January 4, 2006

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
Tendler: "Our stupidity"

News from the Sixth Miami International Conference on Torah and Science, which ran from Dec. 13 to 15 and was hosted by Florida International University's religious studies department, the Shul of Bal Harbour, and B'Or Ha'Torah journal of science:

On a recent Tuesday evening, Moshe Tendler, an influential Orthodox rabbi and Yeshiva University biology professor, ambled onto the stage at Kovens Conference Center in North Miami. A stately figure with a wispy white beard and heavy glasses, he surveyed the 300-strong crowd of scientists and intellectuals -- most clad in yarmulkes and dark suits with tallith tassels dangling about their waists -- and urged them to spread the word that Darwin was wrong. "It is our task to inform the world [about intelligent design]," he implored. "Or the child growing up will grow up with unintelligent design Unintelligent design is our ignorance, our stupidity."

"Intelligent design luminary" William Dembski was among the event's featured speakers:

Much of Dembski's talk concentrated on the evidence of design in nature. He offered the classic example of the tiny flagella that bacteria use to propel themselves through their environment. "They can spin at 100,000 rpm," Dembski marveled. "And then in a quarter-turn, they're spinning the other direction. Imagine if a blender could do that Is it such a stretch to think a real engineer was involved?"

An Israeli visitor was not impressed:

"Our speaker has fuzzied the main issue," complained Nathan Aviezar, who teaches physics at Bar Ilan University in Israel. "The whole enterprise of science is to explain life without invoking supernatural explanations. Intelligent design is not science, it's religion, and it shouldn't be taught in science class."

But a yeshiva student has a devastating response:

What do the students think? Many of those who heard Dembski speak said they would like to study his ideas in class. "His words make sense," commented Annale Fleisher, a 17-year-old senior at Miami Beach's Hebrew Academy. "Saying life comes from evolution is like saying a library was made by someone spilling a bottle of ink."


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