Detailed Syllabus for Cornell Evolution/Design Course
BioEE 467/B&Soc 447/Hist 415/S&TS 447: Seminar in History of Biology
Summer 2006 - Syllabus
PREREQUISITES: None (introductory course in evolutionary biology recommended, but not required)
CREDIT HOURS: 4 (does not count toward evolution distribution requirement in biological sciences)
CLASS TIMES: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-9 PM
CLASS LOCATION: Whittaker Seminar Room, 409 Corson-Mudd Hall.
COURSE FORMAT: The format for each class will be a 90 minute interactive discussion/seminar, in which all participants present their interpretations and opinions of the concepts and readings under consideration. Participants will also have the opportunity to make presentations of their original work. Grades will be based on the quality of a term research paper, due at the end of the course, plus attendance and class participation.
GRADE BASED ON: Attendance and participation in seminar discussions, plus a letter grade on the final research paper (maximum length = 20 pages), for a total of 100 points (electronic/email submission encouraged, but not required):
Course Grade Components................Due On
Proposal for final research paper.......Fri07Jul06
Draft/outline of research paper.........Thu20Jul06
Final research Paper:= 75 points.......Thu03Aug06
Attendance..............= 10 points........overall
Participation............= 15 points........overall
COURSE TITLE: Evolution and Design: Is There Purpose in Nature?
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This seminar addresses, in historical perspective, controversies about the cultural implications of evolutionary biology. Discussions focus upon questions about gods, free will, foundations for ethics, meaning in life, and life after death. Readings range from Charles Darwin to the present (see reading list, below).
The current debate over "intelligent design theory" is only the latest phase in the perennial debate over the question of design in nature. Beginning with Aristotle's "final cause," this idea was the dominant explanation for biological adaptation in nature until the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species. Darwin's work united the biological sciences with the other natural sciences by providing a non-teleological explanation for the origin of adaptation. However, Darwin's theory has been repeatedly challenged by theories invoking design in nature.
The latest challenge to the neo-darwinian theory of evolution has come from the "intelligent design movement," spearheaded by the Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA. In this course, we will read extensively from authors on both sides of this debate, including Francisco Ayala, Michael Behe, Richard Dawkins, William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Ernst Mayr, and Michael Ruse. Our intent will be to sort out the various issues at play, and to come to clarity on how those issues can be integrated into the perspective of the natural sciences as a whole.
In addition to in-class discussions, course participants will have the opportunity to participate in online debates and discussions via the instructor's weblog at http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/. Students registered for the course will also have an opportunity to present their original research paper(s) to the class and to the general public via publication on the course weblog and via THE EVOLUTION LIST.
INTENDED AUDIENCE: This course is intended primarily for students in biology, biology and society, history, philosophy, and science & technology studies. The approach will be interdisciplinary, and the format will consist of in-depth readings across the disciplines and discussion of the issues raised by such readings. Although there are no prerequisites, a knowledge of evolutionary biology (equivalent to BioEE 207 and/or BioEE 278) is highly recommended. In addition to registered students, course participants will also include invited guests from the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, the Paleontological Research Institute, and the Cornell IDEA Club. Members of the general public may only attend class discussions with prior permission of the instructor.
REQUIRED TEXTS: (all texts will be available at The Cornell Store, http://www.store.cornell.edu/)
Behe, Michael (2006) Darwin's black box: The biochemical challenge to evolution. New York, NY, Free Press, 352 pages.
Dawkins, Richard (1996) The blind watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design. New York, NY, W. W. Norton (reissue edition), 400 pages.
Dembski, William (2006) The design inference : Eliminating chance through small probabilities. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 272 pages.
Johnson, Phillip E. (2002) The wedge of truth: Splitting the foundations of naturalism. Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 192 pages.
Ruse, Michael (2006) Darwin and design: Does evolution have a purpose? Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 384 pages.
OPTIONAL TEXTS: (all texts will be available at The Cornell Store, http://www.store.cornell.edu/)
Darwin, Charles (1859) On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, 1st Edition (E. Mayr, ed.), Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 513 pages.
Available online at: http://pages.britishlibrary.net/charles.darwin/texts/origin1859/origin_fm.html
Darwin, Charles (E. O. Wilson, ed.) (2006) From so simple a beginning: Darwin's four great books. New York, NY, W. W. Norton, 1,706 pages.
Available online at: http://pages.britishlibrary.net/charles.darwin2/texts.html#books
Dembski, William & Ruse, Michael (2004) Debating design: From darwin to DNA. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 422 pages.
Forrest, Barbara & Gross, Paul R. (2004) Creationism's trojan horse: The wedge of intelligent design. New York, NY, Oxford University Press USA, 416 pages.
Graffin, Gregory W. (2004) Evolution, monism, atheism, and the naturalist world-view. Ithaca, NY, Polypterus Press (P.O. Box 4416, Ithaca, NY, 14852), 252 pages.
Can be purchased online at: http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/obtain.html
Perakh, Mark (2003) Unintelligent design. Amherst, NY, Prometheus Books, 459 pages.
Ruse, Michael (2000): The evolution wars: A guide to the debates. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 326 pages.
COURSE PACKET: (all items will be available online at the course website)
Ayala, F. (1970) Teleological explanations in evolutionary biology. Philosophy of Science, Vol. 37: pages 1-15.
Binswanger, H. (1992) Life-based teleology and the foundations of ethics. The Monist, pages 84-103.
Behe, M. (2002) Intelligent design as an alternative explanation for the existence of biomolecular machines. Unpublished manuscript.
Dembski, W. (2005) What every theologian should know about creation, evolution, and design. Orthodoxy Today. Available online at: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/DembskiDesign.php
Discovery Institute (1999) The wedge. Available online at: http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005) Complete trial documents and references. Available online at:
Mayr, E. (1974) Telological and teleonomic: A new analysis. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, XIV, pages 91 to 117.
Nagel, E. (1977) Teleology revisited: Goal-directed processes in biology. Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 74, No. 5, pages 261-301.
As noted in the Course Format (above), each class will be a 90 minute discussion/seminar, in which all participants will have an opportunity to present their interpretations and opinions of the concepts and readings under consideration. Only the first two classes will depart somewhat from this format. In these, the instructor will lay out the ground rules for the course and present some basic information on evolution and some of its philosophical implications. Notice that two classes have been *rescheduled* due to holidays and time conflicts. Also note that there is an optional picnic/campfire scheduled for Friday 28 July 2006 at the instructor’s home.
DAY & DATE: Tuesday 27 June 2006
6:00-7:30 Course ground rules and an introduction to evolution, "Darwin's dangerous idea"
7:30-9:00 The Natural Selection Game and discussion of the results and implications
DAY & DATE: Thursday 29 June 2006 *NO CLASS-SCHEDULING CONFLICT*
DAY & DATE: Friday 30 June 2006 *Rescheduled from Thursday 29 June*
Dawkins/The Blind Watchmaker
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapters 1 & 2
6:00-7:30: Natural selection and scientific reasoning
7:30-9:00: Discussion of natural selection, scientific method, and philosophy of science
DAY & DATE: Tuesday 4 July 2006 *NO CLASS-INDEPENDENCE DAY*
DAY & DATE: Thursday 6 July 2006
Dawkins/The Blind Watchmaker
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapter 3 & 4
DAY & DATE: Friday 7 July 2006 *Rescheduled due to Independence Day Holiday*
Dawkins/The Blind Watchmaker
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapters 5 & 6
RESEARCH PROPOSAL DUE: All students must submit a tentative proposal on Friday 7 July 2006
DAY & DATE: Tuesday 11 July 2006
Behe/"Intelligent Design as an Alternative Explanation for the Existence of Biomolecular Machines" (provided in course packet)
Behe/Darwin’s Black Box
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapter 7
DAY & DATE: Thursday 13 July 2006
Behe/Darwin’s Black Box
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapter 8
DAY & DATE: Tuesday 18 July 2006
Dembski/”What Every Theologian Should Know About Creation, Evolution, and Design” (provided in course packet)
Dembski/The Design Inference
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapters 9 & 10
DAY & DATE: Thursday 20 July 2006
Dembski/The Design Inference
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapters 11 & 12
DRAFT/OUTLINE DUE: All students must submit an outline and references on Thursday 20 July 2006
DAY & DATE: Tuesday 25 July 2006
Discovery Institute/The wedge. Available online at: http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html
Johnson/The Wedge of Truth
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapter 13
DAY & DATE: Thursday 27 July 2006
READINGS: Johnson/The Wedge of Truth
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapter 14
DAY & DATE: Friday 28 July 2006
Optional barbeque/picnic and campfire at professor's home, beginning at 6 PM
DAY & DATE: Tuesday 1 August 2006
Ayala/Teleological explanations in evolutionary biology.
Binswanger/Life-based teleology and the foundations of ethics.
Mayr/Teleological and teleonomic: A new analysis.
Nagel/Teleology revisited: Goal-directed processes in biology.
DAY & DATE: Thursday 3 August 2006
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005) Judge Jones’ decision.
Ruse/Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose? chapter 15
RESEARCH PAPER DUE: All assigned written work due by 6:00 PM on Thursday 3 August 2006
PROFESSOR: Allen D. MacNeill
G-24 Stimson Hall
For logistical reasons, there are two course websites.
The Course Blog is located online at http://evolutionanddesign.blogsome.com/. This website is administered and moderated by the course instructor (Allen MacNeill, firstname.lastname@example.org), in cooperation with the blog webmaster Hannah Maxson (email@example.com), founder and president of the Cornell IDEA Club. The course blog is open to the public and contains articles, commentary, papers, etc. by students in the course and participants online. Both the moderator and the webmaster are great admirers of the traditional values of the academy: intellectual freedom, personal responsibility, and respect for others. Therefore, the course blog has several rules, which will be strictly enforced:
1. Ad hominem attacks, blasphemy, profanity, rudeness, and vulgarity will not be tolerated (although heresy will always be encouraged). However, vigorous attacks against a member's position are expected and those who cannot handle such should think twice before they post.
2. Long-running debates that are of interest only to a small number of individuals should be taken elsewhere, preferably via private email (i.e. if the moderator gets tired of reading posts concerning the population density [N] of terpsichorean demigods inhabiting ferrous microalpine environments, the posters will be encouraged to "settle it outside").
3. Pseudonyms are permitted but real names are preferred. However, if the moderator suspects that someone is posting under multiple aliases or pretending to be someone else, they will be permanently banned from the blog.
4. Mutual respect and sensitivity towards those with opposing views is essential. In particular, posts containing what the moderator feels is "creation-bashing" by evolutionists or "evolution-bashing" by creationists, will not be tolerated.
The Course Website is located online at http://www.learningrefined.com/. This website is the source for course packets and lecture notes. All students registered for the course should also register at LearningRefined.com (just follow the onscreen instructions), where they can then download the course readings packet and lecture notes (some course packet items require payment before downloading; these items will also be on free reserve).
In addition to the course blog and website, the following websites are recommended as sources of information:
Access Research Network (information & research/intelligent design): http://www.arn.org/
Adventures in Ethics & Science (blog/evolutionist): http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/
Answers in Genesis (news & commentary digest/young-Earth creationist) http://www.answersingenesis.org/
Anthro-L list at SUNY Buffalo (anthropology listserve/evolutionist): http://listserv.buffalo.edu/user/sub.shtml
Austringer, The (blog/evolutionist): http://austringer.net/wp/
Concerned Scientist (blog/evolutionist): http://danielrhoads.blogspot.com/
Cornell Idea Club (information/intelligent design): http://www.rso.cornell.edu/idea/
Creation News (news & commentary digest/young-Earth creationist): http://www.nwcreation.net/news.html
Darwinian Conservatism (blog/politics/evolutionist): http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com/
Design Paradigm (blog/intelligent design): http://designparadigm.blogsome.com/
Discovery Institute (news & commentary digest/intelligent design): http://www.discovery.org/
Dispatches from the Culture Wars (blog/evolutionist): http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/
Evolgen (blog/evolutionist): http://scienceblogs.com/evolgen/
Evolution at PBS (TV series/evolutionist): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/index.html
Evolution at Wikipedia.com (encyclopedia-wiki): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution
EvolutionBlog (blog/evolutionist): http://www.scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/
Evolution List (blog/evolutionist): http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/
Evolution News (news & commentary digest/intelligent design): http://www.evolutionnews.org/
Evolution Update (links & sources/evolutionist): http://users.mstar2.net/spencersa/evolutus/
Evolutionary Psychology (listserve/evolutionist): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evolutionary-psychology/
Evolving Thoughts (blog/evolutionist): http://evolvethought.blogspot.com/
EvoWiki (encyclopedia-wiki/evolutionist): http://www.evowiki.org/index.php/Main_Page
Hpb. Etc/ (blog/history & philosophy of biology): http://drrob.typepad.com/hpb_etc/
ID in the United Kingdom (Blog/intelligent design): http://www.idintheuk.blogspot.com/
iDesign at UCI (blog/intelligent design): http://www.ics.uci.edu/~aasuncio/idesign.htm
Indian Cowboy (blog/evolutionist): http://www.indiancowboy.net/blog/
Intelligent Design at Wikipedia (encyclopedia-wiki): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design
Intelligent Design The Future (blog/intelligent design): http://www.idthefuture.com/
International Society for Complexity, Information, & Design (info/intelligent design): http://www.iscid.org/
Intersection, The (blog/evolutionist): http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/
Loom, The (blog/evolutionist): http://www.corante.com/loom/
National Center for Science Education (news & commentary digest/evolutionist): http://www.ncseweb.org/
Nature (news, commentary, original research/scientist): http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html
New York Times/Science Online (commentary digest): http://nytimes.com/pages/science/index.html
Panda's Thumb, The (blog/evolutionist): http://www.pandasthumb.org/
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (links & sources) http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=114
Pharyngula (blog/evolutionist): http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
ResearchID.org (online research/intelligent design): http://www.researchintelligentdesign.org/wiki/Main_Page
Science (news, commentary, original research/scientist): http://www.sciencemag.org/
Science & Technology Daily News (news & commentary digest): http://www.scitechdaily.com/
Science & Theology Daily (news digest): http://www.stnews.org/articles.php?category=commentary
Scientific American (news, commentary, original research/scientist): http://www.sciam.com/
Society for the Study of Evolution (information & links/evolutionist): http://www.evolutionsociety.org/
Stranger Fruit (blog/evolutionist): http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/
Talk.Origins (online FAQs/evolutionist): http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs.html
Telic Thoughts (blog/intelligent design): http://telicthoughts.com/
Terra Daily News (news digest): http://www.terradaily.com/
Understanding Evolution (museum website/evolutionist): http://evolution.berkeley.edu/