Joined: Feb. 2006
Biology 102 at my local community college, spring of '05.
Me, a science loving dude since childhood.
Some charismatic kid--I would later discover was actually studying to be a preacher.
Teacher polls the class for ideas on "end of term class presentations". She writes them down on the board for us to pick through later.
Wellllll.. this kid raises his hand and says, "Intelligent Design!"
I had never heard of it. My teacher looked puzzled as well.
When asked, the kid explained, "Its the theory that biology was the product of an intelligent designer rather than natural processes."
I smirk to myself. Teacher does a reasonably admirable job of keeping a straight face as she clarifies. "Oh, you mean creationism."
Kid: "No, its different."
Teacher shrugs and turns back to the board. She writes 'Evolution/ID/Creationism" for all to see.
The next week, everyone has picked a topic but me and a few others. The evo-id topic was very unpopular--the preacher kid and his ally were the only ones to have chosen it. Since both of them were creationists, they had reluctantly decided that one of them would have to take the evolution side. Sensing a disaster, I fought my natural tendency to avoid hard work and signed up for his topic on the pro-evolution side.
Eventually, there were five of us in the group. Three for evolution, and two for ID. But the situation takes a turn when I discover that my teammates are also both creationists. Sort of. One was an Ethiopian Muslim immigrant-one of the nicest guys you'd ever hope to meet. I genuinely liked him. Turns out he was fairly rational about the difference between science and religion, but he was also fairly devout. I suspect that his devotion was part of the reason that he never spent much time studying evidence for or against evolution.
The other one in my group was this girl who couldn't stand me. She was too cool for school, and seemed bored by everything.
At some point early on, I realized that my teammates were not science geeks like myself, so I kinda blinked in surprise and asked plainly, "Well, what do you believe?"
The Ethiopian guy smiled guiltily but admitted, "I'm a creationist." Ms. Aloofness sort of narrowed her eyes at me and refused to say one way or another. Was she a creationist? I've never been quite sure, but I believe she was in exactly the same proportion that she cared at all--which is to say very little.
Anyway, I became obsessed. Nearly every waking hour during that term was spent researching the topic and preparing my argument. I found talkorigins, the NCSE, and the Panda's Thumb all essential resources. I learned all about the Discovery Institute and its major players. I viewed "The Mystery of Life's Origins." I was scared ****less by the Wedge Document. I discovered the joys of the Bacterial Flagellum, and was a little baffled by Dembski's dishonest "filter" BS. Most of all I came away with the understanding that Intelligent Design was essentially Paley's watchmaker argument with biochemistry in place of the watch. Its a clever PR campaign. I had no idea just how insidious the creationists had become--until last year, I held the uniformed opinion that creationists were nearly as fringe as flat earthers. Turns out that most of America is buying this hoopla.
After the class presentation, the preacher-in-training glared at me and did not respond to emails. So much for a friendly debate. His partner, much to my surprise, found ID a little offensive. I don't think she bought it. My Ethiopian partner was smart, but uneducated, and hampered by a language barrier. I think he has other concerns on his mind, like his family. As for Ms. Aloofness, who knows. She is probably painting her nails.
Since the project, I've been a dedicated "creationist-watcher." I still regularly visit the NCSE, the Panda's Thumb, and talkorigins, as well as a dozen other evostyle websites. A heartfelt thanks to all of you, not only for myself but for the role you all have taken in squaring off against the anti-science movement.