Intelligent Design

P.Z. Myers rebukes Richard Dawkins for his tweet on Down syndrome

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Hot on the heels of Denyse O’Leary’s recent post on Richard Dawkins’ tweet that it would be immoral to bring a kid with Down syndrome into the world by choice, P.Z. Myers has weighed in against Dawkins. Myers writes:

I’m fully in agreement with Dawkins that abortion is not an unethical choice. The woman can choose whether to keep a child or not, and it is perfectly reasonable, and even responsible, for her to include any information about genetic disorders in making her decision. However, singling out children with Down Syndrome is seriously problematic — it is not immoral to have a child with Downs. It is immoral to insist that a fetus with Down Syndrome should be aborted.

I recommend reading any of Michael Bérubé’s stories about having a child with Down Syndrome — he doesn’t have any regrets at all. Or you could read about how Bérubé schooled Peter Singer, and Singer did the right thing and changed his mind. He also wrote a book on the subject, reviewed in the NY Times.

We should not judge a person’s humanity by the number of chromosomes they have, or how intelligent they are, or by how close their appearance fits a particular standard.

Professor Myers and I obviously disagree on the morality of abortion. Nevertheless, in pointing out that children with Down syndrome are fully human, and that the lives of these children are worth living, New Atheist P.Z. Myers is on the side of the angels. Let’s give credit where credit is due. I’d like to thank P.Z. Myers for speaking out in public, as he did.

26 Replies to “P.Z. Myers rebukes Richard Dawkins for his tweet on Down syndrome

  1. 1
    Barry Arrington says:

    Yes, Myers is to be commended when he says that singling out Downs babies for death is immoral. But am I the only one who detects a certain level of irony here? Myers’ atheism dictates that the word “morality” has no real meaning other than “I disagree.” Myers might as well have said, “In my personal opinion Dawkins has made an error, but there is no standard by which to judge which of us is right.”

    Isn’t an atheist saying “It is immoral” like a man with his eyes closed saying “It is green”?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    It is interesting to point out that the ones who hold the right to choice is more important to the right to life are the ones, (i.e. materialistic atheists), who are most likely to claim that right to choose, i.e. free will, is illusory:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    Supplemental notes;

    How Free Will Works (In Quantum Mechanics) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMp30Q8OGOE

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    “If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.”
    Asher Peres, Delayed choice for entanglement swapping. J. Mod. Opt. 47, 139-143 (2000).

    You can see a more complete explanation of the startling results of the experiment at the 9:11 minute mark of the following video

    Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser Experiment Explained – 2014 video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6HLjpj4Nt4

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, These experiments from quantum mechanics are simply impossible on a reductive materialism (determinism) view of reality!

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

  3. 3
    velikovskys says:

    ba,
    It is interesting to point out that the ones who hold the right to choice is more important to the right to life are the ones, (i.e. materialistic atheists), who are most likely to claim that right to choose, i.e. free will, is illusory:

    Good point except for all the non atheists who have abortions, and what they are concerned with is the legal right to choose, not the philosophical question.

  4. 4

    PZ makes the exact same mistake Dawkins makes; he exhorts an objective moral value even while he denies they exist:

    It is immoral to insist that a fetus with Down Syndrome should be aborted.

    To claim that an act is in itself immoral necessarily refers to some form of objective morality. You cannot say what is moral or immoral for others to do if morality is indeed subjective; only the individual can say what is moral for themselves.

    No one can argue or act as if morality is subjective. To insist that it is subjective is the height of foolishness.

  5. 5
    vh says:

    Darwinists like Dawkins are all for killing any baby that is not absolutely perfect. Heck, they don’t even need an excuse to kill someone; the world is already overpopulated…. Why bring someone into the world who couldn’t be classified as “fit?”

  6. 6
    DavidD says:

    Barry
    “Isn’t an atheist saying “It is immoral” like a man with his eyes closed saying “It is green”?”

    Immorality to an atheist is not being one of them. Much like the expression in debate, “common ground”, which by their definition simple means you accept and believe everything that comes out of their mouth.

    This also leaves Mark Frank in the middle of the philosophical sandwich. Hmm, which side will he choose, or can he with all looking on ?

    Lately I’m finding their little world of chaos being turned upside down entertaining

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    velikovskys, I don’t doubt that some misguided Christians do support abortion. I didn’t claim otherwise. But it is funny that it is always the atheists, who deny they even have free will, who are always the ones who are most voracious in their defense of their ‘right to choose’.

    It is not a minor inconsistency! In fact it is a completely insane position to hold.

    But alas, it is par for the course with atheists!

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Isn’t it wonderful seeing these atheist males telling women what they ought or ought not do?

    It’s wonderful of Myers to tell us the things we ought to exclude when defining what it means to be human and/or a human person. but what ought we include, and why?

    These people are atheist in name only.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM @ 4: “To claim that an act is in itself immoral necessarily refers to some form of objective morality.”
    See my comment @ 1. Your comment is, of course, correct unless one defines “moral” as “that with which I agree.” Of course, the problem with defining “moral” that way is there is no good answer to the response: “Why should I care what you agree with?”
    Why don’t atheists like Myers cut through the linguistic haze and just say, “I disagree with Dawkins. Damned if I can tell you why you should care that I disagree.”
    I suspect the answer is one of two things: (1) they are not smart enough to understand they have no right to speak in moral terms as if “moral” has some objective meaning while at the same time denying that moral has some objective meaning; or (2) they understand well enough but it sometimes suits them to pretend that “immoral” means something other than “I disagree” when they are heaping moral opprobrium on someone with whom they disagree.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    In case PZ, or one of his posters, reads this thread, Behe has clarified ‘The Edge’:

    Guide of the Perplexed: A Quick Reprise of The Edge of Evolution – Michael Behe – August 20, 2014
    Excerpt: *Any particular adaptive biochemical feature requiring the same mutational complexity as that needed for chloroquine resistance in malaria is forbiddingly unlikely to have arisen by Darwinian processes and fixed in the population of any class of large animals (such as, say, mammals), because of the much lower population sizes and longer generation times compared to that of malaria. (By “the same mutational complexity” I mean requiring 2-3 point mutations where at least one step consists of intermediates that are deleterious, plus a modest selection coefficient of, say, 1 in 10^3 to 1 in10^4. Those factors will get you in the neighborhood of 1 in 10^20.)
    *Any adaptive biological feature requiring a mutational pathway of twice that complexity (that is, 4-6 mutations with the intermediate steps being deleterious) is unlikely to have arisen by Darwinian processes during the history of life on Earth.,,,
    What’s more, Nicholas White’s factor of 1 in 10^20 already has built into it all the ways to evolve chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum. In the many malarial cells exposed to chloroquine there have surely occurred all possible single mutations and probably all possible double mutations — in every malarial gene — yet only a few mutational combinations in pfcrt are effective. In other words, mutation and selection have already searched all possible solutions of the entire genome whose probability is greater than 1 in 10^20, including mutations to other genes. The observational evidence demonstrates that only a handful are effective. There is no justification for arbitrarily inflating probabilistic resources by citing imaginary alternative evolutionary routes.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89161.html

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Of supplemental note to post 10, even supposedly unambiguously beneficial mutations, when added together, are found to have a deleterious effect:

    Mutations : when benefits level off – June 2011 – (Lenski’s e-coli after 50,000 generations)
    Excerpt: After having identified the first five beneficial mutations combined successively and spontaneously in the bacterial population, the scientists generated, from the ancestral bacterial strain, 32 mutant strains exhibiting all of the possible combinations of each of these five mutations. They then noted that the benefit linked to the simultaneous presence of five mutations was less than the sum of the individual benefits conferred by each mutation individually.
    http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1867.htm?theme1=7

    New Research on Epistatic Interactions Shows “Overwhelmingly Negative” Fitness Costs and Limits to Evolution – Casey Luskin June 8, 2011
    Excerpt: In essence, these studies found that there is a fitness cost to becoming more fit. As mutations increase, bacteria faced barriers to the amount they could continue to evolve. If this kind of evidence doesn’t run counter to claims that neo-Darwinian evolution can evolve fundamentally new types of organisms and produce the astonishing diversity we observe in life, what does?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47151.html

  12. 12
    EvilSnack says:

    I’m going to welcome P.Z. Myers’ statement in the spirit in which it appears to have been given. Whether it is consistent with his other beliefs is another fight for another day.

  13. 13
    Eric Anderson says:

    “The woman can choose whether to keep a child or not, and it is perfectly reasonable, and even responsible, for her to include any information about genetic disorders in making her decision.”

    I presume he meant to include that the “man” also has some say in whether to keep his child or not?

    I do applaud, however, Myers calling Dawkins out on this. Dawkins, as so often, is utterly, completely, and obviously wrong. Why someone would tweet such a thing beggars belief. Clueless.

  14. 14
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77, it is very brave of Behe to post his response to Moran on a website that does not allow discussion and debate. Morgan’s criticism was posted on his blog. Why doesn’t Behe respond there? Or if he wants a friendlier audience, on UD?

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Behe has never entered into the fray of internet blogs. I don’t blame him. Darwinists have been far from kind to him on their blogs. Moreover, debates on blogs settle nothing. You yourself are a prime example of that. Even though you yourself have been presented empirical evidence directly refuting Darwinian claims, refuse to believe the evidence and think that by merely disagreeing with the empirical evidence that you have somehow refuted it. in what should be needless to say AB, that is not how science works!

    The Scientific Method – Richard Feynman – video
    Quote: ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

    AB, If you have empirical evidence to refute Behe (or Axe, or Dembski and Marks, or etc.. etc..), then by all means publish it in peer review so as to address Behe directly. Until then, as far as the empirical science itself is concerned, past all the mean spirited rhetoric on internet Blogs, neo-Darwinian evolution is false. Dr. Behe knows it, and every one who cares about empirical science knows it. The only ones who refuse to accept it are the ones who put their Atheistic religion before what the evidence is telling us!

  16. 16
    Dionisio says:

    bornagain77 @ 15

    Dr. Behe has never entered into the fray of internet blogs. I don’t blame him.

    Don’t blame him either.
    As you well stated, most

    debates on blogs settle nothing

    when they are between two opposite irreconcilable worldview positions…
    and I would add, many debates are a waste of time, except for the potential onlookers who may read the posts.

  17. 17
    lpadron says:

    Meyer’s thinks it immoral to abort a fetus simply because it has Down’s but doesn’t think it immoral to abort a perfectly normal fetus because it’s inconvenient. Odd.

  18. 18
    DavidD says:

    A-B
    “BA77, it is very brave of Behe to post his response to Moran on a website that does not allow discussion and debate. Morgan’s criticism was posted on his blog. Why doesn’t Behe respond there?”

    Perhaps because your culture is prone to derogatory name calling, filth and vulgarities which are characteristic of animalistic personalities which have no position other than they hate something.

    A-B
    “Or if he wants a friendlier audience, on UD?”

    How about an even friendlier audience like over at the Septic Zone or After the Bathhouse Closes ?

  19. 19
    Barb says:

    BA77: I have a question for you. You’ve posted a lot of good information on quantum theory, but what do you make of Feynman’s quote about experimentation? A lot of quantum theory cannot be experimented with or on. Is it wrong, as Feynman asserts, or is it simply the best information we have right now?

    I have to agree with P.Z. Myers on this issue, and now I feel unclean. I find it most amusing that atheists like Dawkins continually talk about morality when their most beloved scientific theory, evolution, says nothing about morality (according to A_B in another thread here).

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    Barb, I disagree with you on quantum theory. A lot of quantum theory, sans Feynman’s emphasis on experimental verification, has been verified to stunning degrees of precision. For instance, Entanglement is verified to 70 standard deviation and Leggett’s inequality is verified to 80 orders of magnitude:

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    Leggett agrees with Zeilinger that realism is wrong in quantum mechanics, but when I asked him whether he now believes in the theory, he answered only “no” before demurring, “I’m in a small minority with that point of view and I wouldn’t stake my life on it.” For Leggett there are still enough loopholes to disbelieve. I asked him what could finally change his mind about quantum mechanics. Without hesitation, he said sending humans into space as detectors to test the theory.,,,

    (to which Anton Zeilinger responded)

    When I mentioned this to Prof. Zeilinger he said, “That will happen someday. There is no doubt in my mind. It is just a question of technology.” Alessandro Fedrizzi had already shown me a prototype of a realism experiment he is hoping to send up in a satellite. It’s a heavy, metallic slab the size of a dinner plate.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    Quantum Physics – (material reality does not exist until we look at it) – Dr. Quantum video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ezNvpFcJU

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables – Scott Aaronson
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

    In the following article, Physics Professor Richard Conn Henry is quite blunt as to what quantum mechanics, specifically Leggett’s Inequality, reveals to us about the ‘primary cause’ of our 3D reality:

    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 (Leggett’s Inequality: Verified to 80 orders of magnitude)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Barb, I also disagree with you on PZ too. Although he tries to play the ‘nice’ card, his position is simply logically incoherent.,,, Only theism can provide a solid foundation for objective morality.

  21. 21
    Barb says:

    BA77:

    Barb, I disagree with you on quantum theory. A lot of quantum theory, sans Feynman’s emphasis on experimental verification, has been verified to stunning degrees of precision.

    Thank you for the link to the Aaronson lecture.

    Barb, I also disagree with you on PZ too. Although he tries to play the ‘nice’ card, his position is simply logically incoherent.,,, Only theism can provide a solid foundation for objective morality.

    I agree with you that theism is the only real foundation for morality, but I credit PZ for at least acknowledging that what Dawkins said was wrong.

  22. 22
    steveh says:

    Dr. Behe has never entered into the fray of internet blogs. I don’t blame him. Darwinists have been far from kind to him on their blogs.

    Not strictly true. Behe has a personal blog here at uncommondescent. AFIACT he is the only person to have been afforded such an honor. Maybe it’s not a part of the “the fray” as it doesn’t allow comments, although it is based on an earlier blog at Amazon which was announced at uncommondescent here . The Amazon site occasionally and unwittingly allowed comments (all of which were dissappeared during the move to UD).

  23. 23
    Acartia_bogart says:

    DavidD: “Perhaps because your culture is prone to derogatory name calling, filth and vulgarities which are characteristic of animalistic personalities which have no position other than they hate something.”

    And you don’t consider this name calling? With few exceptions, the only vulgarity and name calling I have seen on UD is by creationists.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Arcatia_bogart:

    …the only vulgarity and name calling I have seen on UD is by creationists.

    lol

    You’re not name calling, oh no!

  25. 25
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Mung: “You’re not name calling, oh no!”

    How am I name calling? Examples please.

  26. 26

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