Kansas University is organizing what some say has been absent in the long, hot battle over the teaching of evolution: dialogue.
"We've had debates," said Leonard Krishtalka, director of KU's Biodiversity Institute and veteran to the evolution debate. "I don't think we've had intelligent discussion. This is an attempt to have intelligent dialogue with the larger community and Kansas on a controversial subject."
KU this fall will kick off "Knowledge: Faith & Reason," a lecture series featuring some of the key players in the evolution and intelligent design debate.
So far, the list of guests is one-sided, according to one critic, because there is only one clear intelligent design proponent.
The series will include lectures from Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biology professor who testified against intelligent design in last year's Dover, Pa., trial, and John E. Jones III, the judge in the Dover case who in his ruling issued a pointed criticism of the intelligent design movement.
The series also will feature Os Guinness, theologian; Richard Dawkins, Oxford University evolutionary biologist and author; and Eugenie Scott, head of the National Center for Science Education.
The only apparent speaker who supports intelligent design is Michael Behe, a professor and author who testified in the Dover trial.
Organizers of the series say it's a chance to look at the divisive issue from a broader perspective.
"One can imagine the subject going beyond just evolution and creation to other areas of inquiry that involve faith and reason," Krishtalka said.
Evening lectures will be followed by morning talks on the day after each lecture. The lineups for the second part of each lecture have not been set.
John Calvert, managing director of the Intelligent Design Network, doesn't expect the series to be a dialogue.
"That's propaganda," Calvert said of the planned lectures. "Would I go to listen to Kenneth Miller? No. I know what he's going to say."
Calvert prefers debates and one-on-one discussions, which he says bring focus to specific issues and enable audiences to see all sides of an issue.
Calvert pointed to the state's hearings on the science standards and the scientists who were invited but didn't show.
Calvert said pro-evolution scientists are loath to debate the issue because they say there is no controversy. And to debate is to admit there is a controversy, he said.
"The inherent problem with that position is there truly is a genuine, legitimate, major scientific controversy about evolution," he said.
Victor Bailey, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities and organizer of the series, said he thought the hearings were politically motivated and the outcome was set before they took place.
Following the hearings, the state board of education voted last year to make several changes to the state's science standards.
The forum reaches across disciplines. It is part of The Commons, a new venture for the Hall Center and the Biodiversity Institute. Though future series topics have not been set, organizers say stem cell research is one idea they've discussed.
Evolution in Kansas
- 6News video: Some question group's move with elections nearing (07-08-06)
- 49abcnews.com video: Discovery Institute starts ad campaign weeks before elections (07-07-06)
- 6News video: Film explores evolution circus (01-03-06)
- 6News video: Group takes shot at Mirecki through postcards (12-15-05)
- 6News video: Mirecki resigns from KU department post (12-07-05)
- Education board to revisit debate over evolution (02-11-07)
- As old board departs, new evolution stance takes shape (12-14-06)
- Biologist speaks for intelligent design (12-08-06)
- Cultures clash in Democratic primary (07-06-06)
- Education department spokesman leaves job (06-15-06)
- Evolution, religion comments put heat on department spokesman (05-26-06)
- KU profs support evolution skepticism (02-21-06)
- Science teachers pan new standards (02-14-06)
- 'Dodos' circling around I.D. (01-04-06)
- Attorneys in I.D. case spread message (01-04-06)
- Professor blasts KU, sheriff's investigation (12-10-05)
- Kansas ranks last in science (12-08-05)
- Discovery Institute
- Evolution timeline: Events related to the Kansas controversy
- U.S. District Court Ruling in Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District (PDF)
- Center for Science and Culture: A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism
- Parody: Intelligent Design Society of Kansas
- Mirecki press release (.pdf)
- More evolution coverage
- LJWorld.com's Evolution in Kansas coverage