Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Simmons vs. Myers Debate Link


I’ve been informed that the peanut gallery (Panda’s Thumb) is accusing me of covering something up for deleting my very brief post about the Simmons/Myers debate. I made the posting a few hours before the debate and included a hotlink so people could listen to it live. I’d intended at the time of writing to remove it after the debate was over as the live link would no longer be working. UD author Doctor David A. Cook had a more in depth article that included the same live link. No coverup. Here’s the link to the archived debate. A link to the archive is also in DA Cook’s orginal post.

Simmons vs. Myers Debate

Just in case anyone is still perusing this thread, Simmons comments on his debate with PZ Myers here. FtK
Hi Jerry, Thanks for your information. Perhaps I am not communicating very well. Darwin and neo Darwinists have offered us various mechanisms. They claim that these mechnanisms fully explain the evolution of life - from the first reproducing organism to all of life's diversity (past and present). While they have, in my opinion, explained minor "microevolutionary" changes any belief in "macro-evolution" still requires *faith.* The mechanisms given are lack the necessary biologically co-ordinated (nonrandom) creative power to produce biological structures of this nature IMO. I agree with much of what you say, except that you seem (from my point of view) to have blurred the NS function into the random variation functions of the theory. Perhaps when you say NS you are refering to a combination of these functions. Surely you would agree that the unfit are weeded (filtered) out and that those fit to survive in any give environment do indeed survive? When I say "NS" I am talking about this filtration process. I am also asking "is a filter creative or is it just a filter?" Along with this I am asking is randomness creative? Filtration and reproduction can certainly explain "micro-evolution" but can it explain "macroevolution?" It seems tome that all of the mechanism given (by Darwinists) are random wrt the design (configurational/informational) needs of new species (new biological configurations). Hope this helps William Brookfield
William Brookfield, The definition of a gene pool is according to wikipedia "In population genetics, a gene pool is the complete set of unique alleles in a species or population. A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can survive bouts of intense selection. Meanwhile, low genetic diversity (see inbreeding and population bottlenecks) can cause reduced biological fitness and an increased chance of extinction." Various mutation events to gametes can add to the set. This is the variation side of the modern evolutionary theory. The genetic side can cull the the set through various processes. It can also produce new combinations of the potential genes/alleles/other genetic elements through sexual reproduction. Some of these combinations may not have been present in a population before or only present in a very small number of the population. But sexual reproduction and environmental pressures can increase them in number. Nothing new has been added to the gene pool but the specific members of the population now have a combination of the various genetic elements that was not there before and this combination may help the organism survive better. In their book, Dembski and Wells present an example of the English Sparrow that was brought to the US from Britain and was failing but eventually some adapted and then became a thriving species in the US that was somewhat different from the English version and there are variations of this bird from one geography to another apparently due to climate. Did the gene pool expand. No, just a reshuffling of the possible genetic combinations made some combinations a more viable organism in the US than those originally introduced. Is there a limit to this reshuffling? Yes, it depends on the viable combinations in the original gene pool and the minor additions added to the gene pool by mutation events. Not all combinations will produce a viable organism but some new combinations may emerge that are better suited to an environment. As I said this is great design to have such a flexible process that allows a population to adapt to new environmental pressures and survive and produce a richness of life. If I was the designer this is one of the elements that I would ensure was part of the basic design of life and apparently the original designer created a basic design that allows this flexibility. But the designer also created limitations to how much an organism can adapt as Behe has pointed out in the Edge of Evolution. Many people here are reflexively anti Darwinism that they fail to see that elements of the modern evolutionary theory represents great design. One any intelligent entity would be proud of. Behe, Dembski and Wells see it as the explanation for much of biological life but they also point out its limitations. And these limitations are what the debate is all about. jerry
William Brookfield, I haven't a clue what you are talking about. jerry
Hi Jerry, thank you for your comments Random variation or random mutation adds to the deck or gene pool and as such there will be new variants in the population with these changes. But I am not talking about the gene pool here. I am talking about the "probabilistic solution space" -I.E., "The set of survivable varients." Your "new varients" (being alive) are already members of this set (and are subsequently not new in design-space terms) A slot machine's jackpots are not "new" for they are already built (by design) into "the set of possible varients." The "set of survivable varients" therefore already takes into account random variations, random mutations etc. The limit of this set is determined by the pertubation tolerance of the designs in question. Dogs can only be varied so far before these designs begin to fail. If there is a limit to how far any given design can be distorted, then there is a limit to its evolution. The natural selective destruction (NSd) of failed designs does nothing whatsoever to overcome this limit -- "the edge of evolution." Natural Selection merely enforces this edge by destroying all "hopeful monsters." Darwin's theory of filtered accidents lacks a design function. Random shuffling and selective filtration just won't do the job. William Brookfield
To me, in a way, it doesn't really matter much how good Simmons was. I listened only to the first few minutes of Myers. What a bunch of rude, small, arrogant, blustering spittle. Fair-minded, undecided listeners would certainly be left wondering why this guy feels the need to resort to such antics. landru
Simmons should well have been able to say something like, “xxx has nostrils below the eyes, yyy has a blow hole above the eyes” This is no small leap.
Those eyes must be big then. :-)
I am an IDer. I am just not a puppet-IDer.
What? Are you claiming that puppets evolve by RM+NS? Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Bob Bob O'H
William Brookfield, Random variation or random mutation adds to the deck or gene pool and as such there will be new variants in the population with these changes. Random drift is not something I ever heard of so I assume you mean genetic drift which actually constricts the gene pool and as such is not a reshuffling mechanism but more like removing cards from the deck. As species mate they pass on different combinations of their genes to their offspring. (There is nothing new except in the case where the gamete of one or both of the parents has a mutation.) What the offspring get is a rearrangement of the gene set of the parents. If some of these rearrangements are useful for survival, then one can say if certain combinations persist that ordinarily would not be very prevalent there is a reshuffling and maybe a new sub species may appear. Nothing has happened to the gene pool except maybe along the way a few variants got weeded out or the overall frequency of different genes changed. Or it may become constricted in certain geographic regions as the reshuffling and adaptation eliminated elements from the gene pool as part of the mating process and differential survival. Now this is not the most eloquent discussion of the process but it seems to explain the extraordinary variety of life we find around the planet. This process does not however, create novelty or complexity or explain the origin of the gene pool itself. That is the real achilles heel of naturalistic evolution. jerry
Hi Jerry, "But natural selection does more than just destroy. It reshuffles the deck.." It seems to me that Random Variation, Random Mutation, Random drift etc. are the reshuffling mechanisms here, not NS. I don't feel that it is helpful for science if these discrete functions are blurred. Can you tell me how NS reshuffles anything? William Brookfield
Joseph, "According to him [Berlinski] he just started thinking of what has to be incrementally transformed." I think that Berlinski's estimate is way off the map. I bet he, for instance, suggested that any time the length of a limb changed, the amount of skin, the lenght of muscle, tendon, nerve etc. all needed to be tweaked. Let me share an experience to explain the overreaching nature of such approaches. I knew a fellow who fell out of a moving vehicle when he was about two years old. He was badly injured. As a result his left side grew to about 6'4. His right side grew to about 5'6. Yet despite this radical difference in the fellow's length, left to right, both sides were fully functional. He didn't end up with one leg that had a muscle suited for a 6'4 person, and a bone of a 5'6 person. The genetic code simply carries a certain dynamic, much like software subroutines that accept parameters, such as GrowMuscle( Start,end ). Thought here are certainly many changes necessary, probably thousands, to convert a cow into a whale, it is easy to conjur up many more changes than are really necessary. The danger of conjuring up too many changes, is that many of those challenges are seen as silly from the point of view of anyone who understands the dynamic nature of the DNA code. bFast
Is there a mp3 of the debate available? jerry
Dave, I personally find it interesting that they read this site so carefully. I personally never read Panda's Thumb because the few times I did it was so viscerally negative that you could never tell when something of value was being discussed, or it was unthoughtful arguments in defense of their positions or just reflexively negative rhetoric. jerry
bfast, I agree Simmons could have done better, but Myers was no shining star either. Simmons forced PZ to admit that the fossil record has significant gaps. PZ is therefore admitting that the fossil record does not strongly support evolution. This is a major concession won by Simmons. This is not at all what you here in the 'evolution is a fact' crowd. Simmons wasn't slain, there was deficiencies on both sides. However, since the debate was about the ability of the theory of evolution to explain the history of life, I have to say that the result is much more even than you claim. Peter
William Brookfield, I believe you are a little harsh with natural selection. After all there are families and genera with thousands of species (fish, birds, beetles etc.) and sub species that seem to adjust/adapt to their environment and thus add to the richness of life on the planet. Darwin saw this richness of life on his trip on the Beagle but what was the cause of this richness. There is nothing really created in this process but elements of a very varied gene pool are selected in various environments as genes get reshuffled during propagation and then certain combinations find themselves more appropriate for the specific environment. Occasionally small mutations add to the gene pool but as Behe as indicated these are probably trivial but might affect a certain species survival in a new environment. This in fact is marvelous design but is certainly not enough to explain the novelty and complexity of the original gene pool from which these changes proceed. Essentially I believe we should recognize that natural selection has a role in life's diversity but also and I emphasize recognize it limitations. As you said it will eventually lead to extinction as the gene pools get narrower and narrower through the various processes of genetics. But natural selection does more than just destroy. It reshuffles the deck and gives us new combinations we might not ordinarily see and we look foolish when we deny it. jerry
Umm there should be thousands of transitionals from land mammals to cetaceans. Berlinski puts his “conservative” estomate at 50,000.
ow, that’s a big number! Do you know how he determined that?--D King
According to him he just started thinking of what has to be incrementally transformed. Joseph
I didn't read the comments on the deleted article or even notice that there were any. I just did what I'd planned to do - provide a link to listen live and then delete it when the live broadcast was over. My apologies. I should have disabled comments. DaveScot
I have just listened to the first part of the Simmons/Myers debate and first question asked was "is Darwinism faith based or is it science?" PZ Meyers of course claimed that it is not, but he is surely mistaken. Natural selection merely weeds out the unifit -- possibly leaving behind something that is fit/survivable, but possibly not. NS in no way specifies (designs) the fit (that do work) but only destroys (weeds out) the unifit (that die). Natural Selection is thus a selective destruction mechanism (a filter) -- not a creation/production (macroevolutionary) mechanism that can explain the production of *new* designs. Without any capacity to design, Darwinists are required to exercise *faith* that all fit/survivable organisms are/were already included in the probabilistic "solution space" of the original reproducing organism -- and that natural selection merely isolated them (us?) from the rest of the less-fit pack. "Solution space" here refers to the set of all survivable varients of any given life form. Random mutations, random variations, random gene duplications, random genetic drift are of no help here because, by being *random* they provide no context specific (co-ordinated) operating instructions. "Design/order" is the opposite of "randomness/disorder." A species is a manifestation of order. A new species is a manifestation of new order. Neither randomness (the opposite of order) nor NS (a selective filter) are up to the task of producing *new* order. To believe that they are requires *faith*. William Brookfield
RRE, have you listened to the debate? Simmons, who wrote a book on the topic of missing links, couldn't recall the names the two transitional fossils mentioned by PZ. His lack of knowledge on the subject that he wrote about was appalling. There are only about six fossils that are seen as key to whale evolution. That's not very many names to be familar enough with to recall when the other guy provides the names for you. Are six fossils enough? Well, no. However, when there are only six, Simmons should well have been able to say something like, "xxx has nostrils below the eyes, yyy has a blow hole above the eyes" This is no small leap. Something like that, but rather he chatters about a recent article in Scientific American that discussed a land-animal that is seen to be in the direct liniage of the whales. I read the article, it does not pertain to the question of how that animal evolved to be a whale. Re Simons and birth 1: Simons didn't present issues of birth during the debate, he presented a snippet of a thought during his conclusion. 2: Your diatribe about birth discusses the question of how mammilian live-birth differs from egg-laying. Simmons suggested that there is something fundimentally different about human and chimp birth. The exact difference he didn't define. 3: Read my posts over the years. I am an IDer. I am just not a puppet-IDer. Simmons did lousy, if all I had to go on was this debate, I would be a convinced neo-Darwinian evolutionist. End of story. bFast
DaveScot, Have you realized like I have that the people over at the Panda's Thumb are some of the craziest people in the world? I am serious. ** INTELLIGENT DESIGN CHALLENGE ** Does the Darwinian fairy-tale stretch longer than the human genome? RRE
bFast wrote: "Peter, please don’t prove me wrong. Simmons was slaid. There are all of about 6 key transitionals in the whale fossil series, and Simmons didn’t know them? Like get real!" You meant to say Simmons was slain. The red underline means its not a word. Anyone who would believe a whale came about in six steps using trace bone fragments that cannot even be tested in reality (time is your scapegoat) deserves my best handshake for the amount of faith required to come to that conclusion. I will respect you as a person, but definitely not intellectually. I wonder what the whale will turn into next... bFast wrote: "About “Myer’s did not answer Simmom’s questions about processes in human birth” This is something that Simmons slipped into his conclusion. It was a poorly developed afterthought for which Meyers was not given reasonable opportunity of rebuttal." I just watched birthing processes on NatGeo the other night. I was waiting for them to call the fetus a parasite and they did. Anyways, I couldn't help but notice the complexity needed to make the whole process run. What mechanism or natural law produced the code that then created this life-form? The only possible way to make it work is through a combination of natural causes and intelligent causes because we know how to make codes, and that intelligence is required to make them. So the origin requires intelligence, matter and energy. How it works is totally different, and can only be sought by studying matter in time (using integlligence-ours). Meyers has no reasonable rebuttal for the evolution of the sexual birthing process. It must come together purposefully because we physically see a code-a holistic sequence of information added onto matter to produce meaning or result (the genetic code conceptualizes, and the ribosome realizes proteins). We must see if commonalities with our human languages exist as compared to the in-human genetic code to further enhance our possible discovery as to what the sequences mean, precisely because it has meaning. We must co-opt the far superior nano-parts such as the flagellum in our nano-technology precisely because it is better than our own. We must use this new knowledge to combat disease and pestilence. No Darwinian stories required. RRE
tyke:Frankly, it’s not that big an issue, but in general it is considered very bad form to completely remove a post and its comments [...] If there’s nothing to hide then what’s the point of unnecessarily adding fuel to the fire of the critics? FWIW, I agree. The fact that a pro-ID blog, especially this one, gave the nod to PZ (as was an accurate report of the debate) shows some intellectual integrity. Deleting it, for whatever reason, only serves to further the 'UD is just an ID propaganda machine where dissent, honesty, and critical thinking are in short supply.' PZ, for all his 'ejaculations' won the day. Credit where credit is due. What was your take on the debate, DaveScot? Robbie
Frankly, it's not that big an issue, but in general it is considered very bad form to completely remove a post and its comments unless there is a very good reason for it (e.g. the post was libelous). In my experience, blog readers are well aware that posts like the one Dave deleted that talk about forthcoming events are likely to be quickly superseded by newer post once the event happens. It's something blogs do all the time. It's expected. So please credit your readers with a little intelligence and let the old posts slowly sink into oblivion rather than removing them and the comments your readers have spent time and effort writing. If there's nothing to hide then what's the point of unnecessarily adding fuel to the fire of the critics? tyke
So it came about from 1860 onward that new believers became in a sense mentally ill... The trouble for young biologists was that, with everyone around them ill, it became impossible for them to think they were well unless they were ill, which again is a situation you can read all about in the columns of Nature. That's an interesting explanation for the Herd. Ironically the modern perception of mental illness itself arose mainly with Freudian forms of pseudo-science and is lacking in definition and specification in its language just like Darwinian forms of reasoning. Note the blurred language of "mental illness" and "natural selection" that work to merge mind and matter. Such language does not specify a defined theory which has been conceptually specified by a mind that can be tested empirically based on observation of patterns of matter. It is not a theory encoded in the language of mathematics which can be tested. Where has the theory of natural selection been encoded in the language of mathematics and used to trace a trajectory of adaptation in a group of organisms? What brain events have been predicted based on various theories of mental illness? It's generally still pseudo-science at best. Take away the blurring of language by definition and logic, if something is mental then it's all in your mind but if it is an illness then it can be observed in your body. So which is it? Many psychiatrists won't allow for clear language because they don't believe the mind exists and it threatens their political power to admit to the definition that comes by admitting to mind. (See: Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences by Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement by Szasz, etc.) The language of natural selection is similar because if something emerges from purely natural processes then we ought not refer to it as if it was "selected" by intelligence. Darwinists stick with such language even when they could specify what they mean clearly and consistently with terms like: natural preservation, natural filtering, culling, etc. If we do have quantum brains then it seems that the minds of the Darwinian mind will collapse into blurred patterns of thought lead it to run with the Herd. Ironically, the Darwinian mind seems to imagine that the existence of a Herd is overwhelming evidence for whatever it is currently imagining about the past. Darwinists will cite their Herd/"scientific consensus" and their own imaginations as evidence while Freudian psychoanalysts work to cite dreams as evidence. Darwinists and biologists in general seem to want something to imagine about the past in the end, therefore they say things like: "You're imagining a magical poof which stops me from imagining things in sequence!" They cannot seem to grasp the fact that someone may just be trying to get them to stop imagining things. And if science is knowledge/scientia and the answer is ultimately something along the lines of "Poof." then science has not been stopped, only their pseudo-scientific way of imagining things has been stopped. (Nothing against pseudo-science, there's usually an element of truth to it even when it includes dreams, imagining things about the past, etc.) mynym
joseph #10:
Umm there should be thousands of transitionals from land mammals to cetaceans. Berlinski puts his “conservative” estomate at 50,000.
Wow, that's a big number! Do you know how he determined that? And as you say, he was being conservative! Daniel King
my prob. totally irrelivant observation: It may be an embarrasment to be critical of Simmons performance, esp. considering his efforts. Nonetheless since debates affect perception of ID, critisism seems necessary. I have read several authors (non-creatonist) who acknowledge that a good "creatonist" debator can always beat an "evolutionist." (but will always lose in the legal system). Creatationist have several elpephants in the room that are easily attacked. It seems that an ID proponents should be able to be quite efficacious in debate. Personally, I do amatuer MMA fighting and I cannot fight for a team until after 2 years of training and show that I can win. My respect to Simmons for his efforts and who knows much more than myself. When there is an ID debate, it just seems like there are enough weapons in the ID arsenal to win. gehman
The peanut gallery indeed. :-) Let the monkeys honk and squeal all they like. Nothing was covered up and anyone with a brain can see what happened under the circumstances. PT = insidious accusations, BS, incredibly bad logic, ignorance and diatribe (about 90% of their 'content'). But, just to be nice, let us remember Hoyle's observation about Darwinist mental illness (Hoyle, F., "Mathematics of Evolution,") and show them some pity :
So it came about from 1860 onward that new believers became in a sense mentally ill, or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology, as I had done in my early teens. The trouble for young biologists was that, with everyone around them ill, it became impossible for them to think they were well unless they were ill, which again is a situation you can read all about in the columns of Nature."
I should probably just stay out of this conversation because I'm not a scientist, but I get caught up in the “whale evolution” debate in forum chats all the time. I always refer to the following links when considering whale evolution: A Whale Fantasy From National Geographic The Overselling of Whale Evolution The Incorrigible Dr. Berlinski Exposes a Whale of Tale Of course talk.origins attempts to refute all claims against whale evolution. Carl Zimmer blogged about Indohyus fairly recently. Judge for “facts” for yourself. Most of you are probably familiar with those links, but I thought I’d add my 2 cents. I’m with Jerry and dacook...Simmons should just sit down and write a “what I should have said” rebuttal. No biggie...whale transitionals aren't that difficult to address, IMHO....and I’m just a nobody. FtK
Umm there should be thousands of transitionals from land mammals to cetaceans. Berlinski puts his "conservative" estomate at 50,000. There still isn't any scientific data that demonstrates that such a transition is even possible. The same holds for chimps and humans. We have mapped both genomes and found nothing that can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed. We have found that certain mutations can cause specific defficiancies. But nothing that would lead anyone to suspect that mutations can accumulate in such a way as to give rise to such change. And absolutely nothing that would favor non-telic processes over telic. Arguments for universal common descent are not arguments for a mechanism. Dr Behe makes that very clear in "The Edge of Evolution". The vast majority of fossils are marine inverts. And in that vast majority all that is observed are slight variations, stasis, sudden emeregence and disappearance. So why ignore the vast majority in favor of a few subjective fossil lineages? The bottom line is if genetic change cannot account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed then there is some other explanation for the fossil record. Joseph
I have seen three main arguments used for transitionals in the fossil record 1 forrest animal to whales and a variation of this, hippos to whales. 2. reptiles to mammals and the migration of jaw bones to ear bones. 3. dinosaurs to birds Each one should be dissected as to relevancy if possible someone or a group of those here should have a good discussion of each. None as far as I understand really support gradualism but do support common descent in some ways. Simmons should be castigated for not being thoroughly prepared on each of the above fossil transitions if he wants to write a book on missing links and enter debates. There is no excuse. jerry
My take on the debate was that on some important questions, Simmons let Myers choose and define the issues. If you can do that, the debate is half won. An example is the issue of the alleged whale transitionals. Simmons just seemed unprepared. This was unfortunate, but we must remember that while Simmons may not have been prepared to answer some of Myers arguments, this does not mean that those arguments are unanswerable. There is a big difference. If I were Simmons, I would ackowledge an initial unfamiliarity with the problematic issues, then go back and listen carefully to the debate, take notes, research areas of weakness, then post a point by point response ("what I should have said..."). dacook
Peter, please don't prove me wrong. Simmons was slaid. There are all of about 6 key transitionals in the whale fossil series, and Simmons didn't know them? Like get real! About "Myer’s did not answer Simmom’s questions about processes in human birth" This is something that Simmons slipped into his conclusion. It was a poorly developed afterthought for which Meyers was not given reasonable opportunity of rebuttal. Don't be over-zealous to root for your team. When you loose a game 78 to 2, you got slaid! bFast
I was disappointed when the thread was deleted because it looked like UD was getting rid of the comments about Simmons who was apparently embarrassing. What should be done with this and all arguments by people like Myers is to put up their arguments for us to dissect. I would be interested in all the fossils he listed and what inconsistencies may be there and if there are no inconsistencies then what actually do the fossils actually mean. No set of fossils actually support gradualism. What they can support is common descent which a lot of people equate to gradualism. In other words if you find evidence for part of Darwin's theory then you support his other parts. This is obviously a fallacy. jerry
I won't say the IDer was soundly defeated. I would say both sides had deficiencies. Simmons is not a biologist, Myer's could easily quote an article Simmons was unaware of. Myer's did not answer Simmom's questions about processes in human birth that could not have evoluted by chance. Myer's talked about the similarity of humans to chimpanzies, but evolution says that we did not evolve from chimps so the argument was specious. There are no human precursors. Simmons could have caught that, but he is not a biologist. I would give a very slight edge to Simmons. Peter
The cached page can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:3KU7-tQMogQJ:www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/dr-geoff-simmons-vs-pz-myers-debate-link-to-listen-to-it/+simmons+site:www.uncommondescent.com&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us Patrick
There definetely was an active dialog attached to the deleted thread. What the dialog clearly showed was that the participants on UD are honest enough to recognize when their guy was soundly defeated. That said, Simmons didn't present a great ID case, but I doubt if any IDer concluded that there was therefore no serious case to be made. bFast
I think they might be complaining about the comments that were deleted in the page created by Cook. I believe the accusation was that these comments were deleted because some were negative of Simmon's performance in the debate. But I spent some time myself responding to one thing Meyers said and that was deleted as well. EDIT: On second thought, I believe I mixed the 2 pages up. I had forgotten which thread I had responded to myself. On a side note, shortly after the pages related to PZ Meyers went up we had a mini deluge of his followers attempting to post comments filled with insults and the like. Patrick
Note the following warning that accompanies the Meyers pharyngula science blog link on the KKMS website: Warning: This website contains profanity and may be offensive to some listeners. I believe this says a lot about the nature and character of many virulent anti-ID folks. It also betrays desperation and a heavy emotional investment in a philosophical worldview. GilDodgen

Leave a Reply