May 14, 2001

Lectures, Articles, and Debates

I was on the road lecturing this past week. I spent last weekend at the Christian Medical and Dental Association of Canada, teaching the Intelligent Design position and the Wedge strategy to a medical audience. Then, after a few days touring with my wife in the Winnipeg area, I few on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to speak at the annual convention of the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania. This remarkable gathering annually attracts several thousand homeschooling parents and their children. When I was a young parent thirty years ago, it would never have occurred to me that parents could educate their children effectively at home. Now I am convinced that home schooling is the best way to go for many families. The children I met at the convention were just marvelous. They love their education, love their parents, are inquisitive and sociable, and are extremely well-behaved. They seem to avoid the usual teenage rebellious period, probably because they are not socialized by a teenage culture but by their own families. Christian home schooling families are mostly enthusiastic creationists/IDers (which is why I was invited to speak), and they understand the issues. Their young people are going to out-perform the students who are going through our miserable public educational system, and many of them will grow up to be intellectual leaders. The best estimates are that between 1.2 million and 1.6 million children are now being home schooled in the USA. That means that the prospects for the Intelligent Design movement in the next generation are very bright indeed. There also seemed to be quite an interest in the RealScience-4-Kids curriculum being developed by ARN for the homeschool market.

Favorable newspaper coverage of Intelligent Design has continued. The Tacoma News Tribune published a three-part series growing out of my lecture in Tacoma a couple of weeks ago. It included an article on teachers who are challenging Darwinian dogmatism and also a piece by a high school sophomore praising a teacher who makes science more interesting by teaching Intelligent Design as an alternative to Darwinism. I only hope this well-meaning student doesn't get the teacher in trouble with the Darwinist thought-police.

Finally, the major event of the week was a debate at California State University Fullerton between paleontologist Niles Eldredge of the New York Museum of Natural History and Biola University philosophy professor John Mark Reynolds. I had several independent reports of the event, and I consider it a model of the kind of debate I want to see Wedge members engage in. Eldredge is a major figure in Darwinian science, the co-author with Stephen Jay Gould of the major papers advocating "punctuated equilibria" as the cure for some of Darwinism/s notorious problems with the fossil record. The debate was courteous and informative for the hundreds who packed the hall (hundreds more were turned away at the door). John Mark Reynolds took the high ground of freedom of thought, advocating that scientists (and the rest of us) should be allowed to follow the evidence where it leads instead of being constrained by materialist dogma. That was a pretty difficult position for Eldredge to dispute, and merely by agreeing to discuss it he tended to accept the premise that Intelligent Design is a legitimate intellectual position worthy of a place at the academic high table. The important thing in such a debate is not that the ID side necessarily overwhelms the opposition. Indeed we prefer not to embarrass those major evolutionary scientists who (unlike Gould and Dawkins) are at least willing to face the public in a debate conducted on fair terms. We present Intelligent Design as a reasonable position that is consistent with the evidence, and that is all we have to do to gain our objective. When we can get the right questions on the table for public debate on even terms, Darwinism will self-destruct because of its own logical and evidentiary flaws. That is why the Darwinists cannot afford to retreat an inch from their increasingly absurd position that there is no controversy to teach.

Copyright 2001 Phillip E. Johnson. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 5.14.01

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