Friday, August 11, 2006

Do Not Feed the Trolls

I mentioned a trollbaiting thread I found via Bronze Dog to some people over our work e-mail chat, so we could laugh over Annie's hilariously bad arguments. One person I sent this to had the following to say in reply: [Links added to provide quick responses to some of his arguments]

I do agree that Annie defends her argument very poorly, however, I find it interesting that people stoop very low in their responses to her. I don’t think there is a need to be little (sic) a person regardless of what they believe. In reality, science has not yet produced complete and total evidence for or against evolution. I think that people are entitled to their opinion and that it should be respected as an idea that is held dear by that person no matter which side it is. I am not saying that one cannot argue against it, but rather that the manner of the argument should be carefully weighed before entered into. There is no reason to become enraged or insult another. This helps no one and will only frustrate yourself and the other person. No one will change their view because they are belittled and called a troll.

Also, as a side note, everyone who comments on the fact that they have heard all the arguments before is probably right, but the person on the other side likely has no idea that they have. Therefore, they are simply building what they believe to be a sound case on those facts, without knowing that this argument has been heard before. For instance, I do not know what arguments people have necessarily heard when arguing creation, but the people arguing evolution often say the same arguments that I have heard time and again. However, that does not mean that one needs to be little (sic) someone for using this argument, but rather it should be treated with the same dignity that it was given the first time it was heard, even if it can be easily refuted. Just a couple of thoughts…

Okay, the first paragraph is obviously stuffed full of common arguments that Bronze Dog has already addressed, but he makes a good point in the second. When I pointed out that most of the arguments she raised there had already been addressed, he replied with:

I wasn’t sure but I thought there may have been a history. However, I did not know that she had used those same cheap and pointless arguments before. Some people don’t deserve to be respected, but their right to believe what they want does. I just thought it was kind of cruel to provoke someone like that into starting a debate and then laugh at her stupidity and insult her intelligence, no matter how little there appears to be of it due to her argument. I think one of the biggest mistakes that many creationists make is using emotional arguments to try to sway another person rather than logic and reason. Then, rather simply (sic) asking to have some time to research and find a satisfactory answer when they become stumped or admit that the other person has a good and sometimes valid point, they slink away complaining and demanding that they not be persecuted. This is a sad result of people not owning their faith and taking charge of what they believe. I would bet that if you asked most of these people serious questions about their faith they wouldn’t know the answer because they haven’t ever held it dear enough in order to actually own it and figure out how to defend it intelligently.

I simply sober myself by realizing that in the end, we are not all that different in our beliefs. We believe that one day, the world came into being. Then, life started on its own or at the hands of a mighty and loving creator. Many people believe in evolutionary creationism where evolution was guided by the creator. I know that this is the big separation in our beliefs, but when it comes down to it, we both have faith in something. You have faith that the universe came into being and that life occurred and has progressed until it became man. I have faith that a creator made all of this. You have faith that the scientific evidence that these theories are based on is true and you have judged that this provides enough evidence for you to decide that that is your belief. I can respect your right to believe that even though I disagree with the ideas. I on the other hand have decided on my own, not because a pastor or my parents or a teacher shoved it down my throat, but because I want to that a Creator was involved. I believe this based on the Bible, which for me is my main source of evidence. If there is scientific evidence, I will use it and there is some though very little at all. Not really much when compared to the mound of evidence claimed by evolution. To be honest, I wouldn’t cite most of it as I don’t know that I trust it any more than I completely trust all of the evidence of evolution. I am not saying that all of it is this way, but there have been far too many frauds coming up with evolution and for creation for me to take either sides evidence at face value without extensive research into it.

For his assumptions of my faith, I pointed him to my first Why Skepticism post. Overall though, this is the type of person I like debating. He's obviously intelligent, and he takes care to provide as good of arguments as he can. He isn't already entrenched in the internet battlefield, so he doesn't see all the arguments already out there, but I can't fault him for that.

Other things I like about him:
  • Generally good grammar
  • He never drops a point; he either keeps arguing it or concedes
  • He doesn't pretend his faith is something else

Given all of this, I classify him in my most reasonable category of opponents. I still think he's wrong about religion, but I suspect that in continued debate I could plant a seed of doubt in his mind (or possibly - dare I consider it? - could realise that he has a good point).

Expect to see more thorough examinations of dropping the point and how to handle different types of people on the other side of the fence in future Distilled Wisdom posts.

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