Wednesday, October 04, 2006

ID conference at USF

Evolution news and views provides us with a report from the Intelligent Design conference at the University of South Florida.

Over 3,600 Floridians were treated to a unique presentation of intelligent design as a scientific theory challenging the reigning Darwinian evolutionary paradigm last Friday night. The Sun Dome at USF in Tampa Bay was the locale for Darwin or Design, featuring three noted ID scientists: Dr. Michael Behe, Dr. Jonathan Wells and Dr. Ralph Seelke.

Not suprisingly, there were some complaints. A memo was sent to the USF faculty stating grievences about the event. The memo can be viewed at the aforementioned link.

One point made:
The complainer then goes on to cite Judge Jones’s ruling in the Dover decision to prove his point.

"In fact, as Republican judicial appointee John Jones pointed out in his
landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District decision, the ID
movement is neither a recent phenomenon nor one that has ever been "led" by scientists."

It may have escaped the complainer’s notice that the event featured some of the leading ID scientists in the world. You may not like or agree with what they are saying, but you can’t argue with the fact they are indeed scientists.

Evidently, one of the faculty supporters of the event issued a reply to the complaint. Some interesting points are as follows:

... you make another false assumption regarding the "positions or their biases with respect to the topic of the memo." Clearly while you advocate scientific inquiry and integrity, you seem to believe that only what you believe to be scientific is relevant or correct. If you would take the time to investigate the academic credentials of the two main speakers at the event, you will find that their records are impeccable. They are "world class" academic scholars and well regarded in the scientific community. As to the supposed biases of the memo's authors, I suppose all persons, including the memo authors and yourself, would be considered biased in one way or another. In an environment of academic freedom, people may express their views on a variety of subjects and the authors of the memo wish to express their views on this subject, at least from the perspective of having open-minded people listen to the scientific arguments for the intelligent design position.

As academics, we recognize all facets of education and learning. Science and philosophy are subjects taught independently, although there is a long history of the blending of both. If you examine the area of "philosophy of science" of which there are numerous PhD-level courses at most universities with this title, you will find that the majority of individuals who devoted their lives to science were also somewhat philosophers themselves. This goes all the way back to Bacon who is considered the father of the scientific method. All great scientific researchers have some type of philosophy based on their individual world view. Obviously, this program goes against your worldview and/or personal philosophy, and that's OK. But to provide the false notion that everyone hearing about this program or perhaps attending it will be somehow drawn away from scientific exploration of issues is grossly exaggerated. If you would listen to the speakers on Friday (and you are certainly welcome to attend) or read some of their published articles, you would be provided with scientific, not philosophic, arguments supporting intelligent design. People can make up their own minds regarding the scientific reliability and believability of the positions espoused by the speakers.

As a personal point, I find it interesting that you refer to "a Republican judicial appointee" in your quote regarding the court decision you cited. Am I to assume, as you have in your response to seeing the Darwin or Design memo, that you are "biased?" Why not simply refer to the case without the reference to the political appointment process for naming this judge? Does it matter? Apparently it did to you since you mentioned it. Are you assuming that all of the signers of the memo are Republicans? Why should it even matter? Scientific inquiry is not a political issue, although you, by implication, try to make it one. I truly feel sorry for you and your limited perspective regarding the search for truth through scientific investigation.

The sponsors of the event have indicated that they will be putting together a DVD of the event.