Yesterday I attended a speaking conference with some good friends of mine, one of whom was competing. I will probably be in on the fall edition so I went to get a feel for the competition, amount of spectators present and to meet people but in the end it was a debate I had with one of the keynote speakers that was most memorable.
‘Michael’ (as we will call him because that was his real name ) has a Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling or some related branch thereof. He attempted a humorous speech entitled “Welcome To The Monkey House” and, after citing the title of his speech as a book by Kurt Vonnegut, proceeded to explain how animals (giving citations of vampire bats, hippos and wolves… what could go together better than vampire bats, hippos and wolves?) have a moral code, a system for right and wrong and imposed consequences. He referred to all of us in the room as mindless apes and from there jumped to the conclusion (so obvious to him) that we humans derived all sense of right and wrong from the evolutionary whim of the animal kingdom. Here I’d like to make two points.
#1- I’m a Christian. I believe in a Creator and intelligent design and as such I find it quite insulting to insinuate that my great great great great great (ad infinitum) grandma was a self replicating piece of crap. Isn’t that like the worst “Yo Momma” joke of all time?
#2- Isn’t it usually an insulting term to call someone a mindless ape? Now I KNOW that many of you will disagree with the content of this post (it’s the world we live in) but this blogger isn’t afraid of controversy or its repercussions. You guys have class and can debate in a worthwhile, discovering manner. Don’t prove me wrong.
Now, (getting back to my story) I had the opportunity to seek him out afterwards and after tapping him on the shoulder saying (and I quote) “Very intriguing speech and delivery. The only downside is that I disagree with 110% of what you said and the thought process that got you there.”
He humored me and within seconds a friendly conversation had escalated to heated debate. We took it out of the conference room, up the elevator and into the building’s foyer tracking back to the origin of moral law, the contradiction between evolution, Divine creation and the ever-present law of entropy etc. I won’t bore you with the tit for tat details but in the end the argument was reduced to this.
Me: “So you’re saying that no one actually knows how nothing became something?”
Him: “Well, the cellular structure of self replicating amoebas…”
Me (slightly interrupting): “So you have no answer for the beginning? The inception of everything we know?”
Him: “Well no one knows that but if I’m given a choice of A) A beginning to the world involving matter alone versus B) Matter + a divine being, I’m going to choose A every time.”
Me: “So you’re saying the world created itself? You see this wall? You said earlier that you and I could agree that this wall exists. It’s a fact and not an opinion correct?”
Me: “When you looked at this wall, you didn’t say ‘Oh what a random product of spontaneous molecular combustion! I must report this as the eighth wonder of the world!’ did you?”
Him (laughing): “No, I didn’t.”
Me: “It stands to reason that someone built this wall right? You have a degree, you know how complicated a cell is. Things like a cell and this wall don’t just happen. You’re criticizing faith and yet you don’t even know how ‘the big bang’ started’. It takes every bit as much faith for you to believe what you do as for me to believe what I do. What if you’re wrong? What if my answer to how the world started is more plausible than you drawing a blank? “
Him (*thinking* and then): “Well it IS a possibility but not one I want to believe.”
Me: “That’s what it comes down to, I’ve made my point and that’s all I can do. Nice talking with ya Michael, gotta run!”
My ride was waiting for me and that was all the time I had but both the conversation and the pondering look on Mike’s face as I left him gave me a satisfaction peculiar to my usual arguments. I wasn’t trying to ‘convert’ him, far from it. I was testing his belief and sharpening my knowledge and communication skills by asking and provoking questions. I always hold to the Dale Carnegie quote that “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Debating always has, and always will be, an adventure and an opportunity to devastate the obvious.