Thursday, April 19, 2007


Discovery's SMU Debate Dodge Exposed

For weeks we've been reading on the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views blog that "Darwinists" are cowards because they refused to debate the ID brain trust gathered at SMU for the Darwin vs. Design tent revival:

Despite all the public posturing about a debate, we've now learned that "Darwinist" students at SMU offered to debate the ID brain trust at the conference, but were turned down.

And the proof, like evidence in the Justice Dept. scandal over the firing of U.S. Attorneys who weren't loyal Bushies, is contained in e-mails that are now available online.

The first is from Ken Ueda, sophomore math, physics and philosophy major at SMU, to Sarah Levy of the Christian Legal Society, the group that sponsored the Discovery event at SMU:

I have heard that the Discovery Institute has supposedly invited some of the faculty of SMU to debate against intelligent design. I have also heard from members of the SMU faculty that none of them plan on attending so I was wondering if I may speak on their behalf. All I ask is for really a small amount of time on stage so I may refute their claims and I think that isn't too much to ask since the conference is 2 days and I'm sure they will have plenty of time to argue against me.

Here's the eventual reply from Discovery's Anika Smith (we have shortened her response for reasons of space without changing the meaning, but you can read the whole e-mail exchange here and decide for yourself):

It is true that we invited representatives from the anthropology, biology, and geology departments at SMU to debate our speakers as fellow scientists and peers... While I understand your desire to present your view for 15 minutes, the format does not allow the time or the patience for the audience to do so. I suggest that you attend the conference with your questions and really stick it to the speakers during the Q & A... hopefully the Q & A will be engaging and provocative."

Ueda replies:

Well that is strange because I believe the reporter from the Dallas Morning News revealed that the Q&A session will be pre-screened. If this is true, I wonder how is it even possible to "really stick it to the speakers" if they are able to dodge the more important questions.

Ueda reports that Smith did not respond to this last e-mail and he poses the following question: "So who's doing the censoring?"

Denied the opportunity to debate the ID theorists, the students printed up leaflets and posters and went to the conference anyway. Apparently the questions posed on those leaflets and posters were so provocative that Discovery tried to rip them from the student's hands, eventually calling SMU's finest to escort some from the conference hall.


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