Lately I have been wearing my scarlett letter "A" button in support of The Out Campaign and today one of my co-workers asked about it. Knowing he was a bible-believing christian fundamentalist, I knew it would lead to an awkward conversation but I explained what the button means and that I am an atheist. We had a very professional, respectful conversation about religion and science and I began asking him how he reconciles the bible with 21st century scientific knowledge. I started by asking him how old he thinks earth is, already fearing for what his answer would be. My fears were confirmed when he said "well, according to scripture, about 6,000 years old." I prodeced to ask the question "then how to you explain the grand canyon, dinosaur fossils, continental drift, etc? Surely you don't believe dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as humans, do you?" Shockingly, the guy actually does think T-Rex and humans existed together in the same time period! I was clearly getting nowhere with this conversation so I just kept saying "very interesting" to his reponses. He even proceded to get out his bible and show me a passage referring to a large "Behemoth" of some sort, claiming proof that the bible mentions dinosaurs. After about 20 minutes we both went back to work and the whole thing was very civil and respectul.
I once read that the reason why Richard Dawkins hardly ever debates with these types of people is because it is a bit like debating with somone who thinks the earth is flat. They clearly don't value evidence and you just aren't going to get anywhere with them. Right now I am very frustrated because I thought I was asking the right questions to expose his ignorance but it just didn't seem to phase him. The person I am referring to is a pharmacist, which means he has at least six years of science-oriented college education. I had heard of people like this but I've never knowingly met one before.
Having read The God Delusion, The End of Faith, Godless, and other such books I feel very secure and happy with my atheism but I'm just at a loss at how to deal with these people and expose them for what they are. If I was Sam Harris, I'm sure I could have destroyed the guy, but I guess I'm just not that great at debating. If I ever engage in this type of conversation again, is there anything I can do to more effectively expose the other person's ignorance, or are these people simply beyond reason?