not.

    Regarding your post- I applaud your attempts to speak rationally to unraational people- but I think that if any of them had thought about their "faith" for a moment they would recognize the internal contraditions.  They don't care.

    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

    by BPARTR on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:06:40 PM PST

  •  I've tried variations on this but they're nothing (4+ / 0-)

    if they aren't stubborn. My favorite are the ones who deny carbon dating EXCEPT when they're convinced it shows some part of the Bible to be true.

    Them: "See! See! The Dead Sea Scrolls... blah, blah"
    Me: "But the only way we know the scrolls are really that old is carbon dating which also shows Cro-Magnon living 100,000 years before your Bible says they could"
    Them: "Well THAT is just bad science, the stuff we like is good science"
    Me: "Groan."

    Yes, they really can hold two completely contradictory ideas in their heads and not care about it. You can't persuade or argue once that condition exists. They believe what they want and will not accept any outside authority/fact/evidence.

    To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

    by ontheleftcoast on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:23:47 PM PST

  •  Have you actually used this technique? (5+ / 0-)

    From your intro, I gather not.

    Now let's say for the sake of argument that I am an educated Fundamentalist -- not a contradiction in terms, by the way -- and you tried to use your technique on me.

    What is 1+1?

    An arithmetic expression.

    No, no, I meant, what is the value of 1+1?

    Oh. Why didn't you say so in the first place? Anyhow, it is 2, by convention.

    Could God make 1+1 equal 3?

    No, of course not, because the meaning of words in English, and the structure of arithmetic, are things devised by human beings, and lie in the realm of freedom granted by God to human beings, as it says in Gen. 2:19b "...He brought [the beasts and birds] to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name."

    Your move......

    Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

    by memiller on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:33:37 PM PST

    •  I wasn't expecting to run into a theologian, FFS. (4+ / 0-)

      Nor have I.  Ever.  Nor have I met anyone who has, as far as I know.  I have, however, run into plenty of people who don't accept human origins or the age of the Earth because they're religious.

      But accepting the challenge of your hypothetical fundie theologian, the value of an arithmetical expression is not in itself definitive - it is a conclusion resulting from the magnitudes of numbers and the operations applied to them.  The relationships between numbers that comprise mathematics are not human inventions, but demonstrably reflect the physical world.

      You cannot be a Fundamentalist if you deny that God can arbitrarily alter such relationships.  Doesn't the Bible say Jesus manage to feed a huge crowd of people with just the food in a little basket?  Whether it was the amount of food put in the basket, the amount of food taken out of the basket, or the amount of volume within the basket relative to its physical dimensions, some mathematical relationship had to have been fundamentally altered in that location to permit such an event.  So if you believe that happened, then you must believe math is divinely arbitrary.

      Either the story is bullshit (obviously it is), or somewhere in that basket 1 + 1 equaled something other than 2.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:56:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Leopold Kronecker: (5+ / 0-)

        "God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man."

        The question of whether mathematical concepts are discovered or invented, or both, is a fascinating one, but takes us a bit far afield.

        Certainly it seems clear that mathematical structures do reflect the physical world, as you say. But God did not necessarily change the equivalence relation in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, rather, He had His "thumb on the scale", i.e. created something new, which does not affect the operation of mathematics any more than introducing a new variable affects the prior validity of an equation.

        Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

        by memiller on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:21:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Adding something new (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          memiller, majcmb1

          would destabilize the entire universe unless it was balanced with some divine "creative accounting."

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:50:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmm.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            penguins4peace, Troubadour, majcmb1

            How do you know that?

            Conservation of Energy (sum of matter and energy in the universe if fixed) is really a principle which is posited because when we look very closely in every way we can, we fail to find an exception to it. We do not 'prove' it by deriving it from something else, such as that a violation would 'destabilize' the universe.

            In fact, mass/energy could in fact be 'leaking' in from a neighboring 'universe' of the multiverse. And in any case, a miracle is an interruption of the normal laws of physics by definition, and God tends to not do them :) when/where scientists are watching.

            Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

            by memiller on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:08:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  To create something new (0+ / 0-)

              you'd have to introduce a past, present, and future for it, with all of the cascading worldline consequences of that, and all the creative accounting that would be needed to balance them out.  Failing to provide a past - i.e., just arbitrarily interfering at a single point in spacetime - would just add more work to the book-cooking.

              In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

              by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:36:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  In any case, the core of the rest of your argument (4+ / 0-)

        is:

        Why can't you acknowledge that insofar as 1 + 1 = 2, even though you believe it might not be, it is also just as correct to say that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and all life evolves despite your faith in the Book of Genesis?
        I (let alone our hypothetical Fundamentalist) do not see the force in this argument, analogizing as it does two fundamentally :) different types of things. You seem to be making an argument from authority.

        When I have these kinds of conversations -- and I have had many, over the years -- first I establish that the person is willing to spend a good bit of time with me, several hours at least, otherwise I don't bother. Then I lead them through evidence I am intimately familiar with myself (my degree is in geology, with a second major in math). I don't make any argument that I can't break down into small pieces, each of which I have evidence for directly at hand.

        If someone is not willing to accept the truth of something I state from direct knowledge, such as the sequence of certain rock layers I have examined, well, that is the end of the discussion. And many of these discussions do end with the person unwilling to follow me down the road lit by the common light of reason. But I've had my successes, too.

        And I don't mean to be overly critical of your technique. Try it out, and see where it leads. But as others have pointed out here, there is no 'magic bullet' knock-down argument that will lead unreasoning people to reason. And i know you were not claiming that.

        Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

        by memiller on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:38:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Authority is persuasive to religious people. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          penguins4peace

          It's their own sense of authority that allows them to assert that 1 + 1 = 2 without feeling blasphemous, and would accept the word of someone who knows more than they do on most subjects, but then they actively deny the conclusions of the world's smartest and most accomplished scientists who are millennia ahead of them in math and physics when the subject is related to human origins and planetary formation.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:02:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Think At This Point In Your Hypothetical (3+ / 0-)

            discussion you may be told, arithmetic and other 'old' science aside, modern science has been corrupted by liberal, secular feminists/communists/atheists bent on denying God.

            The "proof" of this is, of course, "all around us," i.e., the divorce rate, abortion, crime, and general debauchery.

            Their fear of the changes that are all around them is driving their desperate clinging to plain nonsense.  You just can't reason with fearful people who eventually identify you as an untrustworthy threat (liberal secularist) to their artificially constructed peace of mind.

  •  You make the assumption (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, majcmb1, Translator

    That these people have long attention spans.  

    Besides, after it's all over and you walk away, they will tell themselves that the Devil sent you to confuse them.  

    •  You don't know what doubts and thoughts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      memiller, Translator, Ahianne

      might already be present.  Even if the idea that you're evil comes to them, it's not certain they would accept it - it might lead to honest reflection.  People leave fundyism all the time, and are replaced by fresh meat who fall into the mental prison out of fear, pain, or hate.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:15:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Thought They Usually Leave For Emotionally (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, ruscle

        based reasons like seeing or suffering abuses in or by the Church.

        I suppose with the increased use of fundie curricula, ambitious students may be frustrated and angry enough about the lies they wasted years learning to leave the faith for logical reasons.  I've just not heard many of those stories.  

        •  Again, you don't know what kind of emotional (0+ / 0-)

          motives might be present, and your logic could empower or hasten them.  Logic is not a motive on anyone's part - all of us are driven by fundamental instincts and emotions.  Even people who stick close to rationalism do so for emotional reasons - fear of chaos, hatred of lies, a desire to feel smart, aesthetic appreciation for the beauty of nature, etc.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 09:00:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Won't work, here's why (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    They will deny #7

    So why are you not able to do that when literally every scientist in the world - people who know more math than most people can even imagine, and spend their entire lives using it to discover things about nature - tells you that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that all living things including human beings developed through a process of evolution?
    by responding something like this

    "Ah, but every scientist in the world does NOT agree on these things. There is great disagreement, in fact. The supposed fossil record could be many things. And the theory of evolution is just a theory, and is easily disproven. There is no consensus in science on these matters, and there is a lot of evidence which supports my viewpoint."

    Where do you go from there?

    •  Go back to the 1 + 1 point. (0+ / 0-)

      They believe 1 + 1 could be anything, and now they're saying the fossil record could be anything, but they still answer that 1 + 1 = 2 and science still says human evolution is a fact and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  If they can accept that 1 + 1 = 2 while believing it could be anything, they should be able to accept the rest of human knowledge as well without feeling threatened by it.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:06:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To the nearest bar n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    Watching Mitt's strategy is what it looks like when you try to put an etch a sketch in a centrifuge.

    by AppleP on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:31:20 PM PST

  •  Uh..., (0+ / 0-)

    I had to stop at this bit:

    2.  Now ask them if God could make 1 + 1 be anything other than 2.  Could God make 1 + 1 equal 3?  Could he make it be 11?  Could he make the answer be orange?  Of course they will say Yes, and probably throw some Bible quotes at you.
    In actual fact, mainstream theism, including classical Christianity, holds that God cannot and would not perform a logical contradiction since it would violate God's own pre-eminently rational nature.  So God could not make 1 + 1 = 3.
  •  erm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    Math is not science. 1+1=2 is not science.

    bla bla formal system bla bla model bla bla domains of applicability bla bla popper bla bla models bla bla

    Ah, who cares, nobody gets it anyway.

  •  Starting from a huge assumption there. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    Because 1+1 = 2 is an agreement that makes arithmetic work. If you change your base numbers, that's not true.

    Mathematics as a whole is based on a lot of assumptions on which we all agree. Now, they seem to work, so it's all good. But it is wrong to say the basis is "fact." Mathematics is based on agreement of how the numbers work. It's not gravity, wherein believe or don't believe, you're still stuck on the ground.

    www.stacysmusings.wordpress.com

    by Magenta on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:34:00 PM PST

    •  It can be proven that there is a mathematical (0+ / 0-)

      object, a set actually, that you could label 1, and another set you could call 2, and a formally defined operation you could call + , that satisfies, +(1,1)=2, or 1+1=2. No matter what happens in the world, it will be evident to any mathematician, from any planet or universe, that 1+1=2.

      The things mathematicians agree upon, axioms, are generally not that controversial, at least not the axioms necessary to prove 1+1=2.

    •  This is why it's so hard to communicate (0+ / 0-)

      math and science to laymen, nevermind the dim bulbs who populate devout religion: Because people who know they're talking about just can't control themselves from making every possible logical distinction, no matter how confusing and irrelevant it would be to enlightening someone about the overall picture.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 09:08:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You try in a very valient (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Troubadour

    fashion, but, I fear, to no avail.  But both of us will keep trying!

    Happy Christmas to you and yours, and please know that my new family want me to be included with all of their festivities!  That is the first time in several years that I feel wanted, and included, again.  It feels nice to be part of a family again!

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:35:00 PM PST

  •  You may be giving folks. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    too much credit for science and/or math. I sense and see logic in your 'fun' approach intended to serve notice to Creationist folks who shun science AND logic for the most part. Indeed, I think there are many non Creationist types out there who can't comprehend syllogisms and the like. For me, I'd say leave it to another matter and approach to common sense (albeit the use of the word is becoming less common these days). What is my approach? You need only a world map or globe and begin the lesson with plate tectonics based on Wegener's Continental Drift Theory introduced to the world in the 1920s. Specifically, plates can only move so far and so fast (oxymoron, folks, because they drift across the lithosphere at an astonishing slow pace), and an average few centimeters does it for most continental plate fragments. But the fact is plates do move. Behold mountain ranges, earthquakes and volcanoes as a direct result. Now, if Creationism's fundamentalism holds the world to a mere 6,000 or so years. . .then this large and small fragments that once were joined (i.e., the supercontinent "Pangea") sometime toward the close of the Paleozoic Era, then broke up sometime early on into the Mesozoic Era, how did this happen so fast, like overnight? Of course, you will have to delve into the aspects of how and why plates move, but always keep in mind the simple fact from Pangea's event to the present. . .the timeline is still roughly 300 million years ago to the contemporary plate arrangement depicted on maps and globes. Well, I don't want to mess about with your innovative approach to math and such. Just that it's easier to teach most people (with open minds) why the planet is roughly 4.2 to 4.3 billion years in the making and supercontinents have been rearranging the continental and oceanic plates ever since. Ciao and cheers (or chow and beers...your call)!

    Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

    by richholtzin on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 05:29:04 AM PST

  •  Get thee behind me, Satan. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    just kidding. However, that's what my Mom would say.
    However, she's what I consider a "true believer."
    She doesn't believe in the "literal" truth of the Bible, she just believes in the power of Christ to help her through her most difficult times.
    She and my Dad have said their prayers every night of their life, and read the Bible every morning, along with the Upper Room.
    She doesn't doubt the sense of evolution or the understanding that the universe is billions of years old.

    Creationists are not really true believers. They are plagued by doubt, and project their own lack of faith onto others out there (like scientists) who they see as a threat to their faith. Creationism is a wall that is built out of obstinancy and ignorance against that lack of faith. Unfortunately, for them, the lack of faith is really within.

    The act of recognizing their own lack of faith and accepting their doubts is more traumatic for these people who are more obsessed with building this fortress of stubborn irrationality.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 06:24:32 AM PST

  •  Explain Scientific Method instead (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    memiller, Troubadour

    I think a lot of people don't know what the scientific method really is and since it was designed to bring rational thinking to a world riven with Religious strife, this could still be a useful tool.

    Most people, including, in my experience, most Religious people, believe that math is not in conflict with the bible. I would be surprised to find anyone willing to say that 1+1 may not equal 2. On the other hand, I know plenty of people that think that science is a faith, like a religion and that scientific facts are on equal footing with Religious dogma.

    Without going into too much detail, I would use the following sequence:

    1. Say that I'd like to start from a point of agreement and build from there.

    2. Figure out a good place to start from. For example, something falls when dropped.

    3. Science is all about figuring out these kinds of rules. Only things that can be reproduced by others is accepted. Only things that can be shown to fail are valid.

    4. Science does not dispute that there could be a God, and many famous scientists, including Darwin, were deeply Religious.

    The sticking point often seems to revolve around  reading the bible literally or reading it as a series of metaphors. Most people with divinity degrees that I've talked to understand the bible as stories with a purpose, rather than literal truth.

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