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At University of Arizona, a "Face Off"on Intelligent Design?

We were delighted to discover that students at the University of Arizona are getting a well-rounded education. "Evolution, Intelligent Design Face Off at Humanities Panel," reports the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Hey great, finally a serious academic institution is taking the time to make sure kids hear both sides of the evolution debate! Reading down the article we noticed only a couple of things they might have been done differently and better.

The panel at UA included an evolutionary biologist and two religious studies profs, but no one actually representing the ID side. Only ID critics were allowed to participate. Well, that is disappointing. It's like staging a "debate" between the Democratic and Republican contenders for a particular public office but inviting only the Democratic candidate, joined on stage by his campaign manager and chief of staff.

Also, no one on the panel even seemed to know what intelligent design means. Maybe that sounds like a quibble. Professor Karen Seat confused ID with Young Earth Creationism, explaining to students and colleagues that it was all about a defense of "the traditional, literal meaning of the Bible." In fact, whatever else may be said for or against ID, it's clearly at odds with a literal reading of the Bible.

Professor Lucas Mix, who's an ordained Episcopal priest, got tired of paying lip service to the idea of a "face off" on intelligent design and spoke instead about "creationism," which, again, means something very different. Joanna Masel, the evolutionary biologist, summed up with a non sequitur: "Once you pick out a theology that is incompatible with evolution, it becomes incompatible with all science." She managed simultaneously to equate all Darwin-doubting with religion (tell that to David Berlinski, Thomas Nagel, Jerry Fodor and other agnostic/atheist Darwin-doubters) and to warn students that giving up faith in Darwin means ineluctably stepping back into the scientific dark ages.

We wonder if Dr. Masel intended her comment as an observation or a threat. Could a student hope to make passing science grades at UA if he was not an orthodox Darwinist? Or would making such an admission about yourself mean an automatic F -- in, let's say, electrical engineering -- since the student has rejected "all science"? Maybe when it comes to entertaining heretical ideas about evolution, they've got a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy at UA.

Come to think of it, this story isn't as encouraging as the headline would initially lead you believe.