Nice bow-tie. Bow-ties are cool.
He brings up a fair point. 'We wouldn't have such a debate now.' Is this because back then more people believed it, or because there was less evidence to the contrary? I think it's more the latter. I think a debate can simply be vetoed once enough evidence comes up to shoot down the other side completely.
Evolution should no longer be subject to debate. The evidence is overwhelming. Climate change should no longer be subject to debate. The evidence is overwhelming. When we give someone ignorant about a subject a soap box to stand on, it makes them feel like what they are saying is important, interesting, and valid. It isn't. It makes everyone watching feel like both views have some merit, and it's a coin toss as to who will 'win'.
Before you tell me I'm wrong, point me in the direction of a current debate on the subject of a flat earth, or Geo-centircity. People don't think these people are fools simply because they are. They think they are fools for believing in something that people think is too stupid to even bother discussing.