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by Dennis Wagner

Number Twenty-Nine, April 18, 2003

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A Panel Discussion on The Theory of Evolution

with Michael Ruse, Bruce Tiffney and Jonathan Wells

Recorded at the University of California, Santa Barbara 2002
Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes.

Michael Ruse is one of the most entertaining Darwinists I know. He also enjoys a good fight, has a good grasp on the intellectual issues, and is not afraid to take his fellow Darwinists to task when he thinks they are stepping out of line. So what might appear to be an unfair 2-1 advantage in this panel discussion on the theory of evolution soon turns in to an entertaining three-ring circus, as Ruse sometimes sides with naturalist Bruce Tiffney, and at other times finds himself in the corner of Intelligent Design proponent Jonathan Wells.

"Each one of us has the freedom and responsibility to come to our own terms with evolutionary theory and that is best done in an atmosphere of open, respectful, and spirited exchange that the university offers"....Thus starts this fascinating panel discussion between three scholars who have devoted their lives to the success or demise of Darwinian evolution.

Ruse, Tiffney, and Wells bring their collective intellect, expertise, disagreements, and humor to bear on three important themes in the origins debate:

  1. the nature, aims and limitations of science
  2. the contemporary status of evolution as a scientific theory
  3. the political dimensions of contemporary discussion and debates of evolution in American education

Michael Ruse is currently the Lucyle T. Werkmeist Professor of Philosophy at Florida State. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol. He is the author of many books and articles on Darwin and evolutionary biology. He is also the founder and editor of the journal Biology & Philosophy, and editor of the "Cambridge University Press Series in the Philosophy of Biology"

Bruce Tiffney is currently Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. in Paleobotany from Harvard. His special research interest centers on the study of fossil fruits and seeds of flowering plants including patterns of plant geography, plant/animal interactions, and broad scale evolution.

Jonathan Wells is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in Seattle. He earned his first Ph.D. from Yale University in religious studies, where he wrote a book about the nineteenth-century Darwinian controversies. He earned his second Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of California at Berkeley, where he also did post-doctoral research. He is author of the book Icons of Evolution.

Moderated by Jim Proctor, Professor of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Panel Questions:

  1. What is science and why should we accept it?
  2. What are your personal metaphysical beliefs and do these beliefs influence the way you do science?
  3. Do you think that evolutionary theory is scientific and what about its rivals?
  4. Tim Berra's book, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, uses Corvette automobiles to illustrate the evolution of organisms through Darwinian descent with modification. In Darwinian theory, however, organisms evolve solely through natural processes such as selection and variation. How do Darwinists know that living things likewise are not produced by intelligent design?
  5. Do any of you have connections to scientific, religious, or other potentially relevant organizations that might lend political support to your position?

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