Cover Story

Fighting back

"Fighting back" Continued...

Chilufya first heard about ID last year from her uncle, who had previously attended the Discovery Institute seminar. Excited to see how science helped reinforce her Christian beliefs, she started an Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) club at her university where students gather to discuss the origins of life.

As Chilufya applies to a master’s program in microbiology, she is weighing what type of research she could do that would point to design. For instance, after hearing Gonzalez speak about fine-tuning, she’s thinking about studying microorganisms that live in extreme places and how they were designed to survive those environments.

“Right now there’s no threat in just speaking your view [in Zambia],” Chilufya said. “I’m not sure about 10 years from now, but I’m just thinking we should enjoy it while it lasts.”

When Ali Demir* of Turkey was 12, he wondered about the origins of life and started reading scientific and religious books in Turkish. It wasn’t until he learned English in college that he found an ID-related article on the internet. He spent hours reading articles and books, and watching YouTube talks of the leading ID proponents: Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Richard Sternberg.

During the Seattle seminar Demir looked starstruck eating meals and playing Frisbee with his heroes. “I feel like I’m in YouTube!” he exclaimed. He said he knew Behe’s lecture by heart, as he’s watched his videos over and over again.

Demir can’t tell any of his fellow college students in Turkey why he visited Seattle this summer. While 99 percent of Turkey–including Demir–is Muslim, academia is largely controlled by atheists because most religious leaders do not engage in scientific topics. Ali said he couldn’t even tell his professors that he is a Muslim, much less a proponent of ID.

Demir’s goal is to keep his beliefs quiet until he’s tested the scientific evidence for ID himself and becomes a professor. Once he is in that position of authority, people will take his ideas seriously even if they disagree: “I’ll continue asking these kinds of questions probably all my life because in my humble opinion it’s more important and interesting than any other topic, our origin is more important than any other thing.”

Andreas Müller* of Switzerland said he would probably be shunned by academics in his country if they knew about his belief in ID. As a boy, he saw airplanes and engines and wanted to know how they worked. Now in his 20s, he’s finishing a master’s degree in biotechnology and thinking of pursuing a doctorate in the same field, perhaps at a U.S. university.

Biotechnology, he says, is about building new systems from existing ones—like taking an insecticidal gene from a bacterium and adding it to the genome of a crop. But he doesn’t think scientists will ever be able to build sophisticated biological machinery like the ones that already exist in nature. For instance the flagellum, the spinning whiplike structure some cells use to propel themselves, involves multiple protein parts working in harmony.

“It looks like a motor, like an onboard motor from a boat,” Müller said. “If one of these single proteins doesn’t work, the whole thing doesn’t work.” According to the lingo of intelligent design, the flagellum is “irreducibly complex.”

At school, Müller generally keeps his thoughts about intelligent design to himself. He’s still questioning which career route to take. Option 1: Be open about intelligent design from the start, and take whatever limited job openings he can find. Option 2: Keep quiet about ID until his career credentials are established firmly enough to withstand withering criticism. Option 3: Never say anything, and simply use his science career for the betterment of humanity.

“I think one day I will have to reveal it. When I’m 60 or 70,” he laughs. “Or when I’m dying. … One of those heroic sentences when you’re dying: ‘I was pro-ID! And I don’t regret it!’”—A.L. & D.J.D.


in there

by Samantha Gilman

Despite restrictions public schools place on what teachers can say, many Christians find ways to demonstrate their faith.

Kristin Silecchia, 24, tackled her first full-time teaching experience last year at Davis Middle School in Hillsdale, Mich. A Christian, she approached discipline in her class of 25 fifth-graders by always remembering Christ’s forgiveness: “I try to start each day as a new day, especially if there was a behavior issue the previous day. They are going to make mistakes and I need to forgive them just as I’ve been forgiven.”


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