Believers and skeptics will be challenged to pit "Darwin vs. Design" at a conference today, when three of the most outspoken intelligent design (ID) advocates join together to speak about their controversial theory.
Moderated by prominent Christian apologist Lee Strobel, writer of the New York Times bestseller The Case for the Creator, the "Darwin vs. Design" conference held in Knoxville, Tenn., will discuss the implications and controversy surrounding evolution and intelligent design, a theory that argues that complex living organisms must have been created by a higher being.
Sponsored by the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (CSC), the panel discussion will try to support the organization's goal of revealing weakness in evolutionary theory as well as provide positive support in favor of ID.
"For us, we approach [intelligent design] as a strictly scientific issue and an issue that is open for debate," said Robert Crowther, director of communications at the Discovery Institute's CSC, in the Daily Beacon. "It is important for students to learn that there are strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolutionary theory."
Alongside Strobel will be three of ID's most prominent scientists, including Dr. Michael Behe, a biochemist and leading ID authority from Lehigh University; Dr. Stephen Meyer, the director of the CSC at Discovery Institute; and Dr. Jay Richards, a CSC senior fellow and co-author of The Privileged Planet.
According to the conference website, "Conference attendees will interact with intelligent design scientists and experts whose discoveries in cosmology, biology, physics, and DNA present astonishing scientific evidence that is overturning the evolutionary thinking of the past."
In the years since it came out, intelligent design theory has been highly criticized by outsiders as not being true science. They contend that it just religion camouflaged as science and another way to push creationism, the Biblical concept that God created everything.
Those in favor of ID of reject this notion, however, saying that their theory is only in favor of a "creator," not God specifically. Because of the world's irreducible complexity, there must have been a driving force behind organism development.
An opposing professor of ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Tennessee, Michael Gilchrist, was so against the upcoming conference that, upon hearing of Oak Ridge National Laboratory adding the event to their calendar, he wrote to them via email to remove it from their listings.
"Although some of the speakers at the 'Darwin vs. Design' conference are scientists in name, the nature of their studies, Intelligent Design and Creationism, are clearly not," he explained according to Knoxville News. "In the interest of true working scientists and to prevent any misleading of the general public, I would request that you remove the 'Darwin vs. Design' listing from your technical calendar."
The conference, which runs from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., will be cut into separate segments where each speaker will be allowed to "explore the growing scientific evidence that life and the universe were intelligently designed," according to its website.
The "Darwin vs. Design" conference will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center and will have reduced ticket pricing for students.
The institute organizers plan on holding a second conference Apr. 13-14 at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. They also intend to hold more of them as they find more locations to hold the conference. They are currently accepting invitations at their website.