Wright State U., you're doin' it wrong

Ratio Christi is a new-ish college campus oriented apologetics organization whose Wright State University (Ohio) chapter’s goal “… is to populate heaven by planting seeds of Truth into the minds of atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and spiritual seekers.” If one is so inclined, one can earn a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University (formerly the Bible Institute of Los Angeles) at a discount through Ratio Christi. In some ways Ratio Christi looks like a sort of successor to Casey Luskin’s now-defunct IDEA center.

Like Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis, Ratio Christi is heavy on anti-evolution. It’s recommended resources include books and papers by Disco ‘Tute stalwarts like Michael Behe, David Berlinski, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, and Jonathan Wells, along with Fuzzy Rana of Reasons to Believe, young earth creationist Paul Garner, and apologetics philosopher Alvin Plantinga.

Ratio Christi spreads ID propaganda to the college campuses of its chapters. For example, according to a recent Dayton Daily News story, the Wright State chaper will hold an event called “Intelligent Design vs. Evolutionary Concepts” with “Dr. Paul Nelson of the University of Chicago.” That has to be our old friend of ontogenetic depth fame, Paul Nelson, a young earth creationist who got a Ph.D. in philosophy from the U of Chicago but who is now employed by the Discovery Institute as a professional propagandist for ID.

A couple of things in that newspaper article are worth noting. First, of course, there’s the obvious inflationary credentialism. Nelson got his degree from the U of Chicago 14 years ago, but AFAICT has had no particular professional association with it since then, unless one counts his forthcoming-in-perpetuity monograph On Common Descent, which has been hanging fire since he finished his dissertation. As far as I can tell, he has held one or two adjunct positions here and there, most recently in Biola’s Science & Religion program, but has been mainly employed by the Discovery Institute since the late 1990s.

Second, of course, there’s the “Evolutionary Concepts” part of the title of Nelson’s presentation. Anyone who has listened carefully to his presentations–see here for a selection–knows he tends to misrepresent evolutionary concepts. Those Wright State kids may get good apologetics (if there actually is such a thing as “good” apologetics), but will not get an accurate representation of evolutionary science. If that chapter genuinely wants to plant “…seeds of Truth into the minds of atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and spiritual seekers” it’s off to a bad start with Nelson.