On the Now Infamous Buzzfeed, “22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution”

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It has been amazing to see the speed at which the Buzzfeed article, “22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution,” has blown up on social media. Not only that, but the passionate response from people on both sides of the theological and scientific argument has been huge.

Click the link to see the article:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-from-creationists-to-people-who-believe-in-evolutio

Buzzfeed journalist, Matt Stopera, was live at the Nye vs. Ham debate last Tuesday. As I was making my way around the Creation Museum, taking pictures and writing notes before the debate, I saw Mr. Stopera actively working the crowd to get a balanced take and opinions from “both sides.” I did an on-camera interview for Jonathan Ryan from the, “Geek Goes Rogue,” blog on Patheos, but did not get to speak with Matt Stopera from Buzzfeed. I was impressed by his demeanor with the museum patrons and his efforts to get balanced coverage. Though the secular and non-young earth creationist contingent was in the minority at the event, it appeared easier for Matt to get “messages” from their side. As the appointed debate time drew nigh, he was still working hard to get enough message pictures from the creationist side to make the pictures even. 

Due to some things I’ve seen on social media stating that Buzzfeed was just trying to make people look stupid on the creationist side or that Matt Stopera was “leading” people in some way, I can say as a very close bystander, that is not correct. Matt would give the people who wanted to participate a marker and paper, then allow them ample time to reflect on something to write. He didn’t prompt them to write any particular thing. He told them to write anything they wanted. Also, he must have posted nearly, if not all the pictures he took, not just ones that made one side look better and the other worse. It appeared that he was able to actively interface with people from about 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. That isn’t a lot of time to get 44 people to participate in such a two-sided coverage piece, but he was able to make it happen. I was impressed.

Click the link to see the contrasting, “22 Messages For Creationists From People Who Believe In Evolution”:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-for-creationists-from-people-who-believe-in-evoluti

I have also seen no shortage of satirical photoshops of the pictures and serious responses posted by others this week, primarily to the creationist’s messages. See two of my favorites below.

“Answers for Creationists,” article by By Phil Plait:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/02/06/religion_and_science_answering_creationists_questions.html

“The Amazing Atheist Answers 22 Creationists”

Here are a few things I would like to mention based on the varied responses I’ve seen to the first “22 Messages” article online:

1. To my secular, scientific, and atheist counterparts: These are real people and most are probably nice, hard working folks. Just because you disagree with them, that is no cause to go “ad hominem” on them via social media. I’d almost guarantee you NOT ONE of the people in the pictures had any idea how HUGE the response to their messages would be. To the people who have kept their comments on-point, kudos. But, I’ve read quite a few comments on facebook and elsewhere criticizing the looks or build of some of the people in the pictures. I have also read some comments that are just very derogatory with nothing constructive or instructive said to refute the “message.” That is out of line in my opinion. If you despise the young-earth creationist ideology, attack the ideology. None of the people in these pictures have done anything to you or I personally I presume. Don’t attack them personally in a way not directly related to the issue, from a presumably safe vantage point on the Internet. It is a cheap shot and does nothing to further your own argument.

2. To Young Earth Creationists: Don’t assume all the people in the pictures are “angels” just because they believe like you theologically. One individual in the pictures sat next to me during the debate. He or she made an interesting remark about some people who should, “Go back to Africa.” The small group he or she was a part of had quite a few interesting things to say as the debate countdown was rolling. That being said, I don’t put that on creationists in general. Far from it. But, on both sides, this issue needs to be about the issue. Regardless of whether you or I think a person we disagree with is “a jerk” or “arrogant,” that means nothing relative to if they are correct. This is an issue about modern, evidence-based science and the supposed scientific authority of the ancient Bible text. To paraphrase Bill Nye, “Show me the evidence and you’ll change my mind.” If you are shown contradictory evidence, but yet your mind remains resolute in your beliefs, please don’t fool yourself into a self-evaluated position of intellectual honesty.

3. I was staggered by the simplicity and lack of insight in most of the “messages” and questions. I wonder if many of the people have bothered to give google a work out on these subjects to find relevant scientific data from valid sources. Also, many messages show a distinct confirmation bias from people who probably have never searched out the argument of the opposition. Most of the questions raised can be answered very quickly and comprehensively with just a bit of research. I am surprised that some or all of the people in the pictures saw their messages and questions as a knock-out punch to modern science and/or secularism.

4. My last bit of encouragement is as follows: Seek out honest dialogue over debate. Debate can be a wonderful thing and I was very encouraged by the turnout and response to the one this week. But, it only goes so far. Reach out to people if you want to change their minds in a constructive way. If you wonder what people of the opposing view think, ask them directly when you have opportunity. Engage in effective, personal communication whenever possible. Aggressive posturing rarely ever leads to minds being changed or relationships being built. We have the privilege to live in a Nation with true freedom of speech. Use it fully; just mix in a pinch of kindness and empathy as well.

If you have not yet seen the epic debate, click the link below:

-Copyright 2014, Luke Austin Daugherty

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