Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

No intelligent design, no $

The last thing McGill University professor Brian Alters expected upon opening a letter late in March was to see his latest $40,000 Canadian ($36,400 US) grant rejected for not providing enough evidence to support a theory he'd made a career of defending: evolution.

Alters had applied for funds from Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to study the effect of intelligent design debates in the United States on Canadian students, teachers, administrators, and policymakers. In the rejection letter, the SSHRC said Alters - who is a vocal advocate for education about evolution and an expert witness in the recent Dover trial - did not provide 'adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent design theory, was correct.'

Alters says he was completely blown away to read that one of Canada's largest funding bodies seemed to consider intelligent design an alternative scientific theory to evolution. Coincidentally, he received the letter a few days before giving a Canadian Royal Society lecture on 'Intelligent Design, God, and Evolution.' (Webcast - see Note 2). Alters read the six-sentence rejection aloud to the 650 people attending, and 'there was an audible gasp in the audience,' he says.

Note 1: email if you have problems accessing this article

Note 2: For 20 or 30 seconds the webcast page said 'loading' and appeared to be redirected because of my pop-up settings. Have patience and ignore any 'NoPopupRedirector' message (or check your pop-up settings if the page doesn't load at all of course!).

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