Sunday, March 14, 2010

Intelligent Design/Expelled discussion between Stephen Meyer and Peter Atkins

Not too long ago, I listened to this radio discussion between Atheist Peter Atkins and Stephen Meyer. The discussion was supposed to center around the movie Expelled, but it ended up being about the validity of Intelligent Design.

Though I don't know enough of the details to defend each and every case Ben Stein brings up in the film, I didn't hear anything from Peter Atkins that actually challenged the legitimacy of the claims of Expelled. And until I can observe a cross examination between advocates of both sides whereby the defender of Expelled cannot answer the charges, then I have no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the claims raised in the film.

Second, I found Peter Atkins criticisms of Intelligent Design to be extremely fallacious. Case in point: Atkins' idea that mere order is the same thing as coded, digital, information (such as that found in the DNA). Meyer's response to this was quite noteworthy in raising the question, "So you're suggesting that the spiral 'order' that is created in the water when a toilet flushes is of the same type as that of the information found in the DNA?" As far as I could tell, Atkins affirmed such fallacious reasoning. I wish Meyers would have pressed Atkins further on this, because every time Meyers described the nature of information in that all experiences display that it comes from an intelligent source without exception, Atkins would always respond with, "That's nonsense." The conversation never went from point A to point B. I would have pressed further and asked Atkins, "In your view, how would we be able to distinguish information coming from an intelligent source verses a non-intelligent?" That is, if I walked into a cave and found intricate writing carved on the walls, even if I didn't know what the language meant, would I be out of line in suggesting that it probably wasn't the result of unintelligent geological forces? Of course not. Therefore, I would like to ask men like Atkins or anyone else who denies the validity of ID to provide an alternate criteria in identifying intelligent information from so-called non-intelligent information.

Much more could be said about this discussion, but i'd like the listener to determine for himself whether ID is a legitimate idea.

You can listen to the entire discussion HERE.



Human Ape said...

Your B.S. in Sociology does not make you qualified to say anything about evolutionary biology.

Stephen Meyer has contributed nothing to biology. He has made zero scientific discoveries. He works for a Christian creationist organization called the Discovery Institute (which has never discovered anything). Their goal is to dumb down science education to accommodate their Christian death cult.

Stephen Meyer's 'Intelligent Design' are code words that mean 'supernatural magic'. Real scientists do not invoke magic to solve scientific problems.

Stephen Meyer is an evolution-denier despite the fact that real biologists have accumulated enough evidence during the past 150 years to make the basic facts of evolution the strongest facts of science.

For example, the close evolutionary relationship between modern human apes and modern chimpanzee apes has been repeatedly proven beyond any doubt by molecular biologists who have been comparing the complete genome of these two ape species for several years. Only uneducated morons, and professional liars like Stephen Meyer, deny the facts of evolution.

What makes me angry is Stephen Meyer's pathetic attempts to make a childish idiotic religious idea (The Magic Man Did It) look scientific. He might be able to fool someone who has a B.S. in Sociology, but he isn't fooling any scientist. Scientists laugh at the stupidity of the retarded liars who work for the Christian Discovery Institute, and they call it the Dishonesty Institute.

You wrote: I wish Meyers would have pressed Atkins further on this, because every time Meyers described the nature of information in that all experiences display that it comes from an intelligent source without exception, Atkins would always respond with, "That's nonsense."

Why does Meyer talk about an "intelligent source" when he really means a "magic god fairy"?

It's because this liar for Jeebus thinks calling a 'magic fairy' an 'intelligent source' makes it sound less childish. Of course he is only proving he's both dishonest and hopelessly stupid.

By the way, every single competent biologist in the world completely agrees with everything I have just said.

Mike Felker said...

Lots and lots of words, but virtually no substance. It would be far more helpful if you actually posed an argument against something I said rather than resorting to ad hominem.

Also, do you think that Richard Sternberg is qualified to have an opinion? Last time I checked he has two Ph.D's, is an evolutionary biologists, and seems to find a lot of agreement with Meyer. Care to address that?

Human Ape said...

Well, at least you don't censor comments like most Christians I know.

Some friendly advice: spend less time "DEFENDING BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY" and more time studying science. You will then be less likely to look like a sucker customer of professional liars like Stephen Meyer.

Another idea: try thinking things out. Ask yourself, is it possible the entire Bible is nothing more than insane gibberish. Is it possible the Master of the Universe you unfortunately believe in (despite the fact that it's a ridiculous idea that doesn't have one shred of evidence) doesn't really give a crap about this insignificant planet in the middle of nowhere in a universe of zillions of planets.

Just think. Thinking might make Jeebus cry, but it won't kill you.

Anyone who agrees with anything Meyer says is a liar and/or a retard.

Intelligent design = magic. Have fun trying to deny that.

Human Ape said...

virtually no substance?

Did you miss the part about those molecular biologists who know our evolutionary relationship with chimpanzees is a proven fact?

Go complain to the molecular biologists who work at Harvard and MIT. Tell them to stop making Jeebus cry.

Human Ape said...

Read the entire right column of my blog. Then read the three books I quote, and also study all the websites I link to, especially Ken Miller at the Dover trial because he's the best biology professor in the world in my opinion, despite the fact he shares your Christian disease. Ken Miller, a Christian, agrees that Meyer is a liar and a retard. Ask him yourself if you don't believe me. He has talked to me, so he'll probably talk to anyone.

Mike Felker said...

1. Will you please address my comment regarding Sternberg. Is he not a reputable evolutionary biologist?

2. The "evolutionary relationship with chimpanzees" has nothing to do with this blog post.

3. Thanks for the reading list. I have Miller's books on my amazon wish list, as well as other evolutionary literature and will get to it in time.

4. Why not address the specific arguments from this blog post as well as what was said in the Meyer/Atkins exchange?

Anonymous said...

The claims of Expelled have been debunked. Sternberg, for one, was not fired, for instance. He did,however, abuse his position. U

The National Center for Science Education put together a web site cataloging the false claims of Expelled, and showing why these claims are false.

Mike Felker said...

Anonymous, it is very interesting that Atkins brought none of the information up from If the claims are false, as you say, then i'd like to see some direct interaction between both sides and then I will make my decision as to whether or not the claims of expelled are legitimate. So far, i'm not aware of any exchanges like these except for the one here between Atkins and Meyer.

Anonymous said...

From, also an Apologetics for Biblical Christianity:

As for creation, it cannot be that God creates sequentially or episodically, nor does he create by intervening in nature. St. Thomas’ point is that this is incompatible with God’s transcendent perfection. If one conceives God as a sequential or episodic Creator, then one is not thinking of the Christian God. The God of revelation is the reality that ontologically grounds all nature, without which nature would not exist. This is argued by St. Thomas in many writings, and one need only to consult these texts to see that this is authentic Thomism.

...part of the problem here may be a confusion between the sort of argument from design used by Intelligent Design advocates and that of medieval theologians such as St. Thomas. This may very well be true. Many today who would use Dr. Behe’s irreducible complexity argument to support an appeal to a divine Designer are thinking of divine agency as operating within the world as a supplement to natural agents. St. Thomas’ argument for the existence of a divine Designer is rather different. The order and intelligibility evident in nature and studied in our natural sciences cannot be the result of chance alone, for order cannot result from chaos without the agency of some ordering principle. God is the ultimate ordering principle. He is so not because he intervenes in a chaotic universe making it ordered, but rather by simply and absolutely being the source of an ordered universe. However one understands the creation account of Genesis, one cannot include in one’s exegesis an account of God’s creative agency that violates his divine nature as the ultimate source of order.

I am sympathetic with ... concerns about the culture wars, but I do differ on how to fight the battle. Following the lead of St. Thomas, we must counter the atheism and materialism of today with a sound account of both the nature of scientific knowledge and a proper account of the Christian doctrine of Creation. The fact that we can scientifically explain natural processes does not show that nature is uncreated. The true teaching that God created nature does not imply that nature cannot be scientifically explained through natural causes. From the Thomistic point of view, nothing that we can scientifically discover about nature alters the fact that she requires a divine author and nothing about our true belief that God created nature guarantees that we know the causes of nature’s operations.

Mike Felker said...

Anonymous, 2 things:

1) I'd hardly consider anything "Catholic" as resembling "Biblical Christianity."

2) Very little, if nothing, addresses what was said in this blog and is therefore irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

You are confusing Biblical Christianity with Biblical Literalism Christianity. We should remember that (Conservative American) Protestant rejection of Natural Revelation (what science discovers about Creation) & Natural Law is a modern phenomena, mostly due to the influence of Karl Barth. Conversely, the founders of the Protestant Reformation did not exclude Natural Revelation

From Protestants and Natural Law, J. Daryl Charles,
FirstThings (December 2006):

...Few have argued more vehemently for a rejection of natural-law thinking than Karl Barth, whose examination of intellectual trends in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in his book Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century, led him to conclude that modern society had embraced an “idealized” and “humanized” understanding of “nature.” This romantic construal of nature, coupled with an increasing secularization of culture, as Barth saw it, blended easily into the core assumptions of Enlightenment thinking and a new humanism. What the spirit of the age demanded of Christianity was a “reasonable” religion, over against the dogma of a revealed, miraculous Christianity.

This emptying of the theistic core created, in Barth’s view, an entirely different religion that had departed from the Christianity revealed through Christ and Scripture. The preoccupation with “nature” and “reason” prepared the way for a secularized humanism that empties Christian faith of its substance, undermines the absolute lordship of Christ, and facilitates the emergence of a “natural theology” that supplants Christocentric faith...

...Because much of the bias against natural-law thinking is rooted in theological conviction, religiously grounded objections to natural law must be taken seriously. But the belief, however widespread, that natural-law thinking is insufficiently Christocentric and therefore detracts from divine grace is misguided. Nothing of the sort was believed by the early Church Fathers, the medieval fathers, or the Protestant Reformers. Indeed, Scripture presumes natural law as a realm of “common grace” that is accessible to all people by virtue of creation-hence, in St. Paul’s terms, all are “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).


Recovering the Catholicity of Protestant Theological Ethics
Stephen J. Grabill Ph.D.,
Acton Institute (Winter 2007)

Among twentieth-century Protestant systematic and historical theologians, a primary reason contributing to the unfavorable assessment of natural law has been the influence of Karl Barth's epistemological criticism of natural theology, his (along with Emil Brunner's) reinforcement of Calvin as the chief codifier and lodestar of Reformed doctrine, and his advocacy of a strong version of divine command theory. Suffice it to say that particularly within the arena of Reformed theology, the discontinuity thesis was underscored by Barth's acerbic criticism not only of natural theology, but also of any theological formulation not immediately derivable from Christocentric premises.

Mike Felker said...

Anonymous, either way, your comments are off topic and should be adjusted to address the specifics regarding Expelled and the legitimacy of Intelligent Design as Stephen Meyer would present it.

Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Mike, has lots of evidence for you to consider.

It includes facts/claims from both sides and also refers you to third parties were you can validate the fact that "Expelled" was highly misleading.

Why won't you address any of this?



Psiloiordinary said...


"1) I'd hardly consider anything "Catholic" as resembling "Biblical Christianity."

Is absolutely hysterical!



Mike Felker said...

Psi, this blog post was not as much about Expelled as it was the discussion between Meyer and Atkins. So perhaps the same question could be asked of Atkins, "why won't you address any of this?" Atkins knew full well that the discussion was going to center around Expelled. Meyer offered a good summary of the Sternberg situation and I don't remember hearing Atkins offer any accusations of dishonesty or skewing of the facts. Instead, he seemed completely comfortable with the story as Meyer presented it.

As for the website referenced, I think it would be most beneficial if I could hear an interaction like this radio discussion where the facts are presented and both sides can make their case. And this was a perfect opportunity for that, and Atkins barely addressed it.

Anonymous said...

Did Meyer address the many ways in which Expelled has been debunked? Or did he merely reiterate these debunked claims?

Mike Felker said...

Anonymous, your questions are the equivalent of, "have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

If expelled, as presented by Meyer in this dialogue has been debunked, then it is interesting that Atkins brought none of this up. In fact, Atkins seemed fine with the Sternberg situation as presented by Meyer. Maybe you should be going after Atkins for not debunking Meyer's presentation?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Why is it fair for you to criticise Atkins for arguments that he did not make while alleging that it is unfair to question Meyer about arguments that he did not make?

Why the double standard?

Mike Felker said...

Here's the bottom line. This blog was a review of the dialogue between Atkins and Meyer, not a review of the movie expelled. Therefore, it was only my intention to respond to what was said in the dialogue.

Here are the facts:

1. Meyer summarized the Sternberg situation as he saw it.
2. Atkins had no qualms with Meyer's presentation, which might suggest that his presentation was an accurate summation of what actually took place.
3. Atkin's criticisms of ID, according to Meyer, were extremely fallacious and Meyer gave his reasons for why this was the case.

It may very well be that clears things up. But this blog was not about the movie expelled nor whatever website has been made to refute expelled.

Rey Discomfort said...

Do you disagree that Sternberg broke protocol (without being reviewed by an associate editor)?

You did bring up Sternbergs credentials, but the paper he submitted had nothing to do with with his own research, nor the "systematics 'the study of taxonomy'" ..

How can you objectively review the debate when you yourself in the past have admitted your lack of certain fields of biology and geology (it wasn't too long ago that I asked some questions in a post you shared about Terry Morton).

The fact still remains that ID still does not have one peer reviewed paper to back it up -- anytime I bring this up the only defense an ID'er has is that there is a 'conspiracy amongst the darwinist' -- it's been said before, there is plenty debate amongst scientist behind the mechanisms that drive evolution.

Mike Felker said...

Rey, i'm not familiar enough with the Sternberg situation to know if he broke protocol. If he did, then Atkins failed to point any of this out. As far as Sternberg's credentials, my mentioning of them had nothing to do with the Meyer ID paper.

And I don't know if I can objectively review the debate or not. All I can do is listen to both sides and share my thoughts.

And I could really care less if ID has or hasn't been peer reviewed. I'm more concerned with the merits of the arguments themselves.

Rey Discomfort said...

How can you put yourself in a position to judge the arguments when you don't understand what's being discussed?

At the very least you're judging the debaters ability to, debate. I don't know why Atkins didn't bring any of the obvious up, but that still doesn't change the fact that both Sternbeg and Meyers both participated in something unethical.

Mike Felker said...

Rey, anyone with a middle school education would be able to understand what is being discussed.

And yes, I am judging debating abilities. When it comes to reviewing debates, that's just what happens. But I also try to deal with the merits of the arguments themselves.

Rey Discomfort said...

How can you judge the merits of the arguments, when you might be considered scientifically illiterate? I mean no offense by stating that, as there are areas in science that I wouldn't dare to get into.

We've taken this path before when you shared an interview with Dr. Terry Mortenson -- as soon as we began to get into various methods of dating you admitted your lack of understanding of the methods used and that you only had wished to share Mortenson's view (that you seemed to have agreed with).

I've not seen one good reason to accept the validity of ID, as it's not been shown to be nothing more than a political and religious agenda being presented as science.

Mike Felker said...

Rey, all I can tell you is that I listen to both sides the best I can and come to the best conclusion I know how. I can do this with radioisotope dating as well as with the origin of DNA, though I have no formal training in any of the physical sciences. Thus, my knowledge on these issues can only go so far. However, I don't think that would be good grounds for saying that I can't do something like listen to a short radio discussion and explain my disagreements?

That is, I can say, "Though I don't understand all the intricate details of this issue, person X seems to be making a much more persuasive case than person Y, and here are my reasons for saying that..."