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November 18, 2009

Dr. Myers,

Thank you for posting my comments and promising to comment on the questions I raised. Here is the introduction I gave to your debate with Dr. Jerry Bergman on the topic, "Should Intelligent Design Be Taught in the Schools?"

Although many of us on the ID side did not think our arguments were clearly presented, we were pleased with the civil tone and actual intellectual interaction that took place, just as I asked for below:
Introduction to the Debate

Thank you, on behalf of Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists, Christian Student Fellowship and Twin Cities Creation Science Association, for coming to this debate which can serve as an example for dealing with explosive issues in a courteous, intellectual manner. I am Ross Olson, serving on the Board of TCCSA. I was educated at the University of Minnesota for both undergraduate and medical school and never heard any evidence against evolution. It was 10 years later that I discovered a powerful case against it and I changed my mind, although it took a long time to do so.

Perhaps some will change their mind today, one way or the other, but even for the vast majority who do not, a new respect for the other side may be developed. You may be sitting next to those who you consider enemies tonight. Those of us coming from a Christian perspective know that we are told to love our enemies. And from my interactions with Nick Wallin, leader of the Student CASH, I sense that he follows a very similar principle.

A few years ago I was invited to speak at a gathering chaired by Matt Stark, former head of the Minnesota chapter of the ACLU. Introducing me he said, "Unlike theists, we do not believe in revelation. So we have to arrive at truth the hard way; we have to listen to everybody." And they did listen and of course they questioned and argued, but they did listen.

I hope you will take one of the pre and post debate surveys, fill out the first section now and the second section at the end. This will help us evaluate the event. We also hope to have a DVD of the entire debate available through the sponsoring organizations within a few weeks.

I would now like to introduce Dr. Mark E Borrello, Assistant Professor, Ecology, Evolution/Behavior, UMN Twin Cities who will introduce the debaters and explain the format.
Dr. Myers, when you do answer my questions, which you refer to as "creationist fallacies," could I ask you to send a copy to my e-mail address? I do not have the time to sift through the chaff of the Blog to find the occasional grains of wheat.

It is ironic that the characterization of creationists by Carl Sagan as "armies of the night," mindless groupies and sycophants, could be applied to the Blogosphere. I asked you to raise the level of the genre but I get the impression that you have no desire or intention to do so.

One retired professor began by e-mailing me some barely comprehensible trash talk in the language of the blog but shifted into normal English and actually interacted for several exchanges. When he concluded that interlude, however, he said this, "You are too delusional to continue with...I must return to PZ's blog to get my sanity back."

OK, I have studied the dialect and can try to speak broken "Blog-talk." Dr. Myers, you criticized Dr. Bergman's academic credentials and publication record as a cover-up for insecurity. May I ask you what you have published in peer-reviewed journals? Or in edited journals? I find many references to your blog entries.

And by the way, a blog is not instant peer-review. You would admit -- indeed insist -- (as did Superman) that you have few peers and that most blog entries are not even reviewed by the minds of those who post them. The blog is combination of mutual admiration society with occasional piranha-like attacks on any outsider who wanders in.

Ross Olson