Well that was interesting

| 134 Comments

It’s a closely-guarded secret that can now be revealed - on Friday, May 14, Steve Matheson and I served as the critics for an event at Biola University the focus of which Stephen Meyer and his book “Signature in the Cell”. (Well, actually, this was the lead-in to some big hoopla about the release of a new Illustra DVD entitled “Darwin’s Dilemma”. But that will have to be the subject of someone else’s writing, since I didn’t go to the screening, nor did I bother to scarf up a DVD.) The format for this was a bit different from your usual debate - thus, after the glitzy Meyer presentation, a panel of hand-selected critics (chosen by the event organizers) would be given opportunities to grill Meyer. In other words, there would be no tit-for-tat here, but rather a one-way exchange of Q&A. This is roughly what transpired, but in a shorter period of time than I had expected.

I have posted a longer essay on my blog, where comments may also be made. I’ll summarize the most important points here, focusing just on the questions I was able to ask. Due to the time constraints, I only got to ask three questions. The answers and discussion that followed these included some interesting (and perhaps important) concessions. Briefly, Meyer did not offer to disagree with the notion that there are in some senses a disconnect between the quantity of specified information (in whatever sense he uses the term in his book - please refrain from rehashing this issue in the comments) and biological function. He also granted that some of the analogies he uses in his book were not really strong selling points for the design argument. (My question focused on the analogy with computers and engineered objects.) Finally, he intimated that high specified information content was not a feature of all proteins. This latter point may seem obvious, but I think it important to have ID advocates backing down from claims or even hints that all (or even most) proteins have high specified information contents.

That’s my experience in a very small nutshell. I would have liked more time for questions, to be sure. But in general the format that was proposed to me was followed. To be sure, Meyer danced around many of the issues, but in retrospect this may have been because I pressed him on things that he was not familiar with.

I haven’t tried to sum up Steve Matheson’s questions or impressions. I suspect that he will give his these on his blog. Stay tuned.

134 Comments

After reading your blog entry, I anticipate some Meyer supporters complaining that the examples used in your questions your examples may have been too arcane. After all, one cannot expect Meyer to be aware of the state of research in every field! That’s a legitimate point, I suppose. But I also think it exposes just how shallow the ID knowledge base is about biology in general. The list of examples ID has used to build its case is astonishingly small, yet that has not stopped them from coming to ludicrously broad conclusions. It should come as no surprise then, that critics have appeared with counter examples from their own research with which the IDers are unaware. It remains to be seen how intellectually honest the ID leaders are in assessing these counter examples. My own experience doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy about it.

One other thing. I hope you continue to try and build cordial relationships with them. I know you and Paul Nelson have done that already, and neither of you seems to have acquired cooties from the other. Too often we gauge our opinion of the other other side from what we encounter on teh Internetz.

(Well, actually, this was the lead-in to some big hoopla about the release of a new Illustra DVD entitled “Darwin’s Dilemma”. But that will have to be the subject of someone else’s writing, since I didn’t go to the screening, nor did I bother to scarf up a DVD.)

It’s a shame you didn’t bother with the DVD Aurthur as it certainly looks interesting:

http://www.darwinsdilemma.org/featu[…]ientists.php

Featured Scientists

Simon Conway Morris is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge and one of the world’s leading evolutionary paleontologists. He is noted in particular for his contributions to the understanding of the Cambrian Explosion and the fossils found in the Burgess Shale. Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (United Kingdom) in 1990, he also has been awarded the Walcott Medal of the National Academy of Sciences (United States). Dr. Conway Morris is author of the noted books The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals (1998) and Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe (2003). His views about the extent as well as the limits of Neo-Darwinism can be found in his article “Darwin was right. Up to a point.”

James Valentine is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also affiliated with the Museum of Paleontology and the Center for Integrative Genomics. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the Cambrian Explosion, and is the author of numerous technical articles on the subject, as well as author of the books On the Origin of Phyla and Evolutionary Paleoecology of the Marine Biosphere, co-author of Evolution and Evolving, and editor of Phanerozoic Diversity Patterns: Profiles in Macroevolution.

Are all these scientists aware they’re appearing on a creationist video ? It seems not:

http://ediacaran.blogspot.com/2009/[…]tute_05.html

Dr. James Valentine, an evolutionary biologist and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, is featured in the intelligent design movie Darwin’s Dilemma.

I wish to clarify my role in the new film Darwin’s Dilemma. When I was interviewed about a decade ago for the material used in this movie, I was unaware that this interview might appear in a film promoting intelligent design. My appearance should not be misconstrued as support for any creationist agenda.

I support evolution.

I disagree with the view that the best explanation for the Cambrian record is the action of an “intelligent designer” instantaneously creating phyla. Had the filmmakers bothered to read my book On the Origin of Phyla, they would have understood that I do not support a creationist interpretation of the Cambrian explosion or the fossil record. Scientific findings in many fields, including my own (paleobiology) as well as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, developmental biology, and systematics, have led to a synthesis of the events surrounding the Cambrian explosion that is in full accord with well-established evolutionary principles.

When watching Darwin’s Dilemma, I ask viewers to note:

My interview statements do not criticize evolution My interview statements do not promote creationism or intelligent design Even though my interview is interspersed with several intelligent design advocates, I do not share their interpretation of the Cambrian record I would like viewers to know:

I think evolution is the best scientific interpretation of the fossil record While the religious views of individuals should be respected, scientists also merit respect earned by generations of hard work in their fields. Dr. James Valentine University of California, Berkeley

Hmmm.

Yet another example of blatant creationist dishonesty. This DVD should definitely be worth checking out:

http://www.equip.org/broadcasts/dar[…]emma20091109

This documentary will examine what many consider to be the most powerful refutation of Darwinian evolution—the Cambrian fossil record. Charles Darwin realized that the fossil evidence did not support his theory of gradual, step-by-step evolutionary development. He hoped that future generations of scientists would make the discoveries necessary to validate his ideas. Today, after more than 150 years of exploration fossil evidence of slow, incremental biological change has yet to be excavated. Instead, we find a picture of the rapid appearance of fully developed, complex organisms during the outset of the Cambrian geological era. Organisms that embody almost all of the major animal body plans that exist today. This remarkable explosion of life is best explained by the existence of a transcendent intelligence

This remarkable explosion of life is best explained by the existence of a transcendent intelligence

…I’m sorry, it’s what?

I can think of half a dozen better explanations than a ‘transcendent intelligence’ (which is a total cop-out solution to -any- scientific challenge). Do they even know what transcendent means? If the universe was created in 6 days, around 6000 years ago, why bother with the Cambrian Explosion at all?

When it comes down to cDesign advocates refuting biological incidents that shouldn’t even had occurred according to their own warped chronology, then you know they’re grasping at straws.

All references to “Biola University” should be stated as “The former Bible Institute Of Los Angeles, currently using the stealth name “BIOLA University,” a private, conservative evangelical Christian, liberal arts university stressing Biblical inerrancy.”

BIOLA is every bit as much a hotbed of scientific research as Liberty University and Bob Jones University, i.e., not at all.

BIOLA is also well known to historians of intelligent design creationism as the location of one of the important Founders’ meetings in 1996.

This meeting at the BIOLA venue just adds one more proof that intelligent design creationism is 100% religion, and has nothing whatsoever to do with science.

BIOLA is every bit as much a hotbed of scientific research as Liberty University and Bob Jones University, i.e., not at all.

I’d expect no less from an institution that puts Cornelius “Thylacine” Hunter on faculty.

Meyer seems to be using a fascinating tactic.

I didn’t document it, but feel as if I’ve seen him do this before.

Basically, when confronted with an actual scientifically literate person from the biomedical sciences, he more or less admits that he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s worth noting that his book amounts to more of an argument against abiogenesis than against evolution, at that, something he also seems to let slip from time to time.

I’m not sure how he responds to a genuine math/information theory expert but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s about the same way.

But when he’s talking to the uninformed, he simply uses language that is both non-specific and beyond their vocabulary, and let’s them assume that he has “disproved evolution”. And when he’s conceding to a scientifically literate person, he keeps the language at a level above what can be understood by the uninformed.

He seems to have deduced that most creationists don’t even care if he confronts and humiliates the “evolutionist” or even says anything they can understand. Indeed, in the post-Dover environment, they probably prefer the stealthiest approach.

It’s both a retreat from the most confrontational approaches like old-time “creation science” or early Dembski/Behe ID, and a refusal to back all the way to non-denialist theistic evolution.

Remember that creationists perceive it as a battle between social/political “sides”. Anything that denies evolution is currently on their “side”, the same way there were unlikely allies on the same sides during WWII. As long as there are “evolutionists” to team up against, Meyer is welcome at BIOLA. If the dominionists ever really took over, though, Meyer would be in hotter water than a Trotskyite after the Soviet revolution. Unless he himself is a “true believer” using a “stealth” approach, which is entirely possible.

No, I think both Simon Conway Morris and James Valentine were deceived by the producers and director (or both) of “Darwin’s Dilemna”, which sadly, is yet another example of “Lying for Jesus”.

While creos - including the Dishonesty Institute IDiots - insist that the “Cambrian Explosion” was so “unusual”, they merely betray their gross ignorance of the metazoan marine fossil record, since the later Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event in the Middle and Late Ordovician accounted for substantially more increases in marine metazoan biodiversity than in the prior, so-called “Cambrian Explosion”, which Donald Prothero in his “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” has referred - and I think it is a most apt description - as the “Cambrian Slow Fuse”, since the “explosion” occurred over the span of approximately 60 to 80 million years, which roughly corresponds to the length of our present geological era, the Cenozoic, whose duration, according to the most recent radiometric dating, is 65.5 million years.

Agreed, my thoughts exactly:

Paul Burnett said:

All references to “Biola University” should be stated as “The former Bible Institute Of Los Angeles, currently using the stealth name “BIOLA University,” a private, conservative evangelical Christian, liberal arts university stressing Biblical inerrancy.”

BIOLA is every bit as much a hotbed of scientific research as Liberty University and Bob Jones University, i.e., not at all.

BIOLA is also well known to historians of intelligent design creationism as the location of one of the important Founders’ meetings in 1996.

This meeting at the BIOLA venue just adds one more proof that intelligent design creationism is 100% religion, and has nothing whatsoever to do with science.

While I appreciate your comments, Dave, I am unconvinced that one should be cordial to any of the Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers, including Meyer and Nelson, given their own past history of gross distortions, obfuscations, and outright lies with respect to questioning the integrity of real scientists and of the ample scientific evidence which refutes each and every inane “hypothesis” ever proposed by Intelligent Design “scientists”:

Dave Wisker said:

After reading your blog entry, I anticipate some Meyer supporters complaining that the examples used in your questions your examples may have been too arcane. After all, one cannot expect Meyer to be aware of the state of research in every field! That’s a legitimate point, I suppose. But I also think it exposes just how shallow the ID knowledge base is about biology in general. The list of examples ID has used to build its case is astonishingly small, yet that has not stopped them from coming to ludicrously broad conclusions. It should come as no surprise then, that critics have appeared with counter examples from their own research with which the IDers are unaware. It remains to be seen how intellectually honest the ID leaders are in assessing these counter examples. My own experience doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy about it.

One other thing. I hope you continue to try and build cordial relationships with them. I know you and Paul Nelson have done that already, and neither of you seems to have acquired cooties from the other. Too often we gauge our opinion of the other other side from what we encounter on teh Internetz.

Natman wrote:

“If the universe was created in 6 days, around 6000 years ago, why bother with the Cambrian Explosion at all?

When it comes down to cDesign advocates refuting biological incidents that shouldn’t even had occurred according to their own warped chronology, then you know they’re grasping at straws.”

Exactly. You can’t say that the biggest problem for evolution is evidence that proves conclusively that the creation myth could not possibly be true and therefore conclude that creation must be true! That’s more dishonest than absurd.

Every time one of these morally bankrupt cretins spouts off about the so called “cambrian explosion”, just point out to them that there is an extensive fossil record prior to the so called “explosion” and an extensive fossil record after the “explosion” and that the so called “explosion” did not include most organism that are alive today. Ask them how that somehow supports a six day creation and how it somehow invalidates evolution. Ask them if any real evolutionary biologists think that the so called “cambrian explosion” is a problem for evolution. Ask them if the evidence was discovered by creationists or is somehow being repressed by real biologists. Ask them how their alternative somehow explains the “explosion” better than the theory of evolution. Or maybe just ask them where their conclusions have been published. That alone should demonstrate the basic dishonesty of their position to anyone who knows how science works.

harold said:

Meyer seems to be using a fascinating tactic.

…Basically, when confronted with an actual scientifically literate person from the biomedical sciences, he more or less admits that he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

But when he’s talking to the uninformed, he simply uses language that is both non-specific and beyond their vocabulary, and let’s them assume that he has “disproved evolution”…

That’s part of it. But I think if Profs. Hunt and Matheson were to go to Meyer’s next talk, another tactic would be obvious: rather than revise his presentation or his conclusions based on the examples they provide, Meyer will just ignore their insights.

This is just my guess, but I’d guess his ‘concession’ here was more rhetorical than intellectual (i.e. done in order to move quickly on to another question). I predict that tomorrow’s message will be the same as the one before Prof. Hunt spoke, and in future presentations there will be no mention of, for instance, the disconnect between protein information content and function that Prof. Hunt mentioned.

http://www.equip.org/broadcasts/dar[…]emma20091109

This documentary will examine what many consider to be the most powerful refutation of Darwinian evolution—the Cambrian fossil record. Charles Darwin realized that the fossil evidence did not support his theory of gradual, step-by-step evolutionary development. He hoped that future generations of scientists would make the discoveries necessary to validate his ideas. Today, after more than 150 years of exploration fossil evidence of slow, incremental biological change has yet to be excavated. Instead, we find a picture of the rapid appearance of fully developed, complex organisms during the outset of the Cambrian geological era. Organisms that embody almost all of the major animal body plans that exist today. This remarkable explosion of life is best explained by the existence of a transcendent intelligence.

If Biblical Creationism had any merit whatsoever, we wouldn’t even be talking of a Cambrian period; we would see a sudden appearance of not only hard bodied animals, but modern fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals all together in the fossil record, with very few extinctions.

Once one line of organisms developed hard shells or skeletons, it would have caused other lines to quickly develop hard shells or skeletons within a few million years. It’s natural competition. The Cambrian explosion merely was the appearance of those hard shelled animals, but there must have been many species of soft bodied animals that lived prior to that, but they were not preserved in the fossil record. There are a few Precambrian fossils that have been found, so the “explosion” in the Cambrian period has been exaggerated by Creationists to decieve people.

Unfortunately this is classic creationist operating procedure, which is why I think it is dubious at best to have any kind of amicable relationship with these liars:

eric said:

harold said:

Meyer seems to be using a fascinating tactic.

…Basically, when confronted with an actual scientifically literate person from the biomedical sciences, he more or less admits that he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

But when he’s talking to the uninformed, he simply uses language that is both non-specific and beyond their vocabulary, and let’s them assume that he has “disproved evolution”…

That’s part of it. But I think if Profs. Hunt and Matheson were to go to Meyer’s next talk, another tactic would be obvious: rather than revise his presentation or his conclusions based on the examples they provide, Meyer will just ignore their insights.

This is just my guess, but I’d guess his ‘concession’ here was more rhetorical than intellectual (i.e. done in order to move quickly on to another question). I predict that tomorrow’s message will be the same as the one before Prof. Hunt spoke, and in future presentations there will be no mention of, for instance, the disconnect between protein information content and function that Prof. Hunt mentioned.

Elsewhere, on many occasions, have heard from Don Prothero and others how Duane Gish would repeat the same errors, even after he was correctly criticized for them. IMHO, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Gish’s modus operandi nor that of Nelson and Meyer’s (or their fellow Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers).

Not only that, Dale, but as Derek Briggs and his team demonstrated in their paper published last week in Nature, the classic Burgess Shale type fauna persisted for tens of millions of years after the so-called “Cambrian Explosion”, surviving probably until the onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. It might be more accurate to speak of a “Cambrian Slow Fuse” and an “Ordovician Explosion” to account for these two important early metazoan diversification events:

Dale Husband said:

If Biblical Creationism had any merit whatsoever, we wouldn’t even be talking of a Cambrian period; we would see a sudden appearance of not only hard bodied animals, but modern fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals all together in the fossil record, with very few extinctions.

Once one line of organisms developed hard shells or skeletons, it would have caused other lines to quickly develop hard shells or skeletons within a few million years. It’s natural competition. The Cambrian explosion merely was the appearance of those hard shelled animals, but there must have been many species of soft bodied animals that lived prior to that, but they were not preserved in the fossil record. There are a few Precambrian fossils that have been found, so the “explosion” in the Cambrian period has been exaggerated by Creationists to decieve people.

Regarding Pete Henderson’s description of the DVD– In Darwin’s time, the last of the true scientific creationists, especially Louis Agassiz, were trying to salvage divine creation– NOT biblical inerrancy– by claiming there had been a series of catastrophic mass extinctions, each followed by a new divine creation. Their theory was called catastrophism.

In opposition to catastrophism was Charles Lyell’s theory of uniformitarianism, which argued that the world we see is the result of the normal processes we see– volcanism, erosion, etc. Darwin was an admirer of Lyell and a firm believer in uniformitarianism.

Of course, neither uniformitarianism nor catastrophism had the picture right; we now know that catastrophic extinctions, relatively rapid evolutionary radiations, and slow, gradual evolutionary development– and even periods of stasis– are all part of earth’s history.

So Darwin was unquestionably wrong in expecting the fossil record would show nothing but gradual change. But it’s obviously a side issue, which in no way threatens modern evolutionary theory.

The thing that bothers me here is that no scientist, no historian of science– in fact, no thinking lay person– is under the impression that Darwin was right 100 per cent of the time. The people who put together that DVD must know that. This looks like a really cynical imposition on the uninformed public, creating the impression that Darwin being wrong on a relatively minor point calls into question all of modern biology.

I haven’t seen the DVD, but I know that modern evolutionary theory isn’t dependent in any way on Lyell’s uniformitarianism being right, any more than it’s based on protoplasm, or genes being made out of protein, or coelecanths being extinct, or any one of a hundred other hypotheses that have been tested and rejected.

I can’t help thinking this is just one more instance of the cynical manipulations of the cdesign proponentsists.

“since I didn’t go to the screening, nor did I bother to scarf up a DVD.”

You can watch the whole thing on Youtube. Pretty standard fare up to about halfway through the film (overview of Cambrian deposits, Walcott and the Ediacaran fauna, etc.) then the typical creationist stuff kicks in. It ends with a fairly predictable “but there are just TOO many changes that would have to have taken place in TOO short a time. The only one who could have done this is the God of Abraham (uhh I mean an intelligent agency).”

Pretty much like everything else from Illustra Video.

John Kwok said:

Unfortunately this is classic creationist operating procedure, which is why I think it is dubious at best to have any kind of amicable relationship with these liars:

eric said:

It’s even worse then that. On several occasions when Gish the pish was advised of his mistakes, he admitted that his critics were right and then went on on the next lecture to make the same mistakes. This tendency on his part makes me suspicious that he really didn’t believe in what he was prattling on about.

harold said:

Meyer seems to be using a fascinating tactic.

…Basically, when confronted with an actual scientifically literate person from the biomedical sciences, he more or less admits that he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

But when he’s talking to the uninformed, he simply uses language that is both non-specific and beyond their vocabulary, and let’s them assume that he has “disproved evolution”…

That’s part of it. But I think if Profs. Hunt and Matheson were to go to Meyer’s next talk, another tactic would be obvious: rather than revise his presentation or his conclusions based on the examples they provide, Meyer will just ignore their insights.

This is just my guess, but I’d guess his ‘concession’ here was more rhetorical than intellectual (i.e. done in order to move quickly on to another question). I predict that tomorrow’s message will be the same as the one before Prof. Hunt spoke, and in future presentations there will be no mention of, for instance, the disconnect between protein information content and function that Prof. Hunt mentioned.

Elsewhere, on many occasions, have heard from Don Prothero and others how Duane Gish would repeat the same errors, even after he was correctly criticized for them. IMHO, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Gish’s modus operandi nor that of Nelson and Meyer’s (or their fellow Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers).

SLC said:

John Kwok said:

Unfortunately this is classic creationist operating procedure, which is why I think it is dubious at best to have any kind of amicable relationship with these liars:

eric said:

It’s even worse then that. On several occasions when Gish the pish was advised of his mistakes, he admitted that his critics were right and then went on on the next lecture to make the same mistakes. This tendency on his part makes me suspicious that he really didn’t believe in what he was prattling on about.

harold said:

Meyer seems to be using a fascinating tactic.

…Basically, when confronted with an actual scientifically literate person from the biomedical sciences, he more or less admits that he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

But when he’s talking to the uninformed, he simply uses language that is both non-specific and beyond their vocabulary, and let’s them assume that he has “disproved evolution”…

That’s part of it. But I think if Profs. Hunt and Matheson were to go to Meyer’s next talk, another tactic would be obvious: rather than revise his presentation or his conclusions based on the examples they provide, Meyer will just ignore their insights.

This is just my guess, but I’d guess his ‘concession’ here was more rhetorical than intellectual (i.e. done in order to move quickly on to another question). I predict that tomorrow’s message will be the same as the one before Prof. Hunt spoke, and in future presentations there will be no mention of, for instance, the disconnect between protein information content and function that Prof. Hunt mentioned.

Elsewhere, on many occasions, have heard from Don Prothero and others how Duane Gish would repeat the same errors, even after he was correctly criticized for them. IMHO, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Gish’s modus operandi nor that of Nelson and Meyer’s (or their fellow Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers).

Apparently, my response to Mr. Kwok didn’t take. I will repeat it below.

It’s even worse then that. On many occasions, Gish was advised of mistakes he had made in his presentation, admitted that his critics were correct and that he was indeed mistaken, and then went on in his next lecture to repeat the same mistakes.

Illustra Media, producer of the DVD “Darwin’s Dilemma,” is a wholly-owned subsidiary of “Discovery Media,” which used to be known as the “Moody Institute of Science,” a well-known producer of fundamentalist Christian media and which is in turn the propaganda arm of the Moody Bible Institute.

(For more on this, see the NCSE’s 2003 article at http://ncse.com/creationism/analysi[…]lustra-media)

Discovery Media’s mission statement reads, “We believe that God reveals Himself, today, through His creation and the Biblical record. Our mission is to utilize every form of available media to present the reality of His existence through compelling scientific evidence and academic research.

Stephen Meyer co-wrote the script for a previous Illustra Media product, another anti-science video, “Unlocking the Mystery of Life.”

Just more proof that this is not - and never has been - about science. The whole intelligent design creationism scam is about religion.

Thanks for the reminder, SLC. I believe I had heard something like that from someone (maybe Don Prothero), but didn’t want to attribute that directly to him:

SLC said:

SLC said:

John Kwok said:

Unfortunately this is classic creationist operating procedure, which is why I think it is dubious at best to have any kind of amicable relationship with these liars:

eric said:

It’s even worse then that. On several occasions when Gish the pish was advised of his mistakes, he admitted that his critics were right and then went on on the next lecture to make the same mistakes. This tendency on his part makes me suspicious that he really didn’t believe in what he was prattling on about.

harold said:

Meyer seems to be using a fascinating tactic.

…Basically, when confronted with an actual scientifically literate person from the biomedical sciences, he more or less admits that he’s doesn’t know what he’s talking about…

But when he’s talking to the uninformed, he simply uses language that is both non-specific and beyond their vocabulary, and let’s them assume that he has “disproved evolution”…

That’s part of it. But I think if Profs. Hunt and Matheson were to go to Meyer’s next talk, another tactic would be obvious: rather than revise his presentation or his conclusions based on the examples they provide, Meyer will just ignore their insights.

This is just my guess, but I’d guess his ‘concession’ here was more rhetorical than intellectual (i.e. done in order to move quickly on to another question). I predict that tomorrow’s message will be the same as the one before Prof. Hunt spoke, and in future presentations there will be no mention of, for instance, the disconnect between protein information content and function that Prof. Hunt mentioned.

Elsewhere, on many occasions, have heard from Don Prothero and others how Duane Gish would repeat the same errors, even after he was correctly criticized for them. IMHO, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Gish’s modus operandi nor that of Nelson and Meyer’s (or their fellow Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographers).

Apparently, my response to Mr. Kwok didn’t take. I will repeat it below.

It’s even worse then that. On many occasions, Gish was advised of mistakes he had made in his presentation, admitted that his critics were correct and that he was indeed mistaken, and then went on in his next lecture to repeat the same mistakes.

Natman Wrote:

If the universe was created in 6 days, around 6000 years ago, why bother with the Cambrian Explosion at all?

When it comes down to cDesign advocates refuting biological incidents that shouldn’t even had occurred according to their own warped chronology, then you know they’re grasping at straws.

As a “big tent” outfit, the DI has no “official” chronology. But those DI fellows who have elaborated on their own position have conceded the entire 4.5 billion years to mainstream science. And the few DI fellows who have taken a clear position on common descent concede that too.

But you have a point in that “Cambrian Explosion” incredulity arguments are used by YEC activists too. But their audience is so compartmentalized that any argument against evolution excites them, however poor, and even if it contradicts another argument that excites them.

The DI targets not only hopeless YECs and old-earth-young-life creationists, but also “progressive” OECs and “pseudoskeptics” (those who like to say “I have no dog in the fight” but attack the “evolution dog” and “take no position” on the “creationism dog.”)

Given that the BIOLA audience has mostly taken some college-level biology, I would bet that a large minority, if not a majority are at least partly in on the scam, i.e. they know that, however “weak” evolution might be, there’s no evidence whatever for a YEC or old-earth-young-life alternative. But they know better than to alienate anyone in the big tent.

Agreed, but there’s also a poltiical agenda too:

Paul Burnett said:

Illustra Media, producer of the DVD “Darwin’s Dilemma,” is a wholly-owned subsidiary of “Discovery Media,” which used to be known as the “Moody Institute of Science,” a well-known producer of fundamentalist Christian media and which is in turn the propaganda arm of the Moody Bible Institute.

(For more on this, see the NCSE’s 2003 article at http://ncse.com/creationism/analysi[…]lustra-media)

Discovery Media’s mission statement reads, “We believe that God reveals Himself, today, through His creation and the Biblical record. Our mission is to utilize every form of available media to present the reality of His existence through compelling scientific evidence and academic research.

Stephen Meyer co-wrote the script for a previous Illustra Media product, another anti-science video, “Unlocking the Mystery of Life.”

Just more proof that this is not - and never has been - about science. The whole intelligent design creationism scam is about religion.

In his “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters”, Don Prothero does an elegant job tracing the “evolution” of the American creationist movement, noting how it arose as a harsh reaction to Imperial German brutality and related war crimes, cited by the German intelligentsia as acts justifiable due to their Social Darwinian view of themselves and their empire as those morally superior to “lesser” peoples.

Biola’s mission statement pretty well outlines their approach:

Education: Our business is to inspire student’s learning so that they are empowered to think and practice from a Christian worldview in their fields of service.

Research: Our faculty, students, and graduates seek to grapple with the intellectual, ethical, and cultural issues of our time by partnering in discerning Christ-centered scholarship[?]through learning, rigorous research[?], publications and performance.

Like other church schools I wouldn’t be surprised if Biola required a student to take an oath of allegience.

Then SLC said: “It’s even worse then that. On many occasions, Gish was advised of mistakes he had made in his presentation, admitted that his critics were correct and that he was indeed mistaken, and then went on in his next lecture to repeat the same mistakes.”

This is easy for them because each talk they give is to a different set of rubes who haven’t heard the previous talk, so whatever these creationists say can change from day to day.

Eric -

But I think if Profs. Hunt and Matheson were to go to Meyer’s next talk, another tactic would be obvious: rather than revise his presentation or his conclusions based on the examples they provide, Meyer will just ignore their insights.

I could not possibly agree more strongly.

I didn’t wish to imply any sincerity on the part of Meyer.

To make my point more succinctly, his m.o. seems to be - “1. Talk content-free-but-verbose mumbo-jumbo that the rubes can’t understand and let them assume it’s somehow ‘on their side’ 2. When a scientifically literate person points out that it’s content free mumbo-jumbo, surprise them by quickly conceding - in language the rubes can’t understand - and thus shut down the dispute 3. Repeat ad nauseum with the same content-free-but-verbose mumbo-jumbo at multiple times in multiple places, as long as you get paid.”

What his actual motivations are is unclear. He could be making it all up to sell to the saps. He could be doing exactly what he seems to be doing - trying to create a better Trojan Horse to get some creationism snuck into schools, and the original Dembski/Behe ID Trojan Horse failed. These two possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

Here’s a new story about Universal Common Ancestry (UCA) that’s quite interesting: http://www.sciencedaily.com/release[…]12131513.htm

DavidK said:

Here’s a new story about Universal Common Ancestry (UCA) that’s quite interesting: http://www.sciencedaily.com/release[…]12131513.htm

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/201[…]ncestry.html

harold Wrote:

What his actual motivations are is unclear. He could be making it all up to sell to the saps. He could be doing exactly what he seems to be doing - trying to create a better Trojan Horse to get some creationism snuck into schools, and the original Dembski/Behe ID Trojan Horse failed. These two possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

It’s trivially true to us, but counterintuitive to the ~99% of people who don’t closely follow the antics of anti-evolution activists, but with “creationism” less is truly more. That is, the less one says about that elusive “theory” of creation-and-or-design the better - to fool larger audiences. The problem that faces any science vs. pseudoscience “debate” is that the more evidence for the former, the more opportunities for the latter to take it out of context. So all a pseudoscience peddler needs to do is promote incredulity of science. It’s especially easy with evolution because most audiences are already looking for any excuse to doubt it. And once that doubt is satisfied the listener fills in the blanks with his own “theory,” oblivious to the fact that it is easily falsified, and likely contradicts the falsified “theory” of the guy sitting next to him.

I hope you continue to try and build cordial relationships with them.

bah.

why? what’s the point of building cordial relationships with proven liars?

I’ve argued with Nelson directly myself.

He’s nothing but a dishonest hack, all the way down.

your attempt at outreach is misplaced. Reach out to real believers if you wish (I have my doubts as to the efficacy of that, but that’s another issue). Nelson is not a believer. he is a liar.

there’s a reason many of us call it the “Dishonesty Institute”

Agreed. Moreover, it is for the very reasons you state that I regard Nelson, Meyer, and the rest of their pathetic Dishonesty Institute ilk as the mendacious intellectual pornographers that they are. You don’t condone or coddle diabolical liars like them. Instead you expose them and do your utmost to destroy them:

Ichthyic said:

I hope you continue to try and build cordial relationships with them.

bah.

why? what’s the point of building cordial relationships with proven liars?

I’ve argued with Nelson directly myself.

He’s nothing but a dishonest hack, all the way down.

your attempt at outreach is misplaced. Reach out to real believers if you wish (I have my doubts as to the efficacy of that, but that’s another issue). Nelson is not a believer. he is a liar.

there’s a reason many of us call it the “Dishonesty Institute”

I agree with Ichthyic. There is no more point in developing “cordial” relationships with creationists.

At some point the DI will herald that the Epic Confrontation between poor little Stevie Meyer and the big bad Scientists was a reenactment of David and Goliath. Stevie held his own and Science capitulated.

Sorry, Arthur, but playing nice with creationists only hurts science education. Thanks for nothing, buddy.

Rolf Aalberg said:

Of course, clearly photons are not particles in the Newtonian sense. They’re not actually particles in any sense that we can reasonably articulate.

Thank you! Now I know I can forget about trying to understand photons. Because I don’t, but have never been able to find out why. But seriously, a statement like ‘photons are not accessible to reasonable articulation’ makes sense to me, but is science fully comfortable with photons from a mathematical POW?

If it gives the right answers as borne out by experiments, physicists are comfortable with it.

We don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Oh dear, this is a mirror imgae on posting on the british Christian Premier Forum where I am usually called an atheist.

I simply quoted all the Nota Bene tripe on s Matheson, who knows that I have no truck with the Dishonesty Inst.

It seems that they are as many kneejerks without the knee as on a creationist site.

I simply brought this to the attention of the Thumb.

Quoting does not mean agreement

Michael Roberts, my deep apologies for having misunderstood you. I did not realise that you were quoting a creationist site, rather than seconding it. I am very sorry for my misapprehension, and ask your pardon.

Michael -

Just a word for the wise. You should have stated explicitly that you were quoting from Nota Bene but didn’t agree with their assessment:

Michael Roberts said:

Oh dear, this is a mirror imgae on posting on the british Christian Premier Forum where I am usually called an atheist.

I simply quoted all the Nota Bene tripe on s Matheson, who knows that I have no truck with the Dishonesty Inst.

It seems that they are as many kneejerks without the knee as on a creationist site.

I simply brought this to the attention of the Thumb.

Quoting does not mean agreement

I wouldn’t care to describe myself as a “kneejerk” Deist, who is, by his own admission, a registered Conservative Republican with very, very pronounced Libertarian tendencies. But any time I see Dishonesty Institute propaganda, whether it is a personal e-mail from one of its mendacious intellectual pornographers or “published” mendacious intellectual pornography from Nota Bene, I shall react accordingly.

However, I join Dave Luckett in apologizing to you if you thought my comments were aimed primarily at you. I can assure you that they were not, since I was interested primarily in criticizing the Dishonesty Institute, and especially anyone who would regard Nota Bene as a reliable online newsletter.

Stuart Weinstein said: If it gives the right answers as borne out by experiments, physicists are comfortable with it.

We don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Or, to put it another way:

“The next reason that you might think you do not understand what I am telling you is, while I am describing to you how Nature works, you won’t understand why Nature works that way. But you see, nobody understands that. I can’t explain why Nature behaves in this peculiar way.” R. Feynman, QED, 1985.

eric said:

“The next reason that you might think you do not understand what I am telling you is, while I am describing to you how Nature works, you won’t understand why Nature works that way. But you see, nobody understands that. I can’t explain why Nature behaves in this peculiar way.” R. Feynman, QED, 1985.

I think that typically physicists poke around with quantum weirdness on an occasional basis, but for the most part regard it as something like Igor’s Hump:

“I could do something about that hump.”

“Hump? What hump?”

Or plainer terms: “It only hurts when I think about it.”

eric said:

Stuart Weinstein said: If it gives the right answers as borne out by experiments, physicists are comfortable with it.

We don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Or, to put it another way:

“The next reason that you might think you do not understand what I am telling you is, while I am describing to you how Nature works, you won’t understand why Nature works that way. But you see, nobody understands that. I can’t explain why Nature behaves in this peculiar way.” R. Feynman, QED, 1985.

Another quote from the late Prof. Feynman: “if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”

A quote from Steven Weinberg: “Quantum Mechanics is a totally preposterous theory which, unfortunately, appears to be correct.”

Thanks for apologies.

I think I have a long track record of opposing creationism, probably longer than any here.

As an Anglican vicar it does not always go down with seniors or colleagues, especially as I have identified one clear yEC bishop and several possibles.

Further I did the first review of Behe in britain describing his ideas as “godofthegaps wrapped up in amino acids”

If you like read my book Evangelicals and Science pub by Greenwood Press.

Another quote from the late Prof. Feynman: “if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”

A quote from Steven Weinberg: “Quantum Mechanics is a totally preposterous theory which, unfortunately, appears to be correct.”

Oh, what’s not to understand? Particles wave at you as they go by. Particles interfere with each other even when emitted one at a time, or even when only one is emitted at all. Particles become entangled when they interact, so that measuring one of them influences the result of measuring the other, even if they’re light years apart.

Oh, that’s what’s not to understand… well, some of it, anyway.

Henry J said:

Oh, that’s what’s not to understand… well, some of it, anyway.

“Hump? What hump?”

Paul Burnett said:

Robert Byers said: Since then (Darwin’s) ideas should of gained evidence. Yet we say they havn’t.

Booby, have you ever read any articles in Science, Nature, Cell, Genetics or similar journals? Because you haven’t, can you understand that that might provide an example of what we call “willful ignorance” in scientifically illiterate persons such as yourself?

It is a issue that endless research is based on presumptions of evolutionary conclusions. Yet its not the “theory” itself. Its just speculation on speculation on issues of origins never witnessed or repeated by experiment. Yes we can say theres no gained evidence. It truly is just endless guessing on main points. Just as any researcher works upon previous researchers ideas SO likewise ideas on evolution work on accepted conclusions in evolution. All still speculative even if filled out. Indeed Darwin himself insisted evolution had no persuasive value unless presumptions about geology were already accepted. Amen. Nothing in evolution stands on the evidence in its own area. One must already believe in other things holding it up.

This is worth a 7 at least, just on the logical mcgonigal alone. Evolution has enormous support from all fields of science, and this is its secret weakness.

Evolution has enormous support from all fields of science, and this is its secret weakness.

WATERLOO!!!111!!one!!!!

For those who haven’t noticed, Steve Matheson has written an open letter to Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographer Stephen Meyer. While it is written in a friendly tone, Matheson is quite forthright in condemning the Dishonesty Institute and Meyer’s participation in it and Meyer’s willingness to stay within the intellectual ghetto that he has constructed for himself:

http://sfmatheson.blogspot.com/2010[…]e+of+Dust%29

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This page contains a single entry by Arthur Hunt published on May 17, 2010 1:13 AM.

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