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Paul Nelson & Michael Shermer at Cal Poly, Thursday April 26


Michael Shermer and I will be debating evolution and intelligent design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Thursday, April 26, 2007. Venue: Chumash Auditorium, located at the second floor of the University Union. The debate starts at 8:00 pm; doors open at 7:30 pm. The event is free to Cal Poly students, $10 at the door to general public — so have those Cal Poly IDs ready.

rom what I can remember, Shermer said that the invocation of ET’s only pushes back the needed explanation. IOW, where did the ET’s come from? Did they come from other ET’s? Then where did those ET’s come from?
This argument never makes sense to me. If life came from extra-terrestial origins then "extra-terristial" is the correct answer to the question of origins of life. A personal preference to have the answer be some sort of naturalistic cause here on earth doesn't make that answer the correct one. If science requires that the answer be a naturalistic one right here on earth, and all other answers are wrong, then science isn't necessarily interested in the truth is it? Jehu
dacook: From what I can remember, Shermer said that the invocation of ET's only pushes back the needed explanation. IOW, where did the ET's come from? Did they come from other ET's? Then where did those ET's come from? If you believe that evolution, RM+NS, can explain "life", then why complicate it with "aliens"? Of course, as Hoyle points out, mathematically, evolution can't go beyond a couple of nucleotide substitutions; hence, microevolution is possible, but macroevolution is not. Shermer simply doesn't accept this. Since you put "extra-terrestial" in quotes, you know, of course, that he really means "little green men". PaV
"Shermer presented a case for, not so much, evolution, as the need to stay away from, let us say, “extra-terrestial” explanations for life, including Hoyle’s (and other’s) panspermia idea." I would like to know why Shermer feels there is a need to stay away from extra-terrestrial explanations for life. Can you explain his reasoning on this? We centuries ago rejected an earth-centric Cosmology; why do we need to cling to an earth-centric Biology? The ID people and others, including Fred Hoyle, have demonstrated convincingly that life could not have arisen and developed, by itself, on earth. Without "extra-terrestrial" influence or input, what other possibility is there? dacook
I was there last night, and spoke briefly to Paul afterwards. As has been already stated here, Michael Shermer is not a rabid Darwinist. He presents his ideas, and attacks what he perceives as weaknesses, and no vitriol. I laud him for that. Last night, however, was not really a debate. Shermer presented a case for, not so much, evolution, as the need to stay away from, let us say, "extra-terrestial" explanations for life, including Hoyle's (and other's) panspermia idea. Paul, for his part, 'cut to the chase', if you will, and stressed the fact that "intelligence" should rightfully be included in the panoply of causation. He cited the example of "Mint Jelly" Ridge--apprehended as a 'slip-and-fall' con artist, and that of Dr. Schoen, of Germany, having his Ph.D. revoked because of the fake experimental papers he submitted. He used both of these examples to show how we, as intelligent agents, infer, or intuit, intelligent causation rather frequently. [Thus, devoiding 'methodological naturalism' of the possibility of intelligent causation, renders MN a much less robust methodology.] The Q&A was somewhat limited, with no real noteworthy questions asked. (So I left to catch the last part of the Laker game!) The one really good point that was made was one made by Paul. He said that the first Roman who stumbled upon Stonehenge in the First Century must have immediately thought: "Who built this?" He went on to say that scientific theories will come and go--think of Ptolemy or of the ether--rendering them somewhat tentative. But the intuition of that first Roman will always remain correct, and certain. I saw Michael Shermer outside the auitorium and asked him this question: (meant to address his position, which says that only "natural" causes can explain things) "When Hannibal Lector, bottle of Chianti in hand, was dining on the brain of the FBI agent he'd drugged, in all his probing, did he ever encounter the agent's intellect?" (We, all, do believe that intelligence exists, don't we?) You sort of have to understand Shermer's sense of humor to appreciate the style of questioning. PaV
Any report on this event? Will it become available as a webcast? idnet.com.au
I can't help but wonder whether Michael Shermer thinks crop circles are products of Intelligent Design. No, I'd bet he DOES agree they're products of intelligent design… and I'd just about bet that he scoffs at the guy (forget his name) who theorizes that crop circles were formed naturally by some kind of electromagnetic storm. I wonder how Shermer would reconcile that? TRoutMac
Give him a good smack upside the head for me, Paul, and ask him what his major malfunction is that's making him obsessed with ID. Does he find debunking crop circles, UFOs, healing power of magnets and pyramids, mind reading, palm reading, hauntings, and things of that nature not challenging enough? I swear he's nothing but Penn & Teller in a cheap tuxedo and not half as witty, entertaining, or willing to address a wide range of chicanery. DaveScot
Off topic, of course, since I'm on the east coast, but does anyone know what David Berlinski is doing lately? Of all the commentators on the ID/E controversy, he's one of the most entertaining to me. jaredl
"so have those Cal Poly IDs ready" I'm assuming that was a pun or play on words. lol you're a funny guy Paul, I'm likening the 'intelligently designed' jokes. :-) Apoptosis
Off topic: I picked up the May 2007 "Smithsonian" magazine at the dentist's office today and saw a Hyundai Automobile ad just after page 55 with the following headline: "Did it evolve, or is it the product of intelligent design? Actually, it's a pretty good argument for either of them." Is this not the same "Smithsonian Institution" that's so hostile to ID? I'm surprised this reference was allowed to appear in an ad. russ
Chumash Auditorium? As in חומש Chumash? No it’s probably in honor of the Chumash peoples whose isolate language family became entirely extinct in 1965. Either way this should be an interesting exchange. Rude
I love Michael Shermer. I hold out hope this prodigal son will return to the home he left. He has far more courage than Barbara Forrest who has yet to accept Bill Dembski's debate offer. See The Vise Strategy Revisited. scordova
Be careful of all the tricks and linguistic gymnastics Michael will try to pull on you. A bunch of them are listed in Zen and the Art of Debunkery (by Daniel Drasin): http://members.aol.com/ddrasin/zen.html That should give you a prieview of his bag of tricks, if you should need it. UrbanMysticDee
Should be a great debate. Out of all the "outspoken" atheists opposed to ID, Shermer is really the only one who seems to actually try and debate the issues in a fair manner, IMHO at least. shaner74

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