Joel Velasco of Texas Tech University will debate Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute on the topic, “Is Darwin’s theory flourishing or floundering?” according to an article by Victoria Cavazos in Hilltop Views, the student newspaper of St. Edward’s University of Austin, Texas.
We will not discuss whether it is floundering or foundering; it is doing neither, and 11 science faculty expressed their opposition to the debate, which they called a “debate.” The signatories to the letter, which include a dean and an associate dean, 2 department chairs, and a handful of other professors, state that they “do not recognize any legitimate scientific issues up for debate with respect to evolutionary theory” and go on to say,
We write to state clearly that the theory of evolution has undergone significant review in the scientific literature and remains the best, most coherent explanation of the observed development of life on Earth. While specific mechanisms within evolutionary theory remain the subject of modern research, we reiterate that subject of evolution itself is not up for debate in the scientific community.
They go on to note that many scientific societies “have issued statements on the subject of evolution and intelligent design, confirming the demonstrated success of the former and rejecting the scientific viability of latter. The undersigned faculty in the School of Natural Sciences at St. Edward’s University fully embrace this point of view.”
Paul Nelson of the Discovery Institute is probably well known to most readers of this blog. Joel Velasco is an assistant professor of philosophy at Texas Tech University and has an impressive resume. He has a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, where his thesis advisor was Elliott Sober, and he specializes in philosophy of biology. I am sure that Professor Velasco has his reasons for agreeing to the debate, but I am frankly disappointed in him, because I would no more debate Paul Nelson than Deborah Lipstadt* (see here and here) would debate a Holocaust denier.
The “debate” will take place at 7:00 p.m., October 21, on the campus of St. Edward’s University. If anyone can attend and wants to report on it, please do so in the Comments section.
Thanks to Glenn Branch of NCSE for the link.