May 21, 2001

Lectures Far and Wide

I had a particularly enjoyable experience this past Saturday evening speaking at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sacramento, California.  I was the first invited guest speaker for their new apologetics ministry forum, with its general title of "Loving God With All Your Mind." As the series title implies, the aim is to encourage clear thinking, and to prepare the congregation not just to make arguments but to understand the reasoning for and against the arguments. This is the first time I have been invited to speak to such a program at an African-American church, and I felt greatly honored to be the inaugural speaker.  It is a huge church in a new building, with an auditorium seating 3000. There were about 250 present for the first apologetics forum, which organizers considered a good turnout for a new activity.  I was favorably impressed with the intellectual quality and generous spirit evidenced in the discussion, and much enjoyed the exhilarating experience of speaking to a "Black Baptist" church audience that punctuated my points with encouraging comments.  When the moderator asked me for a final comment after the question period,  I said that African-American churches can have a very important influence over worldview questions if they prepare themselves for the challenge. That's exactly what the organizers of the forum have in mind, so we were all definitely on the same page. I've always wanted the Wedge to be a big tent, and I think the tent just got bigger. If I get more invitations of the same kind, you can be sure I will accept them.

Since the publication of his splendid book Icons of Evolution, Jonathan Wells has emerged as a popular lecturer.  So far this month he has spoken to a large audience at the University of Washington, addressed a workshop on family issues in Washington, D.C., and lectured on the "icons" at Pennridge, Pennsylvania, where a high school senior named Joe Baker has been getting national media attention for challenging the errors in the biology textbooks.  Jonathan also lectured on textbook errors at the annual meeting of the British Columbia Science Teachers' Association, where he was introduced by the group's President.  A Canadian Wedge member who was present remarked that he had never seen the science teachers so eager to rush forward for copies of a speaker's handouts.  I wonder how long the Darwinist propagandists will be able to stick to their line that "we can't teach the controversy, because there is no controversy to teach."

The prime event of the past week was the "Banned in Burlington" teach-in at the Seattle area high school where science teacher Roger DeHart has come under attack for "teaching the controversy" rather than sticking to the official story about evolution in the textbooks.  A mostly supportive crowd cheered DeHart along with Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman, Gonzaga University law professor David DeWolf, and Jonathan Wells.  DeWolf made the point that even a law review article taking the Darwinist line agreed that DeHart's teaching was within all legal boundaries.  The opposition was represented by some faculty from Western Washington University, who were driven to the fall-back position that learning about the textbook errors is "too sophisticated" a subject for high school students.  Of course the errors aren't corrected at the graduate school level either, and most evolutionary biology professors still seem to think that the non-existent early embryonic similarities are "just what our theory predicts."

A High Schooler Proves the Point

As I was writing this update, a friend sent this personal account:

"My 14 year old son Spencer (freshman in high school in Colorado Springs) recently completed a 'social issues' project entitled 'How Should Evolution Be Taught in the Public School Classroom?' His assignment included selecting a controversial topic, reading a book, conducting an interview, watching a video, reading 5 magazine articles and 5 news articles, preparing a complete research notebook, and giving a 50-minute presentation to his class and administering a test on his presentation.

"When he presented his topic to the teacher, the teacher warned him that he might not be able to find enough material on the topic and suggested "State Water Rights" instead. Spencer persisted and the teacher consented.  Spencer read Icons of Evolution, interviewed Jonathan, watched the Behe lecture video, and read 5 articles in the Touchstone magazine. He presented two of the Icons to his class (embryos and Miller-Urey) using the school's biology textbook as an example. He also presented concepts of ID and ended with the punchline 'let's teach the controversy, let's not censor information'. Afterwards the teacher asked many questions and told Spencer it was a very difficult subject and he had given one of the best presentations he had ever seen. He was also impressed with the professional backup (Icons book and Behe video). He wanted to know if Intelligent Design was being taught in any other schools.

"So when we are fed the line that 'the truth is too sophisticated for high school students', let's respond with real stories and real data to the contrary."  Amen.

Newspaper Story in Georgia

Finally, there was another favorable news story on Sunday, May 20, in the Athens, Georgia, Banner-Herald.  This isn't a big-city paper, but it is read by nearly everyone at the University of Georgia.  The irony at that university is that the University's most prestigious scientist, Dr. Henry F. Schaefer, is an Intelligent Design supporter.  He is constantly under attack from faculty ideologues with far lesser standing as scientific researchers.  No matter how much renown your research has earned, to the Darwinist mentality you aren't really a scientist unless you embrace materialism, or at least agree not to expose the difference between "science as unprejudiced investigation," and "science as applied materialist philosophy."

Copyright 2001 Phillip E. Johnson. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 5.21.01

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