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Report on Robert T. Pennock's Lecture at Akron University - January 29, 2004


Being an avid fan of scientific inquiry I made the three hour trip to Akron from Columbus through a snow storm to gain insight directly from a respected evolutionist. Dr. Pennock is based at Michigan StateUniversity and has written two books on the topic of refuting Intelligent Design-Creationists. I presume he was invited to provide balance to the charged issue of ID, Evolution, and Creation within the university.

My presupposition has been that scientists are direct witnesses and measurers of natural phenomenon and we can hang our hat on unexaggerated opinions. I also wanted to determine my ability to keep my bias in check for the sake of truth.

Pennock reviewed some historical considerations on the topic starting with 17th century John Ray's analysis that creation is obvious. He explained Paley's watch hypothesis as an example of misunderstanding the bigger picture of evolution. Design is not recognizable.

He lauded Darwin for providing falsifying tests that could shatter his own theory. Pennock believes these conditions, if considered to be met, are from misinformed individuals.

He reminded us of theologians Ben Warfield's and the Pope's declaration that there is no conflict with faith and evolution. He then went on to declare that the fact of evolution is accepted by the vast majority of scientists and only renegades disagree.

Phillip Johnson was brushed aside as a lawyer who was acting out a personal religious conversion experience. Michael Behe was acknowledged as a scientist from a respected university but who inadequately understood ideas about irreducible complexity. The mousetrap idea was laid to rest by illustrations of reconfigured springs that could function as a trap.

Pennock described his computer model of the evolutionary process. Replications both advantageous and disadvantageous have been observed just as in nature. Increased complexity is noted with duplications reoccurring after 10^26 iterations. The photos of the results are accumulated blotches of multicolor spots. If this is the best example of the results of the experiments then all I see are big blotches. Since Nature accepted the paper, can it really be evolution? I have no artistic taste.

Pennock says evolution is becoming important in industry and we can anticipate better designs from computer generated improvements in engineering. The resulting payoff in the real world will be enormous. Already industry is utilizing this technology but it is under raps because of the keen competition in industry.

The lecture lasted an hour with the speaker's conclusion that the fact of evolution is unmistakable. Interestingly, the room was not available for questions from the floor. Surprising, that a notable guest speaker could travel three hours one way and only get one hour of room time on this campus. Instead of moving to an adjacent room for those wanting to linger with questions, a meeting in the local professor's home (Paco's) was available for discussions later in the evening. Do evolutionists need this much protection from questions?

A computer engineer from a local industry got the only question in by asking if the program Pennock devised wasn't an illustration of the design of the programer setting the evolutionary process in motion. The answer was a yes and a no because the program functioned independently of the programmer once launched. Does this mean God started the process and the processing keeps going? What about the power, the microprocessor, the storage devices. Does this mean God is a programmer? No time for these questions.

Maybe these blanks will be filled in future generations of the created. My presuppositions that scientists are unbiased and measurers of the truth was not validated. I felt like I was in a church of the living programmer especially after the enthusiastic applause at the end. I knew it was a church because I can remember never being allowed to bring up apostate thoughts in Sunday school and two people went forward at the end. On the way out I asked a student if he believed any of this? Under his breath he answered "I don't know."

I'm convinced Pennock would say I am unscientific, have no control of my bias, and a religious nut. I guess we are in different denominations.

Now I know, first hand, what Phillip Johnson is talking about.



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