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Darwin vs. Design conference

A perspective from one group of students


Posted: 4/17/07

Considering the way in which the Discovery Institute describes its mission in all of its articles and speeches, one would think that it really does support some sort of science, some sort of new-age way to learn about the world and that all it really wants to do is simply make our education more complete.

However, when one actually attends the "conferences," or as I like to call them, "indoctrination seminars," its true face is shown.

Five of my brave friends and I decided to take an informed and conscious stand against the Discovery Institute on Friday. We decided to silently protest the "debate," which was called "Darwin vs. Design," though they failed to have anyone representing the Darwinian viewpoint, by disseminating facts and information regarding the institute.

I did some research and typed up a flier that consisted of nothing more than quotes from the institute's own policy paper, known as the Wedge Document. The following are the most profound quotes, which we distributed, found in this document:

- "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialistic worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

- Under "Governing Goals:" "To replace materialistic explanations with theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

- Under "Twenty Year Goals:" "To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral, and political life."

One look at these quotes indicates the true goals behind the Institute's little conference.

They are not teaching science, but instead are preaching religion as science. Now, none of us has any problems with Creationism or Intelligent Design, so long as it is understood that it is personal belief and not science. Teach it in history class. Teach it in religion class. But do not teach it in science class, because science is the study of the natural world and thus cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, who operates and exists in the supernatural world.

So, armed with these quotes and with some posters which displayed questions regarding the fact that if ID is true, why are there so many unintelligent "designs" present, we entered McFarlin Auditorium.

We began handing out fliers and were receiving mixed reviews - until a tall, lanky, and toothy man jittered his way over to us and demanded to know who was handing out these fliers. We all took responsibility, and he began ripping the flyers out of our hands, saying that we could not distribute anything of the sort. I told him we paid to go to school here and that we were students who could walk anywhere on our campus, and that it just so happened that we walked into McFarlin, and it also just so happened that we had fliers to distribute.

He didn't take too kindly to that, and in two minutes' time, we had two police officers who all of a sudden had a real job to do watching us instead of sleeping the night away in the back. I'm sure if we had been distributing thank-you notes expressing our gratitude for the institute coming to our campus, he would've given us a warmer reception.

Then a hall manager spoke to us about being respectful to those who paid to use the auditorium. I replied that the next time I want to buy some personal freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom to protest, I would just rent out McFarlin and start making up rules.

Anyway, the event got underway and the six of us felt as though we were in church. The first speaker was a journalist (who happened to be oh-so-qualified on the topic at hand) who told us that he used to be an atheist (I think he meant "a theist," judging from his fervor) because of biology class. But then when he started trying to understand science (which happens so often in the halls of journalism school), he realized that science had come to its limit in being able to explain the world around us and that it was a lesser leap of faith to believe in God than to believe in Darwin.

He also decided to preach about how he believed the world's creator and designer was the "God of the Bible," as he said. That's interesting, seeing as how he said nothing of the God of the Jews, Muslims and other religions; apparently Christianity's God is the only one we have to believe in. And his entire speech dealt with differentiating atheists from Christians, where he seemed to use the word atheist as a synonym for "Darwinist" or "evolutionist."

At this point, we were fed up with the sheer lack of science being discussed. (Remember, ID theorists claim to support a science, not a religion.) So we held up our signs. They bore questions such as, "Why do we have wisdom teeth if they do not fit our jaws?" and "Why did it take 20 species of elephant to go extinct to get two species that survived?" and "Why do the ribosomes (protein synthesizing machinery) in our mitochondria match those of bacteria?" to name a few.

Well, after holding up these signs for a while, the men on stage noticed and decided to answer one of them. They chose the last one, regarding ribosomes. Immediately, the only person on stage with any knowledge of biology, Michael Behe, took up the question.

His answer was that ID theory does not allow for explanations regarding interspecies commonalities such as those implied in the question.

In short, his answer was that he couldn't explain it with ID theory.

But then he went on, describing how a Creator may have given humans similar ribosomes for no good reason. His logic was that when one sees a car with a radio, one can ask how that radio got there and there are many explanations.

One such explanation was provided by Behe, and it was so very realistic: He said the radio could've fallen from an apartment and landed in the car, suggesting that a Creator could have simply thrown ribosomes all over the place, and they just landed in humans by chance. Very likely, indeed.

Over the course of the event, two of my friends decided to stand up slightly and move a row ahead. When they did, they were manhandled by SMU's finest officers and escorted out.

Good job, boys in blue. Way to stifle freedom of expression while disallowing people to stand up for two seconds. I'm glad you're keeping our campus safe.

The four of us decided to stay behind after receiving a text from our two friends letting us know they were safe. However, that was not the last text we received that night, because after that, my friend Mahmud and I began receiving hate text messages, telling us to "shove your sign up your ass" and to "shut the f*** up." All very Christian indeed.

The night was wrapped up when, somehow, one of our flyers made it to the front of the stage, where the journalist asked the other men on stage about the quote regarding the institute's true purpose (see first quote mentioned above) being that it wants to replace modern science with "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

To my shock, one of the men on stage said, "Yes that's true, and I don't see anything scandalous about that."

Nothing scandalous about trying to replace science with Christianity? Nothing scandalous about the fact that religion keeps being brought up during what is supposed to be a scientific conference? Clearly, the institute's dictionary must define the word "scandalous" differently from the dictionaries we own, because it sure appears to be pretty scandalous. And that sums up the night in question, after it ended with us being escorted out by the police.

My friends, if you care anything at all about this matter, then I would urge you to research it yourselves, as we did, and see who is giving you the information. The Discovery Institute has an agenda, and it is a very serious one. If it has its way, then in 20 years, it will "permeate our religious, cultural, moral, and political life."

Be warned, George Orwell, be warned.

Francis Goldshmid: Junior, Biology B.S., Chemistry B.A.

Nicolas Sanchez: Junior, Biology B.S., Italian minor

Jani Brackett: Junior, Biology B.S., German B.A.

Desiree Brooks: Sophomore, Biology B.S., Chemistry B.A.

Ati Nayeb: Junior, Phsycology major, Biology and Chemistry minors

Mahmud Shurafa: Biology and Spanish double major
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