MARIETTA, Ga. (BP)–An upcoming dialogue between a key Intelligent Design proponent and a Darwinian evolutionist from Florida State University reflects the fact that, “Our commitment to truth leads us to believe that we have nothing to fear from public discussion of important topics,” said Robert Stewart, associate professor of philosophy and theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The 7 p.m. Feb. 3 dialogue between ID proponent William Dembski and evolutionist Michael Ruse is the featured event of NOBTS’ two-day Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, to be held at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.
Dembski, a mathematician and philosopher, is the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture; and author of numerous books on Intelligent Design, including “No Free Lunch” and “The Design Revolution.”
Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and professor of zoology at Florida State and author of “Taking Darwin Seriously” and “Can a Darwinian be a Christian?” Ruse also is the founder and editor of the journal Biology & Philosophy and editor of the “Cambridge University Press Series in the Philosophy of Biology.”
Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost and professor of philosophy, described Dembski as “the foremost advocate and architect of the Intelligent Design movement in the United States” whose writings “have given intellectual credibility to the ID perspective within the scholarly community.”
Intelligent Design studies patterns in nature and, similar to forensic science or archaeology, uses empirical evidence to detect whether the pattern was set in place by design or by undirected natural processes.
Reliance on empirical evidence and testability distinguishes Intelligent Design from creationism and previous design arguments. Intelligent Design examines scientific data on its own merits, without presupposing either evolution or design.
“The Intelligent Design movement provides an intellectual framework which makes the affirmation of a created universe not only believable by someone educated in the perspective of modern science, but intellectually credible,” Lemke said.
Intelligent Design, Dembski said, is establishing a proving ground in which faith and science co-exist with integrity.
“Advances in molecular biology make Darwin’s explanation much harder to accept,” he said. “There are patterns in nature that can only be explained by intelligence.”
Dembski said that, although a century of biological research has failed to define the evolutionary pathways of building highly complex organisms from simple ones, science education presents no alternatives to evolutionary theory.
“Many Christian youth go off to college and then struggle with their faith. The apologetic value of ID is in defeating scientific materialism, the view that everything can be reduced to matter and explained by natural processes,” Dembski said.
On Feb. 4, Christian apologetic authors William Lane Craig and Francis Beckwith also will address Intelligent Design at the Greer-Heard forum.
Craig, who will speak at 11 a.m., is research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at LaMirada, Calif. His topic will be “Evolutionary Theory and Naturalism.”
Beckwith, who will speak at 2:30 p.m., is the associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University and the current vice president of the Evangelical Theological Society. His topic will be “Intelligent Design, Public Education, and the First Amendment.”
“The non-Christian world needs to see educated, articulate believers who can dialogue on these issues and exhibit respect and courtesy to those with whom they disagree,” Stewart said.
“Intelligent Design is not your father’s ‘old Earth creation science,’” he said “Even many who do not agree with its thesis admit as much. For this reason, it is likely the most significant challenge to the dominant Darwinian paradigm since Charles Darwin penned his ‘Origin of Species.’”
Dembski also is scheduled to speak at the 10 a.m. Jan. 24 spring convocation at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
“His visit should help to clarify the notion that Intelligent Design really is the intelligent position on this issue,” said Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts.
Dembski also will speak at an apologetics conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 18-22.
For more information on New Orleans Seminary’s Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, see www.greer-heard.com or contact Johnson Ferry Baptist Church at www.jfbc.org.