The creationists make no effort at all to take their "scientific evidence" to such outlets as scientific journals or symposia, since they know that their "science" would there be subjected to a devastating critique, if it were not laughed out of the building first. Anyway, the creationists are not at all interested in presenting their "data" to the scientific community--it is not a search for "scientific truth" they want, nor do they particularly care about solving current problems in biology. Their only goal is to have students exposed to their religious views, one way or another. Therefore, the creationists tend to focus their outreach on areas where their audience will be largely ignorant of science and evolutionary theory, and where their scientific- sounding arguments will receive serious consideration from people who are not in a position to notice its many flaws and distortions.
For this reason, the "debate" is one of the ICR's primary tools. ICR staples like Henry Morris and Duane Gish have participated in hundreds of debates with hundreds of opponents. Nearly all of their opponents make the fatal mistake of underestimating them, and mistakenly assume, with a smugly superior air, that a few simple biology lessons will convince the poor rubes that evolution is a well-supported scientific model. Debating a creationist is not the same as presenting a paper to a symposium, or teaching lessons in front of a class. ICR debaters are not underinformed, nor are they stupid. They are highly educated people who possess enormous personal appeal and charisma. They are also highly skilled orators and polished debaters, who will respect neither scientific truth nor the rules of evidence. Their success depends on their flair for the humorous phrase and witty one-liners, which conceals their total lack of substance. As master showmen, however, they are very capable of turning an unprepared scientific opponent into the equivalent of a blithering idiot.
These debates serve two purposes for the creationists. First, they present the opportunity to hand out hundreds of fundraising appeals. Second, they allow the creationists to identify and inspire their supporters within the community, exhorting them to go out and write those letters and mail those checks. As far as the creationists are concerned, debates serve no other purpose. Only the most naive of scientific opponents will actually believe that anyone is there to listen to a well-reasoned debate between two positions, or to carefully consider the evidence before making a decision. Everyone at these debates will already have made up their minds one way or the other.
In effect, then, these debates serve the same purpose as a pep rally for the creationists. They allow the faithful to see their heroes in action, to strike a blow or two at Satan, and inspire them to carry on the struggle until it is won.
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