This past Saturday a debate took place at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, on the topic of God, Science, and the Universe. Participants included Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Meyer, and Denis Lamoureux. You can view the whole thing on You Tube here.
What follows are some observations and impressions I had about the debate.
* The strongest presentation, in my view, was Lamoureux’s. To be fair, Meyer had a migraine that obviously caused him some trouble. Even so, Lamoureux’s presentation was more comprehensive than the other two, addressing evolutionary biology, biblical hermeneutics, and philosophical worldview questions. His point about the move we all make, beyond science, from data to metaphysics (and from metaphysics to data) was very good.
* The worst presentation was Krauss. I’d say “in my opinion,” but in my opinion this is an observable fact If this event was intended to be a comedic roast, then Krauss won hands down. Maybe he didn’t get the memo that this was supposed to be a serious debate? His basic “argument” seemed to be: (a) my fellow debaters, and possibly all Christians, are idiots with nothing valuable to say; (b) I’m a good physicist; (c) here are three (basically not argued and largely pedantic anyway) guiding principles for thinking ‘scientifically’; (d) therefore God is redundant.
* Though I felt that Lamoureux’s presentation was stronger, I want to point out that Meyer’s argument (his larger argument, not details along the way) was not refuted by either of his two opponents. Krauss responded basically by making fun of him and Lamoureux’s god-of-the-gaps charge doesn’t really get at the larger problem to which Meyer points, namely the problem of the origin of biological information. Even with his obviously debilitating migraine, Meyer was able to make some basic points in defence that continued to stand without convincing refutation by the other two. (I say this as someone not fully convinced by Meyer’s argument, by the way). Lamoureux’s charge has some merit if Meyer is arguing that God needs to intervene physically with the world to enact every evolutionary change. But that’s not what Meyer argued, at least not at this debate. So, Meyer’s opponents seemed to be scrambling a bit to refute him, offering assertions but not clear arguments (Lamoureux’s examples in the response period were good, but need to be developed a little more, I think, to show their implications for Meyer’s theory and his probability analysis).
* I think Lamoureux let Krauss get away with too much. He seemed to go after Meyer more than Krauss, which was a bit strange since Kraus’s arguments were more problematic than Meyer’s. Though perhaps he didn’t go after Krauss because the latter didn’t really put forth much in terms of convincing arguments? (Why trade blows with empty assertions?)
* It would have been interesting to add another figure to the mix, either a physicist like Ard Louis or Arnold Sikkema or John Polkinghorne or a mathematician like John Lennox. And perhaps we could add an information theorist (such as Randy Isaac of the American Scientific Affiliation) to dialogue more seriously with Meyer over origin of information questions.
That’s it for now . . . I may offer more observations later.