Everet Yi, one of the ACLU team in the aforementioned debate, responded to me via email, to the post on the recent ACLU-vs-IDEA debate on ID. I’ve updated that original post with an addendum, and am putting up his response here as well.
Hello, my name is Everet Yi, currently a student at Cornell. I came upon the your blog post commenting upon the recent ID debate between the ACLU and the IDEA Club.
I felt that as one of the participants of the debate and president of the Cornell ACLU, I would like to clarify a few points. First of all, I am not a scientist nor an expert in biology, chemistry, physics, and etc. I am a student of Government (Political Science) and Asian Studies. My partner is also a Government major.
As you may or may not know, the Cornell American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fights for issues ranging from religious liberty to anti-death penalty advocacy to decriminalization of our drug laws. We are not a single issue advocacy group like the IDEA (Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness) Club, but a multi-faceted organization that advocates for a broad range of civil liberties issues. IDEA Club’s sole purpose is Pro-ID advocacy. They have the luxury of spending every single minute of their meetings discussing ID, while the Cornell ACLU does not.
Because of the ACLU’s background, we come from a more political science and law orientated perspective, rather then a scientific view. Perhaps, this was an issue that another organization should have taken to debate the IDEA CLub; however, there is no other organization on campus that really deals with religious liberty. Moreover, the IDEA Club approached us asking to debate them again. The Cornell ACLU believes tht having a dialogue and a discussion is important in educating people about civil liberties, along with making them aware of these issues.
Additionally, I feel compelled to defend my honor. I read the post and it criticized me for my weak arguments in tying ID to a religious view. First of all, my debater and I had an agreement that she would show that ID is a religious ideology, while I would talk about the legal and constitutional aspect of teaching ID in Science classrooms. After all the debate’s title was “Should Intelligent Design be Taught in Public Schools (Science Curriculum)” and not “Is Intelligent Design a Science?”
Second, we took into consideration of our audience. This wasn’t a scientific conference, nor a baptist convention. Our audience were students from Cornell who were interested in this subject. We framed and tailored our arguments to suit the needs of our audience. For example, we would try to discredit ID, by showing the hypocrisy of its leader like Michael Behe and shining light on the Wedge Strategy. We went for a more political approach.
We didn’t want to get “trapped” into arguing the flaws of evolution nor the specific intricasies of intelligent design because bluntly put, that was our achillie’s heel. So we talked about ID in general terms like how one cannot hypothesize and predict an outcome through ID, while emphasizing at the same time that we should teach our children critical thinking skills and not just faith. Like I said, we didn’t go into irreducible complexity and etc because one we were thinking of the makeup of our audience and we wanted to emphasize the political aspect and not get trapped.
Finally, we compared ID to creationism and its similarities.
If this debate was happening at a scientific conference, we would have tailored our arguments accordingly. Most likely, we would have refused to debte because we wouldn’t be the most qualified. But at Cornell, there isn’t an group that specifically is an only anti-ID group. The only thing that comes close to it are the ACLUers.
Thanks for taking your time to read this response. I just felt that I needed to clarify a few things. David and you aren’t the average Joe. You guys are highly informed and educated on the subject of Intelligent Design. However, most people are not like you guys. Most people are busy with their lives and can’t afford to concentrate on certain issues. I hope you keep that in mind. Thanks!