Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stephen Meyer vs. Peter Atkins Debate: Intelligent Design MP3 Audio

Intelligent Design theorist Stephen Meyer and atheist scientist Peter Atkins debate Intelligent Design on this episode of the Unbelievable? Radio program. They also discuss the upcoming UK release of the movie Expelled with Ben Stein. (Be sure to check out Stephen Meyer's book Signature in the Cell.) This is an very interesting debate; well worth the listen.

Full MP3 Audio here.


Also, you will want to check out this 3 minute video of William Lane Craig with Peter Atkins regarding the limits of science. (Part of their debate found here).


Brian said...

Wintery Knight summarized the debate over here.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brian, do you know if the audio or video for the Greg Koukl vs. Michael Shermer debate is on the web somewhere?

Brian said...


The Koukl / Shermer debate is available at Hugh Hewitt's website... but it can only be accessed by buying a monthly subscription to the podcast. I don't know of any audio afloat on the internet at the moment, but there are transcripts. Wintery Knight has one here.

Hannodb said...

Mr Meyer claims that information is quite different from structure, while mr Atkins is quite defensive that it's not.

To understand why mr Atkins is wrong, you must look at the properties of information - specifically in the form of language or code.

1) Information consist of a range of characters - an alphabeth or code. In DNA, there are 4 characters (A,C,G and T), and in Amino acids, there are 20 different characters.

2) There can not be any physical restriction on the sequence of of these characters. Any character should just as freely be able to follow a specific character than any other character, in order to create any irregular arrangement. For this reason, the sequence of characters can not be attributed to any physical law or chemistry. Physical laws, by definition, are repetative, and will therefore always produce the same sequence. This regularity will destroy the ability of the medium to store information. A good example of this is crystals. The probability of any sequence forming by chance alone decreases exponentially with each character that is added. (2 base pairs forming by chance = 4 characters ^ 2, 3 base pairs forming by chance = 4 characters ^ 3, etc.)

3) Information specify something externally of the medium, with no direct physical contact. DNA specify the sequences of amino acids, which it turn specifies the functional form or protein in which the amino acid string will fold. This requirement eliminates the posibility of chance playing any role in the formation of DNA: The possible sequences of base pairs spesifying nothing vastly outnumbers the sequences that will specify anything useful. The probabilistic resources of the entire universe is insufficient to form long strings of information by chance.

4) Information in itself is useless without some mechanism that can utilise it. In live the DNA is read, translated and duplicated by many different proteins, all of which is produced from the information in the DNA. To get such a self replicating system going, you need sufficient initial information. Without it, you don't have a self replicating system, and therefore, the process of mutation and natural selection can't function.

With both the elimination of law and chance as possible causal explanations for information, the only explanation remaining is design. But there is one more problem. The properties of information assumes highly favorable conditions for information to form. Even under these conditions, information won't form naturally. But in a realistic prebiotic environment, there is no reason why biochemicals should not react with non-biochemicals. In fact, it is more likely that these chemicals will react in a way that prevent higher biochemical molecules from forming.

So, mr. Atkins is wrong about Occams rasor: it actually does point to design rather than material causes. A a result, science also point to the fact that matter is a product of mind, rather than the other way around. The assumption that live should have a materialistic origin, and that mind is a product of matter, is to invoke unknown, unobserved natural processes. To assign such creative properties to material causes without being able to invoke observable processes to demonstrate it, is to invoke magic. It is far less scientific than to invoke design, which is an observable, natural cause which can produce the effect in question.

Atheists like to call themselves just that. With it, they like to say they are more rational than religious people, as they only believe in that which science can prove. However, their materialistic commitment shows that this is false. The assumption that mind has to be a product of matter is not proven scientifically, and doesn't make sense: Why should a certain arangement of molecules - all equally dead and unconscious - magically produce a collective consciousness? It is therefore more appropriate to refer to atheists as materialists or natural materialists, to place the focus on what they DO believe, rather than what they DON'T believe.

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