Why bother debating with YEC's?

Browsing the forums, I’ve seen YEC’s post the same questions over and over. You reply with your answers, but they ignore everything you’ve said and regurgitate the latest junk they read from AIG or some other creationist website.

I am convinced some of them have no desire to actually learn about Evolution. Or actually read what you’re saying. It feels more like all they care about is swaying us to their YEC beliefs. While they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, even though we disagree, I can’t interact with them about these kinds of things because I find it maddening and a waste of energy.

So why do you guys bother? I am interested to hear what you say?


Some YECs are more dogmatic than others. I would never try to debate Ken Ham because he is not receptive to change or to reevaluating his positions. He’s made that clear. However, there are YECs who are intellectually honest and willing to go where the evidence takes them (Todd Wood comes to mind). And there are YECs who are just simply ignorant, or YECs by default or tradition (like I was) who, upon encountering our arguments, may actually come to embrace the evidence for the age of the earth and evolution not as a threat to the faith or the Scriptures, but as a cogent explanation of how God created.

Sometimes debating YECs can be futile, especially those who count themselves particularly wise because they spend their days reading AiG and CMI and such. The “know-it-all” types are those who, rather than needing to be shown the evidence, need to be brought down on the totem pole a few notches; humility is key. We set an example by being humble, even when they are not. If they are not humble and gracious, then they are in direct violation of the commands of Scripture. That’s a heart issue, not a knowledge issue; that’s not something you can debate.

So it boils down to what type of person we’re dealing with. I have not been given the ability to judge thoughts and intentions, so I try to think the best of everyone. I will engage YECs where they are at with patience, even if they are impatient. When it finally becomes clear that we’re just wasting breath and all I’m doing is feeding an intellectual high, I’ll say goodbye and move on.

Anyway. Hopefully my rambling makes some sense.


In my experience, I have seen several YECs change their mind when presented with the evidence in a non-combative way. If they do not change their minds, they can frequently move to a more accepting view of other Christians. This is really important for the health of the Church.

Acting like adults in public with those with whom we disagree is really important. It models healthy behavior for the rest of the Church. I think this is so important that this next week I am hosting a leading YEC, John Sanford, here in STL.

One observation, for what it is worth, I would offer is that on the BioLogos forums, our tone with YECs is mixed. Sometimes (and some people), we are largely irenic and kind to YECs. Other times (and some people), we are a bit more antagonistic to YECs. This is a problem that ultimately undermines our effort to reach out to them, and we need to police ourselves here the best we can. Those that find YEC maddening should probably stay out of those threads.

It is easy to dismiss evidence from a source that is disrespectful. In the end, evidence is not nearly as important as trust. And trust cannot grow when we are rude or dismissive. The kinder we are to YECs, the harder it is to dismiss us.


I suspect you intended “non combative way” there Joshua. :slight_smile:


You have to remember that an Internet forum is not representative of people’s opinions in general. The majority of YEC who post on forums are seeking to debate. If that is the primary motivation, then of course they are here to persuade, not to learn. These, to me, are a waste of energy, so I avoid most debaters. I am interested in dialogue, so when someone actually seems to listen to what others have to say, I am glad to talk to them.

Although I am not interested in debate, I have no problem with others taking the time to “correct” erroneous facts that are broadcast here by the ignorant. In a way, it is a public service. Someone has to do it. Just not me.

1 Like

I experienced a situation this past weekend that was typical. We were at a apologetic conference, and a breakout session was on evolution. The presenter gave a good overview, but then was peppered with all the gotcha questions from the AIG handbook, and could not answer, at least answer adequately, in the short time allowed. This gave the impression to the crowd that there were no good answers, even though the questions were not very understandable to a lay audience either.
In short, to look at the title question, if you do bother, be prepared. However, I would not go out of my way to debate, and agree that responding in love is essential to the Christian witness.
If you find it maddening, I would try my best to not get into those situations.
One thing I think you can do to make interactions better is to turn those questions onto the theology rather than the science. Ask questions such as "What do you think God was trying to tell the original audience and what is he trying to tell us today in this scripture? What can you learn from these verses that make a difference in your life?


I suspect that by “acting like adults” you don’t mean that we should hit each other with broadswords, which I believe is the traditional way for adults to settle differences of opinion. Probably not the best approach here, all things considered, although it would make for interesting debates.


I know some YECs are open minded thank goodness. I wore last nights post out of frustration. I don’t tolerate being attacked for standing my ground on my beliefs. To just give it up and trust Jesus. Give up reason and logic? No.

This wasn’t on here by the way. Makes me feel like Asking questions is a form of rebellion.


I understand. We’re it not for the fact that some are driven away from Christ by the false arguments and negative mindset of some, I would say it would be best to drop the subject.

Some people find debating fun and entertaining. It isn’t personal or emotional for them. If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it. :slight_smile:

1 Like

This, to me, is why one post here (say by people like Ted Davis or Dennis Venema, … and many others here as well) is worth a thousand verbal debates. Debates showcase who is the quicker wit, most prepared, most charismatic, least distracted, having a better day at the moment, … and all manner of things totally irrelevant to the actual points being debated. Written arguments can suffer from some of the same things when done hastily, but the writer at least has (and usually takes) the opportunity to tune their words and put their best argument forward. If you’re interested in professional-wrestling style showmanship, go enjoy the debates. If you’re interested in pursuing truth and how people think about it, then look for what they write.

Another reason to write here, @Celticroots, is that even if your interlocuter is just blindly pushing all the talking points without responding in any interactive way, just dropping it and letting them have the last word might make it appear (falsely) to a potential legion of lurkers that the talking points have remained unanswered or that the pusher has silenced everybody else by some power of argument. So those here who tirelessly and doggedly refute bad claims for the thousandth time are to be commended for their tour-of-duty, and can themselves be thankful if and when others here also take it up to share the burden.


@Mervin_Bitikofer, did you get the impression that some of the more zealous posters were assigned to a thread … and were compelled to stay there by Admin requirement until the discussion suggested a new thread?

Or was that just my imagination?

If the latter, I do think being restricted to one or two posts helps focus the minds of the YEC zealot…

I dunno. It would be hard for me to distinguish between somebody deviously applying such methodologies, and the typical deep-rut message-purveyor that is all mouth and no ears (and that description can apply to any of us to varying degrees – not just people from this or that singled-out perspective, although when we begin to see more of it from one particular side …)

I’m sure there are people (again all of us to varying degrees) that make shrewd and devious choices about how and what they present here. But in the end, if they don’t eventually show the goods to back up their case, their own noise ultimately works against them. (That’s my optimistic view anyway.)

1 Like

AMEN!! We are not all clones. As far as an effective Worldview goes, there is not such thing as “one size fits all”. What counts is making a real effort to Find the Way. Personally I do not find YEC appealing, but I much prefer it to APATHY.
Al Leo

1 Like

If Ken Ham, or one of his “agents” were to start debating on these boards, I would debate them… but only to this degree:

  1. They would have to agree that Evolutionary science is a real science.

  2. They would have to agree that Speciation is a logical development of mutation, and population dynamics, if there is enough time for these natural processes to occur.

  3. They would have to agree that if speciation is a normal process, then common descent is normal as well.

Whenever we let YEC’s debate on these boards who reject 1, 2 or all 3 of these basic premises, I believe we do ourselves a big dis-service…

Friday night I had a couple, good friends of mine, over for dinner. The discussion came around to BioLogos, which I mentioned in passing as one of the new websites I had rejoined. This opened the gates. They are dear Christians. The wife is a dear soul, and raised and taught her children to believe in YEC. She is involved in home-schooling (though did not teach her kids).
I was very careful to NOT cast aspersions onto her believes. I kept saying over and over, “some people believe”, and tried to emphasize how what we believe depends upon the people who are writing the materials we read.

The point is, that they both are so indoctrinated that science is so corrupted, that there is no good thing to come out of it. It really surprised them that I was adamant that the scientists in evolution are divided between a number of philosophical camps, of which Neo-Atheists are the most vocal. Likewise I explained that YEC is the most vocal and productive in anti-science material. It cause some frowns hen I said that.

The husband gave me a challenge: Find seven good solid reasons evolution works. I likewise gave him a couple of summaries of the Creation other than material creation story, and asked him to think and pray over it.

At the end, we left the table feeling good about our discussion, and hugged each other as they left.

It was not easy, and I feel very uncomfortable because I don not want to be responsible for injuring a person’s honestly held faith, even if it is faulty in my view.

I will be posting the challenge in a new topic when I’ve got a grasp on how to state it properly.

here is a picture of the how we left the table. Note the Bible in the center :grinning:
The books underneath are Walton’s.
Ray :sunglasses:


Sounds like a good evening. We really do not break bread with one another as much as we should.

Not sure what it means for evolution “to work.” I guess he means evidence that supports evolution, though not sure. I follow another forum where a YEC listed 5 reasons the earth is young, all of which were the tired things always listed, which have been thoroughly debunked many times over, but still get trotted out. It is hard to explain that the difference is not one of perspective but that of the quality and quantity of the evidence supporting the argument.

Thanks for that one Jim.
I haven’t had the time yet to investigate the quantity and quality isse. Any summary or guides to that you can link me to?

Ray :sunglasses:

Basically, the “evidence” brought up as supporting a young earth has been addressed in places like talkorigins.org. The issues with bent rocks and geology is well addressed in the beautiful book Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth.

It seems that the arguments to those rebuttals are never really addressed by the young earth crowd, they just keep saying the same things.

1 Like

When I’m discussing the subject with YECs, quality is just about the only thing I focus on.

I tell them that it doesn’t matter how old they think the earth is, or who or what they think did or didn’t evolve from what. All that I care about is that they make sure they know what they’re talking about, and that their facts are straight — and that they make sure they’re approaching the subject honestly themselves before they start accusing “evolutionists” of dishonesty. After all, evolutionist dishonesty doesn’t reflect badly on us as Christians, but creationist dishonesty does.

Here’s one other piece of advice: suggest that they check out Reasons to Believe. I know that a lot of people round here will disagree with RTB’s stance on evolution, but I personally believe that RTB has a very valuable role to play in the debate. The fact is that evolution is much harder to understand than the age of the earth, and it takes considerable spiritual maturity and scientific expertise to understand what to make of it from a Christian point of view. Its status as a kind of political football in the culture wars is also pretty off putting too for many Christians. However, the falsehoods of young-earth are much more blatant and in-your-face, the age of the earth doesn’t have quite the same connotations in many people’s minds, and consequently there are a lot of YECs out there who are uncomfortable with evolution but who are quite receptive to the possibility of an ancient earth. This means that for an organisation such as RTB to be taking an old-earth stance without expecting them to accept evolution means that they’re not expecting them to run before they can walk.