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Ignorance Is Bliss When It Comes to Many Opponents of ID

A student at Southern Methodist University (SMU) has provided more evidence for why there needs to be events like tonight's Darwin v. Design conference on college campuses. In today's campus newspaper, anthropology student Ben Wells offers a jeremiad against the purported evils of Discovery Institute and intelligent design. Unfortunately, his article is so incredibly off-base that all he ends up doing is displaying his complete ignorance of the topic. Not that he is alone. Last week, journalist Lee Cullum wrote a similarly ill-informed opinion piece for the Dallas Morning News. The problem for many critics of intelligent design is that they are so sure they are right, they don't bother to read the people they are denouncing. As a result, they end up attacking a straw man rather than refuting the actual claims made by ID proponents.

That is why we get such inane coments as:

this [Discovery] Institute, which is on our campus, this weekend does not seek to debate ideas in an academic, scientific or even rational setting... The claims they make, claims based purely on religious or supernatural grounds, can NOT be tested in the material world.

Mr. Wells alleges that Discovery Institute "does not seek to debate ideas in an academic, scientific or even rational setting." That must be why we invited the biology, geological sciences, and anthropology departments at his own university to send representatives to our event tonight to share the platform and present their objections to intelligent design. (They declined.) That also must be why ID scholars write academic books for such publishers as Michigan State University Press and Cambridge University Press and technical articles for such science journals as Protein Science and the Journal of Molecular Biology. (For a bibliography of peer-reviewed and peer-edited scholarly publications supportive of intelligent design, see here.) If Mr. Wells truly believes that academic publications--and invitations to debate other scholars on college campuses--somehow constitutes proof that we do not want to "debate ideas in an academic, scientific or even rational setting," then I wonder what type of evidence would persuade him otherwise?!

As for his assertion that the claims made by ID proponents are "based purely on religious or supernatural grounds," I guess that is why Michael Behe (a practicing biochemist) devotes most of his book Darwin's Black Box to detailing the intricate biochemical evidence of design; or why Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez (the latter a practicing astronomer) go into such detail about the cosmological data supporting design in The Privileged Planet; or why philosopher of science Stephen Meyer presents in such detail the empirical evidence relating to the development of new genetic information in his peer-reviewed biology journal article on "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories." Observational evidence supplies one of the foundations of the design inference in nature. (Also contrary to Mr. Wells, intelligent design is testable in precisely the same ways as Darwinian evolution. For more information, see here and here and here).

Alas, I seriously doubt whether either Mr. Wells or Ms. Cullum has read any of the numerous academic and scientific publications written by scientists and other scholars supportive of intelligent design. I e-mailed both of them asking what they have read by ID proponents, but thus far I have received no response. Their silence is telling. For many critics of ID, it is all too clear that ignorance is bliss. Rather engage in a genuine exchange of ideas, they are content with attacking straw men and tilting at windmills.