More than 350 people attended a national symposium called "Darwin, Design and Democracy: Teaching the Evidence in Science Education" at Rockhurst High School. It featured presentations by biochemist Dr. Michael Behe, biologist Dr. Jonathan Wells, origin-of-life expert Dr. Walter Bradley and others.
Topics included problems with how textbooks present evolution, what intelligent design means and whether it is science or religion, and responses to evolutionists' criticisms of intelligent design.
Wells' presentation took aim at familiar textbook examples of evolution, such as H.B. Kettlewell's peppered moth experiment. Among the many textbooks that mention the peppered moths is Douglas Futuyma's evolutionary biology text, which was used at The University of Kansas this past year, Wells said.
One of the problems with that story is that the familiar photographs of light and dark moths resting on tree trunks were in fact staged, Wells said. Peppered moths don't normally rest on tree trunks; they were manually placed there and photographed.
"By telling the truth, it would return science to its true basis, which is evidence," he said.
Bradley questioned the way biology textbooks present chemical evolution and the origin of life. "There is a big disconnect between what I'm seeing in the textbooks and what I see in the technical journals," he said.
Responding to a skeptical questioner afterward, Bradley produced several examples. The first one came from the 1998 high school textbook Biology: The Dynamics of Life which was used in Topeka Unified School District 501 last year. It discusses the famous Miller-Urey amino-acid experiment of 1953 but mentions none of its problems.
Attorney John H. Calvert defined intelligent design as a scientific theory that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life and its diversity. ID holds that design is empirically detectable in nature, he said. "Other sciences use design detection--the SETI search for extraterrestrial intelligence program, the forensic sciences, arson investigation, cryptoanalysis, and archaeology," he said.
Behe, whose book Darwin's Black Box introduced the concept of irreducible complexity which signals the presence of design, presented responses to evolutionists' criticisms. In a pre-lecture interview, he addressed several criticisms from biologist Dr. Kenneth Miller's recent book Finding Darwin's God.
"He claimed in the book that there was an acid test to show that evolution could produce irreducible complexity," Behe said. "That's very misleading. The experiment he talked about produced only minor changes, and the experimenter had to intelligently intervene to support bacteria that would otherwise die."
Behe also said that no experiments show that evolution can produce irreducible complexity. "In fact, the experiments all point in the other direction," he said.
Irreducible complexity remains a big problem for the Darwinist viewpoint, Behe said. The symposium was sponsored by the Intelligent Design network Inc. in Shawnee Mission. John H. Calvert, Bill Harris, Ph.D., and Jody Sjogren are the managing directors.