Home » Education, Evolution, Intelligent Design, Science » “The Great Debate” — Scott & Trefil vs. Sisson & Dembski

“The Great Debate” — Scott & Trefil vs. Sisson & Dembski

“Should public schools teach Intelligent Design along with Evolution?”
http://www.bu.edu/com/greatdebate

Wednesday, November 2, 2005, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center, Boston University
685 Commonwealth Avenue

Visit this page to view a live webcast of the debate:
http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/encoder/greatdebate.rm

The Debate Participants:

Affirmative

Edward H. Sisson, Esq.
Partner, Arnold and Porter, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Sisson advised witnesses at the Kansas evolution hearings.

Professor Bill Dembski, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture

Nick Barber
Broadcast Journalism major, Boston University College of Communication

+++++++++++++++++

Negative

Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.
Executive Director, National Center for Science Education.

Professor James Trefil, Ph.D.
Robinson Professor, George Mason University;
co-author, Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.

Neil St. Clair
Broadcast Journalism and Political Science major, Boston University College of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences.

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82 Responses to “The Great Debate” — Scott & Trefil vs. Sisson & Dembski

  1. A)So, where were they in Kansas? B) Will they end up bringing a knife to a gun fight? C)So much for the Dawkins stratagum.

  2. Kick some chance-worshipping butt, Bill!

  3. Will look forward to watching the live feed.

  4. I thought that the official position of the Discovery Institute was “no”?

  5. Oh yeah — THERE IS NO DEBATE!

  6. Give em’ the “what for”. Jerk a knot in their materialistic tail.

  7. Give them devastating poll results that show that > 75% of the public finds merit in some form of ID. If ID is right, it should be taught. If it is wrong, then the schools should try to clear the misconceptions regarding ID (thus it should be taught in this case as well). Obviously, science teachers who teach evolution are not doing their jobs correctly when > 75% of the masses find their arguments to be incredulous.

  8. Darn it!! I wish I could be there! Though I cannot be there in person, I will be there in prayer for sure. Have a great debate, Prof. Dembski!

  9. Teaching ID does no harm to ones scientific understanding. Trefil is from GMU. 2 PhD’s in biology graduated from his school are IDists (Timothy Standish and Gordon Wilson). One GMU Professor, Caroline Crocker taught at GMU (until of course the thought police got after her. FYI: Sisson was her attorney).

    Several GMU science students and PhD candidates are IDists. No harm done. Trefil attended our last IDEA meeting at GMU, with 90 students. No harm to the students.

    I was Trefil’s student, and I have 3 science degrees from GMU. There is no harm to understand science if one learns about ID. The only harm one suffers believing ID is at the hands of the anti-IDists.

  10. I should add, that when Trefil was a UVA professor some years back, he help award a PhD to somone in Physics. That someone is now a tenured professor in physics at a secular school. That someone is a (gasp) IDist. ID beliefs didn’t slow him down one bit in understanding science.

    Salvador
    PS
    Identity of that individual withheld for hopefully obvious reasons.

  11. Science, even though it has had exclusive control of public biology instruction for generations now, has failed to convince even 1 in 4 adults (according to polls – http://www.pollingreport.com/science.htm#Evolution ) that evolution was not directed by an intelligence.

    Failing to convince the public with the merits of their evolutionary narrative they are now using the courts to try to retain their exclusivity in public schools.

    NeoDarwinian evolution is indeed a theory in crisis. But not for much longer. It’ll be moving from critical care into the morgue soon now.

  12. “Obviously, science teachers who teach evolution are not doing their jobs correctly when > 75% of the masses find their arguments to be incredulous. ”

    Obviously it’s not the messengers but the message.

  13. “Failing to convince the public with the merits of their evolutionary narrative they are now using the courts to try to retain their exclusivity in public schools.”

    Hehe, they must be grimacing with the thought of Alito right now (especially Barry Lynn).

  14. Go get’em Bill!

  15. “I thought that the official position of the Discovery Institute was “no”?”

    I’m pretty sure they don’t want the teaching of ID mandated by the government but at the same time they want it to be allowed if a school board so chooses.

  16. 16

    Out of curiosity, since when was the general public considered and authority on science?

  17. The public is not an authority on science. But many in the civilian realm are capable of examining the data presented and making an objective decision. And therefore many are (understandably) skeptical of the notion that beings who seem wired to ponder and pursue the meaning of their very existance and who experience the depth of emotive consciousness on a daily basis, are really just the product of a mindless and purposeless accident.

  18. “Out of curiosity, since when was the general public considered and authority on science?”

    Look, evolution is not a complex concept, and neither is ID. It is pretty clear that evolution educators are not presenting cogent arguments to the public, since the public is clearly not buying it. Public opinion can be a barometer (although a poor and statistically noisy one) of the strength of an argument, especially when that argument is presented unfettered by its staunchest advocates.

    In school, is ID generally presented in an unfettered manner by staunch ID advocates? No. Does ID get any governmental money? No. Darwinian evolution has both these advantages, yet ID is still winning. That means that ID arguments are persuasive. Just imagine what could happen with a level playing field.

    BTW, when I say public, I don’t mean ‘uneducated.’ We could restrict the ‘public’ to anybody who has at least a bachelors degree in science, and we would still get similar poll results.

  19. The Plausability of Life post isn’t active anymore so I thought I’d put this here:

    http://linkinghub.elsevier.com.....7405010263

    Erwin, a fellow Darwinist, reviews the book. Erwin believes they (Kirschner and Gerhart) have a “limited view of the evolutionary literature” on the subject which “undercuts most of their own arguments” in favor of facilitated variation. The book “feels more like a vision of where the field should go rather than a thoroughly constructed theory of the origins of phenotypic novelty.” In short, he sees the book as an “entertaining read” of only “introductory” value into recent trends in evolutionary theory and “with its sometimes troubling limitations, the book falls short of the major new theory that the authors promise in their introduction.”

    Further quote mining:

    “Presenting no evidence, they claim that these waves of innovation are not linked to changes in the physical environment.”

    “Kirschner and Gerhart invoke exploratory behavior as a means of avoiding what they view as an otherwise insurmountable difficulty: that novelty appears to require multiple, correlated changes from phenotype to function.”

    *cough* bacterial flagellum *cough*

    “In Kirschner and Gerhart’s view, there are four aspects of gene regulation and development in animals that constrain the direction of heritable variation. These are the extensive conservation across metazoa of certain regulatory patterns; a modular pattern of organismal design; what the authors term “weak linkages” in gene regulation, caused by, in their view, regulatory interactions that do not specify outcomes; and nondeterministic outcomes of development.”

    Erwin believes they are claiming that “natural selection needs some help.” Erwin say that natural selection is good by itself and doesn’t require “random genetic variation that is biased toward viability, functional utility, and relevance to environmental conditions.” Erwin thinks they don’t understand what random means:

    “This is the first place where the authors get into trouble; for through much of the book they seem to fundamentally misunderstand how evolutionary biologists use the term “random.” By random mutation, evolutionary biologists mean random with respect to the adaptive needs of the organism, not, as the authors would have it in the early part of the book, completely random in the sense that many nonevolutionary biologists may think of the word “random.” One of Charles Darwin’s key insights was that the combination of undirected mutation and natural selection is a powerful positive force for evolutionary creativity (and not, as so many later biologists have suggested, merely a negative force). Evolutionary biologists have long understood that the nature of variation depends critically on what has already evolved. Indeed, there is a rich literature discussing how phylogeny, function, structure, and other features constrain evolutionary variation. Kirschner and Gerhart ignore this uncomfortable fact, dismissing constraint as “a minor effect, or trivial, for example, in explaining why mollusks (sic) and echinoderms were less able to evolve wings than vertebrates.“ They refer to variation as random alterations that can have little positive impact or that “lead to catastrophic failure.” This results in the appearance of some odd comments as, for example, when the authors claim that evolutionary biologists “do not commonly appreciate…” that “present-day organisms come from previous organisms.” Indeed.”

  20. Johnnyb is correct on two counts, though both need a little clarification. He is right in that the policy of the DI is not the mandatory teaching of ID, but that teachers be free to “discuss the strengths and weaknesses of evolution” and “bring up ID at their own discretion.” On the existence of a debate over ID, it depends on among who you think the debate is occuring. If one talks about the biology community, there is no debate over the validity of Intelligent Design. Naturally the farther you get away from a training in ecology, evolution, and biochemistry, the more likely a practicing scientist will be towards ID. Yes there is a debate about ID going on, but it is political and social debate among the society as a whole rather then a strict scientific debate among academic and industry biologists.

  21. Oh, I hope to live-blog the proceedings tomorrow evening. Though I doubt many readers of this site would agree with my future assessment of the events.

  22. Doran,

    Many biologists would rather just not talk about the ID vs. Darwinism debate, and some pay lip service while being inwardly skeptical.

  23. doran, you claim that ID is a religious view trying to undermine science. so what of the non-religious IDers and those who dont believe the designer is god?

    youre claim is bogus, and im fairly sure you know it.

    you also claim that there is no debate over ID among biologists…how does this work in your world? do you pretend the ID supporting biologists or further- creationism biologists dont exist? are they figments of the imagination, since you claim there is absolutely no debate over ID? do the IDers who are also biologists- are they not true scientists, or worse are they lying?

    you can make claims that have no basis in fact- but that doesnt make the claims fact.

    none of this dishonesty is a surprise considering that in the very first post on your own blog, you complain:

    In a flash of utter stupidity, I cared to email the Discovery Institute’s leading Blowhard/Laconic about what he hoped to accomplish at this event, since the DI’s policy on teaching ID is that it should not be mandatory, but teachers should discuss the “evidence against evolution.”

    then you “I gaped open mouthed at this for a good few minutes.” when the email reply from DI said they hoped to gain “exposure” with this debate.

    how is wanting an idea to get exposure such a bad thing in your mind? THAT is whats mind boggling. so then you must have a problem with the various materialistic scientific organizations that keep putting out guides on evolution and how to teach it and how to get the idea out to church-goers, etc…right? you must DESPISE the NCSE, right? their sole goal is to push darwinian evolution to the public and try to get the most exposure for this view possible. double standard, im sure, as i doubt youd attack these groups for wanting to get ideas out into the public realm!

    science isnt about consensus. whats right and true isnt always what the majority believes. its often been, in the history of science, that the majority has been wrong, and sometimes VERY wrong.

    so, in your view- it was an act of utter stupidity to even email DI, and you attack them for merely wanting the idea (that is supported by a large number of americans) to get out there andheard and understood? you claim theres no debate over ID among biologists, but we know there are IDers who ARE biologists and outright creationists who are biologists- so clearly there is a debate. what you meant to say was theres no debate among those who YOU consider REAL scientists, and you think the others arent truly worthy of being called scientists.

    when one has to continually lie about something and or someone- that means that there is, by definition, a controversey. keep putting your fingers in your ears and pretending that the ID and creationists who are also biologists dont really exist- that theyre all make believe. maybe, in time, if you wish hard enough- itll all come true. until then, honesty should be the rule…and until you can be honest about simple matters like this, dont expect anyone to take anything you say with anything but a grain of salt.

  24. oops. doran, a quick glance finds that you violate your own standards.

    Any member of the Boston area scientific community is urged to come out and support Eugenie Scott of the N.C.S.E. and Prof. James Trefil of the G.M.U. physics department. This is one more chance to show that scientists regardless of discipline stand behind the rigorous requirements of scientific research and review.

    you do realize that NCSE’s stated sole purpose is to push darwinian theory yes? which means, their goal is to get their ideas out to the public, schools, children, teachers, parents, etc. which means theyre trying to get “exposure”.

    when you speak of them tho, you speak in great support…when the DI wants to do the same thing, you act as if science will soon be dead because of it and you sit there and gape open mouth for a few mins!

    again…why am i not surprised? a lack of honesty, a double standard, a demand that science be about consenus. hmmm. those are the exact qualities that make for BAD science.

  25. heck…while im at it (okay, i left and came back) lets point out more nonsense from doran:

    Is there a budding research program like Steve Myers tried to con Nightline into thinking? No. Is there a controversy in the scientific community about the validity of Biological Evolution? No. Will the media stop printing pseudo-scientific garbage? Probably not. Is it worth the effort to keep fighting for science? YES!

    remember that everyone. there is absolutely no controversy in the scientific community about the validity of bioevo! not only does doran think creation biologist and ID biologist are imaginary beings that dont exist (see my comment above)…he also proclaims that dembski, behe, any IDer at all- none of these men and women are scientists at all. they cant be, because they think theres a controversy, yet doran assures is that there is no controversy at all among “the scientific community” (a community that has banned all IDers and other non-darwinists in doran’s world).

    lesson? ignore any further comments from doran. im sorry to post 3 times about someone- but dishonesty and lame attacks like this just wont stand in my book without it being pointed out to everyone else.

  26. “Out of curiosity, since when was the general public considered and authority on science?”

    They’re not. That’s not the point.

    Since when was the general public stripped of the right to decide what gets taught to their children in schools they pay for with local tax revenue?

    Teaching that earth is flat would be a shame but it’s not unconstitutional. If you don’t like the way democracy works you’re living the wrong country.

  27. DaveScot brings up the sensible question of how to balance public opinion and established science. A democratic republic functions on the basis that the majority on any one issue will have enough collective wisdom to make the best decision, while still protecting minority rights. From this, Dave and everyone else here are within their right to elect representatives whom make decisions in line with their own views, and I (the evilutionist) cannot deny that fact.

    As is evident from jboze’s tirade, my own views are not that of a ID proponent, but I hope most here would agree that from your own perspective “ID is still in its infancy” as some DI fellows have previously remarked.

    My two points from my first post still stand though. I feel confident enough about the first one, that I believe Dr. Dembski would agree with it. Now I do not deny that there are creationists that are also biologists (or more likely biochemists), but that professional biology societies such as those within the AAAS and the National Academies view Intelligent Design as a non-issue. Dr. Behe freely admits he is in the very slim minority on this particular issue, so I do not see why this point is controversial. Whether “ID theory” is valid experimentally or should be taught to high-schoolers remains a separate point. It is obvious that most of the “debate” has existed through op-eds, popularizations, and panel debates like the BU one.

    In my defence, I was not commenting about the religious context of Intelligent Design, and I highly doubt anyone here wants to go down this tired path again.

  28. youre still confused and think that only true science is the science being proclaimed as truth by major scientific organizations. science is NOT about consensus.

    you seem to think that the “biological community” only consists of those who do NOT support ID. and that anyone who does isnt truly part of the biological community (ot seems)…again, appealing to consensus which means nothing in science. a consensus can and have been wrong on numerous occasions.

    you say that youre an “the evilutionist)”- youre only goal is to try to claim that evolution is a dirty word here (it isnt). which also goes to show your attitude about ID and science in general- if you dont agree, mock it, attack it, call those who support it liars, blowhard, and quacks! heck, you have an entire post on quackery- every negative word is linked to dembski, ID the future, and other sites…while you praise pz myers (the foul-mouthed, abusive, anti-christian bigot/professor- you praise him in many places) and the hate-filled fools at pandas thumb (i see you mention the dishonest nick matzke- who went on natl television and told bald face lies about the DI fellow he was on with.)

    and still you put quotes around debate. why? in your mind, behe and others (on your own page you call them quacks and liars- tho without shedding any light on their supposed lies) dont count. there is absolutely no debate, you tell us…there is no controversy- mud to man evolution via unguided, purposeless processes is fact. this is all a cosmic accident, it has to be true, because you say so. but, since thousands of scientists with Ph. D’s disagree with you- there is, by definition, a debate (not a “debate”) and a controversy. your point wasnt that ID is in its infancy- your point is (and its made clear to anyone who looks at your webpage) is that these people are quacks, anti-science, liars, and maybe even worse.

  29. “If I were a religious man, I would say that everything we have learned about life in the past twenty years shows that we are unique, and therefore special, in God’s sight.”

    – James Trefil in his book on the specialness of Earth, entitled “Are We Alone?”

  30. 30

    Sal,
    What are you trying to prove?

  31. Where are you in this debate?

    http://quizfarm.com/test.php?q_id=23320

    I’d be interested in seeing results from others. Here’s mine:

    You scored as Idealist.

    Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.

    Idealist 100%
    Cultural Creative 75%
    Existentialist 38%
    Fundamentalist 13%
    Materialist 13%
    Romanticist 13%
    Modernist 0%
    Postmodernist 0%

  32. Cultural Creative.

  33. “Sal, What are you trying to prove? ”

    That it’s reasonable to think we’re “special in God’s sight.” I don’t know that Dr. Trefil could get away with saying that in public school science classes as it’s too close to the ID position and touches on metaphysical issues, but the impression that we’re special in God’s sight is hard to avoid from purely empirical grounds alone. One could accept this as an appearance, or as a reality.

    The interesting question is whether his own quote would be considered too close to ID to mention in public schools?

    “everything we have learned about life in the past twenty years shows that we are unique, and therefore special, in God’s sight.”

  34. I just saw the debate. I really wish Bill could have responded to Dr. Scott’s spin on the SETI analogy. That had the potential to be a slam dunk for ID!

    David

  35. 35

    I wish someone could have responded to James Trefil’s gold nugget example. That would have been a great opportunity to distinguish between something complex not specified with something that was complex and specified such as a gold ring.

  36. For me I was disappointed, but expected to be. Neither side really brought up anything new, at least to those that regularly follow this discussion, so it felt like each person was just rehashing worn points. I was a bit surprised at the lack of rhetorical skill displayed by Ed Sisson, especially being a lawyer. Oh and I was there in person which was fun, though quite painful at times.

  37. I wish (and I realize the format sucked) that you guys didn’t fall into the trap of making it “Evolution vs. ID”, which Scott repeated ad nauseum. Once you make people realize that it’s a debate not about the FACT of evolution but the hypothesized mechanism, it’s a lot easier to escape the “creationism” canard. Overall, a pretty disappointing evening – and the hooting rubes in the audience made me once agina regret my decision to move to Boston…

  38. id have to disagree- im fairly sure that not all IDers support the supposed FACT of evolution. and its not merely about the mechanism either. to some, sure…but to many others, no- its about much more than that.

  39. Sal,
    Come on, you can see that he qualified his statement by saying “If I were a religious man,…” He is not arguing that the idea is rational, but that to a religious person it would seem to be so.

  40. hes clearly refusing to accept religion and God…but hes saying that the evidence points to a designer. hes clearly not arguing that the idea is irrational as you say! why would he say that all the evidence points to such a thing, and if he were religious (hes not, which means he doesnt accept God), hed have to see it as being evidence for man being special and life being special.

  41. Jboze,
    Every snowflake is unique, does not mean they were created by a god. If you want to construe the guys poetic license as evidence for design or special creation be my guest. However, you and I know that it goes against his whole thesis. Let’s not try to look at quotes out of context.

  42. how does it go against his entire thesis? he said what he said- he was saying that the evidence seems to point to something special and unique about us. hes just not willing to accept the evidence for what it is- evidence for design…evidence for a designer.

    so, youre saying that he never really meant that the evidence in the past few decades could easily lead one to believe that were unique in the eyes of god (if only hed accepted the evidence to where it leads…)?? that he was just making stuff up (which you call poetic license) ??

  43. Wow! Can someone explain what was with the first speaker for the affirmative? He went on and on about his mostly irrelevant personal experience, making only a very occasional point that advanced the affirmative posistion, until his time was almost completely up! Incredible! I don’t know if I have heard a worse debater.

  44. Why don’t you guys settle this by asking Dr. Trefil what he means:

    [email protected]

    My world view results:

    Cultural Creative

    Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

    Cultural Creative

    88%
    Fundamentalist

    69%
    Romanticist

    69%
    Postmodernist

    63%
    Existentialist

    25%
    Idealist

    19%
    Modernist

    19%
    Materialist

    0%

    David

  45. I didn’t know it would take up that much space. My bad.

  46. ive no idea about that quiz, because mine also said Cultural Creative- but im definitely not someone why shys away from organized religion. i think religion without a church is foolish- becauses its all relative to what YOU want it to be without an official body to gather with, congregate with, be in fellowship with, etc.

    so i was surprised that mine said that. especially considering im a christian who believes in the virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection of christ…the reality of heaven and hell, a spiritual life/side to man, etc. who knows why the results were the way they are. then again- 2 of the questions i answered right in the middle because they didnt make total sense to me.

  47. Interesting results on the quiz so far.

    Boze, it sounds like you’re hooked on ritual trappings and positive feedback. Do you really think the creator of everything needs these things for you to know Him? Just look into your heart. Everything you need to find your way home is in there.

  48. no…im just wondering why my results came closest to a person who doesnt care for organized religion and the like. because thats precisely the person i am- a person who is part of a particular religion. that, and i dont like how it ends with “rational”- as if belief in god and more than what nature can tell us is irrational in some way.

    no big deal- i saw another quiz earlier today that equaled atheism to the most rational and common sense belief and put christians on the opposite end of the spectrum with irrational fools. so, each quiz made out there has a lot of personal bias built into it. then again, as i said- two of the questions i didnt even fully understand so i put them right in the middle, which might have affected the result.

  49. Josh,

    I’m a Christian too, but I have major issues with ecclesiastical methodology – particularly with religious legalism. I just don’t think the organized church (That includes every denomination.) is being run the way Jesus would want. I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is a powerful, dynamic, life-changing presence, and I have yet to feel that presence in any organized church I have visited. In fact, the whole “church culture” turns me off. I think it turns a lot of people off, and that’s a big reason that there are so many God-haters out there. Maybe you subconsciously share that sentiment. I think my results are pretty accurate.

    David

  50. i meant more that i think its odd to hate organized religion in the sense that some people think religion is great and all…just that THEY get to decide what feels right for them is what they do, what they believe, how they act and worship, etc.

    i dont think christianity without a church means much to me. if you dont worship and take fellowship with others…share things with others who know your situation and such- it means less. thats just my take, you see it how you do which is totally cool. i wonder which questins i answered the way i did lead it to give me the results that im not into organized religion so much and have a more generalized view of god and religion.

    heck- i cant even remember any of the questions now. :)

    im not into the stiff manner some adhere to, which i guess is part of what you were referring to? i must be honest- ive no idea what religious legalism is, tho i guess thats whats google is good for:) im not sure i care much for catholic practices that tend to lean too much on symbolism (at least it seems that is a big thing with these practices- its more a formality, too many ritualistic ideas and such)- tho im not familiar enough with all of it to completely say one way or another. but sharing faith with others, having a place to go to share ideas, learn, etc. – thats what i like about it. to be able to go sit with others and study theological issues and relating these issues to your life is nice. heck- meeting new friends and having basic fellowship is nice. the church is like a family a lot of the times- close churches like that is what i like. (tho, im actually not a member of a church presently).

  51. My first-impression paraphrases:

    Edward H. Sisson, Esq.: “When I learned about the theory of intelligent design, I realized that Darwinists’ main mode of defense against it was not to address it’s actual arguments, but to simply repeat the false mantra, ‘It’s Creationism’. As a lawyer, I know that this is typical of someone arguing from a position of weakness. But otherwise, let me spend the majority of my precious time up here slowly and gratuitously babbling about myself. What, my times up? Already?!”

    Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.: “I feel really uncomfortable debating with these yucky ID people. (After all, THERE’S NO CONTROVERSY!) ID is Creationism. ID is characterized by scientific methods, albeit ‘poor’. (Did I actually say that?) There’s really nothing wrong with our so-called scientific theory of evolution except that we don’t have a mechanism (in other words, I tacitly admit that Darwin was basically wrong, but don’t say that too loud) and we still can’t say what the evolutionary history of any species is. Anyway, blah blah, blah blah blah…evolution…Blah blah, blah blah blah.”

    Professor Bill Dembski, Ph.D.: “Really, folks, it’s not that complicated. Informal detection of design is already run-of-the-mill in many scientific endeavors (e.g., archaeology, SETI). Intelligent design simply applies formalized techniques for the detection of design to biology and concludes that aspects of living things are designed.”

    Professor James Trefil, Ph.D.: “A golden nugget isn’t designed, so how can you say the bacterial flagellum is? Blah blah, blah blah blah…Darwin…blah blah, blah blah blah. So ya see, Johnny (ie John Q. Public), if ya just give me one more month, I promise I’ll have that money I owe you for the car I’m drivin’.”

    (These are based only on opening statements – I did not get to see anything after the first hour.)

    Dr. Dembski came across as the confident advocate of common sense, and the only one who really knew what he was talking about. A breath of fresh air.

  52. Mannnnnnn!!!!, i was planing to see it and totally missed it!. Anyplace i can download a clip or something ?

    Charlie

  53. Crandaddy

    I think you’re quite right in comment #47. My personal experience is much the same as yours.

  54. If and when a transcript of this debate is available, please provide a link for us.

    Thanks

  55. Doran

    “ID is still in its infancy”

    Not really. The watchmaker argument, which is essentially what ID is, is at least 200 years old. What’s changed is we know a lot more detail about the watch (it’s far more complex than anyone suspected) and we have better mathematical tools to move the probability analysis beyond intuition, analogy, and logic (although for many of us intuition, analogy, and logic was sufficiently convincing).

  56. Josh,

    “i dont think christianity without a church means much to me. if you dont worship and take fellowship with others…share things with others who know your situation and such- it means less.”

    Please understand that I don’t oppose the Church (as in the body of believers established by Jesus Christ, Himself) – just the way mankind has corrupted it.

    Jay,

    Very nice caricaturization of the debate! I got the same impression.

    David

  57. Wow! Can someone explain what was with the first speaker for the affirmative? He went on and on about his mostly irrelevant personal experience, making only a very occasional point that advanced the affirmative posistion, until his time was almost completely up! Incredible! I don’t know if I have heard a worse debater. Apparently Jau agrees with me as he said “quoted” the fellow as saying “let me spend the majority of my precious time up here slowly and gratuitously babbling about myself. What, my times up? Already?!”

    But strangely, Jay’s comment was not deleted, and mine was.

  58. Suggested subject for the next debate: “If intelligent design is not taught in public schools, then how can one possibly justify the teaching of the neo-Darwinian fabrication?”

  59. There’s some amusing comments on here. Really enjoyable stuff.

    I do like ‘Teaching ID does no harm to ones scientific understanding’.
    I thought ‘evolution is not a complex concept’ was good too.
    And DaveScot can always be relied on for a few pearls ‘ID is still in it’s infacy? – not really’. Found any evidence yet Dave? In 200 years of trying – there must be loads and loads and loads of it.

    I also enjoyed the ‘how we should worship’ debate on the blog of the chief proponent of a ‘subject that is in no way religious whatsoever’ (regardless of the beliefs of the major proponents and – by the looks of it – most of the followers). Oh the irony!

  60. Someone named Ellery Schempp, Ph.D. posted his comments about the debate over at Panda’s Thumb here: href=”http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/the_great_debat.html”

    You can read that report for yourself, but one thing he wrote was “Scott said that Behe has lost faith in “intelligent design” as a phrase and is now promoting “sudden emergence theory”.” This is news to me. Is this correct? What does this mean?

  61. Greyshade

    “Found any evidence yet Dave? In 200 years of trying – there must be loads and loads and loads of it.”

    I’m afraid the joke’s on you. In 150 years of trying to peddle the Darwinian narrative of undirected evolution to the United States public 85% of the population doesn’t believe it was undirected.

    What’s wrong, buddy? Where’s that overwhelming evidence you keep speaking of? It certainly hasn’t overwhelmed a vast majority of those who’ve heard it. Underwhelming evidence would be the apt description.

    Denial is more than just a river in Egypt, Greyshade!

  62. This is a nice quote:

    “… there are many reasons why you might not understand [an explanation of a scientific theory] … Finally, there is this possibility: after I tell you something, you just can’t believe it. You can’t accept it. You don’t like it. A little screen comes down and you don’t listen anymore. I’m going to describe to you how Nature is – and if you don’t like it, that’s going to get in the way of your understanding it. It’s a problem that [scientists] have learned to deal with: They’ve learned to realize that whether they like a theory or they don’t like a theory is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether or not the theory gives predictions that agree with experiment. It is not a question of whether a theory is philosophically delightful, or easy to understand, or perfectly reasonable from the point of view of common sense. [A scientific theory] describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is – absurd.

    I’m going to have fun telling you about this absurdity, because I find it delightful. Please don’t turn yourself off because you can’t believe Nature is so strange. Just hear me all out, and I hope you’ll be as delighted as I am when we’re through. ”

    - Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988),
    from the introductory lecture on quantum mechanics reproduced in QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

  63. Greyshade,

    “I also enjoyed the ‘how we should worship’ debate on the blog of the chief proponent of a ’subject that is in no way religious whatsoever’ (regardless of the beliefs of the major proponents and – by the looks of it – most of the followers). Oh the irony!”

    That’s just where this thread drifted. We diverge in many different directions here. It is true that ID is more appealing to Christians than unguided evolution because it is ostensibly more compatible with Christian theism. Just for your smart remarks, I hereby challenge you with the task of demonstrating that intelligent design investigation is logically inseparable from Christian theism. Otherwise, you are guilty of a flagrant ad hominem.

    David

  64. Where did I ever mention Christians? What led you to the conclusion that I was talking about Christian beliefs and Christian religions? I wonder…

    You would be better off challenging me to demonstrate that ID is seperate from theism in general, wouldn’t you?

    Besides, a certain Dr. Behe recently said under cross-examination that he believed the intelligent designer to be God. Would it be ad hominem to suggest that for Dr. Behe ID is a religious idea? He said it himself!

  65. “Where did I ever mention Christians? What led you to the conclusion that I was talking about Christian beliefs and Christian religions?”

    We were discussing Christianity in the few posts prior to yours. Although you didn’t mention Christianity by name, I do not consider unreasonable my presumption that it is what you refered to.

    “You would be better off challenging me to demonstrate that ID is seperate from theism in general, wouldn’t you?”

    OK. Demonstrate that intelligent design investigation is inseperable from theism in general

    “a certain Dr. Behe recently said under cross-examination that he believed the intelligent designer to be God.”

    The key word there is “believed,” Greyshade.

    David

  66. David/crandaddy,

    I will get back to you with my demonstration later (tomorrow), as long as I don’t get banned first ;)

  67. I look foreward to it.

  68. Greyshade

    Quantum mechanics is some strange counter-intuitive stuff. Yet I understand it and believe it to be true.

    NeoDarwinian evolution on the other hand is straightforward and intuitive. I understand it and I believe it to be bounded to adaptive changes within closely related species and incapable of creating novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans.

    So much for your Feynman quote.

  69. Behe compares the design of the flagellum to the design of a mousetrap.

    How is that religious?

    Darwin wrote in Species that any demonstration of complexity in organisms that could not be accomplished by successive small changes each with incrementally greater survival value would falsify his theory. Behe and Dembski attempt to do just that. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with taking up Darwin’s stated method of falsification.

    I believe they’ve succeeded well enough to cast considerable doubt on Darwinian evolution being responsible for all observed diversity. The onus is on supporters of Darwin’s theory to show a plausible, detailed path whereby some of the more complex cellular machinery could have self-assembled through Darwinian pathways. There’s nothing religious in that challenge as it was a challenge formulated by Darwin hisself.

  70. “Besides, a certain Dr. Behe recently said under cross-examination that he believed the intelligent designer to be God. Would it be ad hominem to suggest that for Dr. Behe ID is a religious idea? He said it himself!”
    ———–

    greyshade- you seem to be intent on being dishonest to make bogus claims that ID is a religious idea and nothing else. can you please explain the IDers who DONT believe the designer is god? do you want to pretend they dont really exist?

    behe stating that he thought the designer was god has nothing to do with ID, which is a fact that some have to have pounded into their brains daily before they understand the concept. youre demanding that behe not name the designer of his own personal life? why? hes a christian- of course he thinks the designer is god. ID doesnt look to find the designer but the DESIGN itself, and it knows its limits.

    to follow this thru to its logical conclusion, you must now attack darwinists who go outside the realm of science and proclaim that darwinism means that there is no meaning to life, no purpose, no afterlife, etc. those a religious and philosophical ideas. you dont attack those claims tho- you only attack the claims of IDers, distorting what they mean to advance that agenda. you know quite well that behe never said ID was a religious idea, as you falsely claim…he has said many times it is science and that it stops before naming the designer, because he doesnt think naming the designer IS science. but, of course, human beings take from many different branches of knowledge in what they believe…religion is the branch that tells behe that the designer he has found thru science is, indeed, god.

    next time, at least TRY to be honest (or try to lie a bit better). if youre going to make false claims of behe, i could easily distort your own quotes and post them as fact.

  71. Eeek! Is that true about Behe “losing his faith in ID”? Anybody verify this???

    Say it ain’t so. :-(

  72. “‘Scott said that Behe has lost faith in ‘intelligent design’ as a phrase and is now promoting ‘sudden emergence theory’.’ This is news to me. Is this correct?”

    I saw the debate, and I understood her to say that Behe now opts for the name “sudden emergence theory” instead of “intelligent design theory” for the same concept. She did this to assert that he is trying to hide the designer. This is the impression I got.

    David

  73. DaveScot,

    you said: “Behe compares the design of the flagellum to the design of a mousetrap. How is that religious?”

    Disengenious poppycock mate.

    Behe says that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex and therefore must have been designed. Behe says that he believes the designer is God. So Behe believes that the bacterial flagellum was designed by God. That requires a belief in God – i.e. it’s religious. And it’s not in any way ad hominem to suggest that – for Behe at least – ID is religious concept.

  74. jboze3131,

    I have not yet suggested that ID is a religious idea and nothing else. I have suggested that it’s ironic to see a religious debate on an ID blog, and that for one of the main proponents of ID – Dr. Behe – ID is in fact a religious concept. That’s based on Dr. Behe’s sworn testimony that he believes the intelligent designer to be God.

    How the hell can Behe’s beliefs about the identity of the designer have nothing to do with his theories on design? ID makes a special effort not to mention who the designer is (seperation of church and state and all that) and then – under cross – Behe admits he believes the designer is God. Oops.

  75. crandaddy,

    I note you say that I should “Demonstrate that intelligent design investigation is inseperable from theism in general” which is carefully worded. I am going to demonstrate instead why ID itself is inseperable from theism. I have paraphrased quite a bit of this from other sources.

    I am going to talk about ID here as it sells itself – i.e. an ‘alternative’ to evolution, and I’m going to use some of the (ahem!) ‘icons’ of ID for my demonstration. The example I’m going to use is mainly the bacterial flagellum, but I will also talk about complex biochemical systems in general (blood clotting is just one example).

    ID says that the bacterial flagellum is ‘irreducibly complex’ and demonstrates ‘specified complexity’. Note that I don’t personally think that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex, but for the purposes of this argument we will assume it is.

    Because the flagellum is irreducibly complex it cannot have been designed in stages or tested along the way – because if it could have been it wouldn’t be irreducibly complex. If it had intermediate forms with testable function, then it could have been produced by evolution. So ID – by it’s very nature – assumes that the flagellum appeared fully functional. The design for the flagellum cannot have evolved through trial and error (otherwise it’s ‘darwinian’) – it was produced whole and entire. The design produces a structure that will stand the test of time – 3.5 billion years no less – and will be self-repairing (by the bacteria itself). Let’s call it ‘rarified’ design.

    Note that this kind of rarified design is very different to human design. Human designers use trial and error to find something that works. Once they have found something that works they can communicate that to other human designers, who can use that knowledge as the basis for their next design. Even the next incremental step in the design will require testing to see if if works. This is why we have test pilots. Many good human designs fail – such as the one that killed Sergei Korolev on the launch pad in 1966, ending the Soviet race to the moon.

    Human design is a process of trial and error, and passing on successful approaches to students. Each time something is thought of that might work, it relies either on past experience, that is, trial and error, or some leap, large or small, that is not guaranteed to be successful until it is tried out. Individually we learn by personal experience; corporately we learn by the experience of many. This is as true in engineering, science, medicine and technology as it is in graphic, cultural, and musical art.

    Compare that to what is required of the design of the bacterial flagellum. The design is utterly unlike human design. It does not involve trial and error or learning. Human designs are fragile – they work only in the conditions for which they are designed, if they work at all. Rarified design is robust – it works in many conditions. Human design requires tinkering to keep it working – you have to repair human designed machines after a while, or replace them. Rarified design produces a bacterial flagellum that can be repaired by the bacteria itself.

    In fact, there doesn’t actually seem to be that much in common between human design and rarified design. It does makes me wonder if the ‘design inference’ is viable at all…

    So, what can be say about the designer? The designer cannot be working from trial and error, from inductive inferences, from what is known to what is not, because if the designer was – how would we distinguish it from evolution? No, our designer is producing irreducible complexity, in one go. And the designers designs need to be able to take predict all possible future functions of a flagellum (I believe the ID community called this front loading) – no tinkering is allowed (otherwise the design wouldn’t be irreducibly complex).

    This kind of rarified design – including the predictive nature, the self repairing ability, and the fact that the design works first time – requires several orders of magnitude more intelligence than that possessed by human beings. And this is just for a simple example such as a flagellum. If we consider some of the more complex biochemical pathways that the designer ‘must have’ designed (because they are allegedly irreducibly complex) the orders of magnitude of front loading just keep getting higher.

    This one is a quote:
    “Now the combinatorial complexity here is huge. In a given litre of chemicals, there are some very large number of molecules, each of which has some astronomical number of possible combinations. In order to front load, the Designer had to foresee not only all possible combinations of molecules in organisms, but also in their environments, select the “functional” ones that met the Designer’s design goals (excluding, for example, those that permit organisms to flourish in vacuums or on the surface of molten volcanic lava, or whatever it is [the designer] wanted to exclude). Then it had to do this not only for a small volume of chemicals in solution, but over the surface of the earth for 3.5 billion years.”

    The only thing we can assume from this is that the Designer is not limited by cognitive restrictions, time available and natural processes – and the only thing that could possibly fit into this category is an omniscient being.

    So that leaves ID firmly in the theistic realm (you don’t find omniscient beings in science, something about a lack of evidence I understand). The kind of design postulated by ID could only be performed by an omniscient being.

  76. Greyshade,

    You make some unfounded assumptions. I do not agree that we know the designer cannot have used trial and error. All trial and error processes are Darwinian? Intermediate forms made by a designer before the best solution got figured out does not mean that evolution could have produced it, any more than a buggy could have been produced by accident just because we had them before cars.

    By the way,I like and an also skeptical of the frontloading idea.

  77. Greyshade,

    That’s a very well thought-out demonstration; I’m impressed! I think you did about as well as you could have done, but I’m afraid I’m not convinced. I agree that if ID does, in fact, exist in nature, it poses serious problems for atheism as you pointed out very well. But is it not to say that if there is no (logically) possible way a finite, corporeal designer to have created an instance of irreducible or specified complexity, then there is no possible way for it to have come into existence at all by any means that are constrained by natural possibilities? Use your imagination, Greyshade; it seems to me that what you postulate is an argument from ignorance. In order to establish that theism and ID are logically fused together one must prove one of two things:

    1) That some phenomenon exhibits a property that cannot possibly have occured via any action constrained by natural physical laws.

    2) That some phenomenon performs a function that transcends such laws – in other words, that it performs a miracle. (Many concepts of psychological dualism fit this bill.)

    David

  78. forget greyshade, he still cant be honest about what behe said.

    greyshade said:

    “I have suggested that it’s ironic to see a religious debate on an ID blog, and that for one of the main proponents of ID – Dr. Behe – ID is in fact a religious concept. That’s based on Dr. Behe’s sworn testimony that he believes the intelligent designer to be God. “

    Behe did NOT say that ID is a religious concept. the SCIENCE and the design inference is the ID…the designger being God to him is the other branch of knowlede- religion. theres a line between the two that is distinct, no matter how you want to distort his claims. you say that he admits ID is a religious concept, but you know thats an outright lie.

    you seem to demand of behe that he support ID, yet then you want him to turn his brain off and not have any other knowlede via any other branch of knowlede which would lead him to find that the designer, for him, is God.

    youre showing all the insane rantings of an anti-religious zealot, wanting more than anything to dishonestly twist behe’s words into things he never said.

    ID has its limits…same thing with darwinism, tho most dont want to admit that limit with darwinism and demand it be taken into the philosophical worldview beyond science. youre claiming that, because behe knows ID has limits, and his knowledge of God comes from religion (another brance of knowledge) therefore ID is a religious concept and thats what behe thinks. nonsense. not only nonsense, but blatant lies on your part.

    and how on earth is it ironic that religion is discussed on an ID website? funny how atheist websites often link to darwinist sites…and its funny how darwinian sites often proclaim life has no meaning or purpose (aka atheism!) youre demanding a double standard (what a shocker). of course ID and darwinian evolution both have religious implications…few people would find it odd that the two go hand in hand to some degree in that both theories impact religious ideas.

    again, ill say, until you can be honest about what behe said- dont expect too many people to take you seriously.

  79. btw- this nonsense about science being limited to purely naturalistic activities needs to be tossed aside for good. if a scientist was in the lab and god came down from heaven and had a chat with him and allowed himself to be studied, by the naturalistic model the scientist wouldnt be able to scientifically investigate him.

    the funny thing is- science attempts to tackle the “supernatural” all the time when they go out and claikm theyve debunked ghosts, hauntings, ESP, telepathy, psychic powers, etc. BUT, the problem is- science can never possibly debunk these ideas, since too many within science want to stick to a narrow minded view of science. if these things existed, and they were beyond natural phenomenon, then science, by this definition, could have no part in it.

    so, if youre going to claim ID is a religious theory, then you also have to limit science and say that scientists can never debunk ghosts, hauntings, everything else i mentioned, and much much more.

  80. i should also note that if greyshade continues to distort what behe has said of ID, im wondering if he thinks its okay to distort what any darwinist says from now on and proclaim that it is a religious concept…

    considering the fact that the most famous darwinists have proclaimed that the theory means an end to belief in god. i quoted prof. provine from cornell who said that the theory means no afterlife, no purpose and no meaning to the universe (clearly a religious statement, not a statement based any way in science), and we’ve all heard richard dawkins who said darwinism allowed him to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist (also a religious statement with no basis in science as it is usually defined- tho, as i commented before, the definition needs to be much more broad unless scientists want to leave out large areas of knowledge that might or might not be based on a purely naturalistic model of the world).

    so, if the top darwinists are adding religious and philosophical values to the theory, then its safe to say, under greyshades definition of how things are labeled, darwinism is purely a religious concept itself.

  81. I saw the debate, and I understood her to say that Behe now opts for the name “sudden emergence theory” instead of “intelligent design theory” for the same concept. She did this to assert that he is trying to hide the designer. This is the impression I got.

    Makes me wonder what Behe might have actually said. Given the way his statements get distorted or misquoted by the anti-ID crowd, something seems amiss here.al
    Bill, do you know what Eugenie was talking about?

  82. Doran writes in 27:
    “DaveScot brings up the sensible question of how to *balance* public opinion and established science.” Doran then grudgingly concedes that even dodos like DaveScot still have the right to vote, influence policy, etc etc.

    But “balance” is a standard Soft Underleft term. It always means rule by elites and very strict adherence to elite culture codes.

    Balanced history means suppression of Western culture.

    Balanced coverage means mandatory airing of elitist views.

    Balanced wilderness plan means excluding Commoners and locals.

    Balanced grading system means no grades

    Balanced admissions means racialist or genderist rather than objective criteria.

    Balanced sex mores means placing the moral environment under control of deviants, (minorities by definition).

    Balanced judicial selection means the minority party, the losing party, the unpopular party should choose.

    Balanced funding means taxing Commoners to promote elitist agendas

    Balanced discussion of biological origins means exiling Design arguments down the hall to history class or psychology class.

    When used by a small, (invariably tax-supported) activist group, Balance is always a synonym for “money” or “power,” as in the sentence: “We need more Balance.”

    When used by representatives of powerful institutions, Balance always means absolute authoritarian control and rigid orthodoxy.

    Where this has been accomplished, the resulting system is said to be “diverse.”

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