Something we find almost incomprehensible is occurring at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute. Starting on 18 March, when they posted What to Watch for in Stephen Meyer v. Lawrence Krauss, Saturday at 4 PM, Here at Evolution News, they’ve posted an additional seven items about the same event, the last one (so far) was yesterday: Krauss v. Meyer: Computer Algorithms as a Fair Model of Darwinian Processes? That’s eight separate blog articles in four days about the same event!
What’s going on? For one thing, Lawrence Krauss is a respected theoretical physicist and cosmologist. We can’t imagine why he agreed to appear with Meyer, a Discoveroid vice-president who is probably best known for his role in the Sternberg peer review controversy. Yet somehow, a genuine scientist was willing to debate such a Discoveroid.
You already know we think such events — see Debating Creationists is Dumber Than Creationism. Also, in Discoveroids: “Why Won’t Anyone Debate Us?”, we presented the Curmudgeon’s Challenge Checklist (the CCC) for evaluating debate proposals. We said that if the challenger passes our simple tests, then go ahead and debate him. We repeat our checklist here:
1. Is the challenger knowledgeable, rational, and honorable? In our humble opinion, all creationists fail at least one prong of this test, and many fail them all; so there’s no more reason to debate such people than there is to debate someone who thinks he’s Napoleon.
2. Does the challenger agree on the subject to be debated? Creationist opponents usually argue from scripture, or from “creation science” which (even if they don’t admit it) is based on scripture. That’s fine for a theological debate, but that’s not your subject, is it? If you’re interested in science and your challenger’s approach to things is religious, you’ll be talking past each other. The result may be strangely entertaining, but a genuine science debate will never materialize. So why waste your time?
3. Related to the above — Is the proposed topic one that is worthy of a science debate? Creationism (which includes intelligent design), being a totally religious concept, is utterly unworthy of being treated as a scientific subject, so there is no reason for you to participate in such a debate. Religious doctrines should be debated by clergymen, because theology is their topic, not yours.
4. Will participating in the debate be anything other than a degrading experience? Actual science debates are both educational and stimulating, and scientists delight in them. But sharing a debate platform with a creationist offers nothing of scientific value, so why bother?
5. Is the proposed debate merely an attempt for the opponent to gain publicity for himself or his topic? One shouldn’t agree to a debate which, by its very existence, will be exploited for publicity and to claim intellectual legitimacy for an unworthy subject or opponent. All that you will accomplish is to raise them from the bowels of obscurity which is their natural habitat.
A good example of an unfortunate debate is the Bill Nye–Ken Ham debate. It was a grand waste of time, because nothing Nye could ever say would make any impression on ol’ Hambo, who now constantly refers to the event as if it were the greatest experience of his life. Well, in some sense it was, because Nye’s appearance on the same stage “legitimized” Hambo, and made it seem as if he had something of scientific value to say that was worth debating.
The same thing probably occurred with the Meyer-Krauss event. We didn’t watch it, and we doubt that we ever will, but the Discoveroids are promoting it as if they had accomplished done something of extra-ordinary scientific merit. Did they?
We don’t think we missed anything, but if you, dear reader, watched the debate, or know something about it, we’d like to hear from you.
Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.