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In a new post on their website Darwin or Design?, Britain’s own newly established Centre for Intelligent Design is pushing a speaking tour by intelligent design proponent Michael Behe.  This may well be the first action taken by Alastair Noble’s new venture.  According to Inspire Magazine, Michael Behe will be giving a series of lectures:

Behe’s Darwin or Design? What Does the Science Really Say? tour runs from 20-27 November and will comprise evening lectures at the Babbage Lecture Theatre in Cambridge and the Caledonian University in Glasgow, plus events in London, Belfast and Leamington/Warwick. He will also be the main speaker at a day conference (27 November) at Oxford Brookes University.

The tour is organised by the UK-based Centre for Intelligent Design, which exists to promote the public understanding of ID.

Behe’s testimony in the famous Dover v Kitzmiller case in the USA was equally famously shredded.  At the time I blooged about the establishment of the UK Centre for Intelligent Design, I wondered what they had the (then unused) http://www.darwinordesign.org.uk URL for – now we know.  The Oxford date is a day conference:

The day conference in Oxford on Saturday November 27th will deal with the range of scientific evidences for design in genetics and cellular biology and with some of the philosophical issues associated with intelligent design.  Other contributors to the conference will include Dr Geoff Barnard, formerly of Cambridge University’s School of Veterinary Science, and Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at Warwick University and an expert in the history and philosophy of science.

The lucky participants will receive a DVD. The British Centre for Science Education has a brief outlines of Geoff Barnard (an academic in the field of veterinary medicine) and Steve Fuller (a sociologist), both of whom appear to be Intelligent Design proponents. Interestingly, Fuller gave evidence at the Dover v Kitzmiller case.  The DVD that participants in the Oxford day conference receive is entitle “Unlocking the Mystery of Life“, and is made by Illustra Media, who describe themselves thus:

llustra Media produces video documentaries that examine the scientific case for intelligent design. Working with Discovery Institute and an international team of scientists and scholars (including Michael Behe, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen Meyer, and Lee Strobel), Illustra has helped define both the scientific case for design and the limitations of materialistic processes like Darwinian evolution. These documentaries include Unlocking the Mystery of Life, The Privileged Planet and Darwin’s Dilemma.

Clearly this enterprise represents an escalation in the UK of the wedge strategy so beloved of the Discovery Institute.

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You may recall the recent furore that enveloped the University of Oklahoma’s invitation to Richard Dawkins to deliver a lecture (see my article Richard Dawkins visits the University of Oklahoma). You can read the original Legislature motions here (Oklahoma legislator proposes resolution to condemn Richard Dawkins).

Now it seems, the Oklahoma Legistature is attempting to get at the University for having the temerity to go ahead with Dawkins lecture (Greg Lukianoff at the Huffington Post -Oklahoma Legislature Investigates Richard Dawkins’ Free Speech).

Sure enough, I just received confirmation today in a letter from the Open Records Office at the University of Oklahoma. The letter confirms that on the day of Dawkins’ speech, Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton requested substantial information relating to the speech from Vice President for Governmental Relations Danny Hilliard. Representative Hamilton’s exhaustive request included demands for all e-mails and correspondence relating to the speech; a list of all money paid to Dawkins and the entities, public or private, responsible for this funding; and the total cost to the university, including, among other things, security fees, advertising, and even “faculty time spent promoting this event.”

Rick Farmer, the director of committee staff for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, also wrote the University on March 12, requesting confirmation that Dawkins had indeed waived all compensation for the speech.

I can’t think what the purpose of this request is, other than to continue the harassment started before Dawkins’ engagement to speak was fulfilled.  It strikes me that it’s an attempted suppression of academic independence, and it has to be motivated byt the personal beliefs (in mediaeval mumbo-jumbo) of members of the Oklahoma Legislature. Shame on them.

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I gather from the New Humanist blog that Damian Thompson, who “is a Telegraph leader writer and editor-in-chief of a leading Catholic newspaper” and who blogs at The Daily Telegraph frequently takes a pop at them. He can write a pretty obnoxious blog title too: Evan Harris, let me tell you where you can shove your attempt to reform the Act of Settlement.  In that blog article, he reacts violently against Evan Harris, who tried to contact him  regarding the private members’ bill he’s just introduced to change the Act of Settlement.

You know something? Catholics don’t want to be liberated from this constitutional discrimination by a politician who advocates an end to the requirement that any abortion requires the consent of two doctors, arguing that the “procedure” can carried out by a nurse or even in the home.

I know I speak for many Catholics when I say that this man disgusts me. He is wrong about nearly everything, and wrong in a particularly nauseating fashion, too: self-righteous, humourless, self-important.

Seems to me that “He is wrong about nearly everything, and wrong in a particularly nauseating fashion, too: self-righteous, humourless, self-important” is a good description of Damian Thompson.

Personally, I tend towards republicanism, which would remove problems associated with the monarchy and religion.  I’m also rather irritated by religious types who tell women what they can or can’t do with their reproductive systems, particularly by male religious commentators.  For my part, I’ve never been in the position where abortion has been a choice for me or my partner; I don’t know which way we would go, but I’m damned sure I am glad the choice is there.

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