Home » Darwinism, Evolution, Evolutionary biology, Intelligent Design, Philosophy, Science » Jerry Coyne – Afraid to Engage – Imagine That!

Jerry Coyne – Afraid to Engage – Imagine That!

Over at his Why Evolution is True website, the infamous Jerry Coyne has given his lame excuses for not wanting to take up a genuine offer from ENV’s David Klinghoffer to debate and discuss Steve Meyer’s latest Book Darwin’s Doubt as well as discussing anything else Darwin related.  In his “I’m too busy and important to do that’ rant he writes:

You ID advocates can also make your case, but the website rules are that we can then ask, before you post further, about your evidence for God The Intelligent Designer.

This is the last time I’ll be engaging the Discovery Institute directly on these issues. DIers are not scientists but religious zealots concealing clerical collars beneath threadbare lab coats. I will debate real scientific issues with other scientists, but not creationism with creationists who pretend to be scientists. After all, real scientists are open to reason, and don’t spend their time making up evidence to buttress a priori emotional commitments.

Notice how Coyne harkens back to the old canard  of “yeah, well who’s the designer then, and where’s your evidence for his/her existence”.  Clearly, Coyne is either clueless about what ID is really about or he does know and is deliberately misrepresenting it…take your pick.

As to the last sentence from Coyne, all I can say is in reply is, “No, only Darwinists do that”!  The sad truth is that Coyne, like Dawkins and a few others, know deep down that in a real discussion where they would have to defend both their science and their philosophy with, you know, actual data and logic and reason, they’d get their clocks cleaned by anyone who knew what they were talking about, like Steve Meyer, Bill Dembski, or a host of others we could name.

So, I tell you what Dr. Jerry Coyne, I’ll come to your website and subject myself to the slings and arrows of your followers if you will answer but one simple scientific question.  How do you know scientifically (no philosophy, metaphysics or theology allowed) that the properties of the Cosmos are such that any apparent design(s) we observe in Nature can not be actual design even in principle? There, simple question.  Provide the science.  Who conducted the studies to confirm the hypothesis, under what conditions and in what relevant peer reviewed scientific research journal can we read the findings?  And I’d love for you to explain in detail how it might be falsified.  Again, only science, no sneaking in philosophical presuppositions or assuming the point at issue.  Answer that, Dr. Coyne, and I’ll come on Why Evolution is True and you can ask me whatever you like!

Of course, there is the possibility that you have an actual scientific answer to the question.  Its a risk I’m willing to take because I already know you don’t!  Why?  Because no one does.  If you have one, Dr. Coyne, you can expect to receive your Nobel Prize for the most ground breaking discovery in all of history!

Barring that, what is clear in your rant (and it IS a rant) is that you think your philosophical presuppositions are invisible and you’re only discussing actual science!  That, and $2.10 will get you a Starbuck’s Grande.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

37 Responses to Jerry Coyne – Afraid to Engage – Imagine That!

  1. Jerry Coyne is a prime example of how even highly credentialed persons can have great difficulty respectfully interacting with opinions that they disagree with. It’s a shame that a man of such erudition comes across like a crass schoolyard bully.

  2. slightly OT: I seem to remember another, “I’m too busy and important to do that’, excuse to not debate,,,

    Why Richard Dawkins Won’t Debate Craig: “I’m Busy” – w/video
    http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/.....ate-craig/

    Myself, I thought Dawkins dodged debating Craig not because he was ‘busy’ but because the last time Dawkins got anywhere near Craig in a formal debate setting, Craig took him apart:

    Richard Dawkins Lies About William Lane Craig AND Logic! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1cfqV2tuOI

    1. Argument From Contingency – God is the best explanation for why anything exists rather than nothing.

    2. Kalam Cosmological Argument – God is the best explanation for the beginning of the universe.

    3. Teleological Argument – God is the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe for intelligent life.

    4. Moral Argument – God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and duties in the world,,, even for the existence of evil which is a departure from the way things ‘ought’ to be.

    5. Ontological Argument – modal – The very possibility of God’s existence entails that God exists.

    6, Comprehensibility Argument – God is the best explanation for why the universe can be grasped and understood by the mind of man in the first place.

    7. Law Like Structure Argument – God is the best explanation for why the universe obeys a set of invariant transcendent laws.

    Reasonable Faith – Dr. William Lane Craig’s official website:
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer

    Coyne sure seems

  3. Optimus wrote:
    It’s a shame that a man of such erudition...

    Why would you describe Coyne as “a man of such erudition”?

    By all reasonable measures, he seems quite ignorant and thick.

  4. My goodness. Has any neo-darwinian advocate been able to adequately domonstrate alledged mechanisms proposed are capable, within even reasonably understood constraints, of explaining relavent phenomena observable in terms of living organism and ecosystems comprised of co depedent living organisms? Keep in mind that the ability to observe, in and of itself, has not been adequately explained by NDE.

    So does this necessarily lead us to the conclusion that “intelligent cause” did it? Maybe not. But there seems to be no significant “scientific” reasoning whatsoever to conclude that no “intelligence” even to a high degree, was involved.

  5. Jerry Coyne is a coward.

  6. “Jerry Coyne is a coward.”

    Not sure he is that. But what comes to mind, to me, is that this person asserts way too much, relative to actual “science” in regards to explanations of what is “observable” and describable, from a realistic perspective regarding how things are what they are. There is way too much, scientifically, to demonstrate, to be able to make the claims on “reality” Coyne does. But I guess that comes along with human convention, when you are able to bluff your way into a position of authority for some reason or another. After all, NDE was asserted by it’s sypatriots years ago as actual science without any kind of scientific debate over the conjecture proclaimed.
    Now, the debate has been established, finally, and for good.

  7. 7

    Well, what a shame a “real” scientist like Jerry Coyne is too afraid to debate Mr Klinghoffer. You would think a “real” scientist like Mr Coyne would relish such an opportunity. ;-)

    Honestly Mr Coyne, do you REALLY think we buy your sad excuse and pitiful attempt to save face?

  8. Apparently, Coyne is willing to be a “lightening rod” regarding criticisms on NDE. Why not? He enjoys the fact that pop culture media ignorantly supports the paradign’s presuppositions without any kind of real verifications. So, he can ride out the controversy and enjoy the fruits of publicity without any kind of contrary repercussions that normally follow someone in the private sector. Ah, the pervsions of the “public sector” “servants”. So who are the “public servants” really serving?

  9. 9
    sagebrush gardener

    JC:

    Real scientists are open to reason, and don’t spend their time making up evidence to buttress a priori emotional commitments.

    Oh, the irony.

  10. 10

    I understand Mr Coyne forever has been arguing with creationists.
    Whats changed? The end of his blogs etc?
    We need evolutionists to discuss these things with.!
    What is the top three evidences for biological evolution???
    It could be the debate to end all debates!

    Somebody is intellectually failing to understand the excellence, or adequacy , or lack of biological scientific evidence for evolution.
    Seens that way from YEC Canada here!!

  11. Barb
    ‘Jerry Coyne is a coward.”

    Jerry is coy(ne).
    :)

  12. ID: I’d like to discuss the scientific issue regarding the adequacy of hard evidence to prove that purely naturalistic processes, such as mutations, are capable of creating complex biological machinery.

    Darwinist: ….You are a creationist!

    ID: Um..But I did not mention anything remotely close to creation or God.

    Darwinist: Oh yeah! So who’s the designer?

    ID: But that is irrelevant to whether mutations are adequate enough to…..

    Darwinist: Whatever, I don’t debate creationists.

  13. Hi Shogun,
    The problem with ID is not that it talks about God. The problem is that the explanation it proposes is essentially defined as “something that can do anything”, which is not a helpful explanation. I agree that the processes we currently understand in biology do not account for biological complexity. But that doesn’t tell us anything at all about what might account for it.
    Cheers,
    RDFish

  14. Hi RD Fish:

    The problem is that the explanation it proposes is essentially defined as “something that can do anything”, …

    That is not correct. We do not know if the designer could do anything.

    I agree that the processes we currently understand in biology do not account for biological complexity. But that doesn’t tell us anything at all about what might account for it.

    It narrows down the candidates. Also we are proceding just as Newton said, meaning we are following the rules of scientific investigation.

  15. Hi Joe,

    That is not correct. We do not know if the designer could do anything.

    Can you describe any single logically possible thing that the designer could not do? If not, then “designer” does essentially mean “something that can do anything”, in the sense that whatever we might find to exist in biological systems could be said to have been caused by the “designer”.

    It narrows down the candidates.

    Yes, I think “random mutation and natural selection” could at some point be removed as a candidate explanation of the existence of complex form and function in biology.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  16. Can you describe any single logically possible thing that the designer could not do?

    That would be logically impossible without knowing the designer.

    Yes, I think “random mutation and natural selection” could at some point be removed as a candidate explanation of the existence of complex form and function in biology.

    1- Natural selection includes random mutation

    2- Add drift to that list

    What’s left for the blind watchmaker to choose from?

  17. Hi Joe,

    RDF:
    Can you describe any single logically possible thing that the designer could not do?
    JOE: That would be logically impossible without knowing the designer.

    Right! So that means that absolutely nothing could ever be ruled out as a possible capability of this theoretical designer. That is what I meant in the first place – for all ID says, this designer might be able to do anything whatsoever. In other words, “designer” essentially means “something that could do anything”.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  18. RDFish,

    Your response is not so different from the Darwinist in my parody in post 11, side-stepping the adequacy of Darwinism and taking stabs at the designer.

    “designer” does essentially mean “something that can do anything”, in the sense that whatever we might find to exist in biological systems could be said to have been caused by the “designer”

    So what? I mean after all these decades of Darwinists wanting us to believe that “whatever we find to exist in biological systems could be said to have been caused by Darwinism”, which is too convenient but it had been taken seriously all this time. At least an intelligent designer is more in tune with the fact that information runs the show in biology.

  19. Hi Shogun,

    RDF: “designer” does essentially mean “something that can do anything”, in the sense that whatever we might find to exist in biological systems could be said to have been caused by the “designer”
    SHOGUN: So what?

    So if you have some explanation that explains anything, as this “designer” of ID does, it actually explains nothing at all, since you can never tell if the explanation is correct or not.

    I could make up something called “X Force” and say that it accomplishes fine-tuning and universe creation and CSI generation in biology… and it even makes crop circles too! But even though it explained everything, it wouldn’t really be a good explanation of anything because I couldn’t tell you anything about this “X Force” thing, nor could I tell you how to decide if it really exists or not. It is the same with “Intelligent Designer”.

    I mean after all these decades of Darwinists wanting us to believe…

    Sorry, you’ll have to take that up with a Darwinist :-)

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  20. RD:

    So that means that absolutely nothing could ever be ruled out as a possible capability of this theoretical designer. That is what I meant in the first place – for all ID says, this designer might be able to do anything whatsoever. In other words, “designer” essentially means “something that could do anything”.

    Actually the best we can say is that successful designers are capable of the designing the things they do.

    I would never say that the designers of Stonehenge were capable of anything.

  21. RDF,

    Just to clear up your confusion, ID is a theory of design DETECTION. A theory of design implementation, or who the designer is, is a completely different story that up to this point may be beyond the scope of ID theory. You’re using the same Darwinist tactic of trying to discredit “design detection” by attacking the “design implementation” or “the designer’s qualities”, both of which are irrelevant to whether or not we can detect design in nature.

  22. Shogun

    Just to clear up your confusion, ID is a theory of design DETECTION. A theory of design implementation, or who the designer is, is a completely different story that up to this point may be beyond the scope of ID theory. You’re using the same Darwinist tactic of trying to discredit “design detection” by attacking the “design implementation” or “the designer’s qualities”, both of which are irrelevant to whether or not we can detect design in nature.

    And I’d say, Shogun, that this is exactly what is wrong with ID as it currently stands. For a designed thing to exist, two things have to happen: it has to be designed and it has to be fabricated.

    For any designed object, therefore, fabrication must also have happened.

    Therefore, if there is reason to think it was designed, but no trace of any fabrication process, then the design hypothesis must be cast into doubt.

    If IDists are serious about the Design hypothesis, they must also believe that the Designer fabricated the alleged artefacts. Proposing and testing hypotheses what exactly was moved around when, and in what way (prebiotic molecules steered into position; DNA molecules reordered and manoevered to result in useful enzymes and proteins) would therefore be a potentially extremely valuable way of providing further evidence for the Design hypothesis.

    Deciding a priori that it is irrelevant is exactly why ID is often regarded as unscientific. It’s a perfectly decent theory, but positively invites testing. Testing hypotheses about the fabrication process is an obvious way forward.

    Would you not agree?

  23. Elizabeth:

    And I’d say, Shogun, that this is exactly what is wrong with ID as it currently stands.

    And knowledgeable people would say that you are wrong.

    For a designed thing to exist, two things have to happen: it has to be designed and it has to be fabricated.

    And BEFORE getting to those you first have to determine design exists.

    For any designed object, therefore, fabrication must also have happened.

    True but we don’t have to know how something was fabricated before we can determine that it was. How comes after, unless someone has direct observation of the process.

    Therefore, if there is reason to think it was designed, but no trace of any fabrication process, then the design hypothesis must be cast into doubt.

    Not if we proceeded properly and eliminated necessity and chance.

    If IDists are serious about the Design hypothesis, they must also believe that the Designer fabricated the alleged artefacts.

    Yes, Lizzie. Welcome to ID 101.

    Proposing and testing hypotheses what exactly was moved around when, and in what way (prebiotic molecules steered into position; DNA molecules reordered and manoevered to result in useful enzymes and proteins) would therefore be a potentially extremely valuable way of providing further evidence for the Design hypothesis.

    That’s wrong. First you have to determine design is present before trying to figure out anything else.

    Deciding a priori that it is irrelevant is exactly why ID is often regarded as unscientific.

    It is irrelevant wrt determining design, Lizzie. To say otherwise is to expose one’s ignorance.

    Geez Lizzie, you have been corrected many times and you still prattle on as if it means something.

    Why don’t darwinists test the efficacy of natural selection? Why is the peer-reviewed literature void of articles demonstrating that natural selection can produce multi-protein configurations?

  24. Earth to Elizabeth Liddle:

    For darwinian evolution to exist there must be a living organism, or population, capable of reproduction and heriatble chance variation.

    For any living organism, therefor, its origin must have happened.

    Therefor, if there is reason to think that matter and energy could do it, but there isn’t any trace that they could, materialism must be cast into doubt.

    If evolutionists are serious about evolutionism, they must also believe that living organisms arose from non-living matter via the interactions of matter and energy. Proposing and testing hypotheses what exactly was moved around when, and in what way (prebiotic molecules steered into position by heat; DNA molecules reordered and manoevered to result in useful enzymes and proteins) would therefore be a potentially extremely valuable way of providing further evidence for evolutionism.

    Deciding a priori that it is irrelevant is exactly why evolutionism is often regarded as unscientific.

  25. Joe:

    For darwinian evolution to exist there must be a living organism, or population, capable of reproduction and heriatble chance variation.

    For any living organism, therefor, its origin must have happened.

    Indeed.

    Therefor, if there is reason to think that matter and energy could do it, but there isn’t any trace that they could, materialism must be cast into doubt.

    Absolutely.

    But the point is that it doesn’t throw Darwinian evolution into doubt.

    Compare:

    If this was Designed, it must have been fabricated.
    Therefore, if it was not fabricated, it cannot have been Designed.

    With:

    If this evolved by Darwinian processes, there must have been an initial population of self-replicators.

    If material processes could not have produced an initial population of self-replicators, then Darwinian evolution required a Designed starter-population.

    Which is perfectly possible. Darwin said as much.

  26. Joe:

    If evolutionists are serious about evolutionism, they must also believe that living organisms arose from non-living matter via the interactions of matter and energy.

    Not at all. It is perfectly reasonable to be absolutely convinced by the effectiveness of evolutionary processes to generate the diversity and complexity of the life that we observed, and yet to posit that a Designer intervened to kick the whole thing off.

    Just as it’s possible to think that material processes account for the entire physical world, but that a Designer was required to kick the universe off. Or existence itself off.

    It’s not Darwin or bust. Darwinism is perfectly compatible with “non-materialism”.

  27. Lizzie,

    The ONLY way to infer darwinian evolution is responsible for the diversity of life is if non-telic processes produced living organisms from non-living matter.

    If living organisms were designed then the inference is they were designed to evolve and evolved by design.

    And darwinism is not OK with non-materialism.

    But that is the problem- you don’t understand darwinian evolution.

  28. Elizabeth,

    Can you spot the irony or inconsistency in the following scenario:

    Question: How was a sophisticated biological system, such as vision, created?

    Answer 1: Natural selction & blind mutations, ie. Darwinism did it. (No details given)

    Darwinist response: Oh that is brilliant science.

    Answer 2: It was intelligently designed.

    Darwinist response: We demand precise and intricate details on How it was designed and who the designer is.

  29. Funny how those who are unsatisfied with “the designer did it” had been fully satisfied all these years with “Darwinism did it” and passing their Darwinian speculative maneuvering as pure science.

  30. Joe: I beg to differ. I think it is you who does not understand darwinian evolution.

    But as there is no way to resolve which of us in error, we will just have to agree to differ.

    But as one last try: Darwinian evolution explains the diversity of life from simple origins. It does not explain how those simple origins themselves emerged from non-living matter. If a designer seeded the earth with those simple life forms and then let them evolve Darwinianly, then that was a very good idea. But it wouldn’t mean that Darwinian evolution didn’t happen. It would just mean that it was intended to happen by a Designer.

    Makes no difference to validity of the theory, just as it makes no difference to the validity of the theory of ballistics that the paper cup I just threw at the wast basket was intended to go into it.

    (I won’t say whether it did)

  31. Well then it becomes a question of whether it was designed to evolve for a purpose or just left to evolve on it’s own by chance and necessity. If the latter is true we need proof that chance and necessity alone are capable of creating complex functions. If not, then when chance and necessity and eliminated that leaved us with design.

  32. Shogun:

    Elizabeth,

    Can you spot the irony or inconsistency in the following scenario:

    Question: How was a sophisticated biological system, such as vision, created?

    Answer 1: Natural selction & blind mutations, ie. Darwinism did it. (No details given)

    Darwinist response: Oh that is brilliant science.

    Answer 2: It was intelligently designed.

    Darwinist response: We demand precise and intricate details on How it was designed and who the designer is.

    Yes. And it was not what I asked for, nor is it anything like a realistic description of evolutionary science.

    Shogun: I would like to see ID on a proper scientific footing. I have no particular axe to grind. If life was designed by an interventionist designer, I’d like to know more about it.

    I simply do not agree that you can infer a Designer from the functional complexity of biological organisms, because I think there is a perfectly good alternative on the table. But nor do I reject the possibility of a Designer. So to choose between the two – to test which is the better model, we need to make predictive hypotheses. The first place to try, I suggest, is hypothesising when, where, and how the designer might have intervened. I am not demanding that you do so; it’s possible that the designer operated by designing the entire universe so that it Just Worked, with no further tinkering required.

    But in that case, the Designer would not be inferrable from within the universe – although she would totally responsible for its design.

    However, there are other scenarios, in which the Designer might indeed be detectable – if the interventions were intermittent, for example, or were detectable as systematic deviations in biochemical behaviour from expectations under the known fundamental forces.

    The way scientific conclusions are drawn (and they are always provisional, not definitive) is by comparing model fits. Unfortunately, under the omnipotent omniscient non-interventionist Designer model, both a materialist and Designer model will give the same fit. But under interventionist Designer models, they won’t.

    I’m suggesting that ID develops such models. Because merely asserting that some kinds of patterns can only be Designed is just that – assertion.

    Ironically, the very efforts ID proponents go to to insist that ID is not about religion, and therefore must stop at pattern detection, and eschew any speculation as to the nature of the designer (as veering onto theological turf) is the very reason it stops being science. If ID is true (and by that I mean: if a Designer is detectable, not if a Designer is responsible) then there is a clear research program that will generate positive evidence for it.

    I think the DI should go for it, for instance by undertaking psi research. Evidence that minds can not only fabricate things using hands and muscles, but can move matter at a distance by some hitherto unmodeled force would hugely increase the priors for a designer/fabricator of life.

    But simply trying to knock holes in the alternative on probabilistic grounds is, I opine, just doing statistical voodoo.

  33. Elizabeth:

    I beg to differ. I think it is you who does not understand darwinian evolution.

    And yet it is I who presents the references aaht suport my claims and you do not. You have always just ignored my references as if that means something.

    But as one last try: Darwinian evolution explains the diversity of life from simple origins.

    You are incomplete:

    Darwinian evolution explains the diversity of life from simple origins via natural selection and other accumulations of happenstance variation.

    From from Darwinism, Design and Public Education:

    the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

    That is how Darwin saw it. That is how Mayr saw it. That is how dawkins sees it. That is how Coyne sees it.

    Don’t blame me because you refuse to understand that.

    It does not explain how those simple origins themselves emerged from non-living matter.

    Again, how life arose directly impacts how it evolved.

    If a designer seeded the earth with those simple life forms and then let them evolve Darwinianly, then that was a very good idea.

    It is a better idea to have a plan and to design the organisms to be able to adapt.

    Again if the ooL was designed then it is clear the organisms were designed to evolve. Or are you saying that cars are designed but the way they work is just chance interactions? Or Stonehenge was designed but just by chance is has some celestrial alignment?

    No designer is going to take the time to design a habitable planet and organisms to inhabit it, and leave the rest up to chance and contingencies. Especially given the timing of our arrival- just when the required moon is just-so in the sky to give us the discoveries we crave.

    So the bottom line is your view of darwinian evolution falls short of what the evolutionary biologists say. And for some reason you think you can just ignore them and that makes me wrong.

    How can you do that?

  34. To reiterate:

    I have supported my claims wrt darwinian evolution using evolutionary biologists as references and Lizzie has not supported hers.

    I can continue to support the claim that darwinian evolution requires all genetic change to be accidental, either via copying errors, mistakes or damage. darwin’s entire premise was natural selection gives you design without a designer- no teleology allowed in darwinian evolution.

    That means it is more that just reproduction with heritable variation. If you have reproduction with heritable variation you have evolution, but that doesn’t mean it’s darwinian. Lizzie doesn’t want to understand that. To her all evolution is darwinian.

    And that just ain’t so…

  35. Shogun:

    Well then it becomes a question of whether it was designed to evolve for a purpose or just left to evolve on it’s own by chance and necessity. If the latter is true we need proof that chance and necessity alone are capable of creating complex functions. If not, then when chance and necessity and eliminated that leaved us with design.

    Except that that is not possible using scientific methodology. We do not reach conclusions by definitively eliminating all other options. It can’t work, because we can’t know what other options we have failed to eliminate. “Chance” and “Necessity” are far too vague. To eliminate a null you have to be able to compute the probability distribution under that null.

    This is the fundamental flaw in Dembskian ID.

    I’d like to see a non-flawed ID program.

  36. Why isn’t it possible using scientific methodology?

    Eliminating other options does limit the remaining possibilities. However even the EF requires more than merely eliminating necessity and chance.

    Shogun made a minor slip.

    And computation isn’t the only way. Also as you have pointed out the materialists can’t produce anything to give us the numbers to work with.

    They can’t give us anything and that is somehow a flaw with ID?

    I would like to see some non-flawed criticisms of ID.

  37. Elizabeth,

    I will repeat my assertion, if chance and necessity, which in this context pretty much mean “blind watchmaker”, are capable of complex functional designs we need proof that is more solid than all those mountains of speculative maneuvering given by Darwinists.

    Now I’m not a mathematician, but I know that if chance/necessity stand very little chance to meet this challenge, I’m comfortable with deducing Design by a process of elimination. But of course, that is not the only reason why I advocate ID.

    So far we’ve only seen ID theorists that are actually mathematically testing the adequacy of mutations as an engine of biological creativity, and the results are not so Darwinism-friendly. Now if you’d like to dismiss their work then you and other Darwinists are welcome to come up with your own mathematically supported models that adequately prove the alleged creativity of mutations. But so far, as Joe pointed out, Darwinists didn’t give us much numbers to work with, they just want us to accept their hand-waving stories and throw “creationists” label at any dissident.

Leave a Reply