Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dawkins dodges debate again

This time with Stephen Meyer. Dawkins seems intent on robbing me of really entertaining debates.


Anonymous said...

Gee, how mysterious. You know, I have the same concerns about Jews who advocate Holocaust awareness that don't want to debate expert rhetoritician Holocaust deniers in public. They must have know that they'd lose.

They could probably establish that the Holocaust never happened if they were allowed to publish in peer-reviewed history journals, but there's an anti-Holocaust-denier bias against them.

That's what forces them to make an end-run around the peer-review process in these public debates. Hey, let's do the same thing in K-12 education! Let the students decide. Teach the controversy!

philip m said...

^^ seems like a species of Godwin's law to me

Edward T. Babinski said...

Why would anyone want to debate Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute? His gaffs have been revealled all over the internet by specialists in molecular evolution and the fossil record. Just check the Panda's Thumb, Talk Origins Archive, Talk Design, P.Z.'s blog or other sites. Heck, Meyers and other Discovery Institute guys can't tell the difference bewteen the earliest vertebrates (starting with a mere notochord and vestigial eye spot and other primitive features) and the ones that followed, not admit the progression of differences. In fact Discovery Institute members can't even agree on whether the earth is billions or only thousands of years old. Neither can they agree on whether or not species were popped into existence whole, or God fiddled with genes, and kept away harmful mutagens to preserve his new genes but also allowed many species to simply become extinct, even tossing down fireballs from heaven to destory whole ecological landscapes like shaking a divine etch-i-sketch.

There's one fellow at the Discovery Institute, their ONLY senior member who is also a biologist and writer of some of their most popular works, who has admitted that the genetic evidence for shared common ancestry is strong enough to convince him that even humans and chimps are cousins. I'm speaking about Behe. The rest of the Institute puts up with him because they can't afford to lose a man with his credentials and charisma. But you know what? Michael Denton was also once a member of the Institute too, until he too became convinced by the genetic evidence of common ancestry. He LEFT the Discovery Institute. He was distgusted with their peddling of creationist conference DVDs, and by the institute's pandering to young-earth creationism. Really, if the guys at the Institute can't settle the age of the earth, a plainer question by far than natural selection, then they ought to tackle the simpler plainer questions first before all else.

Who really wants to debate such lame

Anonymous said...

I think anyone who is going to dismiss a debate opponent because of supposed gaffes and claims of ignorance about the subject they're discussing probably shouldn't be doing so in defense of Dawkins. The guy's cringeworthy even among many atheists. The only thing he has going for him is being british and well-spoken. And he's not even that once political subjects or "the jewish lobby" is brought up.

Jeremy said...

I think the key word here is "entertaining"...That said, Meyer isn't exactly unqualified to speak on the nature of scientific discovery, even if you don't agree with his conclusions on the origin of the universe. You can downplay a lot of things, but the quality of his education in that particular field is unquestionable.

To the first Anonymous: Your example only works if you don't make a career out of refuting holocaust denial. Dawkins has made it his life mission to speak out against guys like Meyer, so he doesn't have a leg to stand on when he refuses to debate one with a doctorate from Cambridge.

Matthew said...

Ed, William Lane Craig is also a discovery institute fellow. Yet he manages to find biologists to debate ID with. And he hasn't even published on the topic.

Yet somehow, Mr. Dawkins, constantly being a critic of the Discovery Institute doesn't want to debate it.

I mean seriously? He has his legion of fanboys who even think Christopher Hitchens did a good job against WLC, yet he doesn't want to critique a proponent of what he hates in a topic he is qualified in in public?

Victor Reppert said...

The reason I put the word "entertaining" in the original post is because I do have some reservations about public debate as a venue for the adequate airing of issues. The blogosphere, public debate, and peer reviewed journals all have strengths and weaknesses as loci for dialogue about issues like this.

By the same token, Dawkins' career, and even his previous academic position (1995-2008), the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science, are dedicated to the defense of evolution to the general public. The ordinary complaints about public debate as a setting for the exchange of ideas go by the boards here.

It is quite true that if you have a public debate between Bill Craig and someone who is a good atheist philosopher of religion but who is not at home in the debate setting, you could complain that a debate might unfairly disadvantage one's own cause. Similarly, a good evolutionary biologist might bomb in a debate with Duane Gish, and that this might tell us little about the credibility of evolution.

But Dawkins writes for the public, not only to accept evolution in full, but also to reject belief in the existence of God. He is an excellent public speaker. So he is not in a position to use what would ordinarily be the best arguments against debating someone like Craig or Meyer.

To make a career of making the case for atheistic evolution to the general public, and then to hide behind academic snobbery when challenged to a debate by academically qualified opponents, is trying to have your cake and eat it too.

Galactor said...

What's the essential difference between Duane Gish and Steven Meyer? Probably only the decade in which they operate(d).

Both just want(ed) to push their philosophy without diligent scrutiny from credentialed peers.

If Meyer has got something to say, let's hear what the science is and let's see it stand up to scrutiny.

Until then, what's the point of a debate? What would they debate? Some aspect of the wedge strategy? The Dover trial?

Galactor said...

Matthew writes:

"William Lane Craig is also a discovery institute fellow. Yet he manages to find biologists to debate ID with. And he hasn't even published on the topic."

Not all biologists agree with the stance of Dawkins then. Some will debate creationists, some won't. What's the relevance to this statement?

"Yet somehow, Mr. Dawkins, constantly being a critic of the Discovery Institute doesn't want to debate it."

The Discovery Institute is merely intent on perverting science to fit doctrine. Why would *any* serious scientist seek discourse with this mendacious organisation?