Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Stephen Meyer debates Peter Ward on intelligent design vs Darwinism

The speakers

Stephen C. Meyer is director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC) and a founder both of the intelligent design movement and of the CSC, intelligent design’s primary intellectual and scientific headquarters. Dr. Meyer is a Cambridge University-trained philosopher of science, the author of peer-reviewed publications in technical, scientific, philosophical and other books and journals. His signal contribution to ID theory is given most fully in Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, published by HarperOne in June 2009.

Graduating from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, in 1981 with a degree in physics and earth science, he later became a geophysicist with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in Dallas, Texas. From 1981 to 1985, he worked for ARCO in digital signal processing and seismic survey interpretation. As a Rotary International Scholar, he received his training in the history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University, earning a PhD in 1991. His thesis offered a methodological interpretation of origin-of-life research.

Peter D. Ward, Ph.D., is a paleontologist and professor in the Departments of Geology and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an adjunct professor of zoology and astronomy. His research specialties include the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event and mass extinctions generally. His books include the best-selling “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe” (co-author Donald Brownlee, 2000), “Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future” (2007), and “The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?” (2009).

The debate

Here’s the video of the debate:

The debate itself starts at around 8:19, after all the moderators have spoken.

There is a review of this debate here on Evolution News, and I include a snip to encourage you to watch it:

Last night, the Seattle Times Talk of the Times at Town Hall Seattle featured a debate over evolution and intelligent design between CSC Director Stephen Meyer and US paleontologist Peter Ward. The event was sold out with 800+ in attendance for what turned out to be a really good debate.

[...]The debate last night was almost ALL about science–from gene sequencing, to nanotechnology, to the Cambrian explosion, to the philosophy of science that decides how to define the terms in the first place. Both scientists are experts in their fields and the audience was eager to hear what they had to say. No matter how much Darwinists claim there is no debate, and that intelligent design somehow kills curiousity, you can’t argue with hundreds of people showing up to eagerly hear what both sides have to say about the issue. Clearly they were curious about the debate that doesn’t exist.

That article also includes a blow-by-blow summary by a person sympathetic to ID who attended the debate. This is probably the best debate on intelligent design out there, and it was only recently uploaded to Youtube in September last year. When I watch a great debate like this, it really makes me hope that we who do believe that life is designed are raising up the next generation of scientists who ask questions, and don’t assume this philosophical assumption of naturalism. Do the science first. Don’t assume anything religious. Don’t let the religion of naturalism determine what science can and cannot discover. That’s the burden of our side, anyway.

And now a surprise! There is actually a transcript of this debate that I found on the Discovery Institute web site. Isn’t it amazing that intelligent design has been out there for such a long time, yet almost no one can define it, and no one has ever seen a debate where both sides come out to debate it. You can download the audio here, but it’s 90 Mb.

Even though Peter Ward is an atheist, he has co-written a fabulous book that I own and have read called “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe“. I really recommend getting this book, as it is a great book by two non-theists on the habitability argument. It’s sort of a secular precursor to Jay Richards’ and Guillermo Gonzalez’s “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery“. The habitability argument is a really neglected argument, but it’s a good one.

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One Response

  1. David Clark says:

    Wow.

    So we now know the following about Peter Ward. He thinks that continuously retorting “That’s not a theory!” is an intelligent response. He thinks “That’s crap!” is an intelligent response. He thinks making shovel motions is an intelligent response. His 9 year old son can wear a tie. And the best part, he took up an entire 30 seconds regaling the world with a story about how he once carried his own poo.

    My favorite was that he thinks that his book about theoretical UFO DNA qualifies as science, whilst berating others for lack of scientific rigor.

    Atheists, it’s time to bench this guy and get a better debater.

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