Friday, December 04, 2009

Origins of Life Debate MP3 Audio: Meyer, Sternberg, Prothero, Shermer

On November 30, 2009, Stephen Meyer & Richard Sternberg debated Donald Prothero & Michael Shermer on the topic: Has Evolutionary Theory Adequately Explained the Origins of Life? Read about the debate here, at the American Freedom Alliance website. (original audio page here)

Robert Crowther's recap is here. Michael Shermer's recap is here.

Full MP3 Audio here. (2 hours)


By the way, Stephen Meyer's phenomenal book, Signature in the Cell, is here.


winteryknight said...


I am appalled that this was posted at 8:00 AM instead of at 7:30 AM.

I linked to some previous Meyer/Shermer debates (on video!) here:

Mike Felker said...

Awesome! So glad this is available and can't wait to hear it!

Ranger said...

Here are my general thoughts on this debate:

1. Before listening to the debate, I read the writeups at ENV, TPT (Prothero) and HuffPost (Shermer). Going into actually hearing the debate, I assumed it was going to be something of a landslide for ID simply because the guys at ENV seemed rather proud of the outcome, and Shermer seemed extremely defensive, falling back on unfortunately common rants that had little to do with the actual debate.

2. Despite the ENV guys criticisms, I thought Prothero did very well. I think he probably overstated the situation of where science is in regards to abiogenesis, and I don't think his "mud" argument was a good comparison, but other than that he came across as very knowledgeable and prepared.

3. Prothero also came across as arrogant, and several commentators have mentioned this already. Here's my problem with this line of argument...first, it says nothing about the content of what he had to say, just about the way he said it. Second, from his worldview, is there anything wrong with arrogance? After all, as clearly wanted to bring up in the debate (and alluded to twice), and immediately brought up in his TPT post afterwards, he does have over 200 peer-reviewed articles. Of course, his comments about having more peer-reviewed work than all of the Discovery Institute combined is stretching the truth a bit, but regardless, he's very well respected and knows what he's talking about.

4. Shermer did rather poorly. His opening was terrible, and he got torn to shreds by Meyer during his first rebuttal. He seemed frustrated throughout (he always does and I think this hurts him in debates), and wasn't as quick as the other three in terms of being able to keep up with the discussion. His conclusion was his best part, but when you admit that "Who designed the designer?" is a high school level question...and then say, "So what?" it simply means you aren't versed enough in the literature to be bringing up the question in a debate.

5. I'm really confused about the topic of the debate. Both sides kept saying that it was something different. The evolution guys said it was supposed to be on the origins of life. They consistently said this throughout the debate. The Discovery Institute guys kept saying that it was about the ability of evolutionary processes to account for what we see in nature. Which one was it? Both Shermer and Prothero mentioned that the topic changed twice before the actual debate, and so that partially explains the issue...but, if they agree to the change of topic, why continue to address the other topic and keep referring to that as the main topic of the night.

6. I really wish Sternberg and Prothero would have been given more time to discuss things. I truly enjoyed their discussion of non-coding DNA as well as their back and forth concerning whale evolution. I thought it was a good move for Sternberg to go for whale evolution since this commonly comes up as one of the areas with the most evidence supporting evolution.

Brian said...

Thanks for the writeup, Ranger. Robert Crowther has more feedback here as well.

bossmanham said...

I think it was Shermer who gave a bunch of examples of scientists creating amino acids and manipulating genetics and saying how easy it is. Isn't this, however, contradicting his own view of naturalism, since it is intelligent agents performing these experiments and causing these things to appear/happen?

crentinho said...

To be honest, i think the only guy who tried to stay on topic was Prothero (assuming the topic was restricte to the OOL). On the other hand the guy is extremely arrogant.

Thankfully, he got lectured by Meyer and Sternberg rebuttals, which must have been a huge blow to his ego.

byrom said...

Michael Shermer was being a complete fool in this debate. He wasted so much time attacking ID theory when the debate had nothing to do with it! The debate question was:

Has Evolutionary Theory Adequately Explained the Origins of Life?

Even if we were to grant, for the sake of argument, that ID theory is nonsense, the question of the debate remains unanswered! There could still be problems internal to current E theory which need addressing, even if there is no design!

While I am extremely cautious with proponents of ID, I have to take my hat off to its two speakers against the motion when compared to the irrelevant arguments and straw manning from their opponents.

Anonymous said...

Sternberg and Meyer could have had a debate between themselves, they certainly hold contrary views. I admire them for their valiant but uncoordinated defense. They both did their best to avoid denying evolution while at the same time trying to poke holes in it. Prothero thew so much at them they could do little but pick off the mud and confuse the issue. Sternberg and Meyers should debate Behe and Dembsky for some real hot action.

Anonymous said...

woww!! this is very fascinating debate.. But seriously, Prothero & Shermer, looks like they had a lot of pre-planing to attack Dr. Mayer.
Thanks lot for Sharing this, Brian.


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