Monday, August 15, 2005

Debating Intelligent Design on the Radio

Here is the link to the audio for the radio program (KGNU: 88.5 FM; 1390 AM), "Metro," which aired on August 15, 2005 from 12:00-1:00PM. The program debated Intelligent Design (ID). I was on for the whole hour defending ID. The first 20 minutes I was paired with a Chris Moody (or Moony), who is coming out with a book called, The Republican War Against Science. The rest of the program paired me with Rabbi Joel Schwartzman, a Reform Rabbi from the Boulder area. Please post any responses you have to this program.


nancy said...

Great job Dr. G

Clearly the Rabbi had no interest in the substance of the debate. He rambled on about whether or not the debate should even occur. Of course this debate needs to happen in every corner of our culture. This debate is fundamentally about the pursuit of truth. Will scientists investigate with integrity and keep all options open or will they a prior discard even the possibility that perhaps an Intelligent Designer does exist.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Dr. Groothuis, you were very clear and really no one refuted your position with anything substantial that I could pick up.

I am wondering if the proper scientific way to reference intelligent design is "theory". I am not sure that observation alone proves the existence of a designer, though I am sure from what is said that it definitely points to the hypothesis that there is intelligent design. In other words this would be asserted based on experiments to be the best explanation of the data (I'm not versed well in science). Something like that. Correct?

Thanks again for your good work- and being willing to take a position that is ridiculed by many- and doing so in a scholarly, patient yet forthright way.

J. Ed Komoszewski said...

Kudos on a job well done! You were impressively clear, quick, and concise. You kept the discussion focused on the key issues and relevant evidence (a significant feat given the nature of the program!). You used simple illustrations that communicated to a broad audience and provided motivated listeners with excellent resource referrals. In short, you made the most of the opportunity presented.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Steve was an incredibly frustrating caller to deal with, but it seemed like he got the best of you.

I think the trouble in this discussion is that you are put in the position of having to explain the theory and distinguish it from so many straw men, while the opposition just has to pooh pooh it as "religion," "untestable," and "political."

Jeff Burton said...

You did a very admirable job. The thing that impressed me the most was your grasp of the scientific arguments (the opponents were clearly not up to it). You are to commended on your preparation for this. Would that all Christians could argue on this topic at this level. As for caller "Steve" - you hinted that evolutionists should be held to the same standard (testable predictions), but you could have hammered that harder. The "junk" DNA response was great, but came a little late. I can't imagine how hard it is to be cogent and fluent under that kind of pressure. Great job.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I don't think the interruptive Steve "got the best of me." He kept interrupting and would not let me finish a thought. Perhaps I got too angry at that, but he was rude and would not listens to the nuances required of the answer. The answer required was not a sound bite, but that is all he wanted. In retrospect, though, I think I accidently took his bate when he said, "Is science based on experimentation?" Instead of saying, "Yes." I should have said, Yes, but this the question of large-scale theories such as Darwinism and ID is a forensics issue that is not settled by any one experiment." I did make that basic point, but his constant interruptions and demanding "one experiment" to prove ID was very difficult to deal with. He was commiting the fallacy of the complex question, such as "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" This fallacy assumptions a key point that needs to be established: "Did you ever beat your wife?" The key point at issue in Steve's call was, "Is there any one experiment that proves either Darwinism or ID." The answer, of course, it "No!"

The radio forum was far better than TV, but still left much to be desired. I hope to give a public lecture on ID at Colorado State University in the early fall. I will leave plenty of time for questions, and since I am on the stage, I should have more control over unruly people.

The ID issue is clouded by a plethora of logical fallacies.

1. Ad hominem: You are religious, so your ideas don't count. This is also a non sequiter.

2. Genetic fallacy. Religion believes in a designer, therefore there can be no evidence for one. This is also a non sequiter.

3. False dichotomy. This is a political issue, not a scientific one. The ID people want to impose politically what they cannot prove scientifically. This also begs the question at to the scientific credentials of ID.

4. Persuasive definition

A. "Science" is defined as requiring philosophical materialims, which, in principle, dissalows ID explanations.

B. "Faith" is unsupported by reason or evidence. So, if there is a claim in Christianianity, P, there could be no evidence outside of the Bible itself for P. This also begs the question.

5. Complex question. See above.

There are more fallacies afoot, but that is enough food for thought for now.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Wow. Thanks for your comments, Doug. The only reason why I said he [Steve] got the best of you is because you asked the host for him to be disconnected. But just to be clear, my patience would have run out long before your's did. :)

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Thanks for the qualification. He did "get my goat" a bit. (At the break, my wife came in and said, "Turn down the intensity.")But then they got him off the air! Finding the proper ambiance for rational persuasion is a tough job in postmodern culture. But we must apply ourselves to the task for the glory of God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Dr. Groothuis, Jesus himself seemed to get irritated at times ("how long must I be with you, how long must I put up with you?"- words to that effect).

Somehow he was able to speak very well into his culture (the people heard him gladly). Yet he certainly had plenty of nay-sayers.

Unfortunately you were so clipped on time that it was very understandable that you wanted to get your explanation in. Certainly not a living room setting.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I tell my students that "ambience control" is crucial to rational discourse. The setting matters crucially. As Kierkegaard said, we should not try to out-shout the world. Yet electronic media set the agenda for so much of our discourse. The program must "go on" at time T1; must break for commercials at T2(if a commercial station); must "go off" T3. Call it the Tyrany of Chronos. Plus, the sensibility is rushed, clipped, staged, and interruptive. Our whole culture is interruptive and rude: shabby selves chatting madly about nothing much in particular...but often with great conviction. Worse yet, we often parrot these constraints in non-mediated settings (assuming we can find any left). People try to entertain each other as opposed to having conversations.

But one must never, never, never give up on presenting truth rationally and answering objections to one's claims as best one can. Dialogue, while beaten and bloodied, is not dead.

Susan said...

I was finally able to get some time to listen to the program online. The Rabbi was astoundingly apathetic, and you handled Steve far better than I was anticipating (I had read the comments here before listening to the program).

It would seem that a important element in good debate is a good moderator. This was perhaps the most disappointing part as I listened. The moderator lacked direction and sort of meandered through the hour. She seemed not to have thought through the questions she would ask to keep the debate moving in a direction that would disclose the key elements of her guest's positions.

This did not, however, keep you from stating the essentials of Intelligent Design. You were very clear and did not discount or disparage the other guest's opinions. This set you apart from your guests very clearly. The apathetic Rabbi and the myopic Mooney were no match for the Constructive Curmudgeon.

Ted M. Gossard said...

See this posting of Scot McKnight's on his blog "Jesus Creed" entitled, "To Bracket is to Break". Concerning this debate I especially took note of the paragraph with the words, "the modernist scientific world".

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

To the Darwinists of the world, you who culturally and politically control the science teaching of America:

Is there anything in the natural world that might be better explained by design as opposed to chance and necessity alone? If not, your theory is not falsifiable.