Design, Darwiinism and the Freedom to Learn
September/October 2001 Family Voice
When Kyndel Kovach entered her freshman biology class, she didnt expect her professor to shamelessly promote evolutionary theory as fact. Kyndel is a microbiology major at the University of Arkansas. What she faced that day reveals the climate of todays college-level science.
When her professor got on his soapbox, Kyndel became uneasy. Then another student shook her head, and the professor questioned her. She said she disagreed with him because she believed the Bible is true.
He got this big grin on his face, Kyndel told Family Voice. Then the professor belittled Christianity and Biblical creationism, and Kyndel decided to join the fray. Before more than 400 of her peers, she challenged her professor.
She discussed the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics (energy can neither be created nor destroyed; everything tends toward disorder) and the law of biogenesislife cannot arise from non-life. By the end of the conversation, the professor was speechless. I dont really have an answer to what youre saying right now, he said.
Professors arent used to Christians backing arguments with science, said Kyndel. Many students and teachers are realizing science is not at war with religion; rather it is in partnership with it. As knowledge grows, that connection becomes stronger. When you get challenged, Kyndel commented, it encourages you to find out more about science.
But censorship of ideas leaves most students ignorant of the debate. Many schools today indoctrinate them only in the theory of evolution. However, new knowledge about our world is giving rise to another alternative to evolution, in addition to Biblical creationism: Intelligent Design.The Age-Old Question
Where did we come from?
This question has occupied mans mind since ages past. For students still figuring out who they are, this inquiry is paramount. Then they hear in biology class that humans randomly evolved from a single-cell organism millions of years ago. This can color a students worldview, though evolutionists deny this.
When you teach [only Darwinism] as fact to students, God and the Bible become irrelevant, said James Perloff, author of Tornado in the Junkyard, recently on Beverly LaHaye Today. Thats what happened to me. I was an atheist in the 60s and 70s.
Scientific and Biblical Creationism: Scientific creationism asserts that a personal God created the universe, and everything in it, complete from the beginning, and He remains actively involved today. Natural processes follow fixed laws, and the world is decaying. Biblical creationism teaches a literal translation of the Scriptural creation account. Both views generally claim the earth is thousands of years old.
Intelligent Design: Using scientific findings, intelligent design says we can see evidence of a designer in the natural world. Complexity in biological systems (like the eye), for example, requires intelligence to get started and could not have arisen by chance. It makes no assertions about the person of the designer.
Darwinian evolution: Influenced by Charles Darwins Origin of the Species (1859), this theory claims life and its diversity (into various animals and humans) arose by chance and natural selection (survival of the fittest)with no outside interventionover billions of years.
I grew up believing the evolutionary story, William Dembski, Ph.D., whose father taught evolutionary theory in college, told Family Voice.
Then in 1988, Dembski attended a conference at Ohio State University on nature randomness, which addressed apparent lack of order in the world. The upshot was that we know what randomness isnt; we dont know what it is, he said. We understand randomness in terms of some sort of pattern or set of patterns. That led very naturally to the notion of design.
Thus, Dembski joined the growing Intelligent Design (ID) movement, which concludes from scientific evidence that design, or purpose, exists in our world. It presumes a designer. In contrast, naturalism holds that only the material world exists. Darwinian evolution asserts humans and animals came about by chance (random variation) and natural selection (survival of the fittest), with no other force (which Christians know as God) behind it.
As the author of The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Intelligent Design (InterVarsity Press, 1999), Dembski is a leader in the ID movement, and his credentials are impressive. He holds doctorates in mathematics, from the University of Chicago, and in philosophy, from the University of Illinois, Chicago, as well as a masters in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a senior fellow at Discovery Institutes Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture, which supports scientists who arent afraid to follow the evidence where it leads, according to its Web site. Until recently he directed the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Academia typically snubs intelligent design researchers and other critics of Darwinismas Dr. Patrick Briney knows. While pursuing his doctorate in microbiology at the University of Arkansas, professors told Briney if he wanted to earn his degree, he should stifle his opinions on creation.
Across the land, theyre censoring [Darwinisms critics], Briney told Family Voice, and not allowing them to finish their degreeswhich almost happened to me.
Interestingly, before he accepted evidence of design and creation, Briney believed strongly in Darwinian evolution. Today, he directs the Leadership Training Institute of America, which trains high school and college students in world-view warfare. Indeed, students who believe design theory have a difficult battle.The Unwritten Rule
The scientific community has established an unwritten rule, which limits science to naturalistic explanations only, explained John Calvert, J.D., a lawyer who holds a bachelors degree in geology. Claiming science cannot look at design because its outside the realm of naturalism, it wont even allow ID a foot in the door. But others disagree with the scientific communitys practice of limiting science (indeed, limiting knowledge) by shutting doors to what more could be known. And the battle takes place in public schools.
Mr. Calvert is also managing director of the Intelligent Design Network (IDN), which formed two years ago during the controversy over the Kansas State School Boards science teaching standards. In a legal opinion on teaching the origins of the universe, life and species, available on IDNs Web site, he analyzes the science communitys use of the rule.
Two years ago, the Kansas State Board of Education changed its science standards to allow teachers to discuss the logical explanations of science, rather than only the natural ones. That is, it broadened what teachers may discuss. It did not, as some media erroneously reported, kick evolution out of the schools. Concerned Women for America of Kansas Director Judy Smith was in the middle of this battle for academic freedom. She also spoke at IDNs June 2001 conference.
Because of the boards decision, the media painted Kansas as backwards. For example, last year the American Academy for the Advancement of Science graded Kansas with an F+ for broadening its science standards. After a vicious public relations campaign, foes of academic freedom took over the school board. In last Augusts election, chairman Linda Holloway, who has 20 years of public education experience and helped establish Kansas students freedom to learn, was replaced by a real estate agent.
All I want is honest science, said Mrs. Holloway. Along with Judy Smith, she is educating the public in preparation for the 2002 state school board election. Were looking for candidates willing to serve children rather than agendas, said Mrs. Smith.
But the opposition is determined. Jack Krebs of the Kansas Citizens for Science insists ID is not scientific, but religious. He has helped keep his states science standards strictly naturalistic. Creationism and design theory are banned.The Science Behind Design
Actually, ID theory has no commitment to any interpretation of the Scripture, clarified Dr. Dembski. Whereas, the doctrine of creation asks not only for a designer, but for the [material] source of the very stuff that is designed.
Philosophically and theologically, [ID] does not make nearly as strong a claim as creationism. [ID] says purpose and intelligence are fundamental to our understanding of the world.
Some Christians might believe ID is too secular, but the theory doesnt close any doors as to the nature of the designer. It simply argues design can be detected in the natural world.
Darwinists believe intelligence and purpose are not the starting point, but the end product of blind evolutionary processes, said Dembski. Were asking: Do natural causes have the wherewithal to produce the complex structures we see? The design theorist says, No.
Dr. Ken Miller takes an opposing viewpoint. He argues this is not positive evidence for design; its a negative argument against evolution. Miller teaches biology at Brown University and has written Finding Darwins God (Cliff Street Books, 1999) and many textbooks. He said Darwinian evolution is the prevalent teaching in the schools of biology [because] its the scientific consensus. He asserts that theories must win the battle of ideas in the scientific community to get into the classroom.
The advocates of intelligent design dont seem to be willing to do that, claimed Miller. They dont go to the scientific meetings [or] publish scientific papers. They do publish books, but publishers will publish a book without worrying about peer review.
If [design theorist Michael] Behe [were] able to say I go to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) every year; I present paper after paper; no one wants to listen to me; they censor me, [it would be one thing]. But thats not the case at all.
Quite the contrary, Dr. Michael Behe told Family Voice. He and Miller wrote a joint letter this year to the American Society for Cell Biology and the ASBMB, of which they are members, proposing a debate. Other than an acknowledgment of the receipt of our letter, we never received a response, said Behe. He has a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and currently teaches biology at Pennsylvanias Lehigh University. He is also a senior fellow at Discovery Institute.
In addition to being unacknowledged by his own society, editors of scientific journals rejected manuscripts he submitted without even reviewing them. [They] remarked that intelligent design is not science, so they would not even consider publishing a manuscript, noted Behe. [But] I have published peer-reviewed manuscripts on design in philosophy of science journals.
Further, the Free Press sent out the manuscript [of my 1996 book Darwins Black Box] to five scientists. Four endorsed publication. In it, Dr. Behe analyzes numerous biochemical systems in the body, from vision to blood clotting. He describes how they are irreducibly complex and, therefore, couldnt have arisen by chance.
Clearly, there is more to science than what what most students are allowed to learn.Learn the Dispute
Nearly everyone has strong opinions on whether students education should include design theory and creationism.
Its appalling that we keep students ignorant, Warren Nord, Ph.D., director of the Program on Humanities and Human Values at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told Family Voice. Although Nord has not settled his own opinion of design and Darwinian evolution, he believes students should receive a classical liberal educationthat is, to understand various viewpoints in the larger culture.
Even 91 U.S. senators agreed science curriculum should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions. So stated an amendment proposed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) to the education bill introduced in the current session of Congress. Phillip Johnson, University of California, Berkeley, law professor and author of The Wedge of Truth (InterVarsity Press, 2000), helped provide the amendments language. Many consider him the leader of the ID movement.Do Your Homework
While we wait for science standards to catch up, students and parents can fill in the blanks on their own.
Withholding information about the design/evolution debate does students a disservice.
Whenever you shut down conversation, commented Dembski, thats asking for students to be indoctrinated.
Youth want to buck the status quo, and Darwinism is totally status quo. Its a monopoly enforced in an authoritarian way. I dont think the younger generation is going to put up with it.
Thats how Casey Luskin and his friends reacted. Casey recently completed his masters thesis in geology at the University of California, San Diego. With three others, he started the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center in 1999 to initiate dialogue on design theory. Compared to the academic elite, students tend to be more open to discussion, said Casey. The vision of IDEA is to establish similar groups in high schools and other universities.
Mom and Dad also play a key role. Parents are students first educators, noted CWA consultant Rita Thompson, a school board member for the Fairfax County, Virginia, public schools. With so much available material, parents can fill in the gaps in their childrens education. Like Kyndel, whose story opens this article, many young people are using their knowledge to be witnesses in their schools.
God is using this [debate] to bring people to know Him better, commented IDNs John Calvert, citing
Evolutionists deny any connection between Darwinism and the decline in morality. But the growing acceptance of the most inhumane acts performed in the name of science trace back to Darwinism. Pick up any newspaper, and you will see the subtle influence.
|How You Can Help|
Pray design theorists will find open doors to the science community to publicize their research. |
Praise God for the wisdom He has given researchers to discover His hand in our world.
Act Talk to your children about what they learn in science class; supplement their education with materials on design theory.
CWAs Judy Smith emphasizes the definition of science as important to the debate. Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary defines it as the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding. And theres much more to know in science than what students currently hear. To receive a complete education and to improve critical thinking, they need to understand the debate. Science should open doors, not close minds.
Its hard to keep ideas down, said Dembski. Eventually, this strategy of censorship, isolation and indoctrination will backfire.
More from September/October 2001 Family Voice
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