The following offer is for a written, scientific debate on the creation-evolution issue. It addresses a longstanding desire by the public for a comprehensive and understandable comparison of the two main explanations for how everything began - a heated issue in which little constructive dialogue has occurred. Scientific disagreements can and should be discussed without acrimony.
Notice several things about this offer. It is balanced and comprehensive. Evolutionists who disagree with these proposed debate procedures but wish to participate can propose their own suggestions for a written, strictly scientific debate. They must sign a statement, as I will, that they will abide by the editor's decisions resolving disagreements about debate procedures.
However, the debate must be restricted to science and avoid religion, a broader, more complex, and less-structured subject. (Because I am not a theologian, I will not debate those topics. My focus is on the scientific evidence relating to origins.) Scientific methodology is also better understood by more people. Indeed, methods for reaching religious conclusions are diverse, subjective, and cultural. Religious disagreements have been with us for thousands of years. A purely scientific debate will be broad enough.
Many can participate on the evolutionist side. Only the lead evolutionist must hold a doctorate in either applied or basic sciences. Those who wish to participate but have no formal qualifications may recruit a lead evolutionist and offer their services to the evolutionist side. (A lack of recognized qualifications does not mean a person has nothing to contribute. However, without them, many readers might dismiss that side's case or conclude that a poor performance resulted, not from a weak case, but from a lack of scientific qualifications.)
Once a lead evolutionist agrees to participate, we will search for and select an editor associated with a large, neutral publisher. I am confident many publishers will be interested. Those invited may conclude that one or both sides have not demonstrated the ability to produce a credible, unemotional, and thorough case, understandable to most readers. If so, sales of the final, book-length debate would suffer. This, after all, is a publisher's main concern. Editors and publishers may also conclude that one side is unprepared to address all relevant disciplines in the creation-evolution issue: life sciences, astronomical sciences, earth sciences, physical sciences, and their many subdisciplines. If so, the editor and publisher might ask one side to add qualified people to its side or withdraw.
The editor/publisher may require both sides of the debate to sign a contract to complete the manuscript as described in this offer. Because the publisher has "first right of refusal" and makes no commitment to publish the completed debate, the publisher has much to gain with no risk.
[List name, address, phone number, FAX, and email address of the principal debater for each side.]
The intent of this debate is:
Each side will define its terms, organize its evidence, and submit its arguments in whatever way will add clarity to its case.
1. One side, selected at random, will nominate three willing editors, each associated with a large, but different, publisher. (A large publisher is defined as one with annual sales of more than 10 million U.S. dollars.) The other side, after considering each nominee's qualifications and fees, and the royalties the publisher would provide the debaters, will select the editor. The editor should have no strong opinions on the creation/evolution issue.
2. Companies specializing in book design will be asked to bid on all computer aspects of assembling a full-color book with index. The editor and each side of the debate will have a vote in selecting the book's designer. Before the book is published, the publisher will pay the editor and the book's designer. If the book is never published, neither the editor nor book's designer will be paid.
3. Each side of the debate will make four submissions of up to 100,000 words each. Each picture, figure, graph, or sequence of equations will be considered the equivalent of 200 words. Submissions, in a computer-readable form, will be sent by email at four-month intervals to the editor. The first submission is due four months after the editor is selected. After receiving both submissions, the editor will delete any religious ideas, derogatory statements, sarcasm, or comments that do not contribute to the debate's intent. Within seven days of receiving both submissions, the editor will simultaneously email both edited submissions to each side.
4. The editor will:
5. Outside parties who contribute ideas, data, or logic to the written product must be referenced. Those who contribute substantially to the debate may become joint participants. However, the lead debater for each side, whose signature appears below, is responsible for integrating all viewpoints for his or her side into one coherent case.
6. One side may feel that the other has provided insufficient documentation for some claim. If the editor concurs after consulting with each side, the debater who omitted a citation will provide the reference or withdraw the claim.
7. One side may feel that the other has quoted an authority out of context. If the editor concurs and the quotation is not modified or qualified, the editor may add a comment.
8. If both sides have difficulty finding certain references cited by the other side, the editor will direct that each side supply specific documents to the other. The editor, after considering the number and costs involved, will balance the burden placed on each side.
9. Each side will be allowed four extensions of one month each. The side requesting the extension should notify the editor and the other side as soon as possible but at least seven days before the submission is due.
10. If one side withdraws from the debate, as confirmed and explained in writing by the editor, the other side will have exclusive rights to publish any or all of the partially completed debate. The remaining side can include in the final published document the 100,000 word submission it was working on at the time of the withdrawal.
11. Within one month after receiving the fourth submission, each side can notify the editor if it feels new issues were raised in that submission. If the editor concurs, he or she may permit responses to those new issues.
12. Each side is encouraged to find and correct errors in its case. Corrections or deletions of previously made arguments are allowed if they do not exceed the word limit. If, however, a correction is suggested by an opponent's rebuttal, that error can be changed only as described in paragraph 17 below.
13. When the fourth submission has been made and all new issues have been answered, each side can propose that certain of its arguments and the associated rebuttals be deleted or modified. This “bartering process” between debaters is intended to aid the reader by eliminating, in balanced fashion, earlier statements that are superfluous, inaccurate, or have been effectively rebutted. The editor will try to facilitate the bartering process.
14. The final form of the written debate should be as clear and readable as possible. Therefore, after the fourth submission, the editor will direct each side to assemble into one coherent argument any scattered arguments dealing with a narrow topic. No new ideas can be added in this revision. In this way, readers can easily study and contrast opposing arguments. The completed written debate will be in the format directed by the editor and will include, as far as possible, the evidence and arguments placed side-by-side and point-by-point. It will consist of two main parts: (a) the evolution case with the creation rebuttals placed immediately below each argument, and (b) the creation case with the evolution rebuttals placed immediately below each argument. The book will begin with the shorter of the two cases.
15. Four months after revisions are submitted, the editor will send a complete manuscript to each side along with a reasonable deadline for submitting final comments. After the editor finalizes the book, the publisher associated with the editor will have the “first right of refusal” to publish the written debate. If the publisher declines, each side may publish the debate or sell the publishing rights. Printed copies of the debate must contain the entire debate in final form, including the editor's preface.
16. The two debaters, by mutual consent, can modify this agreement.
[INITIAL IF APPROPRIATE] I wish to propose a modification to the above procedures (1-16). However, I am willing to have the editor decide the matter after my opponent and I have presented our positions. I will abide by this ruling and participate in the written debate. My proposals are attached.
[Signed and dated by the principal debater for each side.]
This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the talk.origins Archive.
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