Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Why Darwinists Won't Debate

I have written before about what I've described as widespread cowardice on the Darwinian side of the evolution controversy ("Darwin's Cowards"). But with the U.S. presidential debates under way, I'm prompted to wonder if I should have softened that phrasing a bit.

Don't ask me who I like best in the upcoming election because I won't tell you (this is a non-partisan, non-political news site). But watching these encounters between the candidates reminds you of what a scary thing a debate is. Participating in one is not like stating your view to a friendly audience or even to an unfriendly one. In a debate, even one conducted in print instead of live, you stand the terrifying possibility of being totally shown up by your opponent. In that respect I sympathize equally with President Obama and Governor Romney.

Science and Human Origins.jpgIf the other guy makes points you can't answer or can't answer effectively, when you are right there and everyone is waiting to hear how you respond, that's devastating. If witnessed by enough people, it can really help to turn the tide of an election, or of a controversy like the one over evolution. In a debate, you and the cause you stand for are very, very vulnerable.

That's especially the case, of course, if the preponderance of the facts and the best arguments aren't on your side. And perhaps there's a part of you that senses that.

So yeah, it's too harsh to say that prominent Darwinists who duck debates are "cowards." More likely they sense they'd get creamed, and very reasonably they -- I mean the name-brand ones, almost to a man -- wish to avoid doing that damage to their own side. This is something we've learned from experience, illustrated by what happened recently with Carl Zimmer on the subject of Science and Human Origins. Who can blame them?