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Hundreds gather to hear creationism, evolution debate

Chris Walker, moderator for the creationism, evolution debate, takes an audience member question on Jan. 25. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Chris Walker, moderator for the creationism, evolution debate, takes an audience member question on Jan. 25.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

One of the most debated topics in history was a topic of interest for hundreds of UBCO students and members of the public on Jan. 25.

Dr. Dan Ryder, a UBCO assistant professor of philosophy, and John Mackay, the Australian director of creation research, squared off in a two hour debate at UBCO.

Ryder, who argued in favour of the evolution theory, said his main argument was brought forward by asking Mackay how the vast majority of biologists are getting it wrong.

"How could they possibly be so wrong about where the evidence points?" asked Ryder.

Ryder, who had never debated before Jan. 25, said that a common creationist argument is that biologists are all atheists.

"But there's good data out there showing that's false," explained Ryder.

"So far nobody has really come to me with an alternative explanation for how it is that all these biologists are deluded. The alternative proposal is: No, it's the creationists that are deluded by their dogmatism."

Ryder said that the biggest problem with creationists is that many develop an "anti science attitude."

"They know that science says evolution is true, but they're sure that it's not true, so they say 'you can't trust science'."

Mackay claimed that Ryder's argument is irrelevant, noting that Albert Einstein's views were among the minority back in his day, but that didn't make him wrong.

"His (main) argument was majority is all that matters. In science, majority is irrelevant," said Mackay.

Mackay's main argument was that "truth matters."

"If we got here by accident (or) natural processes, truth wouldn't matter at all. We were created in the image of a truthful God. That's why truth matters to us all."

The Australian creation expert said the view that humans evolved from other species is false.

"In this world, what you see is what you get. No one sees evolution and all the people who believe in it are not actually doing it. Family trees are abstract and hiding behind time is hypocrisy."

The format of the debate allowed each debater to present an opening argument, then there was an opportunity for rebuttal and finally both Ryder and Mackay were allowed to ask each other one question.

This was followed by questions from the audience.

The vast majority of audience questions were posed to Mackay—rather than Ryder—after the debate. This meant that Mackay was forced to answer the question first, and then Ryder could weigh in with his opinion afterwards.

Mackay felt that he was slightly mislead unto how the question period would take place.

"The chairman had agreed, before the debate, one question for me (then) one question for Dan. But what actually happened enabled Dan to get away with murder by having the last word," said Mackay.

Ryder said he was happy with the audience response and suspected that most of the questions came "from people who were thinking this creation stuff is not believable."

One of the few questions posed to Ryder came from a little girl sitting in the front row of the UBCO lecture hall. She asked Ryder, "Why do you not believe some of the things that the Bible says?"

Ryder said some things that the Bible says are wonderful; however, some of the things simply don't fit with the rest of the puzzle—as produced by science.

At the end of his talk, Ryder offered to speak at anyone's church service. Although several creationists chatted with Ryder after the debate, he has still yet to receive an invitation to speak at any of their churches.

Although the face to face debate was only two hours, a much longer and comprehensive debate will be happening online at http://blogs.ubc.ca/markbergen.

Ryder suspects that the two-week Internet debate will begin around mid to late February.

"What really matters to me is the online follow up where we can actually talk about the issues," said Ryder.

Mackay said he hopes Ryder will produce "some facts and real arguments" so the two can have an effective debate.

Ryder is confident that he will do just that.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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