Tag Archives: Bradley Monton

Atheist philosopher of science Bradley Monton discusses intelligent design

Philosopher Bradley Monton
Philosopher Bradley Monton

About Bradley Monton:

I’m a philosophy professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I work in philosophy of time, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science (especially physics), and probabilistic epistemology.

There’s an interview with Dr. Monton in Salvo magazine’s new issue, which is on science and faith.

The interview has more about his credentials:

Bradley Monton • Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the University of Colorado • BA in Physics and Philosophy from Rice University • PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University • Author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design

And here are the interview questions:

  1. What makes you take intelligent design (ID) seriously?
  2. Why do you think some scientists refuse to take intelligent design seriously?
  3. You write in your book that you don’t fully endorse intelligent design. In your opinion, what are some of the weaknesses of ID?
  4. Then why can’t you fully support intelligent design?
  5. So what are the strengths of intelligent design?
  6. What do you think about the multiverse theory—this belief that there are actually an infinite number of universes out there, making the complexity of our own universe more likely and less special?
  7. Do you think intelligent design should be taught in public schools?
  8. Do you teach your own students about intelligent design?
  9. Do you think academic freedom is limited for non-tenured proponents of intelligent design?
  10. How have other academics responded to your writings and statements on intelligent design?
  11. You’ve written that intelligent-design arguments have made you less certain of your atheism. What would it take to make you abandon it altogether?
  12. So what sort of scientific evidence would be compelling enough to change your mind?
  13. Are there other atheist scientists out there who believe that intelligent-design arguments hold some merit?

Here’s my favorite question (#12) and the answer:

So what sort of scientific evidence would be compelling enough to change your mind?

It would be evidence for mind as a fundamental feature of the universe. As far as I’m concerned, God would have to be a purely mental entity, not connected to physical reality in the way that we are through our bodies. So if we could discover some kind of evidence that mind is fundamental, then that would go a long way toward making me a believer. And if we could find evidence that the physical world isn’t causally closed—that not only is mind a fundamental entity, but it likewise plays a causal role in the structure of the world—then that would also be compelling evidence for the existence of God. Now, if it is found that mind plays a role in our brain processes alone, that by itself wouldn’t make me believe in God, though it would certainly make me more open to the idea. But if we were to discover that mind is intervening in other places in the world besides our brain processes, then that would pretty much be the smoking gun.

Yeah, I think there is good evidence for a non-physical mind, both from science and philosophy.

I think a lot of Christians who grew up with young-Earth creationism are startled to find that there are non-theistic, non-Christians scholars who take ID seriously. I think if I were a smart young-Earth creationist like Paul Nelson or Marcus Ross, I would try to create common ground with scholars by discussing intelligent design with them.


Video of William Lane Craig’s opening speech from his debate on ID with Ayala

Provided by ChristianJR4. If you have a youtube account, please subscribe to his channel

Here is his full opening speech in 3 parts:

You can get the full audio here at Apologetics 315. There’s a good discussion going on in the comments.

You can read more about the debate over on Bradley Monton’s blog. He is an atheist professor who served as moderator during the debate.

Here are Craig’s post-debate comments.

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William Lane Craig’s after-action report on the debate with Francisco Ayala

Here is his after-action report. I think it may be behind the registration firewall, so I’ll quote some of it for you.


I had heard Ayala lecture on Intelligent Design last year in China and was dismayed by the caricatures and misrepresentations he gave to the Chinese students. So even though I had never debated intelligent design in biology before, I decided to take on this debate to try at least to set the record straight.

The last few months I prepared diligently for this debate, reading Ayala’s work, familiarizing myself with relevant new developments in biology, studying the recent works of ID proponents, conferring with colleagues who work in this field, and formulating the best strategy for the debate.

[…]Since the question we were debating was not whether intelligent design is true but merely whether it is viable, it was up to Ayala to disqualify ID as a live option. In his published work, he tries to disqualify ID both scientifically and theologically, so my opening response fell neatly into two parts. First, I argued that Ayala fails to disqualify ID scientifically because he cannot show that the Darwinian mechanisms are capable of producing the sort of biological complexity we see on earth. Then I argued that the theological arguments he presents against the designer’s being all-powerful and all-good are simply irrelevant to drawing a design inference (however interesting and important they may be for theology) because the design argument doesn’t aspire to show that the designer is all-powerful or all-good.

The debate turned out to be virtually one-sided! Ayala utterly failed to engage with my arguments. It was almost as if I wasn’t even there. It was pretty obvious to everyone that he was just presenting canned arguments which had already been refuted in my opening statement. I responded to all his points and even went beyond them to tackle the theological problem of natural evil as well. I was also able to call him to account for his misrepresentation of Michael Behe’s work. Ayala likes to indict Behe for saying that the human eye is irreducibly complex, even though it isn’t. Holding up Behe’s book and reading aloud the relevant passage, I responded that this allegation was surprising in light of the fact that Behe says on pages 37-38 that the eye is NOT irreducibly complex and therefore he does not use it as one of his examples of irreducible complexity!

Another interesting feature of this debate was the moderator, a young philosopher from the University of Colorado, Boulder, named Bradley Monton. Though a self-confessed atheist, Monton is convinced that the typical refutations of ID that pass muster today are in fact fallacious, and so he has written a book defending not only the scientific status of ID but even its being taught as an option in public schools! Having read his remarkable book in preparation for the debate, I was able to quote “our esteemed moderator” to good effect during the debate itself to counter Ayala’s assertion that ID was not science.

I note that Reasonable Faith has secured a $65000 matching grant for all donations between now and December 31st. Please contribute generously. There is no one on the planet who does more to defend Biblical Christianity than William Lane Craig. No Christian is more feared by atheists. Atheists laugh at Bible-thumping, hand-wringing fundamentalists who preach only to the choir – but they fear William Lane Craig.

You can listen to the MP3 recording of the debate here at Apologetics 315.

Video of Craig’s opening speech is here.

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Craig-Ayala debate may be streamed live over the Internet

Check it out! (H/T Brian Auten of Apolgetics 315)

We are working on streaming the event live.

The event, assuming everything works at the Auditorium, will be from ustream.tv.

If the link does not work, here is the address: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/indiana-university—november-5-2009

UPDATE: The audio for the debate is posted here. (MP3)

You can read Craig’s post-debate comments here.

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William Lane Craig vs. Francisco Ayala November 5th at Indiana University

William Lane Craig is debating evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala in the November 5th, 2009, at Indiana University.

Here’s the skinny:

Intelligent Design: Is it Viable? A debate between Dr. Francisco J. Ayala and Dr. William Lane Craig. Moderated by Dr. Bradley Monton. The debate will occur on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 7 p.m. EST at Indiana University Auditorium.

Bradley Monton is the atheist philosopher who thinks that intelligent design is a viable enterprise to investigate.

You can read more about William Lane Craig at his web site.

Here’s a bit more about his opponent, Francisco Ayala:

His research focusses on population and evolutionary genetics, including the origin of species, genetic diversity of populations, the origin of malaria, the population structure of parasitic protozoa, and the molecular clock of evolution. He also writes about the interface between religion and science, and on philosophical issues concerning epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of biology.

He’s written 650 papers and 12 books. I think this is going to be a tough debate for Bill!

UPDATE: The debate is now finished!

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