Responding to atheistic opposition
Underhanded tactics include attempted censorship
Published: 4 December 2014 (GMT+10)
We often get asked for our response to some atheist critique of an article we have published. For example, I have been asked to respond to an atheist ‘wiki’ website that has an article that claims to rebut my article Age of the earth: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe. Correspondents have asked me to rebut the (supposed) rebuttal.
I have replied as follows.
I am very much aware of the wiki article; the fans of the website made it their business to make sure I knew about it (I got ~100 emails from them when it went up). It appeared that not many of them actually read my article at all carefully, or any of the linked supporting articles. The agenda of such fanatical atheists (‘new atheists’) is to ‘search and destroy’ (faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour), not to ‘seek and find’.
If we responded in detail,
- It would be giving their diatribe unmerited publicity.
- It would be ‘baptising’ it with credibility by commenting on it. This would not be appropriate if their criticisms were not actually valid due to not reading my article properly in the first place.
- How would I respond? Generically? Point-by-point? The former wouldn’t be very useful and the latter would be awfully time-consuming as well as tedious for readers, especially if just rehashing the content of my original article.
- A wiki article is always changing, so I would be forever being told that my response is ‘out of date’.
- In the same light, my article is a work in progress. If I discover any weak arguments, I replace them with better ones (I have many more than 101 evidences and I am continually collecting them). I would rather them be chasing to keep up with my article rather than the other way around (there is so much to do …). When it’s all said and done, my article was the original, not their ‘many cooks-spoiled-the-broth’ one.
- We are an information ministry. At the time of writing our site contains over 9,000 articles. It is not our job to comment on every atheist blog or video out there. We already have enough information to deal with their claims. If some new article appears with some new scientific information or claim we haven’t heard before, then we usually respond in good time.
Various claims of the wiki article are dealt with in my responses to comments at the end of the article. This includes my supposedly not citing original sources, which is of course nonsense. Being a wiki, with different parts contributed by different people, most of their supposed refutations totally ignored my introductory remarks, which set out the rationale, which is not just to ‘prove the earth is 6,000 years old’, which I actually said could not be done with science (which can only involve measurements done in the present), but also casting serious doubt on the billions of years belief system (arguments against an old age are also, rather obviously, arguments for a younger age, although not necessarily a specific age). For example, with point #13, the observations regarding the Kaibab Upwarp at Grand Canyon wipe out 480 million years of evolutionary time. That does not prove that the earth is 6,000 years old but it clearly knocks a big hole in the deep time myth and argues towards a biblical time-frame.
The fact that the atheist wiki crowd saw fit to try to refute my article underlines how a very old earth is a fundamental tenet of faith for the atheist—with the fallacious reasoning that ‘given enough time anything is possible’. Deep time has been a necessary element of the naturalism myth since pre-Christian times; see The long story of long ages.
If you have someone who has thrown this at you, or something similar, I suggest that you first need to get them to engage with the arguments, not just throw a website link at you. In this example, you could hold their feet to the fire and pick a couple of the strongest of the 101 evidences and ask them to explain to you where the argument is wrong (it should not be hard to see where the wiki contributor has resorted to logical fallacies such as equivocation, appeals to authority, or ‘shoot the messenger’). And then refuse to move on until they have explained in detail any actual fault with the argument. Don’t be on the defensive but put the onus on them. If they come back with a copy-and-paste of the wiki ‘refutation’, ask them to explain to you how the cited wiki material actually overturns the argument. You need to get the skeptic to think for himself, rather than just parrot responses from an atheopathic website, which is an all too common tactic designed to overwhelm the average Christian (and CMI). This happens because most people assume evolution to be true, deferring to ‘experts’ rather than thinking for themselves. Why wouldn’t they? Our public education system only teaches one view. To repeat, it is also good to nail down the respondent to agree on a point before allowing a change of subject; see Anyone for tennis?
Be skeptical of Skeptics
Here is a rule when dealing with atheistic websites (or any that push materialism): do not believe any claim unless you check it. Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:43-47) and his ‘children’ are masters at it. Time and time again I have been hit with some supposedly unanswerable argument, but when I research the matter I find that the issue has been seriously misconstrued in some way. Genuine Christians have a strong constraint to tell the truth; there are many biblical injunctions to do so (Psalm 101:7, Proverbs 6:16-19, 12:22, 19:9, Colossians 3:9-10, and many others). The atheists who haunt the Internet have no such moral constraint on bending the truth. I am not saying that all atheists are dishonest, but that they have no absolute moral standard that compels them to be consistently honest (except those who borrow from Christian morality). Many do lie, often blatantly. It seems that the end (promoting secularism) justifies any means, in their thinking. There are plenty of documented cases where frauds or lies have been used to promote evolution. See Evolutionist: it’s OK to deceive students to believe evolution and Textbook full of mistakes, misinformation, bias and … lies?
I also suggest reading all the comments and my responses at the end of the article (or the article in question). That should also give you a ‘heads up’ to some of the attempts to undo the arguments (there was plenty of opportunity for people to comment on the article and we also posted hostile comments, where they were civil enough in their language to publish).
If perchance you do find a seemingly sound argument against one of my 101, I would certainly be keen to know about it. If the refutation stacks up, I will delete the faulty argument and substitute it with another that I have in reserve for just such an occasion. And that applies to the other articles on creation.com; we want to know of any errors so that they can be corrected.
Because science is always moving on, scientific arguments come and go. We endeavour to update articles, or where they are archived articles we will put riders on them to alert readers to out-of-date arguments. We even have the article, “Arguments we think creationists should not use” to alert our fellow Christian creationists of bad arguments that float around cyberspace, often promoted by well-meaning but poorly-informed people. This is one of the most accessed articles on our website. Integrity is important.
Atheists’ underhanded tactics
Christians tend to be a bit naïve when it comes to the marketplace of ideas. Because we try to be truthful, we tend to assume that others will likewise be at pains to be truthful. We also tend to assume that our opponents will ‘play fair’, treating us with respect and not using underhanded tactics. However, we should remember that this is ultimately a philosophical debate and such ‘civilized’ behaviour is not to be assumed, particularly when we consider what’s at stake. Either we are accountable to a Creator or we are free to act as we choose. We should not be surprised then when people behave badly, especially when they assert we are just a cosmic accident with no ultimate purpose, that death is the end, and there is no judgment for wrongdoing, where doing the ‘right’ thing might be according to their stomach rumblings at the time?
We at CMI have experienced a lot of atheists playing foul. One example is the misuse of YouTube to get CMI videos banned. YouTube has a facility for flagging inappropriate material, such as videos that have pornographic images or gross violence or racial vilification, etc. It only takes three strikes and the video is de-listed. You can protest to YouTube that the flagging has been inappropriate but it can take a couple of weeks (or as in some cases, never) for re-instatement and meanwhile the momentum is lost for the promotion.
The atheists did not like our posting of the Fool’s Heart video, which sets out some of the historical consequences of atheism (such as the bloody French Revolution), and voted it down.
Trying to shut down Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels
More recently, we posted the official trailers for our new Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels (EAH) documentary. This documentary features fifteen Ph.D. scientists setting out why evolution just does not stack up. It is very powerful. EAH co-producer Dr Rob Carter describes what happened:
In January 2014, we posted the first official trailer for the EAH movie on YouTube. This was almost immediately ‘mirrored’ (pirate copies appearing on YouTube). The duplicate videos had the effect of reducing our ‘hit’ count, meaning our videos were bumped down the search list. We have had enough experience with verbal vitriol, insults and objectionable language from the opposition to know that we should turn off the comments feature for the video. Yet, the mirrored versions had comments enabled. Also, several of the mirrors were very low quality (one looked like it was filmed by a hand-held camera phone), making it look like we were creating poor-quality material. And, of course, there was no way for our supporters to know which video was legitimate, meaning that by watching one of the others they were inadvertently helping them and hurting us and being subjected sometimes to disgusting language in the comments. ‘Denial of free speech’ and claims like that were used to justify breaking copyright law. YouTube at least acknowledged our rights and they deleted the mirrors promptly. Yet the damage was done. They had blunted our momentum during those first critical days.
A concerted and well organized opposition
After we posted the second trailer in May of 2014, a skeptic blogger posted a link to the trailer with several key words listed, one of which was “crazy people”. This post was picked up and mirrored by many other blog sites, including Richard Dawkins’ site. Overnight, we had over 2,000 ‘dislikes’. Since the rank of a video in YouTube is based in part on the like/dislike ratio, this had the effect of driving the trailer off the first results page. We were happy that the skeptics were aware of our project, even if few of them actually watched the trailer, but their attention had a huge negative impact.
Not satisfied with the fact that our videos were still available online, sometime in August 2014 all of the highest-ranked EAH-associated videos were flagged as “inappropriate”. There is no reason for YouTube (owned by Google) to flag this video, except based upon complaints.
Yet, the Christian, family friendly Dove Foundation, after reviewing our documentary, gave us their highest rating, saying, “If we could award Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels more than five Doves, our best rating, we would!”
Flagging our videos as inappropriate was obviously done with malicious intent.
It has been an uphill battle, but the truth cannot be totally suppressed. We are in a war against powerful opposition. How should the Christian respond? Perhaps it would be good to heed the advice of Paul in Ephesians 6:10–11:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
And when faced with malicious intent, 1 Pet 3:9 is appropriate: Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
We cannot stop the negative feedback. We cannot change hearts (only God can). We cannot do anything but stand our ground and attempt to give the best answer we can to the challenges of the skeptics, even if they do not play by the same rules as us.
Would you like to help? You can help us by finding and ‘liking’ our videos on our YouTube channel, by joining our FaceBook page, by ordering our materials, by spreading the truth, by your generous donations, and by prayer. Our job is to provide you with the best arguments available so that you will be more confident in sharing the Good News with a dark and fallen world. Your job is to get equipped, and Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels is designed to do just that. If the opposition is determined to keep you from knowing about it, that is just more of a reason you need to order the book today (and you might as well throw in a copy for a friend)!
Robert W. Carter
The God-haters also vote against Christian books on Amazon. Lots of negative votes result in a lower listing of such pages by the search engines so they are less likely to be found. These voters don’t read the book involved; they just have to know that it is arguing effectively for the Christian faith and that is enough. The more effective the video, book or article at portraying a reasoned argument for Christ, the more concerted the negative atheist attention it will attract.
CMI’s head Facebook moderator Lita Cosner reports:
Recently Facebook put the ability to give company pages a rating. There is no way to turn this off (I looked when we realized this was added). We knew it was only a matter of time until the atheists realized they could bombard our Facebook page with 1-star reviews, and that happened last night, dragging our rating way down to 2.5. I mobilized our fans to bring our rating back up and to report the fake reviews. Facebook hasn’t taken anything down yet, but the positive reviews more than undid the damage of the bombardment of fake reviews (as I write this, it is 4.2 out of 5).
The next day Lita reported:
Overnight, the whole thing absolutely exploded. Nearly 300 5-star reviews, and 150 1-star reviews. The atheists are fighting back, but they’ve only been able to bring our rating down to 3.5 this time.
You can help!
If you are on Facebook, or other social media, please get onto our posts and ‘Like‘ them, but also give our CMI page a good review rating. When you read an article or view one of the videos on creation.com that you like, be sure to share it with others on whatever social media you are on, or just share it by email with your friends (there is a bar above the title of the article to make this super easy; see illustration below). The more that this happens, the higher the website will rank and then the more people will find it when they search the Internet for information about creation or evolution. And people will get saved, because ‘the truth sets free’.
Be active, that is, outvote the atheists! This will help greatly in us getting the message out via the Internet.
Thanks for standing with us against atheist attempts to silence the truth of God’s creating and redeeming work in history.