[Originally published as How not to Talk About Evolution]
Since the Smithsonian published an article in 2018¹ telling people how to attempt to brainwash their evangelical friends and neighbors into believing in evolution, we figured we could educate atheists on how not to talk about evolution. After all, as the saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander right?
So here is how not to talk about evolution, courtesy of the Smithsonian.
The primary thing not to do when talking about evolution is exactly what the Smithsonian does in the article:
This is literally the most common way evolutionists talk about evolution and it is one the Smithsonian embraces. They quote a professor at Mormon university Brigham Young who says about her students,
If they don’t accept it as being real, then they’re not willing to make important decisions based on evolution—like whether or not to vaccinate their child or give them antibiotics.
Notice what this professor has done. She is claiming that vaccines and antibiotics are based on evolutionary advances. This is pure equivocation.
The first vaccine was invented by Louis Pasteur, a creationist, and the man who disproved the long-held spontaneous generation myth that evolutionists still hold to today. Whatever your opinions on vaccines today, claiming they have anything to do with evolution is specious.
The antibiotic reference is slightly more understandable in the evolutionary paradigm as they use antibiotic-resistant bacteria as evidence all the time.
This is where equivocation comes in. There are two definitions of evolution being used here.
- One is simply any changes within a population over time. No one disputes this, it happens.
- The other is the goo to you by way of the zoo evolution which is what most people think of when they hear the word.
By not defining her terms, this researcher is deliberately making people think goo-to-you happens by using an illustration of change over time. The antibiotic-resistant microbes in question remain the same species of microbe, so nothing new has developed. Further, in a normal population, where no antibiotic is present, the bacteria resistant to antibiotics are much less healthy, as their resistance is a result of a broken part of their cell.
Not what evolution needs to move forward.
The Smithsonian article also promotes the partnership between heretical theistic evolutionary group Biologos and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a purely secular science pressure group. They commend BioLogos for advancing evolution among evangelicals. What they don’t mention is the standard BioLogos operating tactics.
Look Down on Your Opponents
Anyone who has been around the origins debate for any length of time knows that theistic evolutionists and secular evolutionists operate out of the same playbook. They assume their opponents are liars, then accuse them of such because they disagree with the consensus. They do this without ever bothering to read creationist literature to understand where creationists are coming from. Worse, they do so in a massaged, academic tone which makes people think they are being charitable when in fact they are dripping venom.
The Smithsonian article then goes on to recommend a conversational approach. Rather than blasting people with facts, ask questions to get a conversation started. This may be the only decent thing in the Smithsonian article. However, for a conversation to happen, you have to be willing to give, as well as take.
In other words, those proselytizing the evolutionary dogma would need to be willing to actually listen to creationist arguments. Since they assume all creationists are ignorant, liars, or both, this will almost never happen. This means that, when they attempt conversation, it will turn out the same way their current preaching does: angry words and accusations of dishonesty, if not outright blasphemy and profanities.
Unfortunately, the problem with the origins discourse is often not that people are unwilling to listen. To be sure, there are creationists who mock evolutionists to their faces or are dishonest. However, in most cases, because of their faith, creationists tend to hold themselves and each other to a higher standard. Evolutionists tend to attempt to beat down their opponents with logical fallacies, personal attacks, and dishonest statements.
Until evolutionists are actually willing to assume that the people they are talking to are not liars and might actually have something intelligent to say, the origins discourse will not change, no matter what the Smithsonian says.