Allen MacNeill’s summer session seminar on Evolution and Design: Is there a purpose in nature? has concluded, and the student papers have been submitted. They’re quite impressive indeed, and at least a couple of the papers reflect essays found in John Brockman’s Intelligent Thought.
They appear to follow several themes:
- E. Broaddus and J. Schaub echo a popular contemporary theory of cognitive science and the social evolution of man – that we are cognitively predisposed to view the world teleologically, and that religion overall might have its roots in altruism.
- E. Mathisen and J. Schlachet look at teleological predisposition across cultures, focusing on aspects of Judeo-Christian motivations and more easily-reconciled views from Eastern religions.
- G. Huang examines the quality of arguments from both sides, a la Robert Shapiro and Michael Behe, and makes the case for robust field conclusions as opposed to speculation. Perhaps Behe should read this one.
- And J. Bruno attempts to reconcile evolution and design by suggesting that Natural Selection is a tool of Intelligent Design, and that Creation can be seen still at work through Natural Selection today.
And it certainly appears that Allen met his goals of inspiring respectful but critical and well-thought analyses into questions pertaining to teleology and intelligent design, as well as cultural and religious conflicts with science. Kudos to that.
Equally important, I am glad to see that the vacuity and speculative nature of ID met with reasonable resistence in the class. That also should send a strong message to Cornell’s IDEA club, that their efforts will really never get anywhere without an actual ID research program (at least somewhere in the world) to base their claims that ID is science on. Whether that is even possible is a major question, of course, but one they must answer, or throw in the towel.