Between North and South Korea there’s a “DMZ,” a De-Militarized Zone. A strip of land a couple of miles wide. A buffer between the two sides. A place where people from both sides can go… and not get shot.
The DMZ has a number of buildings for peace talks between the two sides.
Evolution 2.0 is a De-Militarized Zone for the evolution debate.
The rules of the DMZ are:
1) Put down your weapons.
If we’re going to talk about this, you don’t come with the intention of shooting somebody dead, even if you don’t like them, even if they’re from a different tribe than you. We have to talk.
2) No hiding behind screen names.
Anonymity brings out the absolute worst in people. If you have to sign your name to what you’re saying online or offline, then you’re a lot more likely to say something helpful.
The DMZ is not a haven for anonymous cowards. If you will not sign your name your opinion is worthless. The DMZ is for people who relish the clash of ideas and have the courage to be right or wrong in public.
3) Assume positive intention.
You need to assume that whoever you’re talking to is there for a good reason, even if you don’t like their values or even if you don’t like their position or their platform or the tribe that they belong to, or their metaphysics or their anti-metaphysics or whatever. You assume that they are here because they want to solve this, and there’s a good reason why they believe what they believe, even if you think it’s nutty.
4. Get to the truth, not the sale.
This is a phrase I got from my colleague Ari Galper, who’s a sales trainer. I just want to know the truth. Everybody knows that if you go to a car lot and the person just wants to sell you a car, regardless of whether it’s the right car for you, that you have this icky used car salesman experience. Why? Because the guy is trying to get to the sale, not the truth. You respect a guy who doesn’t sell you a car because he knows it’s not right for you.
That’s what we have to do in this debate. We have to pursue the truth, pursue the truth, and ignore no verifiable fact. I believe that your will to discover the truth has to be greater than your fear of whatever that truth might be.
We need this desperately. Why?
Because it doesn’t exist anywhere else!
You cannot go to university and have a frank, open, civilized debate about Naturalism vs. Design. Not without getting apprehended by the Political Correctness Police. Some universities will fire professors for suggesting that the universe appears to be planned or fine-tuned for life.
The “pro-Darwin” websites and conferences are boiling with rage and vitriol. Zero tolerance for dissent.
The average church won’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
The creationist websites are offended at the very thought of evolution. Some churches and schools will throw you out in a hot second if you admit you’re an “evolutionist.”
The Discovery Institute, the Intelligent Design think tank, routinely equates “evolution = atheism” in their articles, books and blog posts. Even though the two are not at all the same.
The two main camps – ID and the Darwinists – both omit or downplay the significance of evolution’s “Swiss Army Knife” – the cell’s astonishing ability to re-program itself. Systems like transposition and symbiogenesis.
Richard Dawkins’ and Jerry Coyne’s pro-Darwin books say almost nothing about this stuff. Most ID books say just as little little.
The name-calling, back-biting, snark and vitriol are not even the worst part of the problem.
The WORST part of the problem is:
Both sides are completely talking PAST each other!
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Intelligent Design guys raise VALID questions. Their books contain large amounts of competent scholarship.
Their questions deserve to be heard. And yes, answered.
Admire ‘em or distrust ‘em, the secular scientists who publish thousands of papers about evolutionary theory are only doing their job. Their job – their livelihood – is to hunt for naturalistic explanations for how things work.
Neither camp is listening to the other.
That needs to change.
Yes, I know. I heard the guy who just said, “There is no debate. Those guys are idiots!!!”
People from BOTH sides say that.
Statements like that are “exhibit A” of bigotry and prejudice. Because any honest objective assessment shows that both sides raise valid questions. Valid questions deserve respect.
If you’re saying the ‘other guys’ are “idiots” – then we do not have room in the DMZ for you. You will have to lay down your weapons first and agree to a peaceful discussion before you can come in.
But if you want a vigorous but peaceful discussion, this is your place.
Are you with me?
P.S.: Many come here (often lacking manners) and attempt to post their opinions, commentary etc. while hiding behind screen names. That is not what a DMZ is for, and those people get banned.
P.P.S.: Sometimes people have to remain anonymous because they are pastors or scientists, and altering their beliefs can cost them their careers. Those people are welcome to lurk here as long as they like. Beyond that, I don’t have a solution… other than to make the unfortunate observation that the most of the scientists I know who could afford to openly disagree with their profession were those who had other sources of income, or obtained research funding unrelated to the subject of contention.
Photo by Flickr/myllissa.