This strength and stability of purpose allowed me to use this year's state of the university speech to address a matter I believe is of great significance to Cornell and to the country as a whole, a matter with fundamental educational, intellectual, and political implications. The issue in question is the challenge to science posed by religiously-based opposition to evolution, described, in its current form, as "intelligent design."Makes me proud to see my alma mater taking a proactive approach to this important debate.
This controversy raises profound questions about the nature of public discourse and what we teach in universities, and it has a profound effect on public policy.
I believe the time has come for universities like Cornell to contribute to the nation's cultural and intellectual discourse. We must be willing to take on a broader role as defenders of rational thought and framers of discourse about culture and society. In this spirit, I have asked our three academic task forces, on life in the age of the genome, wisdom in the age of digital information, and sustainability, to consider means of confronting the following questions: how to separate information from knowledge and knowledge from ideology; how to understand and address the ethical dilemmas and anxieties that scientific discovery has produced; and how to assess the influence of secular humanism on culture and society.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Cornell versus Intelligent Design
As a Cornell University alum I get the occasional email from the president talking about the great things going on on the Ithaca campus. Today's email I received from Hunter Rawlings, the old president who's minding the store while the university finds a replacement for Jeff Lehman.