Letters to the editorSept. 25, 2007
Baylor betraying its mission
I am amazed that a university purporting to be connected to a church is so scared about the idea of intelligent design that they feel they must suppress its discussion.
Even more, does Baylor suppress all original speculation about scientific questions and only allow publication of scientific ideas that are widely endorsed as "orthodox"?
If so, then it is guaranteeing that it will never be a first-rate research institution, because the really groundbreaking original insights are by definition outside the mainstream. Newton on gravity, Einstein on relativity, Wegener on continental drift and plate tectonics -- all would be ruled out of order for being too original!
Universities were once bastions of transmitting inherited wisdom, but in the 21st century, when a university gives priority to preserving ignorance by suppressing original thought, it betrays its mission to discover and disseminate truth.
Raymond Takashi Swenson
Idaho Falls, ID
Science just another religion
For Baylor students who need a solid example of fallacious reasoning and unsupported argumentation, they need look no further than the recent letter by Richard Schauer.
Schauer begins his mini-diatribe with the nonsense claim that the "Bible is simply not supported scientifically."
The Bible contains many genres -- none of which purport to be science. Such genres cannot be proved or disproved by the realm of science, which itself has limits. Are the Peloponnesian Wars "scientifically" verifiable? Is a Keatsian Ode? Of course not. Is that a valid criticism? Hardly.
To assume what can be scientifically verified is worthy of belief is unbelievable hubris and makes Schauer ultimately no different from those he criticizes. Science does not exist in a vacuum, and the idea of a purely "objective" scientist is as much a myth as a flat earth.
If Schauer believes that people such as Dr. Richard Dawkins write "objectively" about matters of faith, he is as misguided as those who believe the earth is only 10,000 years old and was created in seven literal days.
Schauer and his ilk (Dawkins, Sam Harris) purport to be freed from the intellectual shackles of religion; however, they are either too arrogant or too misguided to realize that they too are religious, bowing down to the idols of their own naturalist, humanistic presuppositions.
It is far too simplistic to blame all of history's problems on religion, yet Schauer offers unsupported claims about how religion is "killing us" and "causing more problems than it's worth."
Furthermore, it wasn't religious fanatics who were responsible for the greatest crime known to human history. It was a group whose rigid devotion to scientific naturalism led to the objectification and ultimate death of 6 million Jews.
Of course, if we are nothing more than trousered apes (to borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis) who owe our existence to a blind watchmaker (to borrow another from Dawkins), then perhaps such genocide is just a natural stage of our evolution.
Finally, it is ridiculous to make intelligent design a necessary component of religious belief. Such straw-men arguments do nothing to advance a valid criticism of religious belief (which, I confess, are many).
When confronted with the possibility that perhaps science does not offer answers to every question that confronts humanity, Sauer scurries back to mother science, taking comfort in how much more "sane" and "rational" they are.
In truth, they have traded one religion for another.
Ph.D. candidate, Religion and Literature
Marks can publish findings
Re: "BU administration silencing science by design"
Walt Ruloff asks, "Does the administration at Baylor believe in God?" I'm not sure I understand the purpose for this query: Would an answer in the affirmative validate or invalidate the decision to shut down Dr. Marks' Web site? Moreover, how does a belief in God legitimize or inform a scientific pursuit?
I'm quite confident of the answer I would get if I were to ask the same questions in a Taliban-run madrassa -- assuming I would be permitted to make such an inquiry. Ruloff could, in my opinion, assuage his outrage by reading his text, notably where he writes, "Marks has been conducting research that ultimately may challenge the foundation of Darwinian theory."
When and if Marks ever does viably challenge Darwin, he will surely publish his findings. Or are all peer-reviewed scientific journals run by atheists?
Bible is proven scientifically
In response to Richard Schauer in last Friday's letter, Dr. Ben Kelley and President John Lilley are not to be commended for taking a stand and discriminating against research that could be proven correct.
Why are people so threatened by another way to present things? Evolution is a theory, not factual information (never been proven). We put so much faith in that theory that we forget other scenarios.
If intelligent design is just a theory, what is wrong with listening and learning a different outlook on things?
I believe monotheistic religions would love to have the opportunity to learn a different study of science that supports a creator. Believe it or not, evolution is one of the leading causes of atheism, and why does that happen? One's religion makes them saner, not the other way around. Someone holding on to a faith and a God that is real is something everyone longs for. It is foolish to think otherwise. Are you saying people who aren't atheist are insane?
The Bible is supported by science in every way, and that is why it is so valid. For example, long before we knew the earth was circular, God's word illustrated how it was (Isaiah 40:22). There are many other examples. Actually, evolution and its flaws actually prove much of the Bible correct.
Throughout scripture, the Bible states that the world was made in six days. I would rather have faith in God's word than some scientist's theory. Remember, God is a miraculous God. You can say that God used evolution as his creation tool if you want, that is fine. But is it possible he didn't, especially since God tells us he did it differently and goes over each day with much detail? God is a God of truth, and the Bible shows the truth. God is not out to deceive us, but to show us his glory.
All of creation today is from a creator. Evolution is a flawed process -- God is not flawed in any way. God is the only way this world exists, and evolution can't explain all the complex things of this world. Our minds can't fathom everything.
Schauer, if you don't know, the theory of evolution has never been scientifically proven correct in this lifetime and never will. The Catholic Church didn't want to hear Luther's point of view and considered him a heretic. He is now seen as a hero to Protestants. Professors who give the other side of the story of global warming are losing their jobs and being persecuted for their opinions.
This is a country where we allow different opinions. If there is another side of the argument, let's hear it. Don't be offended by another side, respect the other side just like religions, countries, etc. respect each other.
Evolution is too flawed to not hear another side, especially since proponents of intelligent design want to prove it scientifically. We were raised to believe in evolution; let's hear another point of view for once!
Lilley wisely dodged interview
As a bemused observer from the left coast of California, let me offer my two cents on your editorial, "Lilley's two cents are missing."
My first penny: Missing from your editorial, and your news coverage of the brouhaha over Dr. Marks, is any mention of the antics of Dr. William Dembski, who was hired (without any university vetting) as a "post-doc" in Marks' Evolution Informatics Lab. Considering that Dembski, a full-time professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, had already completed three or four "post-docs" at other schools, this seemed a bit odd. It seems that what Marks and Dembski wanted was to give Dembski another presence at Baylor, several years after his removal as director of the Michael Polayni Center, set up to propagate intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.
The money for the Evolution Informatics Lab, which Baylor's Engineering and Computer Science Department had not approved, came from a shadowy group called the LifeWorks Foundation, funded by Brendan Dixon, one of the "Microsoft millionaires." Dixon decided to devote his time to the ID movement, giving $700,000 to the pro-ID Discovery Institute, of which Dembski is a longtime Fellow. The whole purpose of Marks' "lab," which didn't actually exist, was to give Dembski a Baylor connection that he could exploit in his ID propaganda.
My second penny: Marks has a personal Web site on his department's server, on which (under the heading "Apologetics") he has posted several items supporting ID and expressing his personal Christian views. One example is "Genesis and Science: Compatibility Extraordinaire."
Marks has not been censored at all -- his department simply removed his nonexistent "lab" from its server to avoid any implication that Baylor endorsed its work, which the university has every right to do.
A third penny (if I may): Dembski obviously bears a personal grudge against President Lilley, stemming back to the Polanyi Center days. Just last week, Dembski posted on his own blog a call for Lilley's firing: "At this point, the only thing that would work is if the Board of Regents placed his job in jeopardy." Dembski urged followers to bombard regents with calls, posting names and home phone numbers of each regent. That's a bit much, in my opinion.
A fourth penny: The Lariat has, for some reason, written nothing about Dembski's latest antic, posting on his blog a fabricated letter from President Lilley about the Marks issue. Only after I (and several others) protested did Dembski admit this was a supposed "parody." But many of his blog readers took it seriously and Dembski has not yet apologized to Lilley for this sophomoric stunt.
Up to a nickle: The request from the producers of the Expelled movie to interview Lilley is a sham. The supposedly "objective" movie is in fact a biased attack on the "persecution" of ID supporters.
The producers conned a professor at another school to grant an interview, telling him the movie would be called Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion.
President Lilley was well advised to avoid this scam.
Peter Irons, Ph.D., J.D.
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, University of California, San Diego
Baylor University Waco, Texas 76798 1-800-BAYLOR-U