Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm Going to a Lecture on Intelligent Design

Denyse O'Leary is teaching a course on Intelligent Design at the University of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto [Denyse O'Leary's University Course on Intelligent Design].

The outline of the course was posted on Post-Darwinist [ COURSE: By Design or by Chance? An introduction to the intelligent design controversy].

Students in the course are allowed to invite a guest for one lecture and one of my friends, who shall remain nameless for now, has urged me to come along. By all accounts the course is going well and Denyse is presenting both sides of the controversy.

Tonight's lecture is ...
Session 5. Intelligent design: What the ID proponents actually say (and don’t say) Tuesday November 20, 2007

Michael Behe, author of Edge of Evolution (2007), sees actual design where, for example, Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker, sees the illusion of design. Who’s right? Are they both wrong?

Guest: Kirk Durston, biophysics PhD candidate at the University of Guelph.
Kirk Durston (right) is the National Director of the New Scholars Society. According to his biography on their website,
KIRK DURSTON, B.Sc (Physics), B.Sc. (Mech. Eng.), M.A. (Philosophy), Ph.D. Candidate (Biophysics) at the University of Guelph.

Kirk Durston is the National Director of the New Scholars Society. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Biophysics at the University of Guelph, specializing in the application of information to biopolymers. His other interests include amateur astronomy, wilderness canoeing & camping, and landscape photography & art.
What is it about creationists that they always seem to have multiple redundant degrees? In this case he has two Bachelor's degrees. What's with that?

It's easy to find out what Kirk believes because there's a Statment of Faith on the website.
The sole basis of our beliefs is the Bible, God's infallible written Word, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. We believe that it was uniquely, verbally and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that it was written without error (inerrant) in the original manuscripts. It is the supreme and final authority in all matters on which it speaks.We accept those large areas of doctrinal teaching on which, historically, there has been general agreement among all true Christians. Because of the specialized calling of our movement, we desire to allow for freedom of conviction on other doctrinal matters, provided that any interpretation is based upon the Bible alone, and that no such interpretation shall become an issue which hinders the ministry to which God has called us.
Jeffrey Shallit had a few things to say about Kirk Durston on Recursivity [Kirk Durston: Apologist for Genocide]. This is going to be an interesting lecture.


  1. Urgh. I'm a PhD student at the University of Guelph, in the department of Integrative Biology. I don't know which department Mr. Durston is currently a part of, but our association through this University is enough to bug me. Also, as a PhD candidate, Mr. Durston has apparently passed his candidacy examinations, a feat I have not yet accomplished.

    Thanks Dr. Moran, now I feel (mildly) bad.

    On a lighter note, how was Dr. O'Leary's lecture?

  2. Here he is:


    This is his PhD research.

    My research focuses on the application of information theory to biosequences, with the objective of developing a method to classify proteins in terms of functional entropy, and map their distribution in information space relative to each other. Such a method may make possible the reconstruction of evolutionary pathways and the prediction of other novel proteins within reasonable evolutionary range, as well as providing a more objective method of computing distance between biosequences. For my test suite, I am using a subset of 80 universal proteins that appear to occur in all living organisms.

    Sounds reasonably interesting, but I can see the potential for creationism (e.g. I can see how "other novel proteins within reasonable evolutionary range" could turn out to be Behe's edge of evolution, dressed up with some information jargon).

  3. That's neat, I would hope Prof. Moran, that you could make it...

    Lee <- Creationist with multiple bachelor's degrees, not even counting his current bachelorhood

  4. I was really hoping that you would attend and comment on one of Denyse's lectures. Thanks for taking a hit for the team...

    Looking forward to a review of the lecture.