From the Faraday Institute, we learn of an effort to combat intelligent design in Turkey:
A significant event during the past month has been the Darwin Anniversary Conference organized by The Faraday Institute and held in Istanbul. As one of our Turkish speakers remarked: “It was the first time for evolutionary discussions in Turkey that both vulgar positivism and religious fundamentalism were excluded”. The main two-day Symposium was attended by 50 faculty biologists from universities all over Turkey, 10 PhD students and 10 observers in the field of education, and drew an international platform of speakers, including Prof. Francisco Ayala (University of California at Irvine), Prof. Aykut Kence (Middle East Technical University, Ankara), Prof. Nidhal Guessoum (American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates), Prof. David Lordkipanidze (Director General of the Georgian National Museum), Prof. Vidyanand Nanjundiah (Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore) and Prof. Simon Conway Morris FRS (Cambridge University). Whereas the main focus of the conference was evolutionary biology, time was also given to the challenge of teaching modern biology today in Turkey and beyond. Details in English and Turkish may be seen [here]. Talks and summaries will be posted at this site as they become available.
On the final night of the Symposium a Public Event was held attended by 430 people, mainly students from different Istanbul universities.
The programme included a number of short talks about Darwin and evolution, the first performance of Re:Design in Turkey (the dramatisation of the Darwin-Gray correspondence performed by the Menagerie Theatre Company), and a televised Panel Discussion on ‘The Hard Questions’ in which the audience posed questions about Darwin and evolution to a panel of experts. The event drew extensive media coverage with clips on the Turkish evening news and 17 journalists in attendance resulting in full-page articles and interviews in publications such as Turkish Newsweek.
Francisco Ayala: Some notes of interest
I don’t know much about most of these people, but the first-mentioned, Francisco Ayala, is here described, accurately in my view, by Phillip Johnson:
The leading Darwinist authorities are frank about the incompatibility of their theory with any meaningful concept of theism when they are in friendly territory, but for strategic reasons they sometimes choose to blur the message. When social theorist Irving Kristol published a New York Times column in 1986 accusing Darwinists of manifesting doctrinaire antitheism, for example, Stephen Jay Gould responded in Discover magazine with a masterpiece of misdirection. [Gould, S.J., “Darwinism Defined: The Difference Between Fact and Theory,” Discover, January 1987, pp. 64-70]
Quoting nineteenth century preacher Henry Ward Beecher, Gould proclaimed that ‘Design by wholesale is grander than design by retail,’ neglecting to inform his audience that Darwinism repudiates design in either sense To prove that Darwinism is not hostile to ‘religion,’ Gould cited the example of Theodosius Dobzhansky, whom he described as `the greatest evolutionist of our century, and a lifelong Russian Orthodox.’ As Gould knew very well, Dobzhansky’s religion was evolutionary naturalism, which he spiritualized after the manner of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
A eulogy published by Dobzhansky’s pupil Francisco Ayala in 1977 described the content of Dobzhansky’s religion like this: `Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death. His religiosity was grounded on the conviction that there is meaning in the universe. He saw that meaning in the fact that evolution has produced the stupendous diversity of the living world and has progressed from primitive forms of life to mankind. Dobzhansky held that, in man, biological evolution has transcended itself into the realm of self- awareness and culture. He believed that somehow mankind would eventually evolve into higher levels of harmony and creativity.’ [Ayala, F.J., “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” _Journal of Heredity_, Vol. 68, January-February 1977, pp. 3, 9] Evolution is thoroughly compatible with religion-when the object of worship is evolution. (Johnson, P.E., “Darwinism and Theism”, in Buell J. & Hearn V., eds., “Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?” , Foundation for Thought and Ethics: Richardson TX, 1994, pp.43-44.)
Religion with no meaningful content
Looking over the Faraday Institute’s offerings in general, it all sounds basically like religion with no meaningful content. It reminds me of dying churches in Canada. Picture a dialogue like this:
They: O’Leary, it is okay to write about science while believing in God.
Me: Well, it had better be okay, because I do it every day.
They: … as long as you don’t think that the universe or life forms show concrete evidence of design.
Me: The problem is that they do, beyond all reasonable doubt.
They: Ah, but that’s just where you are wrong. You must accept God’s existence on faith alone. Look, it is okay to believe in God. It’s true that the prominent atheists who run the show around here say that it’s not okay. But trust us, not them. We will protect you from them.
Me: I don’t trust you. And I should not need you to protect me. And why should I believe on faith alone, when I have evidence as well?
They: Because that is how science is done!
Me: So science is a front for atheism? Look, once I find my bus token, I’m getting out of here. There’s got to be better answers than this.
I just got done reading a book published in Turkey called Evolution Deceit, which helps me understand why Turkey alarms many materialists – but more on that later. Doubts about Darwin in Turkey have alarmed enough people, I guess, that the Faraday Institute felt it had to go there to try to patch up the leaks.
More later, but it seems Turks doubt from a number of perspectives, and not only religious fundamentalism. Could it be that the evidence for Darwinism is not good? More later.
My key concern
My key concern is that Turks may not realize that theistic evolutionism is – as the term is often used today – practical atheism. First, notice the Faraday term “vulgar positivism”. Who uses that term except them? Positivism ceased to be of much interest a long time ago and, while it is highly controversial, whether it is vulgar is a matter of opinion.
The main issue today revolves around the ridiculous Darwin worship that enables mediocre academics to act like big shots while fronting ideas supported by very little evidence. How come the Institute is not dealing with that, when it is front and centre today?
The thing to keep in mind, in my view, is that most Darwinian evolutionary biologists, according to Will Provine’s study, are pure naturalists. No God and no responsibility for one’s actions. That can’t be an accident. And it isn’t.
I think the explanation is that many people go into evolutionary biology because they are attracted by pure naturalism and willing to believe its superstitions. This is a barrier to real science.
I also think that Turks deserve better than this, and hope that they get it. They might begin by reading a translation of biochemist Michael Behe’s Edge of Evolution, which explores the evidence for what Darwinian evolution can – and can’t – really do.
Real theistic evolution
As I have often pointed out, if “theistic evolution” only means that God can create through evolution if he wants to, then I am a theistic evolutionist, as is Behe. Both of us would acknowledge that God could create that way, if he liked. Yet both of us are routinely described as “creationists.”
Why? Because, we ask the dreaded question: Does the evidence suggest that large amounts of new information can be acquired through Darwinian evolution?
Answering that question requires looking at evidence. The evidence does not support Darwinian evolution as a source of much new information.
So, if you believe in God, it seems that God did not do it that way. If you do not believe in God, then someone or something else did not do it that way.