Why Debate?

I’ve been neglecting to post more entries to the blog lately, but it hasn’t been due to writer’s block. I’ve been writing a great deal lately, but the majority of my writing has been in online exchanges on stem cell research (from which came the ESCR debate series) or on intelligent design and evolution. You can follow the two ongoing debates about ID here and here (my involvement in the 2nd thread begins with post #37). I’ve certainly been learning much from preparing responses for these debates, and they have enabled me to sharpen my understanding of the issues. I certainly hope to present some of the key points from these debates in this blog in the near future, but one of the consequences of engaging in these discussions is that once you start, it’s hard to stop without seeming like you are conceding the argument.

One thing I’ve been seeing from the ID debates is that the vast majority of the arguments that people offer against the theory of Intelligent Design stem from a basic misunderstanding of what the theory is about. This has emphasized to me why as a teacher it is critical to fairly and accurately present both sides of a debatable issue, so that students can arrive at their own reasonable and informed conclusion as well as be knowledgeable enough to respond fairly to arguments from those who hold opposing viewpoints. And this is why I have been sharing direct excerpts from these debates in this blog, so that people can see the actual arguments that are raised against the positions that I take, rather than my (potential) misrepresentations of the opposing arguments.

I want my students to follow the evidence where it leads, not where I or anyone else says that it leads.

One other thing I’ve been learning through these debates is the importance of character, even in an online discussion with faceless opponents and nameless audience. In spite of the rather impersonal nature of these online debates, we must always remember that we speak as Christ’s ambassadors, as if He were making his appeal through us. How we say things can be just as significant as what we say.

There can be some mean-spirited people in these online debates. Rather than relying on reason and rationality in their arguments , they resort to ridicule and insult to try to make their points. It can be tempting to descend to the same disparaging tone, especially when these defamatory remarks tend to draw popular support. But even if this kind of attitude can win the argument, it would not be a victory if we lose the real battle over the hearts and minds of those that we encounter. I draw encouragement from these words from 1 Peter 2:15-17, 21-25:

For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

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  1. Mr. Hyde said...

    Just wanted to send you a link to some posts over at my blog. There have been a lot of stories in the news of late concerning advances in the stem cell arena. Amazingly, none of these advances invlove using embryonic stem cells. Perhaps it can be of some help to you in your continued debates.

  2. Mark H. said...

    I agree with you Mr. Yeh. Here are some other verses that support what you are saying, 1 Peter 2:12 says "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." We are examples to other people and maybe the only Christians they will ever meet.
    1 Peter 3:9 "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." God rewards us for doing right and acting Christ-like.
    Titus 2:7-8 "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."

  3. Joowan Park said...

    Keep your head up, Mr. Yeh. I am pretty sure God is proud of what you are doing to show his glory to other people. I also heard somewhere in the Bible that it is right to be persecuted for God. Don't give up! :D

  4. ben yung said...

    Thank you for doing this Mr. Yeh. Not that many people in this world are as brave as you are. Honestly, i wouldn't do this kind of thing cause Im scared. I know i need to overcome my fear of being scared but its just too hard to overcome.

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