When I was looking up how the Discovery Institute contributed to the spread of creationism in Brazil, I spotted an article by Brian Miller claiming that the Discovery Institute summer seminars were a turning point in his life. What’s this? It says, “The program is free, and travel expenses will be paid as needed.” Cool! I’m broke, I have some oppressive legal debt, and I’d love to spend some time in Seattle. It’s my favorite city, and my mom lives near there! Then, the application form says:
The seminars are primarily designed for upper-division undergraduates and graduate students, but each year we try to reserve a few spaces for a special cohort of professors, scientists, teachers, pastors, and other professionals.
I’m special! I’m also a professor, scientist, and a teacher. I should qualify!
What do you think? Should I apply? Or I might be delusional, just like the people who write testimonials for the program.
As a former research engineer (now a Catholic priest) I was convinced of the theory of evolution and always taught it in a Christian context (guided by God, a spiritual soul being infused into the first human beings by God himself). But a few years ago I watched the video Unlocking the Mystery of Life and my mind change overnight.
Uh…maybe it’s not for me after all. I think maybe they reaffirm the religious beliefs of people who already have creationist predispositions, but I don’t have any of those. Also, speaking of delusional:
Then, in 2016, I attended the Summer Seminars. That experience was a turning point in my career. I cannot adequately express my excitement at hearing directly from many of the leading scientists and other academics who so shaped my thinking. Even more striking, I learned that science is on the brink of the next great revolution. The evidence from multiple disciplines has demonstrated that, in accounting for the emerging scientific data, the philosophical framework of scientific materialism is hopelessly inadequate. I then realized that I wanted to be part of the cutting edge of scientific research and progress. I still recognize the significance of the design debate for faith and society, but I now also see its importance in maintaining the integrity of the scientific enterprise.
I’m neck-deep in various of those multiple disciplines, and I’m sorry, none of them are arguing that the “philosophical framework of scientific materialism is hopelessly inadequate”. If you go to one of these seminars and come away thinking that the sciences are at all challenged by intelligent design creationism, or that we’re on the brink of a scientific revolution led by the likes of Behe or Meyer or Wells, you’ve been lied to. Those people are totally irrelevant to the progress of science, except perhaps in the sense that they impede it.
Still, I’m tempted to apply, just to learn what kind of nonsense they’re teaching. I’ve got until the 4 March deadline to make up my mind.
Of course, the alternative is to stay home and explore fields and lakes and old barns for spiders. Mid-July is peak spider season around here.