Last night, I debated Dr. Robert A. Martin on the question of creation versus evolution. I obviously took the creation side, and he took the evolution side. I debated him once before in 2009, and you can watch a video of that debate here. The format of this debate was a bit different from the one on the video. In this one, we each had 30 minutes to present our case, and then the audience asked us questions. The purpose of the questions was to focus the debate on what the audience found interesting in our presentations. Dr. Martin and I were each given a chance to address the question, and that usually led to more interaction between us. Everyone with whom I talked, including Dr. Martin, was very pleased with how it all turned out.
One thing I have to say up front is how appreciative I am of Dr. Martin. First, the fact that he was willing to do the debate at all is a testament to his commitment to real science education. I contacted several universities in Indiana, and none of them were interested in finding an evolutionist professor who was willing to debate. The common response by evolutionists is that they don’t debate creationists, because that would give the creationist view too much legitimacy. However, Dr. Martin realized that if no one came to give the evolutionary side, everyone at the conference would hear only one side of the story, and that’s not very good when it comes to science education. As a result, he was willing to drive from Kentucky to make sure that both sides were heard.
Second, Dr. Martin was incredibly gracious. He knew going in that this was a creationist event, so he knew that his view would be in the minority. In some ways, he was like a lion in a den of Daniels. However, he was very kind in how he treated everyone. Now don’t get me wrong – he took a strong stand for evolution. He often said things like the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, and that there is just no question about the age of the earth and the universe. But never once did he descend into the name-calling and other nonsense that is common among those who don’t care to discuss evidence. He limited his discussion to the science, and that was great.
Third, Dr. Martin was kind enough to stay longer than we had intended. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of questions, and at the scheduled end of the debate, the moderator stopped and said that we were officially out of time. However, Dr. Marin immediately said that he was willing to stay longer. As a result, everyone who stood up to ask a question was able to interact with us. Even after the debate was over, he stayed and talked with people one-on-one for quite some time. Clearly, Dr. Martin has a passion for science and science education. His demeanor and willingness to pleasantly engage people with whom he disagrees demonstrated that to me in no uncertain terms.