… Or is Ebert just another clueless bonehead whose imagined expertise is in exact disproportion to his actual knowledge …
Below is a letter to the editor from today’s Boulder Daily Camera (www.dailycamera.com) regarding a panel discussion at the recent University of Colorado at Boulder’s annual Conference on World Affairs. Roger Ebert has been a regular at the conference for decades, and in recent years has been serving on panels beyond his noted area of expertise (in the style of Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect”, they will toss together a mix of panelists from many backgrounds to make things interesting). Still, reading that Ebert was defending Darwinism with such confidence was a big surprise to me. (Note “Boulder High” refers to the venue for the discussion, Boulder High School’s auditorium, a short walk from the CU campus. “WAC” refers to the World Affairs Conference)
A friend and I attended two of the World Affairs Conference presentations on intelligent design. My friend, a Ph.D. in an area related to information and the genome, asked (rhetorically) how the information arose spontaneously for the estimated minimum requirement of 250 genes needed for first life. The question was taken by Ebert, the film critic, who pronounced it stupid and already addressed with various “scenarios.” A search of the literature will show that this problem does appear intractable by some very big names in origin-of-life studies. To have Ebert as an expert is a joke.
The Boulder High discussion was billed as “Darwin vs. Jesus.” I thought this was overly inflammatory, but if you can throw gas on the culture war, why not?
The whipping boy for this exercise was ID think tank, the Discovery Institute. The tactic was to conjoin this enterprise with the vast right-wing conspiracy, flat-earthers, a young earth literal Genesis and, a dash of W. to really fire up the base. In fact I know three agnostics, a Jew, a Catholic and a Moonie at Discovery. And yes, some evangelicals with Ph.D.s from the University of Chicago, Oxford and Princeton.
It is not my intent to debate the merits of Discovery or ID, but to point to the hypocritical way the WAC used these issues. The panelist who said the Discovery scholars were all fundamentalists admitted (to me) he was wrong and it needed correction. Another asserted that religion was all in our head and corresponded to no external reality Ã¢â‚¬â€ as did all sincerely held beliefs. When asked if this applied to his own “sincerely held beliefs” on the subject, he admitted it did!
The next honest step would have been to remove himself from the discussion as an admission of the lack of truth in his own statements.
The WAC needs some work on true diversity of ideas. How about inviting someone from the Discovery Institute next year?