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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Denyse O'Leary's University Course on Intelligent Design

One of my friends alerted me to a course taught by Denyse O'Leary at the University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto. This is a continuing education course under Religion, Scripture, Spirituality. Here's the complete description.
RSS7-F By Design or By Chance? An
Introduction to the Intelligent Design Controversy

The intelligent design controversy is best understood as a conflict between materialist and non-materialist views of the origin and nature of the universe. Reputable scientists can be found on both sides. Because the two sides proceed from different assumptions, they do not agree, as Thomas Kuhn would say, on what would constitute a falsification of their premises. The controversy continues to grow because, while the materialism is prevalent in academia and the media, it is widely discredited in the population at large, including the professional classes.

INSTRUCTOR: *Denyse O’Leary is a Toronto-based journalist, author, and blogger, who is the author of Faith@Science, By Design or By Chance? and co-author of The Spiritual Brain with Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard.

Date: 6 Tuesdays, Oct. 23 – Nov. 27 2007
Time: 7 – 9pm
Fee: $130.00
Blue Card: Free
Partner School: $20
Now that sounds really interesting. The good part is that she will focus on materialist vs non-materialist views of the nature of the universe. This is, indeed, the core of the problem. The bad part is that she identifies Thomas Kuhn with the idea of falsification—that doesn't bode well for the accuracy of her lectures.

It might be fun to learn what the "professional classes" think about Intelligent Design Creationism. Is the entertainment worth $130?

[Photo Credit: The photograph is from the University of St. Michael's College website. Marshall McLuhan was a Professor a St. Mike's and the photograph shows him walking to his office on Queen's Park Cresent.]


  1. I don't think she associates Kuhn with falsification, but with the "not agreeing". Popper used falsification as measure of whether something was science or not, but Kuhn (probably) says you can't use falsification if two parties don't even agree on what to test. I'm not sure, need more info: please take the course and blog about it =)

  2. Her statement on "reputable scientists" doesn't quite capture the asymmetry.

  3. Which textbook will she use in her lectures? One of her own, I take it?

  4. It should be interesting to hear what the theory of ID is: What ID can explain, what it can't explain, and how to tell the difference between the two; The answers ID offers to Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How; ...

  5. Reputable scientists can be found on both sides

    Les Lane: Her statement on "reputable scientists" doesn't quite capture the asymmetry.

    If you assume a strictly positive definition for the word "reputable". I prefer to be more inclusive in my definition, and point out that it is possible to have a negative reputation. George W. Bush, for example, has a negative reputation among many people - they know who he is and what his current job is, and they dislike him.

    My problem with the above statement is the term "scientist". If you're and IDiot, it's almost impossible to be a scientist at the same time, because IDiocy expressely forces one to abandon scientific principles including testable hypotheses.

  6. But... she's incoherent! Is this a course that counts towards a degree?

  7. I can't believe this is actually being taught in a Canadian university and presented as being a "controversy." To describe it as such is a falsehood in itself.

  8. RT:

    I did admit in my post linking here that it is a Cont. Ed. course, for which there are typically howlingly low standards and almost anything goes, since Cont. Ed. offerings normally don't have to pass any sort of quality control test.

    But still, it's kind of depressing. Caveat emptor, as they say.

  9. Eva is right, there is nothing wrong with what OLeary says about Kuhn. Well, more precisely, Oleary did indeed (correctly) *associate* him with falsification, but she did not *identify* him with it. He is associated with falsification precisely in that he explicitly opposed Popper and his idea of falsification as the demarcation of the scientific, and for more or less the very reason OLeary gave.