February 22, 2004January 18, 2004Meeting Report

Darwin Day

February 7, 2004

Featured Speaker
Taner Edis
Intelligent Design: Creationism Evolves Again

Taner EdisThis was an excellent meeting with a large turnout (nearly 140 people).

Dr. Edis is a Professor of Physics at Truman State University, in Kirksville, Missouri, and the author of the book “The Ghost in the Universe,” which received an award as the best Humanist book of 2002.

Dr. Edis' talk noted that Intelligent Design (ID) is a more sophisticated version of creationism. Instead of pushing the idea of young earth creationism and a 6000 year old universe, the new ID creationists postulate an older universe, but with a designer who created the different species. They deny that Darwinian natural selection could bring about the complexity of life and ecosystems that exist today. Michael Behe, for instance, used the term “irreducible complexity” to describe his belief that there must have been a master designer (i.e., God. ID proponents have a theistic orientation, but try to pass themselves off as scientific. Although a few of the leaders of the movement have genuine scientific degrees, they are not noted for research and do not publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals. However, they have often tried to influence public school boards to give equal weight to ID in biology textbooks, claiming that to do otherwise would be unfair and would take sides in a scientific controversy. There is indeed a controversy, but it is in the mind of the general public, not within the scientific community.

Dr. Edis is from Turkey, a country with an Islamic culture and a secular government. He dealt at length, not only with Christian creationists, but also with Muslim ones. Islam is more oriented towards creationism than is Christianity.

There are many liberal Christians (and even some conservative ones) who accept evolution. Few Muslims do. Islamic high culture supports a generic ID view of nature.

Dr. Edis said that there is a real cultural divide and the dispute over evolution is only one point of contention. There is the practice of scientists of following “methodological naturalism” to come up with explanations about nature that are in accord with the evidence and exclude the supernatural. Some may look on this as amoral. However, naturalism has been successful, because it has better described the world, not because scientifically-oriented people have arbitrarily rejected ID. If ID can result in new research that better explains the world, it should be accepted. However, Dr. Edis sees that as highly unlikely.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, HAGSA Recorder

PowerPointŪ Presentation

You can download Dr. Edis' PowerPoint presentation from here by right clicking on the link below (or, on a Macintosh, using Ctrl+Click). The file is only about 1.8 megabytes. With a broadband connection, it should take a few seconds to download.  Typical download time with a dial-up connection is 5 minutes or more.

Don't try to open the presentation in place (i.e., in your browser, using left click), as PowerPoint takes a long time to move from slide to slide when run within an Internet browser.

There is one slide that is animated. It requires that you have Apple's QuickTime Player installed. It also requires an unspecified "animation decompressor," which you may or may not have on your system. You may have to forgo the animation and simply move on to the next slide.  (If you have a Macintosh, you probably do have the animation decompressor.)

Note that, if you did not attend the meeting, the presentation may not be very meaningful to you. If you did attend the meeting and had difficulty seeing the screen, the presentation should be helpful.

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