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ID course at Cornell


A new course on ID has been offered at Cornell. This is the same school where the interim president of Cornell, Hunter Rawlings, declared war on ID and where a brave band of pro-ID students (like Hannah Maxson) and faculty (like Professor Mark Psiaki and Professor John Sanford) stood up in defiance.

Cornell offers course on intelligent design

Riding the Evolution-Design Roller Coaster Seems ID activists do not shy away from inflation after all… In this case inflation of claims about a course taught by Allen MacNeill at Cornell. The Cornell IDEA Club then posted a notice on their blog about the... The Panda's Thumb
Teaching ID We’ve gotten a few concerned looks from friends in the wider ID community over our endorsement of Cornell’s new course on intelligent design, EEB 467 . . . ... The Design Paradigm

IDEA clubs are often backed by sympathetic faculty. Professor Mark Psiaki (IDEA advisor) and tenured pro-ID biologist John Sanford are at Cornell. If MacNeill wants a balanced debate, he should invite those pro-ID faculty members.


Allen MacNeill gives a bit more of an account of how, as an evolutionist, he intends to "teach intelligent design" in the end of the comment thread here. I guess you all had better hope I am right about Cornell undergraduates-- it seems the Cornell IDEA Club will have their hands full this summer.

MacNeill's 30 years experience honing his evolutionary rhetoric skills plus the fact that he's the only authority in the dog & pony show debate is not going to be exceeded by any undergrad in his class. But hey, by all means let's watch it play out. Maybe I'm wrong. Stranger things have happened. -ds

Mmmm. it's usually "druthers" as in "I'd ruther do this than that." Dither is a way to make inket printing have more accurate color. But the Eugenie Scott piece is interesting. I absolutely agree about ID being in college though. In High school it's not worth much. We're still ramming stuff down their throats. In college, we're asking for critical thinking which is where the relatively new ID sciences can shine. Doug

"It’s a sham. Of course I could be wrong. We’ll see. -ds"

Well, we do have the fact Provine also taught his course at Cornell, and even though he was openly eager to turn students off the design argument, he didn't succeed. Phil Johnson commended Provine for at least a degree of even handedness. The net result is that only a modest percentage of design oriented students were converted to Provine's views. It would be telling to see if this course has an even lower success rate of converting students away from design. What if has the opposite effect? Will the course be continued to be offered? Yikes!

If I had my druthers, I would use the books that founded the modern ID movement in the course, the very books which influenced Behe, Dembski, Johnson, and many other IDists:

1. Mystery of Life's Origin by Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen (1984)
2. Evolution a Theory in Crisis by Denton (1985)
3. selected chapters from The Cosmological Anthropic Principle by Barrow and Tipler (1987)

Then I would present the freely available ID videos:
Three Hour Challenge

I point out, that when Bill Dembski had students read Denton's book, none of them thought Darwinism was above reproach. NONE of them!

I think this course at Cornell holds promise, and also, it's far beyond the kind of sham Paul Mirecki tried to create at KU.

Dang, if only we IDists could have a chance to teach it at a secular university the right way, things would really sizzle.

I've pointed out college courses could be a fruitful approach to teaching ID as elements both sides are eager to see a debate at secular universities materialize. Many people thought ID would first have to appear in public schools before it appeared in universities. My view is the exact opposite. It must be prevalent in universities first, then it can affect peer-reviewed literature as more IDists are entrenched in scientific disciplines, then lastly, ID can make it into public schools (with the exception of course of Dover).

I pointed out that I discovered ( much to my surprise) even Eugenie Scott was favorable to ID in the universities. See here:
My Correspondence with Eugenie Scott


(edit: fixed dither to druthers) scordova
With that reading list, I don't see how he can browbeat evolution into student's minds. He has the critical resources. If there are specific readings that should be added, maybe send him an email. I didn't see any anti-ID stuff on his blog and I looked pretty hard. It seems like a reasonably level playing field. Am I wrong? Doug
DS, I think you underestimate the abilities of well-prepared undergraduates. Professors are so unused to blatant questioning by undergraduates, that they often leave themselves wide open. I recall my own interaction as a student 15-20 years ago -- in an honors course, no less -- with a professor who had been at it for decades and had a one-sided view of his area of expertise, which happened to be history and literature. He had an agenda, and I knew he was setting up a critique of western civilization when he said, "...and we all know what [so-and-so] believed, don't we..." and I answered by reading from the original source, a quote that made exactly the opposite point he wanted to make. ("I meant what he said in that other place...") It certainly dashed his sweeping generalizations, and left a few students with their moral and civic foundation less undermined. You can be sure that there are going to be some students like that, at least in some sections of the course. They will be the minority, but they will be there, and they will have an impact on their peers. Gandalf

As a Cornell student I take offense to the comment that "any youngster that doesn’t agree is going to be cowed" and the comparision of us to "chickens". We aren't children who need to be taught things in a non-critical, kindergarten fashion "This is the way it is, children. You'll understand when you grow up." This is a 400-level course in a science department, and as such must be rigorous. The books on the reading list appear to be carefully chosen, and if the students in question can't use them to defend ID cogently, there is something wrong with them.

The simple fact is that if ID is correct it has to be ready to stand a great deal of pressure. The last thing it needs is to be hot-housed. Allen MacNeill is not pro-ID, but he has promised to create a forum for open, respectful discussion of these ideas and, until he shows himself to do otherwise, should be given the benefit of any doubt.

I suggest you use some of those adult critical thinking skills to evaluate MacNeill's blog commentary. Sugar coating MacNeill's stance as "not pro-ID" is like calling the fox's stance "not pro-chicken". :lol: And if you think undergraduates that are barely old enough to buy liquor can stand up against MacNeill's 30 years as a doctoral defender of the Darwinian faith in his own classroom you're deluding yourself. The required reading list is pretty good though. I just doubt that MacNeill can be objective in this. -ds

As to Dr. MacNeil, will await to see results. He seems to condemn this blog, while not attacking with same vigor, Panda and PZ. Maybe if we laugh enuf like Pianca does about sterilization, we'll be OK in his book. Its just a matter of presentation. OT, Salvador, curious if you've seen NASA article: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/abrupt_change.html hattip: Brad Harrub,PhD, apologetics press. It states there is evidence for massive flood in North Atlantic 8,200yrs ago. Together with Black Sea, Washington's Northeast flood basin, this news is interesting. Are there Great Lakes implications? Makes for another thread or just FYI for your perusal. As 'suggestion' ;-), you guys might want to add a suggestion/news box as we keep our eyes open. Michaels7
I had to chuckle at a young hire at my work who glibly made the claim that ID could never be taught in a science curriculum at a university because there is no "Theory of ID". I knew it was a matter of time and here it is. Biology credit for ID. I'll tell you what ID can predict: that the Intelligent Designer has a plan for us and we are not so big as some of us like to think. Doug

Over on the other good ID site telicthoughts.com this news has produced a radical fury of conversation. Though it is clear that the professor has personally and clearly communicated a strong anti-ID position, it is also clear that such a course to some extent ligitimizes ID as a concept worthy of respect as a study within the fold of science.

I'm not so sure. I read enough of the professor's blog commentary to suspect he's going to set himself in opposition to everything except NDE then browbeat any students who don't toe the party line. He's been teaching evolution for 30 years which pretty much means he's old and set in his ways. With authority and intimate knowledge of every tiny NDE epicycle any youngster that doesn't agree is going to be cowed. No way will ID be taught or NDE criticized. This is like a fox offering to teach chickens how to lock the henhouse at night. It's a sham. Of course I could be wrong. We'll see. -ds bFast
Wow, I'd think this is big news. A major University offering an unbiased look at the dawinian worldview and using real ID texts as reading. Isn't anybody else excited? Is there any way to get some of the students to post a brief when it's over? The debate has moved inside the inner sanctum of the liberal oasis. There will be no stopping it once students are allowed to see both sides in comparison to one another. I predict the results of this class will have a ripple effect. No matter the bias or unbias of the teacher, students will be reading the best thought on both sides of the issue. How can they arrive at any conclusion other than Intelligent Design of the universe? Random Mutation will fall and this is the path that is required. Anybody? Thoughts? Doug

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