While looking forward to the Royal Society meeting in London that promises to examine “New trends in evolutionary biology,” November 7-9, we’ve cautioned not to boost your hopes through the roof. But feel free to let expectations soar as top international scholars advocating the theory of intelligent design gather just days later, November 12, for some supplementary programming, “Beyond Materialism: Biology for the 21st Century.”
The venue for the conference is Cambridge University’s Hughes Hall.
Scientists and scholars from the U.S., U.K., Israel, Germany, and Sweden will speak, including Discovery Institute stars Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Ann Gauger, and Paul Nelson. Our cosponsor is the Centre for Intelligent Design U.K. Yes, it’s no coincidence that this follows on the heels of the Royal Society gathering, so there will be plenty to discuss.
From the conference description:
Since Darwin, biology has been dominated by a bottom-up, materialistic framework in which living things are ultimately derived from undirected physical processes — at the origin of life itself — and then change via random variations sifted by natural selection (or drift) throughout three billion years of organismal evolution. Within the past three decades, however, the sufficiency of this materialist framework has been strongly challenged by unexpected evidence.
Questions to be considered:
“What if information, and not physical or material causes, provides the key to understanding biology?”
“What are the principles governing the origin and transmission of biological information?”
“Does materialism restrict our intellectual freedom to explore the full landscape of causal possibilities?”
“Do recent scientific discoveries provide evidence that human beings are more than mere animals?”
On the London meeting, Evolution News has commented on the limits that materialism imposes on science:
Here’s a metaphor that may help in clarifying what’s happening. Imagine a city surrounded by a high wall. Some precincts within the city are very well mapped and tended. Others, however, have been neglected for decades, or simply allowed to go to ruins. Of late, an intrepid group of builders has moved into the neglected districts, and begun to fix them up. This creates a stir within the city: it’s being “extended,” and in some ways, improved.
But the high wall is always there, as an absolute barrier to free movement or development. The Royal Society meeting will explore what can be done within the walls of naturalism or materialism, to fix evolutionary theory (meaning theories about the origin and diversification of living things by natural processes). Yet if one reads through the abstracts, long-unsolved problems, such as the origin of life itself (which, pace evolutionary biologists, most definitely is a part of the evolutionary picture), the origin of complex systems, animals, etc. — all those stand untouched.
Because there is only so much one can do within the walls of naturalism.
Our counterprograming promises a look over the walls at the fascinating landscape beyond. Please join us in Cambridge for a great day as we explore provocative ideas in biology with some new and important personalities from around the world.
Photo: Hughes Hall, Cambridge University, by Hughesstudent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.