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Cornell President Misrepresents Intelligent Design And Delivers A Diatribe Against Academic Freedom

The President of Cornell stirred up a hornets nest when he spoke out against intelligent design last week. While he stopped short of trying ban it from campus science courses as has been tried at University of Idaho and Iowa State University, he definitely struck a blow against academic freedom. The IDEA Club at Cornell was quick to point out that the President really didn't know what ID is, or was willfully misleading with his characterizations of it.

This article from Inside Higher Ed is typically biased (refers to ID as a "sham"), though it does have some good comments from leaders of the IDEA Club at Cornell. William Provine provides us with an unfiltered view of the materialist's dogmatic clinging to naturalism. And, he is very adamant in defending a more open aproach to debate over ID, though he regards it as unscientific.

Provine said that he encourages students who believe in intelligent design to defend their views and to challenge his, which is that intelligent design “is anti-science” and that those who are trying to add it to the school curriculum in some way “are trying to teach religion in science classes.”

Evolution does pose a challenge for some students’ religious beliefs, Provine said, and that is why he believes it is under attack right now. “I find that evolution is the most effective engine of atheism ever invented by humans, and I think the creationists are really afraid of something,” he said.

Then there is this article from the Cornell Daily Sun. Provine is interviewed for this one and has some interesting comments about Rawlings monkeying with how he talks about the numbers from Provine's annual survey of biology students about their opinions on theories of origins.

Provine, referenced several times in the speech, said he was a puzzled by the remarks. “It’s not exactly clear to me what he’s saying in it,” he said.

He said that, when Rawlings discussed the poll of Provine’s class, the president used only last year’s figures. Rather than being typical, Provine said that in prior years 70 percent of his students believed in a “purpose-driven,” rather than mechanistic, evolution — 20 points higher than the number Rawlings cited, suggesting that the number of students who believe in one form or another of intelligent design taking the course has recently dropped sharply.

“I don’t see Cornell under any pressure from the I.D. people,” he said. He added that he did not believe it was a large problem nationally, either.


“To me, the teaching of I.D. in the public school system is flatly illegal, and no I’m not particularly worried about it,” he said. A bigger problem, he said, was teaching outdated evolutionary theories that had not been updated in decades.

“I would rather [Rawlings] try to get more classics in the high schools, rather than fighting I.D.,” Provine said. “More Plato, more Aristotle, more Thycudides.”

Provine also took issue with Rawlings’ implication that intelligent design does not have any place in a science classroom.

“I don’t have to teach creationism,” he said, “but the students raise the issue, then we’ll discuss them. I’m 100 percent in favor of that, discussing that in a science class. It’s my class.”