There are two things I have learned about creationists and intelligent designers. One is that many of them will never give up their beliefs whatever the facts. The other is that they crave acceptance by the scientific community and will try any means to give their ideas even the slightest veneer of scientific credibility. In pursuance of these goals, they managed to stealthily secure a venue at Michigan State University to hold one of their meetings this coming Saturday.
News of the event caught MSU’s scientific community largely by surprise. Creation Summit secured a room at the university’s business school through a student religious group, but the student group did not learn about the details of the program—or the sometimes provocative talk titles—until later, says MSU zoologist Fred Dyer. The talk titles led Dyer to suspect that the student group was not involved in planning the conference, he says, prompting him to look into its origins.
This university is home to two prominent biology scholars Richard Lenski and Robert Pennock who are seen as hostile to ID and creationism so one can expect to see criticisms of their work. Both Lenski and Pennock were invited to take part in a debate at the event but they declined. And who can blame them when they see the quality of the program?
The 1 November event, called the Origin Summit, is sponsored by Creation Summit, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Christian group that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and was founded to “challenge evolution and all such theories predicated on chance.” The 1-day conference will include eight workshops, according the event’s website, including discussion of how evolutionary theory influenced Adolf Hitler’s worldview, why “the big bang is fake,” and why “natural selection is NOT evolution.”
You can see the list of speakers and talks here. The four featured speakers Jerry Bergman, Don DeYoung, Charles Jackson, and John Sanford have earned places in the Encyclopedia of American Loons so the talks should be a lot of fun.
While members of the university are uneasy about their campus being used as a prop to give some sort of credibility to these crackpot ideas, they are not going to interfere and forbid the event, which is the right decision. Let these people spout their nonsense. Since the event is free, I hope that some students will attend and challenge these ideas from the audience. You will even be entered into a raffle to win an iPad!
In the early days of intelligent design, I wrote something that suggested that I did not rule out the possibility of ID and even seemed open to the ideas and I was immediately contacted by some ID people and even invited to speak at the conferences that they used to hold, to represent what they may have perceived as the ‘friendly opposition’. But as I studied ID more, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing there and began to say so, and I seem to have been deleted from their list of potentially friendly scientists. I actually kind of enjoyed attending those events. It was like entering another world. As someone else said, it felt similar to attending a Star Trek convention, with fans completely committed to an alternative reality, except that with the Trekkies they went back to ordinary lives in the real world after the convention was over. At least I hope they did.