If you read this blog you are familiar with William Lane Craig, so let me introduce you to Francisco Ayala. A former priest and still a believer, Ayala has been called the “Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology.” His research has led to the prevention and cure of diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people. In 2001, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. He is a leading defender of stem cell research, and is considered one of the best defenders of evolution today.
Despite his indisputable debate skills, Craig has never debated or published on biological arguments about intelligent design. So with Ayala’s 930 papers and 30 books – mostly on biology and philosophy of biology, with several specifically about intelligent design – this debate was a sweeping victory for Ayala, right?
Ayala may have all the right information in his head somewhere, but once again he did not bother to properly prepare for a debate with Craig. How many more opponents of Craig must embarrass themselves before they take my advice?
Ayala knows how to lecture. He does not know how to debate.
Ayala’s presentations were meandering musings on evolutionary theory, the history of science, and anecdotes about Darwin. Ayala also discussed the evidence for common descent, apparently unaware that intelligent design theory is compatible with the existing evidence for common descent. In his opening speech, during which he was supposed to present the case against intelligent design, Ayala did not even mention intelligent design.
Craig, as usual, cut very clearly to the heart of the disagreement between Ayala and Intelligent Design theory. He then showed how Ayala’s objections to intelligent design were invalid.
After he got womped by Craig in the opening speech, what did Ayala do? He completely ignored Craig’s arguments and continued on with his meandering lecture about how evolution works. He waved his hand dismissively toward the work of Michael Behe, and then decided to “refute” an example of irreducible complexity which Behe explicitly said was not an example of irreducible complexity – the eye.
Craig sums up his assessment of most intelligent design critics thusly:
I find this… to be very typical of the critics of ID. They don’t engage [intelligent design] theorists responsibly and in detail. Rather, they offer easy, dismissive refutations that don’t really take their work seriously.
Ayala responds with – you guessed it! – an easy, dismissive refutation:
For the record, there is no absence of evidence for the mechanism of natural selection for evolution. Hundreds of books, thousands and thousands and thousands of articles, made by thousands and thousands of people, who know how to use the scientific method…
He then concludes not with a scientific or philosophical argument against intelligent design, but a theological one.
Finally, if you want to hear a very concise for the viability (if not the truth) of intelligent design, well… nobody does this kind of thing better than William Lane Craig.
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