09 August 2009

Dembski's Courses

Famed proponent of Intelligent Design, Dr. William Dembski, teaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He teaches four courses there:
PHILO 2483, Intelligent Design or Unintelligent Evolution, undergraduate course
PHILO 4373, Christian Apologetics, masters course
PHILO 4483, Christian Faith and Science, masters course
PHILO 7514, Christian Faith and Apologetic Issues, doctoral seminar

Hm. And what do you have to do in these courses?
AP510 This is the masters course. You have four things to do: (1) take the final exam (worth 30% of your grade); (2) write a 1,500- to 2,000-word critical review of Francis Collins’s The Language of God -- for instructions, see below (20% of your grade); (3) write a 3,000-word essay on the theological significance of intelligent design (worth 30% of your grade); (4) provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 3,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade).

Ah, I see. Yes, it is very common for professors to require their students to provide proof of their time spent debating people on the internet about the subject material. Absolutely standard practice.

I wonder what some of the questions might be on the final exams posted. Let's look at the final exam for a 2006 course he taught, called "A Primer on Intelligent Design." Here is one of the four questions, requiring a 500-word answer:
1. You are a panelist at the premier showing of Richard Dawkins’s BBC production debunking religion titled “The Root of All Evil?” Richard Dawkins is there on the podium with you. After the showing of this program, you are asked to present a brief response. Throughout the program, Dawkins emphasizes that evolutionary theory is confirmed by overwhelming evidence whereas religious belief is as a matter of blind, unthinking faith. Challenge him in your response on both points: spend half of your response showing that evolution is not nearly as overwhelmingly confirmed as Dawkins makes out; also, indicate how, at least when it comes to the Christian faith, religious belief can be well-supported evidentially (e.g., indicate lines of evidence supporting the resurrection and the reliability of the Scriptures).

Again, it's absolutely standard practice to tell students what their opinions is and require them to defend it. Seriously, at least this gives the students practice in an important skill in this line of work: building up elaborate straw-men and knocking them down with a lot of noise.

(h/t richarddawkins.net)

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