I meant to write a post on this earlier, but the Great Puppy Adventure came up, and I never got around to it. Luckily, PZ just brought it up again. Heres the deal: I think you SHOULD debate Creationists... IF you are a student.
It is an excellent learning opportunity. Oh god, not for learning Creationist Claims-- That will make you go retarded. I mean a learning opportunity for your own studies. A challenge to synthesize information youre learning in all of your classes, not just lame memorization for tests. And then you have to turn around and be able to present that information to your friends!
A student can safely disarm the problems a PhD would have debating a Creationist, with the added advantage of not having anything to lose. Students can mess up all they want-- theyre still learning! But a Professional Creationist cannot lose one point debating a kid-- theyre supposed to be the professionals. Puts a lot of pressure on the Creationist.
It pits oratory against science in a venue where you'll be judged on your rhetoric.
I think here a student would have an advantage (especially on a college campus).
- Creationists are old white men with the humor of old white men. Attempts to appeal to younger audience members looks forced and pathetic.
- A debate between a grown man and a student makes the old man look even more pathetic.
- Student bumbles some words, messes up a little, its okay. Professional Creationist bumbles, messes up, again, is pathetic.
- Student wins a point, makes the Professional Creationist look even more pathetic.
- Student learns how to give a better presentation.
It gives publicity to creationists.
"Cranky Old Man picks on local Student"
"Professional Creationist Whomped by local Student"
I dont mind either of those headlines!
Creationists can generate more lies more quickly than you can refute.
Good time to win points with rhetoric-- Student can ask his/her classmates (in the audience) which arguments they find most convincing and address only those.
Those are the claims that matter.
Debates artificially give equal time to two sides, falsely elevating creationist trivia to equality with scientific substance.
Again-- Old Man vs Student throws this off balance. If anything, it degrades the Creationist appropriately. Creationism can be refuted by a high school/undergrad/grad student, so a kid deals with it.
The debates are often used to recruit members to fundamentalist Christian organizations.
They use barbecues to recruit people too, but Im not going to stop grilling. But once again, a Professional agreeing to debate a student does not put Creationism or its proponents in a good light.
I dont think kids have anything to lose by debating a Creationist. I say they should go for it.