Forum on Evolution, Intelligent Design to be Held at UMass Amherst Feb. 10

AMHERST, Mass. - Divine creation and Darwinian evolution will be the focus of a discussion at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 10, in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts. The discussion is hosted by The God and Science Project of the Episcopal Chaplaincy at UMass. The press and the public are welcome to attend, and the event is free of charge.

The event will include a presentation by Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., and author of the book, "Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution." He will be followed with a response by Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the geosciences department at UMass, and co-author of the book, "What is Life?" After the presentations, a discussion panel will include Chancellor David K. Scott, who is a physicist; science writer Dick Teresi, co-author of "The God Particle"; and science writer Dorion Sagan, author of "Biospheres" and co-author, with Lynn Margulis, of "What is Life?"

"This forum not only offers the opportunity to hear the fresh thinking of two seminal scholars in the field, it will also provide its audience a chance to participate in a discussion which has immobilized American culture for decades," said the Rev. Christopher Carlisle, Episcopal chaplain at the University. "It is my feeling that many of the obstacles which separate theological and scientific inquiry are artificial, wrought by fear and misunderstanding on both ‘sides.’ It is time to open ourselves to challenge each other and ourselves in our search for the truth."

Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, presents a scientific argument for the existence of God. He plans to discuss the unexplained complexity of nature, and the inadequacy of evolutionary theory. In his book, he argues that living systems at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design. Within the biochemistry of living cells, he argues, life is "irreducibly complex."

Margulis is internationally recognized for her research on the evolution of eukaryotic cells, or those that have a nucleus. She is the leading proponent of the idea that symbiogenesis, the merger of previously independent organisms, is of great importance to evolutionary change. Margulis is also a supporter of the Gaia theory, the idea that the Earth’s temperature and chemical composition are actively regulated as a consequence of the metabolism, growth, death, and evolution of interacting organisms.

The Rev. Christopher Carlisle, Episcopal chaplain at UMass, may be reached at 413/549-5929.