The DeBaun/Knapp Epistolary Skirmish
8 8 8 8 8 8 A Brief Chronology of Events 7 7 7 7 7 7
These series of exchanges do not introduce any novel lines of argumentation that have not been presented elsewhere in similar debates about this contentious subject. Nonetheless, they do afford the opportunity for an insightful examination of the dissimilar perspectives and cognitive processes that both sides typically bring to such encounters. I trust that those who are interested in the evolution/creation controversy will find that my efforts to provide a mainstream science perspective have resulted in an informative read. Due to the somewhat convoluted sequence of events involved in this confrontation of worldviews, please bear with me while I recap the chronology of the exchange of written material between us.
Mr. Knapp initiated the dialogue by writing a letter to the editor of the Bonner County Daily Bee (published in Sandpoint, Idaho) voicing his displeasure about the October, 2001, PBS series on evolution. In keeping with my local reputation for defending the theory of evolution at the slightest provocation, I responded with a rebuttal to Mr. Knapp's letter. He, in turn, rebutted my letter, and I subsequently returned the favor. Mr. Knapp submitted another letter in the chain of rebuttals, but at that point the Daily Bee decided (quite wisely, I think) that we had been given enough free ink and put a halt to further discussion of the subject in the letters section of the paper.
In his letters published in the newspaper, Mr. Knapp directed the reader's attention to his anti-evolution website where he subsequently included his letter that had been rejected by the newspaper along with some additional commentary. Taking advantage of his standing offer to publish feedback on his website, I followed up with a critique of his first website letter. Mr. Knapp (along with a little help from his friends at Answers in Genesis) then responded with a less-than-complimentary review of my contribution. Seizing on the opportunity to poke some serious holes in the arguments he (they) had presented in his (their) latest volley, I submitted a point-by-point rebuttal to Mr. Knapp's feedback section and awaited its appearance on his website.
Meanwhile, a local Wiccan contributed some critical comments regarding Mr. Knapp's pseudoscientific beliefs. In response to these comments, Mr. Knapp produced commentary (no longer available on his website) that argued in favor of the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs and touted the apparent discovery of intact red blood cells in dinosaur fossils. In an attempt to provide a mainstream science perspective on these matters, I answered with another contribution to his feedback section. Not unexpectedly, Mr. Knapp (again with assistance from his friends at Answers in Genesis) produced a critique of the evidence I had presented. I then responded with a defense of my arguments and a rebuttal of his (theirs), and awaited its publication in Mr. Knapp's feedback section.
After several months had passed without the publication of my last two rebuttal articles on his website, I wrote to Mr. Knapp to inquire about the delay. Mr. Knapp then sent me a letter complaining that he would not publish my latest responses because he considered them to be too sarcastic and largely ad hominen in nature. In order to overcome his objections, I sent him an expurgated version of one of the rebuttals in which I deleted anything that could remotely be considered offensive to the normal reader. Again I awaited the appearance of my contributions on Mr. Knapp's website.
After another several months had gone by without my latest comments appearing on his website, I again wrote to Mr. Knapp concerning his failure to publish my remarks and reminded him of his standing offer to publish feedback. Shortly thereafter, I received another terse letter from him reiterating his previous objections to including my material in his feedback section. Then, lo and behold, on or about the first of the year (2003), Mr. Knapp published a cursory critique of my last responses. In this critique (which was largely a rehash of his previous arguments) he failed to address any of the hard evidence that I had presented in opposition to his earlier comments. Furthermore, he gave the false impression that I had not provided any responses to specific questions he had raised in his past communications with me. In order to clarify matters, I have prepared comments dealing with the issues raised in his latest rebuttal and have included them (along with most of the other dialogue in this exchange) on this website for the viewing pleasure of those who yearn for "the rest of the story."
Although there is a rather prodigious amount of material that has been exchanged between Mr. Knapp and myself during the course of this debate, I think that anyone who takes the time to wade through it will come away with a better understanding of how profoundly the mainstream scientific approach to investigating the natural world differs from that utilized by the creationists. In essence, these exchanges represent what happens when the religious fundamentalist worldview finds itself on a collision course with the modern scientific outlook. They also illustrate how handy it is for YECs to adopt the philosophical jargon of the ID movement as a smokescreen to obscure an objective, scientific examination of the evidence which weighs so heavily against them. Obviously, I have my own preference regarding which approach I think is most efficacious in explaining the factual evidence. Nonetheless, whatever your position on the evolution/creation issue might be, I hope that you will find the exchange of ideas interesting and informative.
series of four letters that appeared in the Daily Bee
(2) Mr. Knapp's first article and commentary on his website
(3) My response to item (2)
(4) Mr. Knapp's response to item (3): "Response to Jack Debaun [sic]"
(5) My response (uncensored & unexpurgated version) to item (4)
response to Mr. Knapp's dinosaur commentary
(7) Mr. Knapp's response to item (6): "Response to Part 2 of the Debaun [sic] Chronicles"
(Answers in Genesis version)
(8) My response to item (7)
Mr. Knapp's final
response to items (5) and (8): "Response to Part 3
of the Debaun [sic] Chronicles"
(10) My response to item (9)