Re: [asa] Darwin's belief (was: Cameron- question of Adam)

From: Austerberry, Charles <cfauster@creighton.edu>
Date: Mon Jun 29 2009 - 00:00:11 EDT

Thanks, Cameron, for your reply.

I like most of your recommendations about science teaching. I guess I'm
already teaching in a manner that might be acceptable to a least some ID
advocates, in that I tend to emphasize how speculative are our
speculations about earliest origins (chemical evolution, first cells,
etc.). I spend very little time anyway on those stages of evolution
because I'd rather spend more time discussing other aspects of molecular
and cellular biology (the advertised content of my courses). Certainly
evolution is important, especially when comparing phylogenetic groups of
eukaryotic unicellular organisms (e.g. the protists) where lots of
mutational diversification has accumulated in their genomes over
millions of years.

I like most of your recommendations for science teaching, except for the
following:

1) I think evolution should be taught earlier (to younger students) than
you think it should be taught.

2) ID is one, but certainly not the only, theoretical framework
prompting one to seek functions for all DNA sequences, including
(especially !) sequences without currently known functions.

3) Re. Guillermo Gonzalez, I think his ID-friendly work - on the rarity
of planets where intelligent beings could evolve and be located where
they would be able to learn about the origins and evolution of the
universe through astronomy - is fascinating. I'm no astronomer and
certainly cannot judge whether he should, or should not, have been
granted tenure at ISU, but I do think Hector Avalos and others among
Gonzalez's critics acted inappropriately and unfairly. Avalos was
probably motivated by his own personal journey away from what he now
considers to be very misguided Christian fundamentalism. Happily, I
predict that Gonzalez will do great things at Grove City College. But
note also that other astronomers who are Christians manage somehow to be
faithful public witnesses to Christ without getting caught up in
controversy, and I personally do not think they are shrinking back in
fear. Owen Gingerich comes to mind.

4) Re. Francis Collins, he is not the most sophisticated when it comes
to philosophy or cosmology, but I think he would very ably defend his
rejection of ID when it comes to biology. If he were to publish a
review of Behe's Edge of Evolution, you might be presented with a more
complete explanation of what's wrong with Behe's brand of ID. As I've
said before, I consider Behe to be much better informed than some other
ID biologists (Jonathan Wells, for example), and I appreciate Behe's
efforts and honesty, but I don't think he makes compelling arguments in
either of his ID books.

Best wishes.

CFA

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Received on Mon Jun 29 00:00:56 2009

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