Intelligent Design

Exchange With PZ Myers: Recap

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I thought I would pull together all of the links pertinent to my exchange with PZ Myers into one article for ease of navigation:

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

19 Replies to “Exchange With PZ Myers: Recap

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Well, after that many rounds, everyone ought to be well and truly soused.

  2. 2
    ForJah says:

    I don’t understand why each side always says the other side misrepresents or doesn’t understand the others arguments. Who the hell is telling the truth?!

  3. 3
    CannuckianYankee says:


    I took time out today to read through and watch everything you posted here, and I have to say you’ve done a fine job. You presented yourself at the conference with grace and a smile on your face when PZ asked you if you’re ashamed of yourself, saying “no.” That took a lot of guts. You asked some good questions, and you had your facts straight. You were obviously well prepared.

    Even some of those charging you with being an “IDiot” (which is to be expected with their ilk), have even acknowledged your bravery in asking the question.

    Well done.

    I hope PZ follows through and reads the material you supplied him; even if he doesn’t “find it interesting.”

  4. 4
    es58 says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I appreciate your efforts, but would still be interested, now that you have free time? :), if you’d address something left hanging from Art Hunt

    Hi Jonathan,

    Just a reminder, there is much, much more to biology than mammals and such.

    An example that, I believe, is a treause trove of “evidence for evolutionarily relevant (i.e. stably heritable) large-scale variations” that undeniably arose from a common ancestor:…..#entry1446

    As always, enjoy.


  5. 5
    Jonathan M says:

    Hello es58,

    I had intended to reply to Hunt, but subsequently forgot.

    Anyway, my response would be much the same as I wrote to part of Myers’ rebuttal to me:

    The relevance of this remark is doubtful. There is no evidence that beneficial mutations to early development have occurred or could have occurred. Such mutations are uniformly destructive, and normally lethal. Evolutionary biologists have championed such mutations, not because of the evidence, but because they believe in undirected common ancestry which demands it. Actually, it is precisely by inducing mutations to normal developmental sequences that we discover the workings of development.

    Hunt refers to variation among plants — which develop in a manner quite different from animals. I simply fail to see the relevance since the problem is pertinent to modification of early developmental stages (something which is required for the generation of novel body plans).


  6. 6
    Arthur Hunt says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for the belated reply.

    Recall that my comment was in response to a request on your part for someone to explain why one or more of your questions was silly. My point was, and is, that it is silly (to me, at least) to ask broad-based questions about the evolution of body plans all the while ignoring almost all of biology.

    Responding, as you do here, along the lines of “no fair using plants as evidence for the evolution of large morphological variation and body plans” doesn’t make your list any less silly to me. Rather, it makes it clear that you want to avoid meaningful discussion.

    No matter – plants really give antievolutionists fits. In this sense, you’re in good company.

    So, some questions for you: you are fixated on the inaccessibility of early embryonic development to meaningful evolutionary change. Do you have any unambiguous instances of morphological or body plan evolution that necessarily must involve some hypothetically impossible alteration in development? Please be specific.

    Also, when you claim that early development cannot vary as you seem to think it must, I have to wonder just what the basis of this claim is. In my mind, I envision some sort of large-scale analysis of a tractable model, in which the development of thousands of individuals has been followed and quantified, and some sort of range of variation in various steps or stages measured. Are you aware of any experiments such as this? Or are you just making broad, sweeping, and ultimately unsupported assertions here?

  7. 7
    CharlieM says:

    Student – How do you explain that some homologous structures arrive by different developmental pathways?

    Tutor – That’s bullshit, aren’t you ashamed of asking such a question!

    Is this man really an educator? Why should anyone be ashamed of asking legitimate, interesting, scientific questions? If PZ Myers did not think that a question was valid then wouldn’t it have been courteous to explain why it wasn’t valid? I’m sure all the interested lay-people like myself who have now seen the video would have preferred to hear a well reasoned answer which may have given us something to think about. Instead I get the impression that here is a giant ego that loves preaching to the adoring masses but hates to be challenged. The worrying thing is, how many more people like him are out there supposedly educating the youth of today? Passing on personal beliefs is not educating. We who are getting on a bit have a responsibility and this is not the example we should be setting. Glasgow has enough bigotry to deal with without this demonstration of intolerance.

    PZ Myers already had the questions so he should have been prepared to give an informed response explaining why the questions were “stupid”. I’m afraid “bullshit” is not a well thought out, mature, reasonable response.

    He asked in his blog before the event:

    “Please please please please please please, O Creationists, show up and ask me these questions. Pick any of them. Pick the one you are absolutely certain will make me squirt hot tears of frustration and despair right there on the stage. I’m begging you. Give me the opportunity to give you a public spanking. Oh, happy monkey, I will be delirious with joy if you try to make me suffer with these questions. They’re like a gift, a gift of idiocy.”

    These are not the words of a objective, inquiring, scientifically minded person. These are the emotive words of someone who has convinced himself of his own wisdom regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

    Paradoxically, some of those who call themselves skeptics are the most detesting of skepticism. Just direct it toward them and see what happens.


  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Hi Art,

    Can you give an example of a plant that shows no sign of design?

    Evolution isn’t the issue. The issue is design. The issue is teleology.


  9. 9
  10. 10
    lastyearon says:

    Looks like Mung found a bug in the blogging platform. Someone forgot a closing tag, and it applied bold formatting to all subsequent posts.

  11. 11
    lastyearon says:
  12. 12
    lastyearon says:


  13. 13
    Mung says:

    Yeah, I tried a closing bold tag but that didn’t help, hehe.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    Thread owner:

    I think the bug is likely to be in the ES58 post. See if someone reversed the closing solidus and the b for bold, so it is b solid, not solid b.

    This is not likely to be just forgot to close a bold; which on experience usually terminates with the post.

    If I am right, to fix, correct the closing Bold or strong tag, from inside post edit.

    GEM of TKI

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    Then you have to fix all my attempts to fix the bug. 🙂

  16. 16
    Arthur Hunt says:

    Mung asks:

    Hi Art,

    Can you give an example of a plant that shows no sign of design?

    Um, I dunno about “no design”, but I suspect that GHW Bush would say that broccoli is an example of malevolent design.

  17. 17
    steve_h says:

    Meier’s has reacted : he seems to think that JM does not understand evolutionary theory in enough detail to understand what it predicts and what it does not.

    If this turns out all bold, the link is on the word ‘reacted’

  18. 18
    Joseph says:


    Sorry, a little late to the party- you said:

    Doesn’t Darwinism predict a pattern wherein the earliest stages are the most similar and the later stages are the most different?

    No, it doesn’t.

    Some people have tried to use similarities as evidence for common ancestry, but that is about it.

    Ya see if embryological development was completely different then Darwinists would just say there has been a signifcant loss and replacement that took place and all transional evidence has been lost/ not found yet.

    OR they would say that is the random nature of the beast.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    I wonder if neo-Darwinism predicted this:

    Falsification of neo-Darwinism;

    First, the falsification of local realism (reductive materialism).

    Here is a clip of a talk in which Alain Aspect talks about the failure of ‘local realism’, or the failure of reductive materialism, to explain reality:

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video

    The falsification for local realism (reductive materialism) was recently greatly strengthened:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.

    (of note: hidden variables were postulated to remove the need for ‘spooky’ forces, as Einstein termed them — forces that act instantaneously at great distances, thereby breaking the most cherished rule of relativity theory, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.)

    And yet, quantum entanglement, which rigorously falsified local realism (reductive materialism) as the complete description of reality, is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale!

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours ( “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.

    Untangling the Quantum Entanglement Behind Photosynthesis – May 11 2010
    Excerpt: “This is the first study to show that entanglement, perhaps the most distinctive property of quantum mechanical systems, is present across an entire light harvesting complex,” says Mohan Sarovar, a post-doctoral researcher under UC Berkeley chemistry professor Birgitta Whaley at the Berkeley Center for Quantum Information and Computation. “While there have been prior investigations of entanglement in toy systems that were motivated by biology, this is the first instance in which entanglement has been examined and quantified in a real biological system.”

    DNA Can Discern Between Two Quantum States, Research Shows – June 2011
    Excerpt: — DNA — can discern between quantum states known as spin. – The researchers fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team’s results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property.

    i.e. It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy space/time) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as neo-Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the energy/matter particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘specified’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!
    ,,,To refute this falsification of neo-Darwinism, one must falsify Alain Aspect, and company’s, falsification of local realism (reductive materialism)!

    ,,, As well, appealing to ‘non-reductive’ materialism (multiverse or many-worlds) to try to explain quantum non-locality in molecular biology ends up destroying the very possibility of doing science rationally;

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.

    ,,,Michael Behe has a profound answer to the infinite multiverse (non-reductive materialism) argument in “Edge of Evolution”. If there are infinite universes, then we couldn’t trust our senses, because it would be just as likely that our universe might only consist of a human brain that pops into existence which has the neurons configured just right to only give the appearance of past memories. It would also be just as likely that we are floating brains in a lab, with some scientist feeding us fake experiences. Those scenarios would be just as likely as the one we appear to be in now (one universe with all of our experiences being “real”). Bottom line is, if there really are an infinite number of universes out there, then we can’t trust anything we perceive to be true, which means there is no point in seeking any truth whatsoever.

    “The multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text.” Gregg Easterbrook


    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007

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