Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vatican Evolution Congress to Exclude Intelligent Design and Creationism

The Catholic News Service reports that an evolution-debate sponsored by the Vatican will not include supporters of intelligent design nor creationism. Marc LeClerc, a Jesuit Father and professor of philosophy at the Gregorian said that the organizers "wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific."

This is interesting because Pope Benedict XVI became famous in the Catholic Church as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for his support of intelligent design.

For more information, see the full article here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

IDURC Announces 2008 Casey Luskin Graduate Award

Monday, July 14, 2008:

The Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center (IDURC) is proud to present the 2008 Casey Luskin Graduate Award, presented annually to a deserving college graduate for excellence in student advocacy of intelligent design.

The recipient of the 2008 Casey Luskin Graduate Award will remain anonymous for the protection of the recipient. The many students, professors, and scientists who have been denied degrees or tenure and removed from positions and jobs for no other reason than acceptance of—or even sympathy to—intelligent design theory is very telling of the importance of keeping these bright young minds out of the crosshairs of those opposed to open-minded investigation and critical thought.

The recipient of this year’s award is a graduate earning a degree in history. This student has demonstrated great courage in promoting intelligent design and academic freedom, working previously with the IDURC and also serving as an IDEA Club president. The recipient will receive a certificate of achievement, a $100 award, and an autographed copy of Dr. Michael J. Behe’s newest book, The Edge of Evolution: the Search for the Limits of Darwinism.

The Casey Luskin Graduate Award was established in 2005 and in 2007 its name was changed from the “IDURC Graduate Award” to the “Casey Luskin Graduate Award.” The award is named for Mr. Casey Luskin, a graduate of the University of California at San Diego, who was the first student truly to step out of his comfort zone as an undergrad and take a stand for intelligent design—a stand that would be seen across the nation. His founding of the Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center has been a great step forward for the intelligent design movement and, more importantly, for academic freedom everywhere. Today, Luskin continues his work with the ID movement as a lawyer and legal analyst for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington. Students everywhere today are indebted to the work that Luskin has done.

Each July, the IDURC will present the Casey Luskin Graduate Award to an outstanding student who has just completed his or her undergraduate degree and has demonstrated exemplary dedication to both the rigorous investigation and the widespread promotion of intelligent design. This year’s recipient joins the recipients from past years, since the award was initiated in 2005, in demonstrating such excellence.

Much thanks needs to be given to the board of directors at the IDURC for their work in preparing this year’s award and for their efforts year round. A very heartfelt thank you also goes to Dr. Michael J. Behe of Lehigh University for his support of the work we do at the IDURC and for his autographing and inscribing The Edge of Evolution for this award.

As always, I must thank Mr. Dennis Wagner and Access Research Network for the donation of the $100 prize money and for their continuous and generous financial support of the IDURC.

Most sincerely,

Samuel S. Chen
Director,
Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center

Baylor University Fires President John M. Lilley

After just two-and-a-half of this five-year contract, Baylor University President John M. Lilley will no longer be at the reins of the school.

The Baylor University Board of Regents decided this morning to fire President Lilley. The plan was a gradual phase out, with the new president being instated in January 2009. President Lilley has rejected that plan and so a search for a new president will begin immediately.

This news comes on the heels of Provost Randall O'Brien's departure from Baylor to become the 22nd president of Carson-Newman College in Tennessee.

John M. Lilley was the 13th president of Baylor University, being elected unanimously by the Board of Regents in 2005. He took over for current Mercer University president William Underwood, who was the interim between Lilley and current Houston Baptist University president Robert B. Sloan, Jr. Lilley was formerly the university president at University of Nevada at Reno and at Penn State University at Erie.

Lilley was brought to Baylor to help the university reach its goal of a $2 billion endowment by the year 2012. Lilley was instrumental in helping the university reach the half-way milestone last year. However, other positions that Lilley took—-including recent issues with the shutting down of Dr. Robert Marks’ Evolutionary Informatics Lab and the denial of tenure to 12 or 30 professors in 2008—-put him at odds with both the university’s Faculty Senate and Board of Regents.

Baylor University named Regent Harold Cunningham the Acting President until an Interim President could be appointed.

For more information on President John Lilley’s removal, go here.
For information on Provost Randall O’Brien’s leaving, go here.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jindal Signs Louisiana Science Education Bill

Earlier this year, the Louisiana State House of Representatives passed the Louisiana Science Education Bill by an overwhelming vote of 93-4. The State Senate recently followed up that action by passing unanimously 35-0. This past week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the bill into law.

What exactly is the Louisiana Science Education Act? This law allows for the following:

  • Upon the request of a local school board, Louisiana’s State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is to

…allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

  • Teachers are permitted, if authorized by the school board, to "…use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner."
  • Teachers are required to first "…teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system."
  • Louisiana’s State Board of Education reserves the right to veto any supplemental materials they deem as inappropriate.
  • The inclusion of religion is not permitted under this law. Section 1D of the act states that it:

…shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

This law is long overdue. It appropriately does not mention intelligent design, creationism, the Bible, etc. but it merely calls for the freedom to think critically and dialogue on a very important, yet often misunderstood, issue. This act protects teachers from the harassment that often comes when the subject of evolution is broached. The act also provides legal clarity on the issue of teaching controversial issues such as, but not limited to, evolution.

Yet, as to be expected, there are opponents of this new law. The New York Times referred to it as "retrograde" and an "assault on Darwin." Others have vowed to watch the enactment of this law like the hawk. All this because the evolution lobby fears what academic freedom and critical thinking might do to our students.

Their opposition, however, apparently isn't supported by the people of Louisiana. With bipartisan support for this bill, only four state representatives voted against it. Furthermore, Jindal currently has a 77% approval rating in the state.

A round of applause, please, for Governor Jindal and the Louisiana State Legislature.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ben Stein wins Johnson Award

Ben Stein, the driving force behind the new film to be released in April Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, will be awarded the 2008 Phillip Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, Biola University announced today. Here is the press release:

Ben Stein Wins Money from Intelligent Design Community

La Mirada, Calif. -- Ben Stein, known for his lead role in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day and his Comedy Central show Win Ben Stein’s Money, believes in liberty and truth. In recognition of this, Biola University’s masters in science and religion program will present him with the 2008 Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth on March 27, a month before the release of his major controversial motion picture, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

In his new movie Expelled, Stein wonders whether humans were designed by an intelligent being or whether we were simply the result of an ancient natural accident. In his search for an answer, he discovers an elitist scientific establishment that punishes the scientific proponents of Intelligent Design because they reject some of the claims of Darwin’s theory of evolution. “Big science in this area of biology has lost its way,” says Stein. “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it’s anti-science.”

In light of Stein’s contribution to the pursuit of liberty and truth, particularly as it relates to the field of Intelligent Design, he is being honored with the 2008 Johnson Award. The award ceremony will feature premiere clips from the forthcoming movie, the personal appearance of scientists who were expelled from their jobs because they are sympathetic to Intelligent Design, and will include a brief address by Stein.

Biola University, a Christian university in Southern California, established the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth in 2004 to honor legal scholar and Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson, who was the award’s first recipient. The award recognizes Johnson’s pivotal role in advancing our understanding of design in the universe by opening up informed dissent to Darwinian and materialistic theories of evolution. British philosopher Antony Flew, once considered the most prominent defender of atheism in the English-speaking world, became the second recipient of this award in 2006 for his Socratic approach of “following the evidence where it leads” and abandoning atheism on account of design arguments.

Ben Stein is a lawyer, economist, former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator. He has acted and made guest appearances in numerous movies, TV series, and TV commercials. His part as the boring teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off was recently ranked as one of the fifty most famous scenes in American film.

Further details about the ceremony will soon be available at www.biola.edu/scienceandreligion.

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Biola University, founded in 1908, will celebrate 100 years of biblically centered Christian education on February 24. Located in La Mirada, Calif., on the border of LA and Orange Counties, Biola is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “National University,” which they consider the “major leagues” of higher education. Biola offers 145 academic programs through its seven schools, ranging from the B.A. to the Ph.D. For more information, visit www.biola.edu.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

God, Science, and the Presidential Campaign

Dr. John G. West, Associate Professor of Political Science and the Chairperson of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, recently wrote an article discussing science and faith and the current presidential campaign. The article is well written and worth reading.

West points out that the exclusion of religious people from science debates and discussions has led to more focus on faith and less focus on science in the presidential election. This is partially true. This exclusion has certainly helped fuel the focus on faith, but the intense focus on faith in any campaign can be better attributed to religion being a greater uniting factor of people than science is. People find more common ground in religious faith than they do in science. Of course, the exclusion of such people of faith from discussions involving science further fuels the focus on religion.

In conclusion, West writes:

Scientists have their blind spots just as much as any religious believer. If they genuinely want more discussion over science and public policy, they could start by inviting religious believers to join the conversation.

He is absolutely correct. Now we just wait and see if religious believers will be invited to join the conversation.

West's article can be found here.