SMU Reacts to Creationist Revival Meeting

We recently wrote that there would be a Discovery Institute Creationist Revival at SMU. We reported that a church group at Southern Methodist University was hosting a creationist film and a live presentation afterward by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

After that we posted Discovery Institute Incurs the Wrath of Zeus. That was about two articles at the Discoveroids’ blog discussing the glorious event. But so far we haven’t heard about what the folks at SMU thought of all this.

In the Daily Campus, SMU’s student newspaper, we found two articles of interest. We’ll give you the funnier one first. The author is a “staff writer,” presumably a student, and it’s titled Speakers challenge Darwin’s theory. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The screening of “Darwin’s Dilemma” on Thursday evening in the Hughes-Trigg Theater generated a lively discussion on the Darwinian Evolutionary theory. The documentary film brought a large crowd to the student center.

[...]

While some who study geology believe in the Cambrian explosion, in which animals did not evolve from small organisms but were created by a 60-million-year long explosion, Darwin thought otherwise.

What? Each time we read that we think we understand what it means, but then we’re not certain. Anyway, let’s read on:

The speakers stated that Pre-Cambrian fossil discoveries in the last century have continued to raise more questions than answers, noting that 90 percent of earth’s fossils date back to the Pre-Cambrian era- the period that Darwin’s step-by-step evolution fails to explain.

The staff writer apparently knows nothing. He’s just reporting what he saw. Then the article gives some student reactions:

Josh Seymour, business major from Cox School of Business, found the discussion informative. “We can have a positive future if we can convince people that Darwin’s [theory] is just a theory like any other and not a fact,” Seymour said.

Well, business majors don’t need to know much science. Here’s more:

Udoka Omenukor, SMU engineering major, stated that she learned a lot during the lecture. “I did not understand the evolution theory,” she said. “This has helped me understand beyond the basics. It is not good enough to say that the explosion caused all existence.

Maybe we’re reading that wrong, or maybe the student journalist didn’t write it clearly, but it appears to us that the engineering major thinks the Cambrian explosion is the Big Bang. Maybe the Discoveroid film is actually that confusing.

Here’s how the article ends:

While the [creationist Discoveroid] speakers attempted to persuade their large crowd, they mentioned that paleontologists still continue to search for links to find the missing transitional forms.

Yeah, we’re still looking for those elusive links to missing transitional forms.

Okay, that article was tragic, but let’s not dwell on it. Here are some excerpts the other one we found in the same paper: SMU professors speak out against Darwin presentation. It’s by “SMU Professors,” and their names are given at the end of the article. Here we go:

Last Thursday evening, the SMU community witnessed another dishonest attempt to present a particular form of religion as science, entitled “4 Nails in Darwin’s Coffin: New Challenges to Darwinian Evolution”. It was designed and presented by Seattle’s Discovery Institute (and its subsidiary the Biologic Institute). This was a follow-up to their equally dishonest 2007 presentation “Darwin vs. Design”.

All right! Way to go! Another excerpt:

We were outraged by the dishonesty of Thursday’s presentation, but not entirely surprised by it. The Discovery Institute is a well-financed organization that has repeatedly attempted to discredit Darwinian biology and thereby advance its brand of religion called Intelligent Design. We do not object to religion as such. But we do object to blatant distortions of Darwinian thinking, and to pseudo-scientific alternatives to it that are falsely alleged to be better supported by the evidence.

Good, huh? On with the article:

Many of the more general arguments presented against Darwinian theory have been around for a number of years, and have been thoroughly demolished by experts. The strong suggestion made in the movie and by the Discovery Institute employees that there is serious doubt in the scientific community about the adequacy of Darwinian theory is completely false. The Discovery Institute is a fringe group of pseudo-scientists who are busily trying to pass themselves off on the unwary as legitimate scientists.

Great faculty! One more excerpt, and then we’ll leave you to click over to read it all:

We are fortunate at SMU in having an intelligent student body that places great value on honest intellectual debate and inquiry. As faculty members we are eager to engage in such debate, which we believe advances the cause of truth. We strongly believe that the Discovery Institute is not interested in honest debate, and is not engaged in legitimate scientific enquiry. It is engaged in a concerted effort to distort the truth.

There’s nothing we can add to that.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “SMU Reacts to Creationist Revival Meeting

  1. Oh yeah. There were two sloppy pandering articles in the school paper pretending that there was substance to the ID revival meeting.

    Then this unequivocal denunciation of “dishonesty” using that very appropriate term.

    I don’t know what to think about SMU itself, running two of these drivel-fests. But those faculty make me proud to have had them as professors (ok, except that I didn’t).

  2. I supported the SMU scientists by my comment at the site. I encourage all the supporters of science education to do the same.

    The DI lives in the shadows. They hate the light. The more we drag the DI mendacious intellectual pornographers, to use John Kwok’s description, the better.

    Four new nails? Not quite! More like four worthless old, used, bent, rusty toothpicks.

  3. Doc Bill says: “The DI lives in the shadows.”

    Yeah, where the sun don’t shine.

  4. There’s nothing we can add to that.

    The DI has been completely exploded.

  5. Go, Smoo!

    ps. I thought Kwok was a “bad guy”, no?

  6. LRA says:

    I thought Kwok was a “bad guy”, no?

    Not really. He won’t play by anyone’s rules but his own, and I’ve had to severely edit some of his comments here, but he’s not a bad guy. Just a difficult one to have around.

  7. The faculty’s letter is excellent, and it includes a link to a website that is even better. The website – obviously put together quickly in simple html – is a comprehensive take-down of Intelligent Design and the Discovery Institute, and includes a few arguments I had not heard of before, with lots of links to authoritative sources. It’s a must read. Many more people are likely to be influenced by the material on the faculty’s web page than were influenced by the screening of the film, so I would score the event as a significant loss for the Discovery Institute’s evangelism effort.

  8. I bet they unleash the Klinghoffer on SMU.

  9. Excerpt: “This has helped me understand beyond the basics. It is not good enough to say that the explosion caused all existence.“

    So the Big Bang was the Cambrian Explosion. And all these years I thought it was what killed off the dinosaurs!

    Don’t laugh, I know some otherwise intelligent nonscientists who have confused those 3 events, and some who have confused Mitochondrial Eve with Lucy, the A. afarensis. Unfortunately that’s what you get in a society in which most people “learn” science by popular sound bites (which “evolve” as in the game of “telephone”), or worse, from snake oil salesmen telling them what they want to hear even though they know it’s nonsense.

  10. Hey, I’m Udoka. The engineer quoted in the article. The reporter did mis-quote me a bit. Yes, the “staff writer” is a student (non-traditional) whom I’ve had a class with, actually.

    I don’t remember exactly what I said anymore, but I remember that he mis-quoted me because my friends gave me crap the next day about it.

    “I did not understand the evolution theory” <– referring to what darwinism really is. Everyone has a general concept of evolutionary theory, but I realized I didn't have a good grasp of how to define these terms. Yah, like an earlier commenter said, my knowledge of evolution is like a game of telephone and popular sound bytes.

    “This has helped me understand beyond the basics." <— I DEFINITELY said this. The seminar really did help me understand beyond the basics of just saying "natural selection" and "over time x, y, and z happens".

    "It is not good enough to say that the explosion caused all existence.“ <— I really don't know what this is. I don't remember saying it. And I was not referring to the big bang (if anything, the cambrian explosion). I remember saying something like "it is not good enough to say darwinism is the answer to why we're here."

    As for the film, I didn't stay to watch the whole film. After about 10 minutes, I felt like it was nonsense. No offense to anyone, but it was starting to repeat itself and not really GET INTO it. It was feeling more like an infomercial. Trying to raise questions to my mind and an air of doubt in Darwin. Yah, I know it was only like 10 minutes that I watched, but after 10 minutes your introduction doesn't need to repeat itself… I was getting bored & confused and had other work to do, so I left and came back to listen to the scientists.

    The seminar is not about intelligent design. It is obvious that the seminar was hosted in order to get you to CONSIDER ID, but they don't bring up point for ID. They just brought up points that said "darwinism is not a good enough explanation" and that is good enough for me. I write philosophy papers out the whazoo. A conclusion like "X is not good enough" is good enough, lol.

    ** And you guys seem opinionated. Is there a quick and simple solution to the 4 concerns the scientists bring up? The faculty website is too detailed (I don't care if certain studies are not peer reviewed, etc, etc. Its good to know, but I'm just interested in finding solutions to the oberservations the scientists had).

  11. Udoka says:

    Is there a quick and simple solution to the 4 concerns the scientists bring up?

    Maybe not quick and simple, but everything those creationists say is quite rebuttable. Frankly, I don’t recall their 4 points. What’s the one that troubles you the most? We’ll deal with it.