Last night I went to Skeptics in the Pub, London, as usual, but ended up doing something out of character. I left a few minutes into the talk because I thought the speaker was talking such utter rot, not only was it pointless me continuing to listen, but it would actually have a negative impact on me. That is, it would put me in a crappy mood for the rest of the night, and would make me despair slightly about the state of lunacy in the UK and elsewhere. I simply chose to not listen. I don’t think it’s right to blind and deafen oneself to arguments one finds unpalatable, but in this case I made an exception.
The speaker wasÂ Paul TaylorÂ from Answers in Genesis, a ‘brave’ Creationist and ex-science teacher who had agreed to face a skeptic crowd even though, as he acknowledged, he was unlikely to convince us of anything and vice versa. He was affable enough, but the first thing out of his mouth was such utter rot, I had to just throw up my hands and walk. This is what he said, more or less:
A BBC poll indicates that only 49% of the British public believe evolution is the origin of life. Given the theory of evolution has been around for over 150 years, doesn’t that tell us something?
Yes, he started his talk by citing an opinion poll. Then he made the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard, that the popularity or understanding of a scientific theory amongst the public may somehow be a reflection on its trueness. Finally, as my friend pointed out, if we’re playing that game, his theory of the origin of life is over 2000 years old and yet Christianity is less popular than ever in the UK, and worldwide is hardly the biggest religion. If he wants to use the outcome of a popularity contest as evidence, Christian Creationism automatically fails.
At this point I left.