SpeakersPofessor John Dupré, Professor John Bryant, Professor Barry Barnes.
In this Darwin200 event, International Baccaularate students at Exeter College Exeter College students met Egenis professors to consider Darwin’s impact on religious faith.
The students took time out from their regular curriculum to hear different points of view about the effect of the theory of evolution in a workshop organised by Egenis as part of the Darwin200 celebrations. They debated the proposition, posited in Professor Dupré's book Darwin's Legacy, that: “The growth of evolutionary theory that (Darwin) launched has provided a fatal injury to the pretensions of religion … Darwinism undermines the only remotely plausible reason for believing in the existence of God.”
Professor Dupré spoke in favour of the proposition and Professor Bryant against, while Professor Barnes asked the students to consider how far the arguments on either side relied upon the words of ‘authorities’ and how easily those were accepted. The students, all studying biology with the College’s head of Maths and Science Dr Andy Truscott, debated what they had heard in small groups before presenting their ideas to the whole class.
The opportunity to talk over what they had heard and to present their own ideas was welcomed by the students. “I thought it was really good to let us get involved with our own discussions and let us express our views to the rest of the class,” said one. “The group discussion was cool!” agreed another. “It’s great to have the students step slightly outside the usual curriculum and think about what they are learning from another perspective,” said Dr Truscott.