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Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution Go Toe-to-Toe at Wheaton College

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No bloody noses, no cut lips — just a frank exchange of views, over two days last week, to a packed house in the Coray Auditorium: most sessions had 500+ people, many from outside Illinois, in the audience. Sponsored by the Wheaton College Biology and Science Departments (as well as other Wheaton programs), the conference featured — on the ID side — Mike Behe, Fuz Rana, Jack Collins, Paul Nelson, and Rick Sternberg, and on the BioLogos side, Kathryn Applegate, Darrel Falk, and Jeff Schloss. Alvin Plantinga led off with a session on “science and theology as ways of knowing,” with commentary from Wheaton faculty Bob O’Connor and Robert Bishop (both from the Philosophy Department) and Pattle Pun (Biology). Mike Behe and Kathryn Applegate then sparred over topics such as irreducible complexity and methodological naturalism (if any session showed some volatility, it was this one), followed the next day by debate over human origins (Rana, Falk and Collins) and the future of biology (Nelson, Sternberg, and Schloss).
The most striking contrast? With the exception of Collins and Rana, who had been asked to address theological concerns in the context of human origins, the ID speakers used nearly all of their time to talk about scientific issues. The BioLogos speakers, on the other hand, tended to focus much more on theology. This was reflected in the “Why would God…?” or “Why would the creator…?” questions posed by the BioLogos speakers, to which Mike Behe essentially replied along the lines of, “I don’t know, God can do whatever he pleases, let’s talk about the evidence.” It will be interesting to see if this difference of focus manifests itself in future ID v. BioLogos events.

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