The Rhetoric of Evolution

Sun Dec 5, 2004

That was the title of my introductory writing course this semester, and I’m now beginning to assess what worked well and what didn’t. There was an impressive amount of often insightful discussion from the students, which is hidden away behind a proprietary message board, unfortunately, but I’ll try to transfer it over before long.

I had them read in the third section a couple of semi-technical articles: “Spandrels of San Marco” and Gould’s “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?” in the third section of the course, and, while I think the issues raised therein were not too difficult for the students, who had vastly different levels of preparation in biology, to follow, they might have been. Some more general overviews of the issues that I found seemed to have much less rhetorical interest, which was one of my main motivations to using primary sources (though I did forbear from using the two original punk eek articles).

I certainly was left feeling that an article about the rhetoric of intelligent design theory is something that I should work on. I haven’t yet had a chance to read the Ruse-edited volume out from Cambridge on the subject which, scandalously to some people’s minds, included essays by Dembski and others.

The timing of the Cobb County lawsuit was also serendipitous.