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Fighting back

"Fighting back" Continued...

Although Potter is in his 50s and already holds a Ph.D. in plant breeding, he’s finishing up a master’s in science and religion at Biola University. He wants to teach others about intelligent design, as he’s already done at his Baptist church, and perhaps organize ID conferences.

For those outside the science field, secrecy about their beliefs is less necessary. Joshua Jones, a government major and economics minor at Houston Baptist University, sees ID as an important part of his future–as a politician. His focus is the impact that science, especially the materialistic ideas of Darwinism, has on public policy, from abortion to education to euthanasia.

Jones sees the far-reaching consequences of a Darwinian worldview: If man is merely made of matter and controlled by natural selection, then the greatest good is the survival of the fittest and the destruction of the weak. These ideas have led to eugenics in Nazi Germany and forced sterilization in the United States.

Jones believes this is why Christians should be in politics: “Christianity gives us that strong moral foundation from which to operate and even which to find consensus. People go around talking about human rights, but especially in a Darwinian context there’s no real reason … for human rights outside of natural law and a lawgiver.”

Even as Jones speaks up in class, his poise and delivery are reminiscent of a politician. He realizes that people may disagree with his beliefs, but his first priority is to pursue truth: “Maybe it’s because I’m young, but I’m ready to take on that fight. I’m kind of an idealist in that sense as an intellectual person, I’m committed to consistency. I could never turn my back on what is true just because of persecution.”

James Lopez, a senior at the California State University of Northridge, is also open about his belief in intelligent design. He says he works hard to stay at the top of his class, give solid reasons for the existence of God, and point out the scientific evidence for intelligent design: His fellow students “haven’t really experienced a logical version of the Christian faith,” so instead of telling his classmates to just believe what the Bible says, he questions them about their own presuppositions.

For instance in astronomy class, the professor assigned students to do a presentation on the origin of an element. Lopez chose iron and explained to the class how it was more likely that God created the element than the element resulted from exploding planets. “There I was in the middle of the big class reading Genesis 1:1 and the whole class was silent.” He said most students haven’t thought through origin-of-life questions, and instead mainly believe whatever their professors say.

In his free time, Lopez posts images with thought-provoking facts on Instagram and debates atheists in the comments section. 

Mark Dunn,* an adjunct astronomy professor at a community college in a Rocky Mountain state, wants to influence the younger generation’s view of science and design. Since he works at a publicly funded institution, he has to be subtle. As he teaches students about white dwarf stars, spiral galaxies, black holes, and the solar system, he introduces them to fine-tuning, the idea that Earth is ideally suited to support life and allow humans to study the stars.

Standing in front of his class, Dunn, an Anglican in his 50s, will explain to students that the Earth’s unusual atmosphere is transparent to radio waves and visible light, but blocks other wavelengths that can be harmful. He will then ask, “Isn’t it interesting that the only two transparent windows in the atmosphere allow us to see the heavens and hear the heavens?”

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While the major controversy over evolution and Intelligent Design has concentrated in the United States, other countries are jumping into the discussion as well, so the Discovery Institute seminar included students from Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe.

Wearing a bright, flowing dress, 28-year-old Jediadah Chilufya of Lusaka, Zambia, quickly typed notes on her cracked tablet as science philosopher Stephen Meyer spoke. A teaching assistant of microbiology at the University of Zambia, she wasn’t just learning: She was preparing for a lecture on ID she’d give at the university once she returned home.

She was surprised to hear of the persecution American scientists faced, as Zambia encourages open dialogue. Christians make up 87 percent of the population, and while some professors are atheists, they like students to debate over evolution and religion. In one class, her Christian professor pointed to the diversity of microorganisms and said, “This obviously shows that despite all these harmful effects bacteria can have, God made us in a way that we don’t just die to extinction.”

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