CORNELL UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN FACULTY/STAFF FORUM
THIS WEEK AT CORNELL:
Intelligent Design, Intelligent Discourse:
Reflections on the State of the University Address
A Panel discussion
Friday, November 4, 2:30pm – 4:00 pm
Anabel Taylor Hall Auditorium
In his recent State of the University address, Cornell President Hunter Rawlings discussed at length “the challenge to science posed by religiously-based opposition to evolution, described, in its current form, as ‘intelligent design.'” The address received national media coverage and is now serving as the basis for discussions taking place at the departmental level at Cornell.
The response to the address by the Christian community at Cornell has been mixed. Some Christians favorably disposed toward intelligent design were troubled by the talk; others have no more sympathy for intelligent design than Rawlings, and agreed with the large majority of what he said.
Regardless of what one makes of intelligent design, the address raises important and complex questions about the relationship of science and religion. As Rawlings rightly says, “This controversy raises profound questions about the nature of public discourse and what we teach in universities, and it has a profound effect on public policy.”
Some of the questions raised by Rawlings’s address include the following:
- Is Intelligent Design science, or is it–as Rawlings says–more nearly religion?
- Can Intelligent Design be “falsified,” and is falsification a necessary prerequisite of a scientific theory?
- What are the boundaries or distinctions between Creation and “creationism,” or between evolution and “evolutionism”?
- Can science and religion formulate competing knowledge claims or do they constitute–in Gould’s famous phrase–“non-overlapping magisteria”?
- Is Cornell co-founder A.D. White’s metaphor of “warfare” to characterize the relationship of science with religion still useful or responsible?
- Is Intelligent Design really an attack on reason and rational discourse, as Rawlings has suggested?
This panel discussion is not designed to either defend or refute Intelligent Design, nor will it even be able to address all the questions raised by Rawlings’s address. It will rather offer four speakers, including three Cornell professors and one local pastor, an opportunity to share their own brief reactions to the president’s address, thereby demonstrating a variety of ways in which Christians may thoughtfully and faithfully respond to such issues in the midst of a pluralistic and secular environment.
Dr. Don Bilderback is Adjunct Professor of Applied and Engineering Physics, and Associate Director of Cornell High Energy Synchroton Source (CHESS)
Dr. Robert Fay is Professor of Chemistry at Cornell
Rev. Steve Froehlich is pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church
Dr. Art Lembo is Sr. Research Associate and Sr. Lecturer in Crop and Soil Science
Rawlings’s address, which it will be very useful to read prior to this panel discussion, may be found at http://www.cornell.edu/president/announcement_2005_1021.cfm.
This event is sponsored by Chesterton House, a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell.
Other useful resources in the general area of science and religion include:
1) The American Scientific Affiliation, “a fellowship of men and women in science and disciplines that relate to science who share a common fidelity to the Word of God and a commitment to integrity in the practice of science.” http://www.asa3.org The ASA Journal Perspectives is available in the Chesterton House resource room.
2) Christians in Science. This is a similar fellowship in the U.K. http://www.cis.org.uk
3) Science and Faith Bibliography: http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~kbmill/scifaith.html
Chesterton House is starting a reading group in Science and Religion. This group will NOT necessarily be focusing on the topic of origins, but on science and religion issues more broadly. If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Karl Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cornell University Christian Faculty/Staff Forum is a fellowship in which faculty and staff come together regularly to creatively think about, discuss and plan how we as Christians can individually and corporately impact students, colleagues, and the institution for the cause of Jesus Christ. http://www.curw.cornell.edu/cchristff/ccff.htm