Saturday, January 23, 2010

Peter Atkins vs. Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer on Intelligent Design and "Expelled" The Movie


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January 16, 2010 on Premier Christian Radio: Unbelievable?:
The documentary film "Expelled" is presented by US Actor Ben Stein and makes the case that scientists who question Darwinian orthodoxy and support Intelligent Design are being "expelled" from academia.

As the UK edition of the DVD is released we ask "Is freedom of thought at stake or is Intelligent Design out of bounds when it comes to biological science?"

Stephen C Meyer is co founder of the Discovery Institute in the USA and a major proponent of Intelligent Design. Peter Atkins is Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University and an outspoken atheist.

14 comments:

  1. Meyer is merely putting forward the Spinozan God principle which the religious use as their default position. Astrologers do this too. They use information gained through scientific processes and then twist it to suit their own agenda.

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  2. 2 hours of rage inducing "discussion" (commercial for the Expelled UK dvd release, really). 75% of which is Stephen C Meyer talking, the rest of the time is shared by Peter Atkins (on the side of science) and the interviewer.

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  3. Painful.  PAINFUL to listen to. I couldn't finish.

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  4. I like Peter Atkins, but DON'T say ID is pseudo-science. Because then you have to define what real science is. That is precisely what they want (the nonsense about 'materialistic orthodoxy'). The problem with creationism is that it's dead science. What they say has already been disproved by Darwin 150 years ago.

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  5. Very painful to listen to, but a little humerous at times (Atkins' frustration was quite funny). Atkins is obviously an educated man, but it goes to show that just because you're educated in chemistry/biology, it doesn't mean that you're equiped to handle creationists or ID proponents. A lot of points were not brought up by Atkins that I would have liked him to. He did at least bring up occams razor as a defence to his supposed materialist presupposition more than once, which was excellent, but it went over everyones head each time, and Atkins didn't persue it after that and the christians continued to use the phrase 'materialist presupposition'.

    I'm very frustrated that 'Unbelievable?' has set up their second episode on intelligent design this year, both of them with one of the leading ID proponents, but both with educated scientists who obviously aren't too familiar with ID (Atkins and Wolpert). These debates need someone like PZMyers, or anyone who is very familar with ID. Otherwise you have a "debate" in where the ID proponent is woffling on about ID, and the atheist is left scratching their head as to their beliefs on biology/evolution/abiogenesis/chemistry.

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  6. Actually, creationism SHOUOLD be called pseudo-science precicely because science is already defined.

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  7. A salutary and depressing lesson! Most of us who read this blog will see the gaping holes in Stephen Meyer's argument, but the sad thing is that this Christian radio station is aimed at a different audience - one that will readily accept his views in the absence of a careful and lucid denunciation, from a position of full knowledge of the opposition case.  Unwarranted victory to ID...

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  8. The demarcation problem isn't relevant when discussing ID. In my opinion. The evidence against ID is sufficiently strong enough to dismiss it out of hand because it contradicts modern science. As soon as Atkins said ID wasn't science (even if that might be the case) he had the burden of proof of defining science. When he did, Meyer turned to the 'materialist orthodoxy'-drop bomb and said the 'ID scientists' are systematically discriminated because of their opposition to 'scientific materialism'. At that point the debate was already lost for Atkins. It made the creationists look like martyrs. Don't misunderstand me, Peter Atkins is a much more brighter person than all creationists together taken, he's just not as good debater.

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  9. I haven't heard the show yet so I don't know what was said.
    Still, there is no "burden of proof" in defining science. Science is defined enough to exclude ID and whining about it on the radio to a sympathetic audience is meaningless.
    Don't fall for the Shifting the Burden falacy, any listener who would investigate further than a radio show will find what science is and why ID can't "play in that arena".

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  10. That was rather painful. I will have to say that Peter Atkins is not our best man for the cause. He often doesn't explain his position, lets himself be spoken over and doesn't come across to the 'other side' as someone who knows what they're talking about. Half of his speaking is 'ums and ahs'. Unfortunately, anyone listening to Premier Christian Radio that listens to it because they are Christian would have had their faith in ID confirmed after that poor performance from Atkins. Meyer came across to the illinformed and ignorant Christian as a very educated and reasonable person. We took a hit on that one. We need a better debater than Atkins. I've seen him on a couple of those BBC discussion panels and he's the same way. He doesn't say much and most of what comes out isn't much of an argument. Who's got the heart to tell him that he's fired as the debater.

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  11. Ouch.  Atkins wrote a number of the chemistry textbooks I studied at university.  It was a difficult process to work out, in precise mathematical detail, the laws of thermodynamics and their implications for generating order and sustaining life.  I got there in the end, and ended up doing well in physical chemistry, applying the equations to predict the thermodynamic properties of chemical systems and getting a first in all three of the thermodynamics modules.  I feel sorry for Peter who, whilst excellent at explaining these ideas to smart students who have to work hard to get there, will never be able to explain this to less smart people in a small amount of time, especially when their jobs depend on them not understanding them.

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  12. deconverts@gmail.comJanuary 25, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    @IanM - "<span>especially when their jobs depend on them not understanding them."</span>

    +1. Key phrase right there.

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  13. Now that I've heard the show, I would like to disagree with everyone. I found it rather entertaining in a laughing-at-the-IDiots kind of way.
    Atkins came through very polite, accommodating and made good points that would become apparent to anyone looking into the "controversy" further then a radio show and a propaganda movie.
    I think that is better then trying to talk over the IDiots to explain how they're wrong, and giving the impression of actually trying to "silence the opposition". Especially when in a biased environment like christian radio.

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  14. Expelled is now on Amazon UK. The Christian DVD distribtors are writing their own "customer comments" (5 starts obviously). Also the usual creationist "debunings" of godless Darwinism starting to feature.

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