I attended the Discovery Institute’s Summer Seminar on Intelligent Design (Social Science) in 2010. My thoughts and comments will be general since we were asked not release specifics concerning information being shared (some of it was yet-to-be published and I don’t know if it has been published yet so I’ll remain silent) and I do not want to “out” any other attendees in their academic endeavors. Once you’re labeled as an ID proponent your academic career is potentially slowed down or halted. I’ve already outed myself and I’m pretty vocal about my advocacy of design (I’m a philosopher so it’s not as academically persecuted).
I have no negative comments concerning the DI’s seminar. In fact, I have more respect for the institute and fellows. There were two concurrent seminars (natural and social sciences) that interacted with each other on a regular basis and combined on many occasions. I participated in the social science seminar and being philosophy graduate student I’m not as adept in biology, chemistry, and physics as many others are. I certainly received a welcoming abundance of science in presentations, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the lecturers included Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Doug Axe, Jay Richards, Jonathan Wells, Richard Sternberg, Ann Gauger, Bruce Gordon, Jonathan Witt, John West, and Casey Luskin.
Lecture topics included:
- The role and origin of information in DNA
- History of intelligent design
- The scientific basis of intelligent design
- Science and education policy
- Science and education law
- Evolution and academic freedom
- The media and evolution
- The Privileged Planet
- Population genetics
- Natural theology in cosmology
- The multiverse
- Obstacles to unguided evolution
- Junk DNA
- Biological information and development
- The Edge of Evolution
- The Social Darwinian Evolution
- Theistic evolution
- ID and the origins of modern science
- The role of genius, beauty, and the aesthetics in design
- The metaphysical implications of ID
The schedule is demanding since it requires to fit so much material into a time span just over a week-long. You’ll interact with the scholars on a one-on-one basis and even enjoy meals together. They’re not distanced like some professors at the university may be like since there’s only about thirty participants. I still keep in touch with many of the other participants and have made great friendships. What’s beautiful about the seminar is that not everyone believes the same thing. Every participant’s credentials were different ranging from philosophy, theology, law, journalism, biology, medicine, biochemistry, and nuclear physics with only a couple of undergraduates, mostly graduates, and a couple Ph.D.’s. Religious affiliation was irrelevant, views on evolution and origins vary, and friendly/fruitful debate sparked throughout the seminar. The DI accepted participants from around the world: Africa, Norway, Scotland, Wales, California, Texas, and the East Coast.
I left Seattle with 59 pages of notes on my computer. I’ve referred to my notes on several occasions and have gained valuable and beneficial knowledge. They provided nearly two-dozen books for me to read in preparation and for studying while there (and of course post-seminar studies). I spent a total of $50 on my ten day endeavor and that was only for a snack in the airport, an over weight suit case, and another snack at a 7-11 down the street from the campus. I highly recommend the seminar to anyone who is friendly and open to the ID hypothesis. I’m doing my graduate research on the multiverse as it pertains to the fine-tuning argument and this seminar has certainly been a valuable asset for me. Thank you Discovery Institute for sharing this knowledge and granting me the opportunity to briefly study under these scholars.