Cornelius Hunter/Burt Humburg Debate

| 37 Comments

Just wanted to inform readers of The Thumb that I’m going to be appearing on a radio debate with Dr. Cornelius Hunter. The show will broadcast live from 10:05am to 11:30am EST Saturday morning April 28th. You can call in at 904.854.1320 or e-mail your questions/comments to [Enable javascript to see this email address.].

goys_radio_button.jpg

BCH

37 Comments

Hunter appeared in a a panel discussion with Cornell professors Richard Harrison and Kern Reeve in 2006. Hunter started out with a “Gish gallop” but Harrison and Reeve chose to ignore it and instead lay out the evidence for evolution. This proved to be fairly successful. The most interesting part of the evening was when Reeve challenged Hunter to relate any scientific prediction made by ID. All Hunter could come up with was black obelisks (a la the move 2001: A Space Odyssey). Maybe you could follow up on this, and ask Hunter where would be the best places to start lookig for these black obelisks.

Let me know if Dr. Cornelius uses the banana argument!

Cornelius Hunter? The same guy who refused to present anything remotely resembling an argument to support his homology criticisms over at ATBC a few months back? Meh.

Nail him to the wall.

IMHO, any debate with any ID proponent these days should emphasize a couple of facts:

1) A year or so ago, ID proponents had the opportunity, in court, to present any evidence they had that ID is science. Their case was demolished.

If they had a good case for ID, why didn’t they present it in court? If they had a good case against evolution, why didn’t they present that in court?

2) ID makes no testable predictions. Despite the various definitions of “science” which are out there, I think it’s fair to say that they all include empirical testing.

Good luck, Burt! I’ll be rooting for you!

Even though the debate format favors pseudoscience I know you’ll do well. But it can’t hurt to offer my usual recommendations:

Get him to detail as much about his position as possible. Not on the designer’s identity; per the link Comment 172358 he admitted that it’s God, but so did many prominent “evolutionists.” Rather, since he is an OEC (also per the aforementioned link) get him to elaborate on what the designer did and when, that makes his “theory” qualify as an alternative to evolution. Take the focus off of evolution, not because it’s weak in any way, but because it gives him more facts to misrepresent and terms to redefine.

You surely know better than I where he stands on common descent. If like most IDers he either evades it or uses weasel words like “common design,” get him to give some evidence of independent abiogenesis that doesn’t rely on “holes” in evolution. Make sure that the audience (plenty of YECs) knows that the only position ever published by an ID leader that was clear on the age of the Earth and common descent conceded mainstream science’s conclusions on both. Not that that makes ID any better than YEC or OEC, of course. In fact it is both less scientific, and apparently less honest even as a belief than classic creationism.

I’m listening… 10:25am EDT. Hunter states that there is *no* evidence that echolocation in animals like bats evolved? Hmmm… Did ears in mammals arise prior to or after bats acquired echolocation? Are dual sound sensors on a movable platform capable of sensing sound location? Does phase detection help?

All those features predate echolocation in bats. Even humans are capable of primitive sensing of the local environment via sound.

Unsympathetic reader:

I’ll take a wild guess that he’s playing bait-and-switch with the word “evolved” (only because I’ve never heard any other approach from an anti-evolution activist). But I’m more interested in how else he thinks it arose if not by evolution (descent with modification). Did he even call it by name, let alone provide evidence and a potential falsifier? Without reference to his perceived problems with “Darwinism”?

So, evolution is religion and ID is science? This is commonly known as the “I know you are but what am I” argument.

Why was it that when the ID advocate was asked for evidence he did not have any? Why did he get away with saying the designer was God but ID still is not religion? Why were the ID advocates that called in allowed to ramble on about Jesus, the ressurection, faith healing, etc.? Why was the ID side given three times more time to talk than the science side? Why did this guy, who apparently works for the DI disavow any knowledge of their actions? Why did the moderator get to call it the “theory” of intelligent design without being challenged?

You can also vote for the participant you think won the debate here .

I just caught the last few minutes of the debate, and among other disappointing sound bites, Hunter was able to sneak in one of the most egregious misrepresentations ever (about the DNA code, and how IDers “follow the evidence”). Becasuse of the format of the debate (not any fault on Humburg’s part) it went unchallenged! I sure hope the rest of it went better. The point is not to “nail Hunter to the wall” by our criteria, but by those of the fence-sitters.

I was very disappointed. The impression left was that ID followed the science and evolution science does not. That assertion should the easiest to refute but was left on the table.

Unfortunately, this “debate” was a poster child for why real scientists should not debate with clowns like Hunter – especially in an AM talk-show environment, where most of the listeners have no idea what science is or how it works. The show host was flat-footed stooooopid, and that didn’t help any.

Hunter states that there is *no* evidence that echolocation in animals like bats evolved?

Cheap trick here. How would a fossil of echolation appear. How about of bird song. Or dolphin sonar?

And who knows the complete fossil record anyway offhand? There may or may not be fossil evidence for bat echolation but I’d have to look it up.

The best response would be that we know that evolution occurs, we know how many features such as limbs evolved from fins, and there is no reason to expect bat sonar to be any different.

So if echolocation didn’t evolve how did it arise? Goddidit. Any evidence for this? Photos, stories engraved on stone tablets. Talking burning bushes.

is there any way to listen to the debate now? the link to the station works but my guess is that its the current program.

Hunter brought up sonar despite having been confronted on that issue before.

Rule 6 violators need not enter stuff here. It will go away.

Sorry, Burt, but from what little I heard live, plus the comments above, this “debate” sounded like the usual sensationalist media nonsense, which is always stacked to give the PR advantage to pseudoscience. I think you’ve been had.

Hunter brought up sonar despite having been confronted on that issue before.

Since when do facts stop creos? LOL

Talk origins would call the no evidence of echolation evolving comment as:

An argument from ignorance. Because we don’t know what the explanation is does not mean there is none.

Could also be the usual argument from incredulity. “I can’t see how my foot evolved so god exists.”

I didn’t mean to be critical of Burt in my previous post. I think he did an excellent job, especially under the circumstances. So far the poll seems to bear this out. Although that may be due to the input from PT due to Karen’s post. Thanks to Karen for the link.

However, as others have pointed out, this seemed to be rigged from the start. The first question for Burt, from the moderator, was something like: “So how do you explain Jesus”? You could almost see Burt contort his face in disbelief. His response was something like, “I’m the scientist, why don’t you ask the other guy”.

It was too bad that Burt didn’t have a good answer ready for the echolocation nonsense. If this guy has used that argument before it was a good bet he would trot it out again, even if it had already been dismantled. Maybe having a laptop with access to Talk Origins archives would be a good idea in these circumstances. Don’t know if that particular one is addressesd there or not.

Whether or not you think that participation in these types of “debates” is a good idea, it takes a certain amount of courage to put yourself on the line this way. Who knows what whacky arguments these guys will come up with next. Hats off to Burt for fighting the good fight.

David Stanton Wrote:

So far the poll seems to bear this out.

When I could easily find the poll, there were only 6 votes (or some small multiple, as evidenced from the %s) with 5 for Burt. But the few site comments, probably from just as non-representative as the poll sample, suggested the opposite. How, after listening to a 1.5 hour debate (yeah, I know that they “listen” selectively), can someone still fall for the “only a theory” nonsense? My guess is that, overall, few minds were changed.

“only a theory” nonsense?

You mean like the germ THEORY of disease? Or the THEORY of plate tectonics?

Seems like they have been working on that there germ theory for centuries. You’d think they would have figured it out by now. LOL

I think the podcast should be available here soon: http://www.getonyoursoapbox.com/podcast/

Wes Elsberry writes: “Hunter brought up sonar despite having been confronted on that issue before.

His also has rather peculiar views on sequence homologies and biological systematics that have been corrected many times in the past.

Leon wrote:

“Hunter wiped the floor with Burt.”

Yea, like when Burt challenged Hunter to give one prediction of ID without mentioning evolution. The response, evolution can’t explain echolocation in bats because I can’t imagine how it possibly could. Yea, he really showed Burt that time.

David,

Unless Burt rubbed it in the audience’s faces that Hunter was unable to “give one prediction of ID without mentioning evolution,” if that’s even possible in a pseudoscience-friendly debate format, Hunter probably won that round. I don’t know if Leon is just trolling or in on the scam, but when I say “won” I mean strictly as PR. Hunter knows that he doesn’t have squat beyond feeding public misconceptions of evolution.

While most fellow ID critics are obssessed over the designer’s identity or how ID “is” creationism (whatever that means), the public is almost completely unaware how anti-evolution pseudoscience has been spending the last 2 decades in a constant retreat from anything that has a prayer of qualifying as a competing scientific explanation.

Bottom line: Every argument against ID/creationism must make it clear that it is not “honest belief” (to which most people respond with “what’s the harm”) but a scam. If Burt accomplished that, he won. If not, the debate was a waste of time at best.

Frank J,

As I recall, Burt did not point out that Hunter had failed miserably. In that sense you are correct. Anyone who was not paying close attention probably was left with the impression that Hunter won that round.

More disturbing to me was the fact that Hunter’s entire argument centered around the assertation that evolution is religion because Darwin had religious beliefs. What a crock. Name one major ID advocate who has not stated publically that their entire reason for questioning evolution is religious. Darwin did not base his theory on his religious beliefs, he developed his theory in spite of his beliefs. Hunter claimed the “designer” was God and still claimed that ID is not religion! Someone should have shown him the error of his ways.

So once again, I must agree with you. For an intelligent person who listened carefully to the arguments, Burt definately did much better than Hunter. To the average citizen, I’m sure it seemed like he got creamed. Don’t forget, half of the people in this country have below average intelligence, and some even lower than that!

More disturbing to me was the fact that Hunter’s entire argument centered around the assertation that evolution is religion because Darwin had religious beliefs.

Darwin’s religion or lack of is irrelevant. Evolution is a scientific theory which has stood the test of time. It stands or falls based on the facts uncovered by scientists.

Evolution is not a religion despite claims of the weaker creo minds. Just keep repeating that fact when the inevitable evolution=religion or the more common evolution=atheism claims show up.

What was Darwin’s religion anyway? As I recall he had a degree in religious studies which would have made him a christian at one time. As to what his true thoughts were on religion, haven’t read anything about them.

Nonsense, Darwin and his followers used theological arguments frequently.

Darwin for example saying that he could not believe that a creator would do such and such…and then giving an example from nature of what the creator certainly would not do.

Or the argument that, if such and such was created, it wouldn’t have been done is such a such a way because it is not optimal.

Yes, you a pushing your own religous views…in most cases atheism…as assuredly as the fundamentalists.

Yes, you a pushing your own religous views…in most cases atheism…as assuredly as the fundamentalists.

Evolution is not a religion. It is a scientific theory. People who accept the fact of evolution are of all faiths and none. Try a few popes among others and most mainstream Christians. The evolution deniers are mostly a small cult of fundie christians found in the USA.

Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true. It does make you a bad christian though. Ever hear of the commandment about not lying?

Evolution would be the first religion whose adherents deny that it is a religion.

Raven wrote:

Evolution would be the first religion whose adherents deny that it is a religion.

Intelligent Design seems to have already taken that spot. I’d say that the Scientific creationists tried to do it, but they always called their research institutes Christian Ministries, so they didn’t deny that they were just stretching the truth a little. Intelligent Design tried the outright lie. The Discovery Institute still doesn’t call itself a minstry even though they are currently wrapping themselves in religion to try and justify their past dishonesty.

Ron Okimoto

they are currently wrapping themselves in religion to try and justify their past dishonesty.

I just have to say that this is one of the most ironic (albeit true) statements I’ve ever read in PT.

Intelligent Design tried the outright lie.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the DI tried to deny their essential religious nature. They went as far as they could though, to hiding, confusing, and ignoring that religion.

The central mystery and feature of ID is the Designer(s). That they try to say as little as possible about. But the Designer(s) are supernatural beings clearly meant to be god(s). A theory with gods at the center is religious. This is the weakest spot of their snow job. The best thing to do when they try to hide it is hammer on them over and over.

It was always a risky strategy. What if the god(s) turned out to be named allah, zoroaster, zeus, odin et al..flying spaghetti monster, cthulhu, and all the rest. They really have to ID the man behind the curtain.

Evolution has no such baggage. It concerns itself with nonsupernatural phenomena and is neutral on religion. It is as religious as the germ theory of disease, plate tectonics, quantum mechanics, and mathematics.

When the creos pull the customary lie evolution=religion=atheism, just call it and them liars. Calling evolution a religion doesn’t even make sense. Who is the god of evolution? There is none. Atheism is not a religion either.

Nonsense, Darwin and his followers used theological arguments frequently.

Darwin for example saying that he could not believe that a creator would do such and such…and then giving an example from nature of what the creator certainly would not do.

Or the argument that, if such and such was created, it wouldn’t have been done is such a such a way because it is not optimal.

This was the main argument of Hunter’s book “Darwin’s God”– that evolution is a religious doctrine because evolutionary biologists have said that “God wouldn’t do it this way”.

The gaping hole in this argument is this: evolutionary biology doesn’t need to talk about God. The proof that evolutionary theory is accurate is not that creationism doesn’t match the evidence. It’s that the theory of evolution does.

Accordingly, you can read through thousands, perhaps millions of pages in the scientific literature on evolutionary biology without finding any statements about what God would or wouldn’t have done. (Of course, “Darwin’s God” doesn’t cite, AFAICR, a single source from the professional scientific literature. That says don’tnever seem to discuss religion amongst themselves?

On the other hand, when one is arguing against Biblical creationism– a very religious idea– why shouldn’t one pose religious arguments? This does not mean that evolution is a religious idea. It means that creationism is.

QUOTE Nonsense, Darwin and his followers used theological arguments frequently.

j mason mauer you should be ashamed of yourself .……the victorians did use a much more poetic and symbol-ridden version of the english language than we do

mistaking that hyperbolic use of language for a SCIENTIFIC argument is very poor scholarship on your part

..and then thinking that we PTers would fall for that ridiculous argument .…please!

I thought Burt articulated his views well. He was energetic and savvy without being overly wordy. I also like the way he graciously handled some of the more off-beat callers whose ideas were more than a little out there.

Hunter played wily coyote most of the time. For that he gets rhetorical points. However, in my view, when Burt asked him to provide a prediction that ID can test and he went so far as to state that ID doesn’t do predictions, he gave away the store, the deed, the keys and the safe. If ID doesn’t do predictions then it is not science in any meaningful sense of the word. I know I am preaching to the choir on this site, but for an ID proponent to openly admit this on the air should cause the Discovery Institute to have kittens.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Burt Humburg published on April 26, 2007 11:26 PM.

40 days and 40 nights was the previous entry in this blog.

Another anti-science court case finished is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter