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Evolution vs. Creation debate sparks protest within campus community

By Amanda Hickey
Senior Staff Writer

The debate over Evolution vs. Creation is an age-old battle.  The battle recently erupted at UNCP and ended in a program hosted by Fusion, a campus ministry group, and a protest by members of the Biology department on Feb. 6.

As Fusion set up for their program on the faults of Evolution and Creationism, protesters gathered outside of the UC.  The protesters carried signs that students made and handed out information about their counter-program.

Evolution a lie?

John Boruff, leader of Fusion, said he believes that the theory of Evolution is a lie.

"I think that Evolution is a stumbling block to the Christian faith.  A lot of people turn away from the Christian faith because of the theory.  It justifies atheism; a philosophical and scientific argument for atheism," said Boruff.

"The atheists who use evolution as a means to justify atheism use evolution as a means of special creation that is a part from any supernatural creative being, like a God," continued Boruff.

Biblical literalists, like Boruff, interpret Genesis I literally.

"I believe that to interpret it metaphorically is to make God out to be a liar," said Boruff.  "I see no reason why if God used Evolution as a means of creation, I see no reason why God didn't tell Moses if he created the world using Evolution," Boruff continued.

It was for this reason, Boruff said, Fusion organized a program entitled "Lies in the Textbooks," that was to be shown in the UC Feb.6 at 7 p.m.

When the program was first planned, fliers were posted around the campus saying, "Evolution is a lie."  The fliers were changed to "Evolution is faulty." It was the first fliers that riled the Biology department.

Biology counters

"Every biology course is based on evolution-I teach Bio 422, entitled Evolution.  The biology department feels this program questions our credibility in the classroom and voted unanimously to protest the showing of this video," said Biology Professor Bonnie Kelley.  "We could not let the program go on without some kind of opposition to the content," continued Kelley.
The Biology department had every right to interpret the fliers as negative, according to Boruff.

"I didn't intend on it to be that way," said Boruff.  "I'm against Evolution, I believe it's a lie.  They interpreted it, and rightly so, as me saying that our science teachers were deliberately lying to us," continued Boruff.

When Boruff spoke to Kelley about the initial fliers, Kelley told him that the Biology department had voted and that they would carry through with what they were going to do.

"If you're against evolution, you're essentially against Biology," said Kelley.  "We just want to be a presence there to say that we do not agree with what's
being said in the video," continued Kelley.

The protest was held to promote a program showing the other side of the Evolution issue. 

The Biology department has planned a program to show the other side of the debate on Evolution.  "Evolution: Fact and Theory," will be Feb. 22 at 10 a.m.

Boruff, while unhappy about the protest, held firm to his beliefs.

"I just think [a protest] causes spirits of strife to stir up in people, and I'm totally against fighting.  I think calling it a protest gives way to discomfort.  I think they should call it a rebuttal seminar.  But I still respect the people [that held] the protest; I still respect their beliefs," said Boruff.

First amendment

The first amendment gives American citizens the freedom of speech, which gives both Fusion and the Biology department the right to voice their opinions.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances," reads the Amendment.

"As an American and a member of this fine University's community, I feel it's everyone's right to express their opinion in the proper fashion.  If our students wish to hear multiple views on subjects, we should encourage them to do so in a responsible and learned manner.  If our faculty members, as individuals, want to express their approval and or disapproval in a responsible and learned fashion it is their right," said Chancellor Allen C. Meadors in an e-mail to faculty and staff. 

"However, as faculty and or university members, we should also want to demonstrate that life's actions should be based upon the model of always showing respect-this does not mean approval-for other's rights," Meadors continued.

Program changed
           
Prior to the event, Fusion's program was changed.  Boruff felt that "Lies in the Textbooks," was being made out to be not credible and felt that it was disrespectful.

Fusion decided to show "Unlocking the Mystery of Life: the Case for Intelligent Design, and Icons of Evolution: Dismantling the Myths."

For the Biology department, the change in the program was a victory on its own.

"The fact that they changed the video to something more moderate is a victory already," said Kelley. 

I'm sort of disappointed they aren't showing it, because anyone who sat through it would realize it was an attack without basis, Kelley continued.

Campus energized

The controversy over Evolution has created a stir on the UNCP campus among faculty, staff and students.

"I haven't seen this much response from this faculty, and I've been here 29 years.  I think it's healthy," said Kelley.  "I like to see young people get excited," continued Kelley. 

Students came to the faculty in the Biology department and asked what could they do. 

"It'll just be a gathering of people with like minds.  We can enjoy each other in the cold, then we can go about our business, which is teaching biology for most of us," said Kelley.

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Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2006
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