William Lane Craig on his recent Intelligent Design debate

I guess we all know by now that Richard Dawkins refused to debate Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, and recently also refused to debate Dr. Stephen Meyer, even though their paths crossed in the USA.

Ayala

But Dawkins may just well be feeling relieved, however, given the outcome of Craig’s latest debate at Indiana University. By all accounts, Craig appears to have soundly beaten his opponent and advocate for evolution, Francisco Ayala. Ayala is no dummy either, and in debating the topic Intelligent Design: Is it Viable? he should, at least on paper, have been a serious contender with Craig. Professor of biology and philosophy at the University of California, Ayala is described by the New York Times as the “Renaissance man of evolutionary biology”, authoring or editing over 980 articles and 34 books. In 2001 he was awarded the National Medal Of Science and throughout his carer has been recognized by numerous other Institutes and Academic organizations (Craig isn’t kidding when he says Ayala “has as many medals as an Argentine general!”) But Ayala was outperformed. Even the moderator of the debate was less than impressed with the evolutionary biologist and viewed it in Craig’s favour (“Ayala didn’t really engage with Craig, but instead presented his own information, ignoring the arguments that Craig was giving.”). Luke Muehlhauser, the blogger at Common Sense Atheism was even more blunt, suggesting Ayala was getting ‘womped’ by Craig:

Ayala’s presentations were meandering musings on evolutionary theory, the history of science, and anecdotes about Darwin. Ayala also discussed the evidence for common descent, apparently unaware that intelligent design theory is compatible with the existing evidence for common descent. In his opening speech, during which he was supposed to present the case against intelligent design, Ayala did not even mention intelligent design. Craig, as usual, cut very clearly to the heart of the disagreement between Ayala and Intelligent Design theory. He then showed how Ayala’s objections to intelligent design were invalid.

Download the audio from the debate and judge for yourself. But, lastly, here are William Lane Craig’s own thoughts from his November Newsletter:CRAIG

As I write this letter, I’m on my way home from my debate last night at Indiana University on “Is Intelligent Design Viable?” My opponent was Francisco Ayala, an eminent and highly decorated evolutionary biologist who, judging by his lengthy resumé, has as many medals as an Argentine general! I had heard Ayala lecture on Intelligent Design last year in China and was dismayed by the caricatures and misrepresentations he gave to the Chinese students. So even though I had never debated intelligent design in biology before, I decided to take on this debate to try at least to set the record straight. The last few months I prepared diligently for this debate, reading Ayala’s work, familiarizing myself with relevant new developments in biology, studying the recent works of ID proponents, conferring with colleagues who work in this field, and formulating the best strategy for the debate. The key to my approach was a distinction helpfully drawn by Ayala himself. Ayala distinguishes three aspects of the contemporary evolutionary paradigm:

  1. Evolution: the process of change and diversification of living things over time.
  2. Evolutionary history: the reconstruction of the universal tree of life (common ancestry).
  3. “Darwinism”: the mechanism behind evolutionary change is natural selection operating on random variations in living things.

This makes it clear just where ID theorists and Ayala part company. It is not on evolution or even common ancestry but on “Darwinism.” Indeed, prominent ID theorists like geneticist Michael Denton and biochemist Michael Behe espouse the same view of evolutionary history as Ayala. What they deny is that the mechanisms of random variation and natural selection are adequate to explain the evolution of biological complexity. Significantly, Ayala states in his published work “The evolution of organisms is universally accepted by biological scientists, while the mechanisms of evolution are still actively investigated and are the subject of debate among scientists.” He says, “To reconstruct evolutionary history, we have to know how the mechanisms operate in detail, and we have only the vaguest idea of how they operate at the genetic level, how genetic change relates to development and to function.” So I decided to just ignore both “evolution” and common ancestry and to go for the jugular, “Darwinism,” since that is the pivotal point on which the disagreement of ID theorists with the contemporary evolutionary paradigm turns. By taking this approach, I could also keep the debate sharply focused. Since the question we were debating was not whether intelligent design is true but merely whether it is viable, it was up to Ayala to disqualify ID as a live option. In his published work, he tries to disqualify ID both scientifically and theologically, so my opening response fell neatly into two parts. First, I argued that Ayala fails to disqualify ID scientifically because he cannot show that the Darwinian mechanisms are capable of producing the sort of biological complexity we see on earth. Then I argued that the theological arguments he presents against the designer’s being all-powerful and all-good are simply irrelevant to drawing a design inference (however interesting and important they may be for theology) because the design argument doesn’t aspire to show that the designer is all-powerful or all-good. The debate turned out to be virtually one-sided! Ayala utterly failed to engage with my arguments. It was almost as if I wasn’t even there. It was pretty obvious to everyone that he was just presenting canned arguments which had already been refuted in my opening statement. I responded to all his points and even went beyond them to tackle the theological problem of natural evil as well. I was also able to call him to account for his misrepresentation of Michael Behe’s work. Ayala likes to indict Behe for saying that the human eye is irreducibly complex, even though it isn’t. Holding up Behe’s book and reading aloud the relevant passage, I responded that this allegation was surprising in light of the fact that Behe says on pages 37-38 that the eye is NOT irreducibly complex and therefore he does not use it as one of his examples of irreducible complexity! Another interesting feature of this debate was the moderator, a young philosopher from the University of Colorado, Boulder, named Bradley Monton. Though a self-confessed atheist, Monton is convinced that the typical refutations of ID that pass muster today are in fact fallacious, and so he has written a book defending not only the scientific status of ID but even its being taught as an option in public schools! Having read his remarkable book in preparation for the debate, I was able to quote “our esteemed moderator” to good effect during the debate itself to counter Ayala’s assertion that ID was not science. I learned so much during those months of preparation for this debate: about features of human anatomy like the appendix, which is not a vestigial organ at all, or the coccyx, which anchors the muscles that keep the anus from just draining freely, about genetics and the incredible molecular machinery of the cell, about malaria and its war of attrition with humanity, about the molecular basis of drug resistance in bacteria and viruses, about the origin of pathogenic parasites, which were once free-living organisms that “devolved” to become parasitic, about Archaeopteryx and feathered dinosaurs, which to my surprise, are now recognized by evolutionary biologists not to be transitional forms to modern birds even though they have both reptilian and avian features, about biomimetics, how engineers repeatedly find that nature has anticipated (and usually exceeds) the best designs of human engineering, about Pod Mrcaru lizards off the Croatian coast which have unexpectedly developed new anatomical structures, about the hierarchy of pain awareness in animals and man’s unique status of having a second order awareness that one is oneself in pain, an awareness that God, in His mercy, has apparently spared the animals (see this week’s Question of the Week for more on this absolutely fascinating subject). One of the things I love about the ministry which God has given us, wholly apart from the practical application in speaking and debates, is the incredible stimulus and personal growth that such study brings.

Craig’s next debate is at the University of North Carolina on the existence of God with Dr. Herb Silverman, in March. And Stephen Meyer is soon to debate Michael Shermer in a superstars of wrestling style “Origins-of-Life tag-team debate at the end of this month. But the question is, where is Professor Dawkins?

UPDATE: Wintery Knight has posted the video to Craig’s opening speech from the debate.

32 replies
  1. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    This debate it was definitely a slam-dunk for Craig. Ayala barely addressed the mute – in the first half he was mainly arguing for evolution, and in the second half against I.D. with theological arguments where he was obviously out-gunned.

  2. Gary
    Gary says:

    But the question is, where is Professor Dawkins?

    Richard is on a book tour in the U.S. after the recent release of The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. He will be in London on Nov 24th.

    Yes, I realise you were being facetious, but Dawkins rarely debates, and has no time for creationists/IDers as they have nothing to offer on the subject of science – creationism/ID is religion.

    “Intelligent Design” is not even a theory as we would use in science, let alone a topic for debate: “goddidit” – really, but where’s your statistical data, proof and peer-reviewed journal entry?

  3. Simon
    Simon says:

    Dawkins has made it clear why he avoids debates like this. The reasons are obvious regardless: complex topics like this are not suitable to a public debate arena. Any outcome of any such debate has zero to do with the validity of the ideas presented.

    Any “debate” should be in conventional academic arenas, such as journals, where ID hasn’t even made it to the podium. And not for the reasons/lies spewed forth in rubbish like Expelled…

  4. Bnonn
    Bnonn says:

    Dawkins has made it clear why he avoids debates like this. The reasons are obvious regardless: complex topics like this are not suitable to a public debate arena.

    In that case, he shouldn’t have published a book that attempted to engage these complex topics in the public arena. He can’t have it both ways.

  5. Rob
    Rob says:

    Oh come on Simon. He debated Lennox – twice.

    He writes populist books that convey complex science in simple English.

    His function is “Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science”.

    In addition, there are debates happening regularly between lots of scholars on these subjects.

    Do you think that atheist Michael Shermer should NOT debate Stephen Meyer (coming very soon) because the moot relates to ID and is therefore not “suitable”?

    Evidently the thousands who attend these debates disagree.

    Regards,

    Rob

  6. Gary
    Gary says:

    His function is “Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science”.

    Dawkins’ role was as Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, from 1995-2008, past tense – Dawkins has since retired the post.

    This role is currently held by Professor Marcus du Sautoy, a mathematician.

  7. Gary
    Gary says:

    Rob,

    I know very well what “intelligent design” is – it can be best described as creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

    I’ve read the literature, the wedge documents, the crack-pot schemes, the non-theories and the lack of peer-reviewed journals. ID is not science, it’s religion.

    Hmmm, I wonder who this “designer” could be?

    Intelligent design is not a scientific theory, if it was, it would make predicitons like Darwinian evolution (or Newtonian gravitational law) – but it does not.

  8. Rob
    Rob says:

    Gary, thanks for the heads-up re Dawkin’s role.

    As for your following comment about ID, well, I am getting tired of this sort of mud slinging. The ID guys have rebuttals to all your claims on their websites. If you could be bothered looking, I think you would find this issue to be much more interesting than the “you’re stoopid and we are smarter than you” attitude that is so often heard from the Darwinist side. Hell, one of the reasons that so many are interested in ID is that it is new and exciting and open minded rather than the boring tired old “just believe us” mantra of the materialists.

  9. Gary
    Gary says:

    Hell, one of the reasons that so many are interested in ID is that it is new and exciting and open minded rather than the boring tired old “just believe us” mantra of the materialists.

    Hi Rob,

    I don’t want you to just “believe” me, other scientists, or science in general – I would like for you to look at the evidence on any topic (cosmology, geology, biology etc.) for yourself, without any preconceived notions, and then make up your own mind.

    ID offers nothing new as it is not science. Plain and simple. ID fails the scientific method. ID is not predictive. ID does not undertake any new scientific research, if it did, where are the journals? I’ve read the ID literature and literature on ID, it’s religion.

    Did you read the wedge-strategy documents authored by the Discovery Institute? The wedge metaphor is attributed to Phillip E. Johnson:

    “If we understand our own times, we will know that we should affirm the reality of God by challenging the domination of materialism and naturalism in the world of the mind. With the assistance of many friends I have developed a strategy for doing this… We call our strategy the “wedge.” pg. 91-92, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds – Phillip E. Johnson

    1. Why is Johnson bringing “God” into a discussion on science?

    “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.” – Phillip E. Johnson

    2. The reality of God – not science, but religion, as I keep saying.

    “This isn’t really, and never has been a debate about science. Its about religion and philosophy.” – Wedge Strategy Document Discovery Institute, 1999.

    3. These are their words, not mine. Why is it not “about science”? Biology is science; ID is religion.

    http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.pdf

    “You can be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” – Dawkins

  10. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Hi Gary,

    You did perk my interest with this one. So I read the link you provided. Then I did a search to see if the document was valid. I do not believe a lot of what I read on-line. (More so if the document is from one side who is denouncing their opponents view) It took a while to get through all the antagonistic sites that were promoting the said document, but I eventually found:

    http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=349

    Which was linked from the main page of:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2101

    This document has the Discovery Institute’s response to the entire hullabaloo about the “Wedge” document along with the full document itself. It appears more sane to me to go to the source. I do not read about the evidence for evolution from antievolutionists. And I do not do the inverse.

    Now I happened to have taken your final quote as coming from “the Wedge Document” and I went looking for it, as I wanted to see it in context. (Your quotes are lacking in context, which could make them a little misleading) The structure of your quote certainly lead me to believe that it came straight from the document. Well, it was not in that document. So maybe you are quoting from Johnson’s book again, in which case the context is currently beyond my reach, but it would limit the agenda to Johnson himself, not ID.

    And for my disagreement with you, I will say that if a ‘religious’ person decides to use some aspect of science to prove their religion, the science is now, not science? That is not logical. ID does not specifically require God, in fact, it has always left that question hanging, unanswered and unknowable from the data. Sure, many Christians are more than happy to promote and use ID. But these are two different things. ID proposes a tool that can be used to discern whether anything at all was designed. If you have read the literature, you will know the testing process and the examples. What part of that is religious?

    A question that might help out here, “Does science require a naturalistic answer?” Generally speaking, most people I run across assume this. Dawkins certainly does. If we cannot explain it now, we will find a natural solution in the future. His story of a stone statue waving was a prime example. “Maybe all the atoms vibrated in the same direction at the same time.” I ask the question because if science is indeed restricted to naturalistic answers, then it can say nothing about whether anything else exists besides the natural. In fact, if something else did exist, science will ignore it and attempt to explain any evidence of it away in some natural manner. There is an amazing paradigm of belief for you.

    Cheers, Jonathan (a different Jonathan)

  11. Rob
    Rob says:

    Hi Gary, thanks 4 the comments.

    The answer is that you and I come to these discussion with different presuppositions. Your understanding of reality appears to be more limited than mine in that you a priori rule out the possibility of acquiring knowledge other than thru some form of science. On the other hand, I have a bigger picture of reality and accept that science is NOT the sole source of knowledge. Like Jonathan, I believe that God exists and has entered space-time and revealed Himself to us.

    You suggest that I should enter the discussion with an open mind. Sure, I understand what you are getting at here, HOWEVER, the older I get, the more I have concluded that it is not just and open mind that decides what one believes. It is also the state of the heart. You may claim to have an open mind, but I wonder if your heart is hardened against any possibility of a creator?

    To argue that ID is not science seems to me to be begging the question. Sure, if you want to define “science” such that it excludes ID, then why should we be surprised when you conclude that science excludes ID?

    Philosophy of Science is a newish discipline and hardly seems to be a settled issue. Even yesterday a friend and I had lunch over a new Phil of Science book — how much have you read on this? Could you explain to me carefully WHY ID is not science, but begin by telling me what science actually is? I personally this this is a very hard question to answer, thus there are books being written on it.

    Your claims seem to me to be patently false. “ID offers nothing new”? Not so. It makes design inferences that Darwinism does not make.

    “ID does not make predictions” — Wrong, just look at the junk DNA predictions made by both sides.

    “ID in journals” — well, this is a bit like asking, “why is Richard Dawkins not published in Bibliotheca Sacra?” If he submitted a paper, would they accept it? Probably not. Anyway, the ID people have published and a quick google search will show you that.

    Look at the history of science Gary. Many rebels were shunned, only later to be vindicated. I think of Boltzmann for example who hung himself because he believed in atoms while other scientists mocked him. This sort of argument shows more about your heart I suspect than your intellect.

    I get tired of hearing of the wedge. The basic problem here I think is that you want science and religion to be mutually exclusive, and science to be the only valid source of knowledge. Christians (and other religious people) see the world as a whole, created by God, and having the signature of God embedded in it. Thus we cannot speak of these two things being separate islands. They are NOT non-overlapping magesteria. Rather, they are an integrated whole, and part of the fun is putting the pieces together into a coherent whole.

    Best regards,

    Rob

  12. Gary
    Gary says:

    Rob said:

    Sure, I understand what you are getting at here, HOWEVER, the older I get, the more I have concluded that it is not just and open mind that decides what one believes. It is also the state of the heart.

    Hi Rob,

    Your heart is a muscle. It pumps blood around your body. This is controlled by your brain, as is your other sentient faculties. You’re looking to use emotion to influence your thinking.

    Next time you fly on an airline, would you prefer your pilot to use navigational equipment to transport to your desired destination or his feelings on where, and how, best to fly you there?

  13. Gary
    Gary says:

    Hi Rob,

    Science is a process we use in order to better understand the world around us e.g. why do things fall to the ground.

    Science starts from a blank slate: “Why do things fall?”, so we make a hypothesis, run tests, observe and record results, apply to our hypothesis. Then retest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    At no point in this process do we assume anything (like “god”) or make presuppositions (like “god exists”), all we do is define the questions (“Why do things fall?”), record the observations, and apply them to the world around us. Even if we don’t agree with the findings. All we are trying to do here is record the results.

    You are introducing “god” into your equations even before you definine your question, or run any tests – that’s not science as it shows bias.

    Simply put, in our example above: run your tests, look at the evidence, let the evidence decide “Why do things fall?”. Repeat same steps for other phenomena and experiments.

    ID advocates assume “intelligent design” even though none has been ever shown. ID does not push science forward because it is starting from a biased position (“god exists”).

    Any biologist will tell you human bodies (and those of other animals) are not intelligently designed – or designed in any way. Just look at your appexdix, or your prostate, your tailbone(Coccyx), or your eye (inverse retinal image, blind spot), or the vas deferens for male ejaculation.

    We know this due to testing and observation without previous bias or presuppositions. Just look at the evidence.

    Rob, who, in your opinion, is the “intelligent designer”?

  14. Rob
    Rob says:

    Hi Gary. You wrote:

    At no point in this process do we assume anything (like “god”) or make presuppositions (like “god exists”), all we do is define the questions (”Why do things fall?”), record the observations, and apply them to the world around us. Even if we don’t agree with the findings. All we are trying to do here is record the results.

    This is where we part company Gary, and why we probably cannot agree even on a definition of science. Let’s look at you argument.

    We don’t assume anything?

    Well, I think you assume that nature is uniform. Yet how do you know that?

    I think that you assume the laws of logic, yet you have no proof for them.

    You assume that the world is as it appears and not made 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age.

    And, if you are consistent with many scientists you would agree with this:

    So, when Darwinist ideologues say that “science does not address the supernatural, what they really mean is that science should not be PERMITTED to address the supernatural, (or anything that could remotely be associated with it). This attitude of mind goes by the name of “methodological naturalism.” It is best expressed by Lewontin, who writes,

    “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated just-so stories [in evolutionary biology] because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material causes, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”

    The lesson here should be clear. We should not put science into a politically-correct, materialistic straight-jacket.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/#scivsup

    I think the point here is clear Gary. Even if nature appears designed (Dawkins), a designer is ruled out a priori due to philosophical commitments. Thus it is the atheist who is limiting what science is able to discover.

    Think of it by way of a thought experiment … Just imagine that God really did design the world, just for argument’s sake. Could your version of science ever reach the conclusion that God probably did make the world? If your answer is no, then you have proven my point.

    I should like to address your other points but will have to leave them for now (time problems). I will just address the final “who is the designer” question.

    I am a Christian Gary. I believe the Bible is God’s revelation to mankind, and that He entered space-time to provide us this revelation.

    Genesis 1:1 (the first verse in the Bible) seems to align very well with current cosmogony. In just one verse we have God creating matter, energy, space, and time. Very 21st century physics!

    Hebrews 11:3 — By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    There are numerous verses that speak of creation.

    Best run,

    Rob

  15. Simon
    Simon says:

    Rob, to jump on one point:

    I think the point here is clear Gary. Even if nature appears designed (Dawkins), a designer is ruled out a priori due to philosophical commitments. Thus it is the atheist who is limiting what science is able to discover.

    This is rubbish. While a designer may be ruled out a priori by certain scientists, that is irrelevant to the investigation ultimately. More importantly, a designer should certainly not be ruled in a priori!

    Firstly, after the observation of so-called design, an investigation should follow that precludes as many assumptions as possible – obviously including any notions of a designer etc.

    If we do this, we find mountains of evidence that supports evolution from simple to complex of the particular object in question. From fossils, to lab work with bacteria, to fortunate occurrences of evolution in short periods of time in the real world…all these sources point to gradual modification over time and a strong connection between all life on earth.

    No evidence points to a designer. Even the concept of a designer is unable to be defined. To evoke a designer one must include it a priori and solely from a faith/theological/philosophical point of view. Hence, it is unconstructive and redundant in any scientific investigation.

    That isn’t to say it isn’t useful for other purposes – e.g. speculating about the ultimate beginnings of the universe or a possible afterlife etc…

  16. Gary
    Gary says:

    Rob (author) said:

    You assume that the world is as it appears and not made 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age.

    Rob,

    This is not “The Matrix”, grow up, please, we’re trying to have an adult conversation here about the real world around us and you keep bringing fantasy into it.

    So in other words, the only reality you are happy with is the one where your god exists, and we know nothing except what’s in your Bible – for if it’s not in your Bible, we can’t know anything?

    Could your version of science ever reach the conclusion that God probably did make the world?

    Yes, only if we had some evidence he did – but we don’t. None whatsoever! What you keep repeating over and over and over (and over) is the Argument from Design (which also includes the anthropic principle), which has been refuted time and time again.

    Here is essentially what you are saying:

    1. Living things are too well-designed to have originated by chance.
    2. Therefore, life must have been created by an intelligent creator.
    3. This creator is God.

    Even if points 1 and 2 were correct, for argument’s sake, who’s to say it was a “God”? And who’s to say it was your “God”? For that you need evidence, and your bible is not evidence.

    In just one verse we have God creating matter, energy, space, and time. Very 21st century physics!

    Oh good grief! You can’t be this gullible, can you? In one verse you have words, that’s all. There is no “creation” happening in that verse, they are just words, descriptions. Every religion and ancient civilsation has a creation myth.

    I keep pointing out there is no acutal “design” in nature, and you keep putting your head in the sand and refusing to listen. Not my fault, I tried. We’re talking different languages here, yes, it may seem like English to you (and others reading this) but you’re ignorant of the world and how science works. You want (need?) everything to be seen through the prism of your religion – how very narrow-minded of you, not to mention arrogant.

    Rob, how old are you? Seriously? Do you read books? Here we are communicating across thousands of miles through the wonders of science, yet I don’t remember any mention of computers in your Bible. Or germ theory.

    Put your bible down, pick up a book, open your mind.

  17. Rob
    Rob says:

    Gary,

    It is sad that your conversation has degenerated, like in the other thread, to insults.

    FACT — ID makes no claim regarding God. ID is about making design inferences, not designER inferences. ID per se says nothing about God.

    A cursory look at any ID materials (read what the ACTUAL ID people say, not caricatures of them) will show you that this is the case. Since you are aware of this, can I infer that you have read nothing from the pro-ID side?

    You are begging the question again and again re the design argument. This is basic logic. What you need to do is falsify the predictions made by ID.

    Re Genesis 1:1, you wrote:

    There is no “creation” happening in that verse

    Really. “In the beginning God created…”

    ……. o…k ….

    Regards,

    Rob

  18. Simon
    Simon says:

    Rob,

    What predictions does ID make specifically? Predictions that can be falsified? Where are the real world or lab trials testing these? Where are the articles published in journals suggesting the ID hypotheses? And no I don’t want a link to a website run by the discovery institute.

    And yes, while the ID literature makes no direct claim to a designer, one has to be either incredibly ignorant or disingenuous to believe that the search for design doesn’t imply a designer. It inherently does.

    And one also has to be either incredibly ignorant or disingenuous to believe that this designer isn’t supposed to be the Christian deity. Who else could it possibly be?

    Listen Rob. You do physics the top of this page tells me. Think of all your knowledge of physics you have acquired and how you have acquired it. Now, go have a chat to all the biologists in the Biology department at Massey (they have one at Palmy?) and ask them what they think of ID.

  19. Gary
    Gary says:

    It is sad that your conversation has degenerated, like in the other thread, to insults.

    Rob,

    This is pointless.

    This is like having a converstaion with a 10-year old child on why 2+2=4 only the child insists 2+2=5 because he read it in another book.

    FACT — ID makes no claim regarding God

    That’s a lie, a bold-faced lie. You’re lying for Jesus. Either you’re too ignorant to know the difference or you’re lying on purpose, I can’t decide which. Either way, Rob, I’m calling you a liar. Fact.

    snip…

    You are right Gary — this is pointless. Even a basic understanding of ID will show that, as I said, it makes no claims about the designer.

    We both have better things to spend our time on.

    Any further comments will be moderated.

    Goodbye Gary.

  20. Rob
    Rob says:

    Folks,

    Gary departed from being a reasoning poster here as you will see in his last post as shown in the following…

    Rob,

    This is pointless.

    This is like having a converstaion with a 10-year old child on why 2+2=4 only the child insists 2+2=5 because he read it in another book.

    FACT — ID makes no claim regarding God

    That’s a lie, a bold-faced lie. You’re lying for Jesus. Either you’re too ignorant to know the difference or you’re lying on purpose, I can’t decide which. Either way, Rob, I’m calling you a liar. Fact.

    “Intelligent Design opens the whole possibility of us being created in the image of a benevolent God.” – William A. Dembski as quoted in Science Test, Church & State Magazine, July/August 2000.

    How strange, Dembski just made a claim about ID and God.

    “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.” – Phillip E. Johnson

    Rob, why does Johnson mention God in the same sentence with ID?

    What you need to do is falsify the predictions made by ID.

    ID does not make any scientific predictions. Show me the journals where this has been published (this is where the science is published first, not in popular science books, that comes later).

    There is no “creation” happening in that verse

    Really. “In the beginning God created…”

    Good grief, a biblical literalist – it’s a story from an ancient book. Do you believe everything you read?

    I want readers to notice a few things about Gary’s post:

    1. He has departed from the issue and started attacking the person. This is a sure sign of someone who is losing the discussion. In logic, attacking the man is called ad hominem. Watch out for this fallacy.

    2. Note Gary’s boldness: “I calling you a liar” etc. Yet here Gary is simply wrong and shows this by being 180 degrees out of phase with the facts. Just read something — almost anything — from the ID guys…

    3. Gary fails to separate the implications of ID from the claims of ID. And so what if Dembski believes the IDer is God. Does this make ID any more false that it makes Darwinism false because Dawkins is an atheist? Of course not.

    4. Ditto for Philip Johnson.

    5. If Gary was a real seeker rather than an ideologue, he would have looked at this page and it would have answered his questions:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/

    But Gary does not want to have his ideological feathers ruffled. No, this is a heart issue, not an intellectual issue for Gary I think.

    6. Yes Gary, words have meaning. Created really does mean created. Now, and 13.6 billion years ago, or whenever.

    Regards,

    Rob

  21. david w
    david w says:

    5. If Gary was a real seeker rather than an ideologue, he would have looked at this page and it would have answered his questions:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/

    Ha, that’s pretty good. I like they way the complain opponents ‘assert’ that ID isn’t science then quote Dembski asserting that it is for their side. And their one prediction from design is that junk DNA won’t be junk. Sorry guys, junk DNA is junk. A real test of the falsifiability of ID might have been your statement at the start of this thread that you’d drop this tiresome topic when someone showed you how information enters the genome. We did. You didn’t.

    FWIW I think the most important thing to say about ID is that its a laughable failure – no one has every proposed a metric by which design can be inferred that actually works (CSI, irreducible complexity the edge of evolution…) and as far I can tell the leading lights of the movement spend most of their time worrying about a computer simulation Richard Dawkins wrote in the 1960s. When it comes to talk about teaching that rubbish is school its also worth noting that it’s not even wrong – ID doesn’t present a theoretic framework that can be used to understand biology (this is admitted when people use terms like “inference to design” to describe it) it is an attempted critique of a real scientific theory (evolutionary biology). It just happens that it isn’t very good.

  22. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    The “Jonathan” without my image, is obviously not me (and it was not from me). Is it possible to enforce unique name tags (trimmed of spaces)? This might avoid accidental or intentional impersonation. Yeah, I know you can’t. Guess I might have to look for a more unique name …

  23. rod-the-farmer
    rod-the-farmer says:

    Oh, boy. I thought this site might contain an interesting debate. Nope. Same old stuff.

    Rob (author) says

    “The answer is that you and I come to these discussion with different presuppositions. Your understanding of reality appears to be more limited than mine in that you a priori rule out the possibility of acquiring knowledge other than thru some form of science. On the other hand, I have a bigger picture of reality and accept that science is NOT the sole source of knowledge. Like Jonathan, I believe that God exists and has entered space-time and revealed Himself to us.”

    And your source(s) of knowledge that is NOT science would be….? Let me guess. Personal revelation ? “A voice in my head told me” or perhaps “I thought of something, therefore it must be true .” ????

    Please provide the specific details of what knowledge you have, that did not come from science, and how this was achieved. I for one will give it the old school try, to see if I can replicate the effect. For it to be valid, of course, you DO understand that anyone else must have the exact same experience, otherwise it is just a personal fantasy with no basis in fact or reality.

    And your comment about “God revealed himself to us”. Who is the “us” here ? When did this happen, and why has it not happened again, recently, in view of someone with a cellphone camera ? If I told you there were bunnies in my garden, you would probably agree it was certainly possible, depending on where I live. But if I said there were fairies in my garden, before believing me you would probably want some sort of proof, like a video. Even a still photo could be faked. But if YOU said there was a God in your garden, what sort of proof would you offer that would convince a neutral listener ?

  24. Rob
    Rob says:

    Hi Farmer Rod,

    Ok, let’s start with science itself.

    Can science prove that science is true?

    Put another way, can science be proven using science?

    If so, what is your scientific proof for this?

    Can you please lay out an experiment that would enable us to test your claim…

    Regards,

    Rob

  25. rod-the-farmer
    rod-the-farmer says:

    Oh boy. My question was, essentially, “What is the source of whatever knowledge you claim to have, that comes not from science ?”. Please answer what I asked, and don’t bother running off madly in all directions. For the moment, I will let you define science. If you don’t have something handy, I got this from Wikipedia. If you don;t like this, please provide an alternative.

    Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is, in its broadest sense, any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled technique or practice.[1]

    In its more restricted contemporary sense, science is a system of acquiring knowledge based on scientific method, and to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research

    Note the use of the phrase “scientific method”.

    Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses

    What you are doing is semantic gobbledygook. “Prove science is science using science.” Just because you can string words together in a sentence does not make it meaningful. I await your answer, patiently.

  26. Simon
    Simon says:

    Rob,

    I love how you avoided Gary’s arguments and just ranted on about how he’s “become a bad poster” here etc. hehe, it’s classic.

    There comes a time when discussing things like ID that you have to call a spade a spade. Gary did that with the liar call. You’re lying for Jesus.

    And now you’re reaching for a philosophical rescue rope by trying to go back to definitions of science…oh, no.

    Know when to re-evaluate your own position.

  27. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Simon, it sounds like you are picking up Gary’s line. It is a fine line to tread, mate. As long as you remain cordial, you should be all right. Where is the need for calling people names? Does the loudest argument win? Skirting the issue you want to talk about? Well, OK then, let us go right into it. I will give you my take on what ID is and why it is not a religion, and then I will give you my take on the claims that evolution produces information and explains all life before us. You have the opposite view to me on both these, so maybe this will actually be useful.

    ——
    ISSUE 1: Is ID religion?

    Gary (ex-contributor) and Simon have been saying that it is religion. And right at the outset, we will note that Simon has admitted that, “the ID literature makes no direct claim to a designer” so there is nothing stated in ID itself which requires something supernatural or has a religious nature. And thus all the accusations are about the perceived consequences of the “design” inference. Right here is where I toss your claim out Simon, the consequences have nothing to do with a premise being true or not. Call me incredibly ignorant or disingenuous if you must. (Is that where your argument resides?) I believe the option fairly exists to say, “We have no clue about any possible designer, but this looks designed by some intelligent agent.” Of course I think that God is responsible, I make no pretence about that. Yet, it is irrelevant to the question of whether we can detect design or not. And that is all ID is concerned about.

    Maybe an example of a previous encounter will be helpful. There was a time where people thought the universe was eternal. That existence went on and on forever. This changed when the “Big Bang” theory arose and gave a specific starting date to all we physically know. It also was an idea that lined up with the Judeo-Christian God’s revelation, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Should the Big Bang theory be dismissed because it has connotations of “religion”? Of course not! And this is exactly where you and Gary have been arguing. You say it should be dismissed (Transposed of course). This appears as a very poor argument to me and I reject it as fallacious. What you should be arguing is the real issue. Can we detect evidence of past intelligence or not? I say yes. ID says yes. What do you say? If you say yes, then the issue moves into the specific claim of whether biological life has these indicators of design, or may it have just built itself up under the functioning of natural selection?

    ——
    ISSUE 2: Is evolution a feasible solution to explain all of life that we see

    Simon, you have not been specific on this one. You have given some general hand waving about the mountain of evidence without any single real convincing item, so how about we remain on the thread-discussion and address the other accusations in this area. David best sums it up in:

    David W wrote:
    A real test of the falsifiability of ID might have been your statement at the start of this thread that you’d drop this tiresome topic when someone showed you how information enters the genome. We did. You didn’t.

    For people who require accuracy, the “showing” was not actually in this thread. The ‘showing’ was in this thread. But nonetheless, David has made a valid accusation. Have we been shown how information enters the genome? But more importantly does this information-entering-process provide a reasonable explanation for the development of life?

    The extent of David’s illumination was “Duplicate a gene. Change one copy.” I know there is a lot behind this but come on. Really? Is this meant to convince us that a set of instructions can be randomly changed to form a set of instructions for new, complex, integrated biological machinery? If I duplicate a PC program and start randomly changing bytes, I might get something new, but it will be a more broken, more limited version of what I started with.

    It is worth noting at this point that if a scientist duplicates genes and starts changing the information content we have a scientific demonstration of ID in action: Observable, repeatable and predictable. This process certainly can not be called evolution, can it? Or shall we just adjust the definition of evolution to cover the process whereby intelligence is somehow evolved and can be used as one of the mechanisms to change existing DNA?

    Rob answered the other proofs that were meant to “show” us the validity of evolution and in case you missed it (I don’t see how one could), ID fully agrees with mutations, adaptation and natural selection. Evidences of these (which are continually being put forward as proofs against ID) are obviously no proof against ID at all. The relevant point here is in regards to what these mechanisms are capable of producing and what they could not produce.

    About the Lenski analysis on the random evolution of “new” functionality in E.coli; Rob’s response quote from Behe explained a little bit more that was conveniently left out. All the machinery to metabolise citrate already existed in wild E.coli. What was lacking was an enzyme (citrate permease) to transport citrate through the cell’s membrane into the interior. If people bothered to read the link that Rob gave, they may realise that this is not a very good example of the evolution “of new information” at all. Hardly convincing one might say. Yet, that all depends on who you listen to and how much they tell you. The more information you leave out, the more convincing it sounds.

    And then David went further to claim:

    It’s exactly the sort of thing Behe says is effectively impossible. And it happened.

    Which is plainly ridiculous as Behe has very carefully examined and explained “the sort of thing” and obviously takes it to be true. Yes it happened. No, Behe does not say it is impossible. I am going to excuse David for believing the propaganda against Behe, rather than reading Behe’s view from the source: Michael Behe or one of his books.

    Now Behe did predict that that rarity of a genetic change would lead one to think that this particular change needs more than one mutation to occur. He got hammered for that idea, which actually turns out to be correct. What Behe does say in regard to mutations, is that as the number of steps required to get from one naturally-selectable state to the next naturally-selectable state increases, the chances of evolution being unable to account for the change greatly increases. And this is not hard to comprehend. Natural selection cannot work in this process and natural selection is the defining process to prove (new information) evolution.

    So, these claims about “new information” examples turn out to be fizzers. And the E.coli example could turn into a confirmation of ID. Yes, that’s right. If all the machinery was already existing within the cell to metabolise citrate and it was only lacking the method to transport citrate in, then you may have an example of “front-loading”. Provided the transporting of citrate into the cell was an evolutionary “new” information event, that is. Somehow I don’t think it is. It is a great example of evolution and what evolution is capable of.

    I discuss Lenski’s fascinating work in Chapter 7 of The Edge of Evolution, pointing out that all of the beneficial mutations identified from the studies so far seem to have been degradative ones, where functioning genes are knocked out or rendered less active. So random mutation much more easily breaks genes than builds them, even when it helps an organism to survive. That’s a very important point. A process which breaks genes so easily is not one that is going to build up complex coherent molecular systems of many proteins, which fill the cell. – Michael Behe’s Amazon Blog

    ——
    Predictions of ID.
    It is a tricky one, isn’t it? The inverse parallel of course is that if evolution is a scientific concept then there should be a method to falsify it. Can we elucidate this method again? Because generally, it is prohibited from use as, “We don’t know that now but will work it out later”. Now this criterion that would falsify evolution is the same principle that would seem to indicate intelligent design. Should not the refusal to allow the disproof of evolution push evolution out from under the umbrella of “what is scientific” – at least the common definition of what we call scientific? Worldviews are totally relevant here.

    As already discussed before, operating in the natural (as science is rightly obliged to do) leaves no other (fully explainable) option but evolution. Despite any evidence at all, science requires evolution to be true in order to “explain” everything. It is a logical outcome from the working base. Science does specifically exclude the supernatural (as stated by people here – and I agree that this is good). It operates in the space of “observable and repeatable” – which makes it great for identifying ‘laws’. But totally at sea if something “other” is involved somewhere. If something intelligent bends or uses those laws, science cannot predict that. Yet the question remains can science detect such an event? And I think the guys at ID are on the front line of this question.

    Design is a tricky thing because intelligence is a tricky thing. The search for design is the search for evidence of intelligence. Clearly we think our intelligence is responsible for many thing. Even shaping and arranging of matter. Is such detectable? We say that it obviously is. So what happens if we get to the point of being able to construct biological lifeforms? Apart from demonstrating that intelligence can indeed design and build biological life, what features will distinguish it from “natural” biologic life?

    Gary wrote
    Here is essentially what you are saying:
    1. Living things are too well-designed to have originated by chance.
    2. Therefore, life must have been created by an intelligent creator.
    3. This creator is God.
    Even if points 1 and 2 were correct, for argument’s sake, who’s to say it was a “God”?

    ID is somewhat contained in the slightly abbreviated points of 1 and 2. It does not go to 3. So “Yes”, ID says nothing about a god. Christianity certainly includes number 3.

    In this response, I have already touched on three predictions stemming from ID (yes they are not obviously highlighted because I would prefer people to actually read and understand), and I will give one more laid-out in comparison to evolution. Evolution predicts a slow steady development shown in the fossil record. ID would predict sudden appearance and stasis.

    ——
    Oh yeah, if you want to track the “scientific peer-reviewed” contributions of ID then a link to discovery.org is exactly what you want. Why wouldn’t you go to the source? http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

    ——
    Sincere apologies for the length. Even this is not adequate, but you do have the resources to investigate. I have said my piece, not avoided the issues and answered your questions. If you would like to engage on the issues then by all means, let’s discuss. Otherwise knock yourself out with the insults. Blessings.

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