Thursday, April 13, 2006


Cornell's ID Class

Allen MacNeill has announced he will teach a class on intelligent design at Cornell University this summer. The class has been welcomed by intelligent design activists.

"I'm not going to be bashing (intelligent design), but I'm also not going to be advocating it," says MacNeill, an evolutionary biologist who will teach the course. "I'm going to be using it — and evolutionary biology too — to think about these very complicated ideas."

Red State Rabble does not oppose courses at the college level that honestly explore intelligent design. We do oppose proselytizing.

We'll reserve judgement on the class until we learn more. MacNeill has a blog, The Evolution List, where he says:

Let me assure my faithful readers that I am not “teaching intelligent design” at Cornell Univesity this summer. Rather, I am offering a seminar course in which the participants (including me) will attempt to come to some understanding vis-a-vis the following:

As Ernst Mayr pointed out in his 1974 paper (”Teleological and Teleonomic: A New Analysis.” In Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume XIV, pages 91-17), it may be legitimate for evolutionary biologists to refer to adaptations as teleological. However, such adaptations have evolved by natural selection, which itself is NOT a purposeful process. Therefore, we have a fascinating paradox: purposefulness can evolve (as an emergent property) from non-purposeful matter (and energy, of course) via a process that is itself purposeless (as far as we can tell). This immediately suggests the following questions:

• Is there design or purpose anywhere in nature?
• If so, are there objective empirical means by which it can be detected and its existence explained?
• Can the foregoing questions be answered using methodological naturalism as an a priori assumption?
• What implications do the answers to these questions have for science in general and evolutionary biology in particular?

RSR read through a number, though not all, of MacNeill's posts and found them thoughtful. It might, just might, turn out to be an interesting course. If we were at Cornell, we might even sign up for it.


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