I've been listening to the recent Michael Shermer and Donald Prothero debate vs. Stephen Meyer and Richard Sternberg. Not a bad debate, in my estimation, maybe one of the best that the ID vs evolution conflict has produced. Unfortunately, that's not saying much - I find public disputations of this issue are usually flaccid, fairly boring retreads of the same old garbage. One of the worst debates I've ever heard is one I attended personally, between Michael Ruse and William Dembski at the local university. Dembski finished his opener and I thought, "I cannot imagine Ruse's could be any worse." But it was.
This one, fortunately, incorporates a lot of material from Meyer's very good book Signature in the Cell as well as discussions of what seems to this layman to be fairly cutting-edge research. Meyer also pwns Shermer's blind "God-of-the-gaps" canard in real time, which was fun, especially since Shermer went on a few minutes later to spew out a steaming pile of Darwinism-of-the-gaps.
Anyway, the audience Q&A was refreshing b/c the moderator had audience members write down their questions and send them up front during the intermission, and the mod read them. This is the best way to go about things, even though the mod misread and thus fundamentally neutered the question I sent to Mitch Pacwa a couple of years ago.
I was very happy to hear that an audience member asked Michael Shermer what amounts to a variant of the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (see more simplified version here, courtesy of a friend of mine) (or listen to the lecture or see some lecture outline notes) around the 1 hr, 39 minute mark.
Moderator: Do you believe that reason is an emergent property of molecules and if so, why should we trust anything you say?
Shermer and others laugh.
Shermer: Well, first of all you shouldn't. The first principle of skepticism is be skeptical of the skeptics. Um, so obviously, but I think there's something deeper in the question on - to what extent should we trust some kind of inductive process practiced by science or reason or logic or something like that?
Well, um, as opposed to what? As I started off saying, there's only 2 explanations; there's the scientific one based on reason and logic and evidence, and then there's everything else. And the one that works the best just pragmatically is science. You want to get a spacecraft to Mars, you use astronomy, not astrology. Just b/c it works is the best answer to that question.
That's the best that this nationally-recognised author, speaker, and debater, the editor of Skeptic magazine, can muster? A string of begged questions and "um, duh" assertions? Now, I don't mean to set the standard unreasonably high here - that's all PZ Myers could come up with as well.
I'd set the over/under for the wager "number of seconds has Michael Shermer spent pondering a very challenging argument put forward by well-known and widely-published professional philosophy professor Alvin Plantinga with respect to Shermer's own worldview and indeed his very livelihood?" at 3. Pitiful performance.