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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My U of T ID course got good reviews!

When I first offered to replace a retired high school teacher, and teach an adult night school course at the University of Toronto on why there is an intelligent design controversy, I had no idea that it would provoke an uproar among people who seemed to know little about it and, in many cases, didn't even live anywhere near Toronto.

Well, it went off okay, and last week I received a kind letter from the co-ordinator, with student reviews enclosed. On the whole it seems positive. I do not credit myself, but rather my excellent and well qualified co-teachers, on whom I relied for the technical parts (what kind of universe do we live in? why is origin of life a problem? how might an information theorist look at evolution?, etc.). I mostly did the historical and media stuff myself, with the excellent assistance of Toronto journalist David Warren for the latter.

One student pointed out that we should have looked more at Richard Dawkins's views (= ultra-Darwinism). I think that student is right. For convenience, I had originally modelled the course on my book, By Design or by Chance? but had inadvertently skipped over the chapter on Richard Dawkins vs. Stephen Jay Gould. If I organize the course again, I will split the third evening into two parts - one half on Darwinism/neo-Darwinism/ultra-Darwinism/Gould's ideas and the other on creationism, which is what my book actually did.

My only complaint is that there seems to be no reliable coffee service in easy reach of our mid-session break. I had promised coffee and donuts for the last session, but was able to provide only the donuts.

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