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The “Put Up or Shut Up” Debate

A recent column in USA Today by Cal Thomas and Robert Beckel argued for a debate on intelligent design. Patricia Princehouse, a philosopher at Case Western in Cleveland wrote in to say that she and other Darwinists of her acquaintance would welcome a debate and announced it as January 3 in Cleveland. “Put up or shut up,” was the genteel way she issued the invitation.

January 3 was then only a month away, with the holidays coming meanwhile. Further, it was unfortunately clear that Dr. Princehouse planned to establish the debate format and other conditions herself. Bill Dembksi expressed a willingness to debate, but wanted to discuss terms. But the Princehouse terms kept changing through yesterday (11 days before the proposed debate date), when Dembski advised Princehouse that any and all plans henceforth would have to be arranged mutually between Princehouse/Case Western and Bruce Chapman at Discovery Institute. (He has planned some debates in his time.) Dr. Princehouse wrote back, not to Chapman, but to Dembski to say that she suddenly is ready to adopt his plan in total. That left the matter in complete confusion.

What is going on here?

Discovery and its fellows are delighted to debate Dr. Princehouse and/or Kenneth Miller or whomever and want only to do so in a neutral forum with reasonable and MUTUAL agreements on topic, location, timing, and the other modalities associated with civilized debate. One side does not simply announce a place, and a time a few weeks’ hence, and demand that the opponent show up.

Otherwise it looks like a publicity stunt.

But, we do gladly accept a debate in principle for later in the winter or early spring. We are coming up with ideas and venues and hope to see soon if Dr. Princehouse is still interested.

Meantime, don’t tell anybody, but it’s Christmas. We are filled with good cheer and good will for all. Yes, including the Darwinists at Case Western.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



__editedCase Western Reserve UniversityPatricia Princehouse