I can't quite formulate a "good enough for debate" response just yet (at the end of a 12 hour shift... brain is mush). But the points that are coming to my mind are:
* The evidence of evolution is abundant. Shared ancestry isn't based just on how things LOOK, but on how genes are related, how activating a gene in one species changes a similar property as what is impacted by activating it in another. Genetics, paleontology, biology... all have developed trees of life that line up.
* The difference between "blind" faith in religion & "reasoned" faith in science is that science is open to debate & challenge. If what is held to be true is demonstrated to not fit with the facts, the general consensus is changed to accommodate REALITY. While I, myself, have not studied evolutionary biology, I know I *could*. And that there are others who approach the subject, challenge it, and come to the same conclusions. I do take some "faith" that there isn't some giant conspiracy of all scientists, determined to propagate the lies of science. That faith is based on a lot of different things, like the fact I can't imagine what all of science would stand to gain from such a conspiracy, as well as Occam's razor. There will be an element of trusting the authorities, as each individual can't hold all the expertise of the subjects at hand, nor could any individual be expected to repeat every test that substantiates a theory. This contrasts with "blind" religious faith in that scientists don't say "Just trust me on this." They document exactly what they see, and as you said, build upon the knowledge of previous giants. Those who have taught religion give a "It has been revealed to me!" source, and their followers cannot test said revelations, even if they wanted to. You can't depend on 2 priests to pray for guidance on a situation, and that they'll be given the same answer.
I did post a response, but I'm going to post this here, too, so I can come back to it & clean it up if the debate continues :)
I ended up going to bed w/o checking on it after work last night. I'm a little frustrated. While the theists started out sounding intelligent, their arguments are turning into just well-spoken versions of the same old bull shit. I mean, really, the "monkey giving birth to a human" and "if humans came from monkeys why are there still monkeys?" canards? I expected better.
Still working on the best way to respond without being condescending, but it's damned hard to do when about 2 minutes of googling, or reading any of dozens of books will show those strawmen for what they are.
Agreed!. As Neil deGrasse Tyson put it in a recent Tweet; the number of stars in the universe outnumber all the words ever uttered by every human being that ever lived. Our level of collective knowledge is but a speck of of what there is yet to see, discover, and learn.