The creation/evolution debates have become a most popular and visible activity. Since the very first, they have usually been very well attended and have precipitated much controversy in the community. But while it has been said that they generate "more heat than light," it does behoove us to evaluate the response to them.
On a few occasions, questionnaires have been passed out which monitor peoples' views before and after the debates, and their impressions of the strengths of the various arguments. In the vast majority of cases, in fact in nearly 100 percent of them, those who claimed they switched their view that evening, switched from evolution to creation; and nearly all, no matter what their view, felt that the creationists had the better case.
Many university professors have become creationists during these debates—not the debaters themselves, but of those in attendance. In fact, several are now affiliated with ICR. One even testifies that his acceptance of Christ as Savior came as an indirect result of a debate. My two recent debates in Moscow, before almost exclusively atheistic audiences, resulted indirectly in numerous conversions and the rapid growth of the local creation society. Furthermore, many, many students—those who have not yet become thoroughly brainwashed—come to question or reject evolution through the debates, if our mailbag of personal comments is any indication.
Perhaps the most common result is the strengthening of the faith of Christian students, as they see their faith validated. Furthermore, as they witness advocates of evolution many times openly ridiculing Jesus Christ and the Bible, spewing out vicious hatred for all they love and believe, they are never the same, and are never again tempted to compromise along these lines.
I find it interesting to compare the various reactions to the debates. At one of my recent ones, I felt the evolutionary professor, a well-recognized expert, did the very best job of defending evolution and attacking creation I had ever heard, and although there was much to answer, I felt satisfied with the outcome.
I later found out that others had different opinions. Some creationists in the crowd declined the opportunity to ask questions from the floor because they didn't want to embarrass the evolutionist any further. The knowledgeable evolutionists present likewise declined to ask any questions.
A professor of a nearby evangelical seminary, who holds to theistic evolution, stormed out of the debate before it was over, claiming that creationists had done a set-up job, having found an incompetent spokesperson for evolution unable to defend the evolution position. A biology professor from a nearby Christian liberal arts college, also an evolutionist, sat quietly through the entire exchange, but disgustedly remarked to friends afterward that the evolutionist had failed to show any weakness in creation thinking, and that she could have done better.
It occurred to me that this perhaps is another result of these debates: that of putting compromising Christians in an awkward position. A Christian must be in great tension, if, at the coliseum, he cheers for the lions. How much better to join in the battle for truth.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.