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Darwinism and Intelligent Design in Poland 

Jonathan Wells

Darwinism

On January 29, 2020, I arrived in Warsaw, Poland, in the middle of a blizzard. Fortunately, most of the snow had cleared away by January 31, when I lectured at an event celebrating the release of a new Polish translation of my book, Icons of Evolution. 

The event was organized by Fundacja En Arche (the En Arche Foundation, or roughly, the Origins Foundation). Although its critics call it a “creationist” organization, Fundacja En Arche is not about biblical creationism (whether young Earth or old Earth). Instead, it focuses on the scientific and philosophical issues of Darwinism and intelligent design. I told the staff that the foundation reminded me of Discovery Institute twenty years ago. 

A major part of En Arche’s work so far has been translating into Polish books such as Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, and Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. To celebrate their translation of my book, the foundation rented a room at the University of Warsaw. But they knew that the event could generate controversy, so they were careful not to publicize it. Only invited guests would be allowed to attend.

Cancel Culture

Word of the event leaked out anyway. In what has become a familiar phenomenon, local Darwinists bullied the university into cancelling it. So Fundacja En Arche moved the event to a nearby hotel.

In addition to me, three other people were scheduled to speak. Dr. Andrzej Myc (PhD in biology, and a friend of Discovery Institute) spoke on the “ups and downs of scientific dogmas,” and why the “scientific consensus” is unreliable. Dr. Adam Cenian (PhD in physics) addressed the origin of life, and why it is Darwinism’s blind spot. Dr. Grzegorz Malec (PhD in philosophy) talked about “what is, and what is not, the theory of intelligent design.”

About 160 people attended, all of them friendly as far as I could tell. I spoke in English and my lecture was translated into Polish, while the other lectures were in Polish. In the photo above, I am at the lectern on the right, flanked by a man (the MC) and a woman (the translator). The other three speakers are on the stage at the left.

A long and lively question-and-answer session followed the lectures. The questions included: Are the icons still used in the U.S.? What has changed since your book was first published? What made you doubt the theory of evolution in the first place? Can ID be tested in science? Do ID proponents believe every structure in biology is designed? The speakers and I took turns answering these and other questions. 

“Best Wishes” in Polish

Afterwards people lined up to have me sign their copy of my book. Beforehand I had practiced writing “Best wishes” in Polish, but I quickly defaulted to just my signature when I saw how long the line was. I signed well over a hundred books that day.

Darwinism

After the event, the organizers treated the speakers and a few special guests to a gourmet meal at a restaurant named “Vodka.” While some restaurants feature wine pairings with their food, this place (not surprisingly) features vodka pairings — and there were scores of specialty vodkas on the shelves. Several of the guests ordered one of Poland’s favorite entrées: steak tartare — paired, of course, with the appropriate vodka.

Relationship Advice from a Darwinist

The next day I had a small private discussion with the organizers and a few guests at the En Arche offices. Several of them pointed out that Darwinism permeates universities and education so much that it is used outside of science to talk about morals and behavior. One person (a student) talked about a professor who gave advice about marriage and relationships based on Darwinism (namely, you shouldn’t commit to a long term relationship; just keep searching for better partners). Several mentioned the connections between Darwinism, Marxism, slavery, and eugenics. 

They were surprised to learn that a theory can rely on so many misconceptions and misinformation (e.g., the icons of evolution) and still be widely accepted. Several were shocked to hear about the persecution of critics, and they appreciated learning how Discovery Institute works to help young scientists.

After the discussion, Andrzej Myc (mentioned above) took me on a walk through Old Town Warsaw. During World War II the city was mostly destroyed, but the indomitable Polish people cleared away the rubble and rebuilt the city on the same spot. In the photo below I am standing in the center of Old Town. Behind Andrzej (holding the camera) is an ice-skating rink. Behind me are new houses built in the old style.

Darwinism

Image credit: Top two photos, Fundacja En Arche; bottom, by  Andrzej Myc.