By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
In April 26, 2007, Chapman University hosted the W.M. Keck Foundation Student Research Day, a gathering of the school's various science departments, so students could showcase their research and the public could nerd out. The keynote speaker that day was a titan in Orange County's scientific community: Francisco Ayala, a professor at UC Irvine and one of the most respected evolutionary biologists in the world.
Ayala's email signature reminds recipients he is a 2001 National Medal of Science Laureate and received the prestigious 2010 Templeton Prize, an international scientific award awarded for his "public role in defending science practice and religious faith"—but he's selling himself short. UCI's largest library is named after him. He has published more than 1,000 papers and 35 books, both popular and academic. According to the UC Irvine Faculty Directory, Ayala is actually three professors in one: university professor and Donald Bren professor of biological sciences, ecology & evolutionary biology; professor of philosophy; and professor of logic and the philosophy of science. He also has a badass accent, a vestige from his youth in Spain, which grants him even more elder-scientist gravitas.
The New York Times has described Ayala as a professor "always on the road," often speaking at churches "in defense of the theory of evolution and against the arguments of creationism."
But none of Ayala's qualifications are important to Bill Morgan, perhaps Orange County's most influential creationist. To him, the esteemed professor is a jerk.
During the W.M. Keck lecture titled "Darwin and Intelligent Design," Morgan claims, Ayala described a classic empirical example of natural selection: peppered moth evolution. During the Industrial Revolution, England's trees became darker after being covered in pollutants for years. The lighter peppered moths, which were originally the most populous, began to die off because their camouflage was rendered less effective. Simultaneously, the darker peppered moths became more prevalent, since they were able to better hide on the newly darkened trees.
Morgan says he attended the lecture with his then-9-year-old daughter. Afterward, she wrote Ayala a letter: "Peppered moth population changes are an example of natural selection, which all creationists believe is true," she wrote. "But you began with moths and ended with moths. . . . There were no new animals."
Ayala's response, according to Morgan? Ayala smugly told her that when she takes college-level biology, she'll understand—and that was that.
The story was odd. It ran counter to the professor's carefully constructed public image as an intellectual who welcomes all debates about evolution. Morgan didn't save either letter. Ayala's executive secretary, however, did, and Ayala forwarded both to the Weekly.
"My daddy heard your talk at Chapman," the letter began, with the rest of it proceeding as Morgan earlier describes, with his daughter critiquing Ayala's points and asking how moths got "feet" and "eyes." She also suggested Ayala read her father's comic books, which are a collection of creationist talking points accompanied by relevant Clipart photos.
But Ayala's actual response differed from Morgan's description—characteristically terse, but not rude or dismissive. "I did not use moths to prove evolution, but to show how natural selection works in a simple case. When you study biology, you will be able to understand how evolution works," he wrote to the young girl, adding, "Thank you for your letter."
In an interview with the Weekly, Ayala calls Morgan a "liar" and says that he was "sad to see someone distort the facts in the name of religion," particularly given that science and religion should not be seen as mutually exclusive. Ayala added that it was "difficult to comprehend people who make false accusations and lie for the sake of God."
Before the letter confusion, I tried to arrange a meeting between Ayala and Morgan so the two could discuss their philosophical and scientific differences, with the hopes of finding some common ground. The history between them—along with Ayala's stellar reputation for respecting the religious and reaching out to the public—made the professor seem the perfect candidate to partake in a healthy, casual discussion about the state of the debate with his ideological opposite.
Ayala thanked me, but he declined; he doesn't think "such debates or discussions are worthwhile."
Pressed for an explanation, he says that the circumstances of debates or an interview are such that people can't explore in depth any of the scientific evidence. Instead, they just turn into rhetorical exchanges that don't accomplish anything. "Look, the evidence for biological evolution is stronger and more abundant than the evidence for other scientific theories, such as the atomic theory, the heliocentric theory or the expansion of the galaxies," Ayala says. "What is needed is better scientific education, not debate."
After unearthing the exchange between him and Morgan's daughter, he wrote, "You may understand why I do not want to have public discussions . . . with the likes of Mr. Morgan."
* * *
Morgan has developed an impressive rhetorical gymnastics routine to define his opponent's beliefs. As they see it, life won the Mega Millions several times over. Billions of years ago, stardust mixed with energy derived from an unknown source. Such energy and matter, coming from nowhere and thus violating the First Law of Thermodynamics, somehow perfectly rearranged itself to create life from non-life, thus violating Pasteur's Law of Biogenesis. Those simple life forms—bacterial organisms, essentially—then spent billions of years magically evolving into the millions of forms of life we see today.
Certainly Adam O'Neal is qualified to say what is truly scientific and what is merely "scientific sheen". Just as he is well qualified to say who is a Christian and who has merely decided that they are one. We should all do well and listen to him.
My daughter said: "imagine you are an atheist, you really can't make any arguments, all you can do is attack the other person.
So wise for an eleven year old.
She is study the human muscular system right now,
I am going fishing very early Friday morning. So, I will not be "here" until sometime on Saturday.
Just for fun, the creationists should try to find one of Bill Morgan's phony claims not debunked in the "Index of Creationist Claims." http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html
If you find one, I'll debunk it over the weekend.
"There must be a Designer." Okay. He gave us mile and miles of blood vessels, neat. He also gave the ability to drop a man to his knees with a swift knee to the crotch. "The Designer" got it right for fish, reptiles, birds and a few mammals. But for some "intelligent" reason "The Designer" couldn't put testicles inside the body of a man. He got it right with giraffes by making the lower neck bones larger and able to support more weight. But he missed it with the human spine which has equal sized vertebra and the corresponding lower back pain. It probably wasn't the greatest idea to have the food and breathing tubes intersect in the throat. Nothing like sending food down the wrong pipe. Curiously, "The Designer" got it for ocean dwelling mammals. I could go on but yo get the point. There is no designer and least not an intelligent one.
I am taking another break from productive work. The opportunity presents itself to add a few more facts to the discussion. As Mr. O'Neal wrote, "there are more Bill Morgans than there are Francisco Ayalas." There are in fact very few men like Professor Ayala. We have met, and while we have a very different sense of humor, I have a deep respect for his achievements. And even one "Bill Morgan" is too many.
A better comparison would be the signatories of the creationist Discovery Institute's "Dissent from Darwin" and the "Project Steve" list hosted by the National Center for Science Education. The "Steves" are limited to real scientists named Steve in fields relevant to evolution, or possessing a Nobel Prize. All Nobelists named Steve have joined the list.
Quote: "There must be a Designer." - Bill Morgan ... Sounds a lot like the "Engineers" of Prometheus in an odd way. Isn't Bill Morgan an Engineer (self projecting perhaps?)
One see's a repeating pattern and calls it 'divine design'. As an M.D. once said to me, "Anyone that believes in intelligent design has never done heart surgery" . Another M.D. saide "Why is it possible for a fertilized egg to implant into the fallopian tube, cervix or ovary rather than the uterus causing an ectopic pregnancy and the death of both mother and child"? How about the existence of various vestigial body parts, like the femur and pelvis in whales (evolution says the ancestor of whales lived on land) or the third molar - or 'wisdom teeth' - in humans (whereas some other primates with differing jaw shapes make use of the third molar. As a third grader once said, "You can bring a horse to water, but why?"
Dr. Ayala is a sell out to his own peers in academia...such a shame; though I guess cowardice is the norm when it comes to those circles. He refuses to debate Mr. Morgan because deep down he knows it is utter foolishness and his "scientific" explanations are nothing but tautology; all taken at face value. One does not need a freaking' degree to ask and wonder why your mouth isn't right next to your a**hole...it's called Design. There is no design without intelligence. There is no evidence for macro evolution. Bill will debate any Atheist at any time, funny how few takers there actually are.
BTW, the actual Gallop Poll data, and a discussion of how to read a graph is posted to my personal blog, "Stones and Bones"
Dr. Ayala has published two books debunking creationist nonsense; "Darwin and Intelligent Design" (2006 Fortress Press), "Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion" (2007 National Academies Press).
There is really no point in "debates" with men like Mr. Morgan. They always use a method known as the "Gish Gallop," named after creationist Duane Gish. The technique is to tell so many lies in just a few minutes that their scientist opponent is dumbfounded and not sure where to even begin untangling them.
I'm one of those kids. I was a young earth creationist. I'd been given all sorts of rhetorical arguments and misinformation about science to use, by young earth creationist promoters. This was many years ago so I was cutting my teeth on books by Henry Morris, Duane Gish, Richard Bliss, Walter Lammerts, Bert Thompson, and so on. It wasn't until I took an astronomy class in college (to fulfill a requirement for elective credits in science) and dealt with some of the details of the science personally that I really realized how completely and utterly wrong young earth creationism is. The universe has been around for billions of years, and there's no other possible explanation for what we see in astronomy, not even remotely. And it was in becoming clearly aware of some of these scientific details that made me realize how deceitful young earth creationist promoters like Bill Morgan really are. Young earth creationists have made charlatanism into an art form.
Your daughter is wise. Maybe she can grow up and learn evolution and teach Bill Morgan a lesson or two on science?
I went to "talk origins" website and was un-impressed. The statement on the First Law of Thermodynamics was written by a non-scientist. Completely wrong. For the record I am a non-Christian. Where the mass of energy that was there at the Big Bang came from is a philosophy question, and trying to have a non-scientist answer it who doesn't understand energy is embarrassing.
@Gary_Hurd Gary, the greatest question in life is 'Is there a God or isn't there'. Personally, I don't give a flip about evolution, however, if evolution is getting in the way of you establishing a relationship with God, then its a HUGE deal. You obviously pride yourself in your knowledge and in your pride you feel so much more superior than everyone else-I get it. You, Mr. Hurd have made academia your idol and in a great sense your god; yet you are too blind to see. It takes humility to come to God, admit that we are flawed individuals who need a Savior, to surrender and serve Him. Being an evolutionist doesn't necessarily mean that you don't believe in God, but why would you believe in God when you can't trust what is said in Genesis, if you don't believe Gen. why would you believe any more of it-right? I for one, can not comprehend how you can look at the world around us and not see the hand of our maker in all of it. How perfectly tuned the world is, what an amazing machine our bodies are and not marvel at the intelligence and design behind it all...blows me away. Gary, I don't know that there is any hope for you, this is your faith and you will hold on to it....you better be right.
@Gary_Hurd Fish are wonderful designs.
@BruceFromHB So you think the skeletal and nervous system occurred by chance?
You also think the digestive and respiratory system happened by chance? You have more faith than me.
Please tell me the sequence you think the digestive and respiratory system evolved.
@Gary_Hurd So Gary you think it is scientific to think life came from non-life?
To think humans have bacterial ancestors?
@moonbandito So you think the human reproduction system happened by chance? And the circulatory and muscular system happened by chance?
You have much more faith than me.
There was a very interesting conference on the evolution of human teeth that rerecently brought together scientists from several backgrounds; clinical dentistry, genetics, physical anthropology, and archaeology. The papers I personally found most interesting were about the trend to shorter dental arches which made a third molar so difficult. We had thought this was co-occurent with the origin of agriculture. It turns out to be much more recent- the spread of industrial agriculture starting in the late 1600s, or early 1700s. As modern materials (steel), and methods (monocroping) spread, coupled with the technical advances in food preservation, children were given much softer foods. This reduced bone growth in the mandible, and maxila leaving too little room for the third molars.
Evolution of Human Teeth and Jaws: Implications for Dentistry and Orthodontics,” National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, 28–30 March, Durham, North Carolina.
I think that you are certainly talking out your a**hole. However, the reason that we, and all the other Deuterostomes, eat at one end and excrete out another was the divergence from an common ancestor with the Cnidaria over 560 million yeras ago. The reason to not "debate" Mr. Morgan is that he will lie, and he will keep on lying. And people like "picklemomma" will lap it up like honey.
@Gary_Hurd I see you galloping Gary!
@steveg1961 Steve, please look up "Faint sun paradox" and lets talk about your 4.6 billion year earth and sun.
RE: The First Law of Thermodynamics
The Index of Creationist Claims was compiled by Mark Isaac from contributions by many scientists, including myself. The main Talk Origns Archive article, "Evidence for the Big Bang" was written by Björn Feuerbacher and Ryan Scranton. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html
Dr. Björn Feuerbacheris is a physicist currently researching the energy dynamics of chemical reactions:
Dr. Ryan Scranton is an Astrophysicist currently at the University of California Davis. His research interests include cosmology, and astronomy.
A directly relevant article at TalkOrigins is "Intelligent Design, Humans, Cockroaches, and the Laws of Physics" by my colleague Victor J. Stenger. Dr. Stenger is a physicist particularly known for his early work on neutrino and very high-energy gamma ray astronomy.
I think you must agree these men know a lot more than you do about energy, and physics. I'll need to see you Cv before I consider your opinions further. Apparently you don't even know how to use "teh Google machine."
No I don't have more faith. I do have a lot more knowledge. For example, I know many different ways organisms are able to combine genes. I know many variations on iron based bloods, and even cyanide used for oxygen circulation. Muscles? Look for the evolution of ion pumps.
I was once a professor of medicine. This surprised many people. I also helped start a seminar on psychiatry and religion. This also surprised many people. Our goal was to teach our young psychiatrists that religious belief was not certain evidence of mental illness. We also had a number of clergy involved, hoping to improve the pathetic effort of "pastoral counseling." You cannot just pray away mental illness, or any other illness.
I am concerned that any physician would allow religious presuppositions to affect medical practice. However, it is a serious error to think that medical doctors are scientists just as engineer Bill Morgan is obviously not a scientist. Further, evolution is the professional topic of just a few sciences; anthropology, and biology. The young earth nonsense of Ken Ham's "Answers in Genesis" or the Institute for Creation Research is also debunked by astronomy, geology, chemistry and physics.
@Gary_Hurd ha,ha,ha,ha,ha......you guys are hilarious....wait I need to borrow Bill Morgan's magic wand of time. If you really think Mr. Morgan is lying maybe you should debate him and call him out on it. I've seen him debate many times, I promise he won't barrage you with the 'Gish Gallop' technique, he'll stay right with you and take it question by question...up for it?
@billyjack1 - Please look up the actual science on the fant sun paradox, and try to comprehend the fact that that young earth creationist argument has only been debunked for like at least 30 years - yet here you regurgitating this rhetoric. That's exactly how creationists operate, and why they are despicable. They ignore the actual science, they ignore the facts, they ignore their errors, and just keep right on pushing the same false arguments over and over and over and over again. This is The Young Earth Creationist Way. Thank you for showing how it works.
When you show us your doctorate in physics, and a long publication list matching those of Dr.s Feuerbacheris, Scranton, and Stenger, I'll be concerned with your opinion on the laws of thermodynamics and creationism. You have accused three highly respected scientists with fraud, and you are just a internet warrior hiding behind a fake name.
For two recent books on the origin of the universe, written from different perspectives, I recommend reading;
2012 “A Universe From Nothing” New York: Free Press
2005 "The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design" New York: Little and Brown Publishers
I am not a physicist, but I did find Dr. Frauss a bit more persuasive. That is not a scientific opinion, however.
Wow, attack me! I have a degree in mathematics, physics and engineering and I have worked for an engineering company for 30 years including much thermodynamics.
You and your website are frauds.
@Gary_Hurd Thank you for sharing a lot of heat but no light my new friend!
You see when you cannot defend a point, you necessarily attack the person,
I will not do so Dr. Hurd, I respect you as a fellow human being.
You obviously have no idea at all what "faint sun paradox" means. Briefly, the "faint sun paradox" is that stars like ours emit less long frequency light than high when they are very young. This means they are "cold" but with a lot of ultraviolet light. Here are a few references I have in my files:
Sagan, Carl, Christopher Chyba
1997 “The Early Faint Sun Paradox: Organic Shielding of Ultraviolet-Labile Greenhouse Gases” Science v. 276 (5316): 1217-1221
(The Sagan/Chyba hypothesis has been recently confirmed)
Kirschvink, Joseph L., et al
2000 “Paleoproterozoic Snowball Earth: Extreme climatic and geochemical global change and its biological consequences” PNAS-USA v.97, no.4: 1400-1405
What this could have to do with the origin of life is considered in:
Cleaves, H. James, Stanley L. Miller
1998 “Oceanic protection of prebiotic organic compounds from UV radiation” PNAS-USA v. 95, issue 13: 7260-7263
Miyakawa S, Cleaves HJ, Miller SL.
2002 "The cold origin of life: B. Implications based on pyrimidines and purines produced from frozen ammonium cyanide solutions." Orig Life Evol Biosph. Jun;32(3):209-18
and dozens more that billyboy will neither read, nor understand if he could read them. I doubt he could read the titles out loud.
For more on this see my blog;
I have watched creationists conjobs fleece the flock for almost 20 years now. Your willful ignorance cannot be cured.
Here is a counter proposal, look for each of Morgan's lies in the "Index of Creationist Claims."
Let me know if you think Morgan has any new ones. I didn't see anything new, or impressive in his 502 power point slides.