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Sept. 25: Intelligent Design and Evolution: A Discussion of Education, Science, and Faith

A panel discussion following the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s performance of Inherit the Wind

When: Sunday 25 September, play performed at 2:00 PM; panel discussion follows the play

Where: Indiana Repertory Theatre, 140 W Washington St. Indianapolis (parking here)

One of the most heated topics in today’s discussions of religion and science concerns teaching “intelligent design” (ID) in schools instead of or along with teaching evolution. This controversy is important and poorly understood. (For what it is worth, I am the product of an Evangelical education that would have seen “intelligent design” as deviating too much from scripture. My high school biology classes didn’t even use the word “evolution,” and our world history class began in the year 4004 BC when God created the world.) Even President Bush has weighed in with his view that both evolution and ID ought to be taught, and let the students decide what is true.

Some may feel a sense of déjà vu all over again: didn’t we deal with this issue in the “Scopes monkey trial” of 1925? Not really. IRT is performing “Inherit the Wind,” the play on which was based the 1960 Stanley Kramer film starring Gene Kelly and Spencer Tracey. The play was loosely based on the trial in Dayton TN.

Following the September 25 performance of the play, I will moderate a panel featuring several players in the real world drama over this controversy. Alex Oren s director of “The Mighty Cannon,” the local group that is threatening to sue the Hamilton County School District to force it to teach ID; David L. Stocum, Dean Emeritus of the School of Science and Professor of Biology at IUPUI; and Rabbi Sandy Sasso, who has written that science and religion don’t have to conflict.

I plan to post a lot more about these issues before the event, so check IndyBuzz.



For More Information… My most excellent research associate Courtney Burkey turned up some suggested sources for learning more about the controversy about ID:

Indianapolis Star article “Evolution debate may play out in schools” http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050817/NEWS02/508170482
A short summary of the challenges that the Indiana education system might be facing. Discusses measures some school corporations have implemented in regards to Intelligent Design and what the arguments are on both sides of the issue.

Indiana Department of Education, Academic Standards – Biology I
http://www.doe.state.in.us/standards/Docs-2004/English/PDF/HS-Science/Biology.pdf
The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the rights of development educational standards to the individual State and local officials, as such this website provides information on what is constitutionally, both at the State and federal levels, to teach in public schools in regards to science.

The Mighty Cannon http://www.mightycannon.org
Advocate organization for Intelligent Design based in Fishers, Indiana. The agency is hoping to persuade Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation in to teaching Intelligent Design along side of evolution. “It is the desire of The Mighty Cannon (TMC) to stop the influence of atheism and immorality in our public schools. The restoration of America must include our children, otherwise, our successes are only temporary,” – Mighty Cannon.

SciTech Daily: http://www.scitechdaily.com/
This website has links to almost everything published about science. Topics include daily feature stores from around the world, books and media resources, and analysis and opinions. “The idea was to link to the most thought-provoking, well researched online items in the world of science and technology,” – SciTech Daily.

“When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible” by Alvin Plantinga
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/dialogues/Faith-reason/CRS9-91Plantinga1.html
Alvin Plantiga is a professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame University. His writings on Christianity are widely published. In this article provided by the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), which provides explanations for science through a Christian prospective, Plantiga provides the reader with an understanding of how a Christian can marry his/her beliefs with science.

National Center for Science Education (NCSE) - http://www.ncseweb.org
This organization promotes the teachings of evolution in public education. NCSE provides reviews of current anti-evolution activity in the United States and around the world Background to the fundamentally creationist and anti-evolution movement known as "Intelligent Design" Detailed information on the Creation/Evolution controversy from 1859 to the present Resources for parents, teachers, school boards, and the general public. NCSE is the only national organization specializing in this issue.

Textbook: Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins by Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon
“Of Pandas and People gives evidence for intelligent design from origin-of-life studies, biochemistry, genetics, homology, and paleontology. In a unique manner, Of Pandas and People gives the pros and cons of both the biological-evolution theory and the intelligent-design concept,” – Amazon.com. Be sure to read the reader reviews of this textbook.

The Secular Web http://www.infidels.org
The Secular Web is published by the Internet Infidels, an organization of unpaid volunteers dedicated to the growth and maintenance of the most comprehensive freethought website on the Internet. They have full recognition as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization

Michael Behe: Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Behe
Gives a biographical background of Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe, Ph.D.
Publications:
Behe, M.J. (2005). “Design for Living”. New York Times, February 7, p. A21.
Behe, M.J. (2004). “Irreducible Complexity: Obstacle to Darwinian Evolution.”In Debating Design: from Darwin to DNA, Ruse, M. and Dembski, W.A., eds., Cambridge University Press, pp. 352-370.
Behe, M.J. 2003. “Design in the Details: The Origin of Biomolecular Machines.” In Darwinism, Design & Public Education, Campbell, J.A. and Meyer, S.C. eds., Michigan State University Press, pp. 287-302.
Nova Science Programming on Air & Online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/origins/knoll.html
Nova Science, a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), program, which produce science education shows. Currently, Nova has been running a program series on the origins of the universe, earth, and life itself.

BOOKS

Dembski, William A.. Intelligent Design: the Bridge Between Science and Theology. InterVarsity Press (July, 2002).
Dembski “aims to show the lay reader ‘how detecting design within the universe, and especially against the backdrop of biology and biochemistry, unseats naturalism’--and above all Darwin's expulsion of design in his theory of evolution,” - Amazon.com

Larson, Edward J. Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation & Evolution. New York: Oxford University Press. (1989) A comprehensive account of the educational and legal battles erupting from the debate over teaching evolution in America's public schools from 1925 to the 1980s.

Miller, James, ed. An Evolving Dialogue: Theological and Scientific Perspectives on Evolution. Trinity International Press (2001) A good basic introduction to historical and philosophical perspectives on the relationship between evolutionary biology and religious thought.

Numbers, Ronald L. The Creationists. New York: Alfred Knopf. (1992) A detailed history of modern creationism; traces its sources - obscure and famous - through exhaustive interviews and document searches.

Toumey, Christopher. God's Own Scientists. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, (1996).
This anthropological investigation of a group of North Carolina creationists discusses the place of creationism in American culture.

Wilson, Jonathan. Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing. ISI Books (June, 2004).
“If you’ve never heard the term ‘post-Darwinian,’ welcome to the world of thinkers who reject evolutionary theory and its reliance on the notion of chance (i.e. "random mutation"). In this provocative volume, biologists, mathematicians and physicists as well as theologians and other intellectuals—many affiliated with the Discovery Institute, which espouses the concept of intelligent design—argue, as editor Dembski writes, that ‘the preponderance of evidence goes against Darwinism,’” – Publishers Weekly

Wells, Jonathan. Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2000.
Wells sets out to demonstrate how science textbooks explain the origins of earth in way that is opposite of what scientists now believe was the environment of early earth. He dissects the Miller-Urey Experiement, Darwinism, and provides an overall quality evaluation of science textbooks.

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