"Beyond Intelligent Design: The Sciences" a panel of lectures

Moderated by Peter Dodson

Stephen Barr: "Design, Chance, and Law: How Are They Related?"

In this talk, it will be argued that the concept of "design" used by the Intelligent Design movement represents a narrowing of the ancient Design Argument that unneccessarily sets Design, Chance, and Law against each other.

Colin Purrington: "Evolution Is for Kids"

Unless it is crushed out of them early during infancy, young children have an immense interest in the natural world that is often manifested in an obsessive desire to know everything about dogs, cats, horses, or even long-extinct dinosaurs. This fascination in nature predisposes kids to be avid consumers of evolutionary information: where did species come from, why are so few species still with us, and how are the remaining species changing before our eyes? In the United States, this curiosity is often diverted, instead, to support non-scientific views of the world and its inhabitants, and thus by high school most students have a deep, almost physiological suspicion of evolution, grouping evolution with pornography, cannibalism, and incest--topics that they know how to spell, but none of them appropriate for casual conversations at parties. My presentation will discuss the above situation and offer some suggestions for getting real biology taught to youngsters before their neurons are permanently wired to distrust science.

Jeff Schloss: "The Surety of Ambiguity"

Intelligent design is a response to the widespread assertion - made both my many religious believers and evolutionary biologists - that religious belief and evolutionary theory are incompatible. Unfortunately, ID confirms and exacerbates this contention, and in so doing ideologically subverts the very science it seeks to liberate. First, its concept of "design" entails the interruption of natural regularities or the inadequacy of creation's lawful endowments. Second, it conflates the notion of intelligence with agency. These errors not only foreclose opportunities for science to investigate fascinating questions, but also forfeit options for integrative dialogue. A more constructive approach, for both science and theology, is to explore the continuities rather than gaps in natural regularities. For example, directionality theory and altruism studies are two aspects of contemporary evolutionary thought that do not entail the atheological implication often imputed to newDarwinism, i.e., they are not concordant with but not demonstrative of theological perspectives. To honor both the scientific complexity and the theological ambiguity of nature, is to reject "cherry picking" scientific approaches to validate metaphysical precommitments - on either "side."

June 2006

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