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 The Darwin Panel 
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Today I went to the Darwin Panel which consisted of a panel of about 10 different professors from the following departments: religion/philosophy, history, biology, geology, and anthropology. This panel was in recognition of the 150 anniversary of Darwin's famous book, The Origin of the Species, and to also recognize the first annotated edition of the book (written by a special guest panelist). The panel lasted three hours so I'll try to succinctly give an overview of what was covered but I'm not sure I'll do it justice. It really was an extraordinary discussion group filled with very active (and positive) dialogue between the panel and the audience. The entirety of the panel were evolutionists, but they all wanted to make an important statement regarding their support of Darwin's theory of evolution. The do not "believe" in evolution. The whole panel equated believing in evolution to believing in gravity. They raised a very legitimate obstacle that evolutionary theory is faced with today: theory and hypothesis are VERY different things. Naturally the issue of religion conflicting was brought up. I felt like the panel handled the subject beautifully, explaining that in no way are the evolutionary theory and religion/spirituality mutually exclusive. The panel did make a point to say that science and religion are mutually exclusive however. With the exception of Young Earth Creationist, evolutionary theory doesn't automatically undermine Judeo-Christian religion. One of the panelists discussed several very prominent evolutionary scientists who consider themselves very deeply religious people. This same panelist then discussed how evolutionary theory can even strengthen religious conviction because if you recognize evolutionary theory and still have your faith, then your faith is in fact quite strong and resolute. The panel did touch upon education and evolution. Not surprisingly, every single member of the panel felt that evolution should be taught in schools. As opposed to harping on the issues surrounding getting evolutionary theory into schools (a problem, the panel noted, stems largely from the parents), the panel elected to discuss issues with school in general. They feel like we're just indoctrinating children and the passion to learn is being undermined. I think one of the most profound moments came as a comment from one of the audience members. He said, "What do you do when you're getting oranges at home, apples at school, and all I want to do is make lemonade?" Perhaps it wasn't the most cerebral of analogies, but I feel like it really touched on the key point the panelists were making: we're not even really giving kids the necessary tools to decide for themselves and make the discoveries they should be making. This isn't an issue of conflicting with spirituality in school (the panel digressed for a moment to discuss how you can absolutely have morality with spirituality, which was a topic we discussed in class). This is about giving our students what they need to become passionate learners. We have to encourage critical thinking.

There is so much more I could write about in regards to this panel. It was truly an amazing experience and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing everything the group had to say.

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Leigh Stratton


Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:51 am
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about 2 weeks ago i attended the Darwin panel. being a christian, and not believing in Darwinism, this was a big step out of who i am. From the get go it was hard for me to listen and not get upset with what people were saying. one of the panelists said that believing in evolution can strengthen your faith. maybe i heard him wrong or took what he was saying the wrong way but there is no way that believing in evolution and believing in Jesus Christ can go hand in hand. i didn't stay for the duration of the entire discussion. the panel also said they did not believe in evolution and this bugged me. they said it was like gravity and basically we had no choice what to believe in, evolution was the way it was and that was that. this really frustrated me and i really wanted to talk with the panel and ask questions but i felt as if i was a rat in a cage of snakes and i would get eaten up before i would have had a chance to do anything about it. i didn't stay for the entire discussion because i was getting to bothered by the whole situation i was in.

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Dudley Raye


Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:33 pm
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I attended the discussion panel on Darwin in late November and found the points that were made to be very interesting. All of the panelists used concrete examples to reinforce their statements, especially regarding the topic of religion and how the theory of evolution plays into a specific set of beliefs. As Leigh noted, the reference to believing in evolution compared to believing in gravity put the entirety of the discussion into perspective, no matter what you believe, it is going to have to be discussed at some point. Leigh also made an excellent point regarding what our students are taught in schools and how it usually is one or the other, but not both. This is a large problem and it will have to be addressed very soon in the schools in order for students to be well rounded, educated individuals.


Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:02 am
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