Debating Darwinism

The classic debate of faith versus science is being raised again as doctors who doubt Darwin visit USF tonight.

Speakers sponsored by the Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity (PSSI) organization will be lecturing on the subject of intelligent design and Darwinian theory during a lecture titled “Darwin or Design? Resolving the Conflict,” at the Sun Dome tonight at 7. The conference will inform attendees on the shortcomings of the Darwinian evolutionary theory.

The conference will feature emcee Tom Woodward, author of Doubts About Darwin; Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth; Michael Behe, a biochemist and professor at Lehigh University who believes in intelligent design, though many of his colleagues do not share his views; and Ralph Seelke, a research biologist at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Though the PSSI is not officially an intelligent design organization, all of its members – more than 140 doctors from across the globe – agree on its view of Darwin’s evolution theory.

PSSI’s “Physicians’ and Surgeons’ Statement of Dissent” said members are “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the origination and complexity of life, and we therefore dissent from Darwinian macroevolution as a viable theory.”

Wells, who will be the first speaker of the evening, presents examples from both college and high school textbooks that supposedly support Darwinism – and show that all examples are either completely or partially false. His presentation will be 40minutes in duration, followed by a 20 minute question – and – answer session.

Seelke will be interviewed during the conference for his thoughts on Darwin vs. Design.

“I study what evolution can really do,” Seelke said. “When studying bacteria – which I have studied thousands – I attempt to ask it to perform two tasks at once, which in all cases the bacteria has not been able to demonstrate. In order for a bacteria, or anything at a molecular level to evolve, it must be able to execute two tasks a time, and I have not seen it happen in my tests.”

Though Seelke is not a member of the PSSI, he does refute Darwinism.

“I think there is a lot out there that looks designed. The best explanation is that it probably is,” he said.

Behe, the third speaker, said “Darwin’s theory does not account for what we have found at the molecular level of life.”

Some professors at USF have voiced their displeasure with the theory of intelligent design, labeling it more of a belief than it is a science.

“Evolution is not a belief. It is based on thousands and thousands of facts,” said Henry Mushinsky, professor of evolutionary biology at USF. “(Intelligent Design) is bull. It is one more insult to people who study and think about evolution. It’s just another way of packaging someone’s religion for people who don’t understand how scientists use theories.”

James Garey, associate professor of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics said, “I know the group (the PSSI). They are thinly disguised creationists. One of the members took a figure from one of my articles – without permission – published it, and said it refuted evolution, which it did not.”

Garey also said he felt that the debate was a rouse that held no real value for the audience.

“The conferences are set up,” he said. “They will have moles planted in the crowd to ask certain questions. They are good debaters. The problem is that it is simply not a science, so there is no real debate. It is pointless to argue with them.”

John Ogden, professor of biology at USF’s St. Petersburg campus, offered more of a moderate position on the topic of Darwin and design.

“It is a classic debate between faith versus science,” Ogden said. “Science is a way of knowing, not believing – a way that scientists formulize happenings in the world into theories. There is no way to prove or disprove a belief. This conference should be absorbed by the students and professors, and taken back to the classroom for further discussion and debate.”

The conference is free to all USF students with a valid student I.D. and $5 entry to the general public.