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October 24, 2005

Intelligent Design Issue to be Discussed at Smith College Nov. 1

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – A landmark federal case that questions what can be defined as science will be discussed during a Smith College forum next week as a faculty panel examines the ongoing debate over evolutionary theory and Intelligent Design.

“Science, Non-Science and the Debate Over Evolutionary Theory and Intelligent Design” will be held Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 5 p.m. in Stoddard Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

Intelligent Design holds that the development of life cannot be explained solely by evolution and that the guiding hand of an intelligent force must have been at work. Proponents argue it should be taught alongside evolution in public schools while opponents – including the majority of scientists – say it has no place in classrooms.

The Smith College discussion panel will be led by Stephen Tilley, the Myra A. Sampson Professor of Biological Sciences, and will include faculty members from three areas of study. Robert Dorit, associate professor of biological sciences; Jeffry Ramsey, associate professor of philosophy; and Donna Riley, assistant professor or engineering, will all offer their perspectives.

“Geologists and biologists are on the front lines defending one of the greatest contributions to science and in many ways the basis of science itself: Evolution,” said Riley. “Engineers should also be alarmed by Intelligent Design because not only is science being mischaracterized, but so is design—the fundamental hallmark of engineering.”

On Oct. 24, the federal trial over whether Intelligent Design can be mentioned in public school biology classes entered its fifth week.

At issue is last year’s vote by the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania to require students to hear a statement about Intelligent Design before 9th-grade biology lessons on evolution. The school board contends that Intelligent Design is a scientific concept and the statement says Charles Darwin’s theory is “not a fact,” has inexplicable “gaps,” and refers students to the textbook titled “Of Pandas and People” for more information.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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