I recently brought up my atheism to a christian friend last night (through email) and explained why I now disbelieve religion. A couple of the reasons included scientific basis for how old our planet actually is, such as carbon dating, dendrochronology, radiation half-life, evolution, and so forth. Some of these methods I know date the world much, much older than the bible's approximation of 6-10,000 years. So of course, she came back with arguments against these methods and evolution.
1. "Carbon dating is not an exact science either."
With this, she mentions that scientists "redate" things because they retest and come up with different answers. Even still, the differentiation is minute in the grand scheme of things correct? From what I've understood about carbon dating is that it's quite accurate (at least relatively).
2. Drum roll please... "Even evolution is a theory."
I hear christians using this all of the time. I even dropped it a few times myself previously. I do know that there are several definitions of the term 'theory,' and the theory of evolution is proven by facts, the same facts that disprove creationism and intelligent design.
What are some good arguments to come back with? I am asking advice mainly for my own education, so I would like some handy unbiased resources and I can form my own answers. One of her arguments as well was "don't you think that the sources you have studied might have been funded by scientists trying to prove their theories?" Implying that any site you go to is biased in one direction or the other.
"Christians form a conclusion, and then look for evidence to support, and any rebuttals get tossed to the wind,"
Yup, it's called confirmation bias
Unfortunately, these are common, very weak issues raised by theists- who typically lack sufficient education. Be that as it may, I hope the following are useful:
1) Carbon dating-
My career involves molecular biology- evolution is observable and explains and predicts what I (and others observe in my field every day. But don't take my word for it, you may want to check out the following:
If you want to read some books-
On the Origin of the Species (Darwin)
The Descent of Man (Darwin)
Darwin's Ghost (Jones) (it may be an easier read than these others)
The Greatest Show on Earth (Dawkins)
And for a very technical article specifically related to my field:
Personally, I believe if the children of today cannot learn or understand evolution properly, they will not be able to compete in the world marketplace with respect to medical science and molecular biology. If the fundamentalist theists have their way, they will set us back decades as a nation with respect to being a competitive nation in science and technology (and by the looks of it, they're already doing this).
But I guess they can just pray about it....while they work for China, India, or Japan.
Thank you Ron! I have bookmarked all the sites you recommended and will study them to get to know and fully understand my facts. I will also write down the books you have mentioned. Right now I'm about to embark on a journey through 'The Selfish Gene' by Dawkins, and will move on to one of the books you have mentioned. With regard to your last paragraph, I see that they are beginning to push to teach creationism in the schools. I am part of this campaign (by 'part of,' I mean I signed a petition on change.org) to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act that was passed in 2008. I'm sure you're familiar with it, it allows schools to teach creationism and intelligent design in public schools. Better yet, in public school SCIENCE classes. It's not science at all, it's hogwash!
Thanks for your input, and for the valuable resources. They will certainly come in handy!
On the Origin of Species (Darwin)
I now have the Illustrated Edition of this book - which I prefer compared with my previous text only copy. I found the illustrated version on Amazon (used) for a decent price about a year or so ago.
Darwin's Ghost or The Greatest Show on Earth may be good starting points for an overview of evolution/natural selection and contemporary examples, but at some point you may want to read Darwin's books.
The phrase 'arguments for evolution' is silly when you think about it, in the same way it's silly to say "arguments for heliocentrism". Evidence for evolution is the better thing to say, massive massive amounts of supporting evidence and none in contradiction.
WHAT?!? You mean there's actual evidence the sun doesn't revolve around us?