When I had sat down, I understood that this event had been organized by some christian student organization (that also explained why the flyers had been distributed with such persevering effort...).
I might had not come if I had known this before, but as I had followed the Intelligent Design (ID) - debate in the USA a little, I am glad I listened to a real discussion today.
Prof. Imming made his point according to his scientific field, which is chemistry: Evolution may be a good theory when optimization of organisms is to be explained, but it some important questions are not to be answered with it. The main open questions he covered:
1. Millers (1959) Experiment did create some amino acids from scratch, but
-no sequences (in fact, they are impossible with his outcome)
-he put ammoniak in, and how ammoniak should have come up is an unsolved issue
2. statistics predict that many chiral molecules (molecules of which can very well be build a mirror molecule which is not congruent with the original) should appear equally often in each of their two forms, but they don't. The mirror molecule can't be found. There has to be done some (intellligent) ordering to achieve such a state.
His main point then was: If I cannot make a statement about how this ordering could have taken place without make a believing step, I could as well believe in an intelligent orderer (like god), cause at least I know one method to order them: intelligently, like they do it in the laboratories today. It was nice to listen. He even cut apples in half to demonstrate homochirality.
In the following discussion the only interesting thing I heard was the question if antimatter is chiral to matter and why we can assume they have been equally distributed in the universe at first, but know we only find matter and almost no antimatter.
Then, there were mostly christs telling their personal "That one day I just knew it's so improbable that evolution made all the beautiful trees and animals"-story (what do they know about probability?) and people bashing Prof. Imming for his last claims about god (only few mentioned his first claims - the critics of darwinism).
Okay, I also wouldn't like to be told: "Let me ask you a personal question: Why do you fear believing in god?" What smart answer can you give to that?
Prof. Imming said he doesn't proclaim "Intelligent Design", but I think the version he presented today is just the German version - the version you would use here to achieve victory. Add even more science and be less offensive: do not question evolution in whole, do not insist on each word in the bible. Of course, he cited the bible a little: "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John, 1.4).
From his chemical-christian point of view, life cannot come from no life, therefore it has to be omplanted by someone.
In my view everybody should discriminate the two steps in all the creationist arguments:
1. critics of darwinism
Critiscism and doubt is very important in scientific discourse, and besides the lame arguments (like it being veeery unlikely that amino acids would arrange themselves in exactly what you find in DNA) you find good points like the one about achirality. Those should not be thrown away with the conclusion. When I really think about it, I soon feel that all this discussion reveals what we take for granted: The definition of what science can do is just that - a definition. It has not been there forever - we built it from scratch. That stresses what effort has been done since the enlightenment and also before.
But it also shows that you're not sitting on such a high horse just because you're wearing a "I (heart) science"-shirt. It's extremely hard to prove that something did or did not happen a long time ago.
I liked how Prof Imming made clear that many conclusions made by scientists are not supported by real evidence but are beliefs that it should work that way. And his point is, those types of conclusions should be marked as "belief" more often (my adding: a (scientific) belief is often based on proximaty of some more or less weak kind - that is still more than nothing).
2. filling the gap immidiately
But that insight is no excuse to leave that scientific path - we have no better path to go. In that highly abstract discussion, creationists mostly don't do very well. And if they have some good points, you'll mostly find bad ones meddled in their
discussion, too. The thing is, after they showed gaps in evolutional theory, they claim that if evolution theory hasn't closed that gap until now, it never will and we should fill it now, right now and here, with the first theory that comes to mind: someone did it. That theory has two good attributes: It is imaginable for us because it resembles how we would design a world, and it doesn't need to answer questions. Peace, finally.
Of course the theory is rather empty, but the main point I don't get is this: Why do we need to fill that gap immiadetely: Why do you fear the gap? I don't have a problem with a yet unanswered question, because I know we're not build to understand everything without effort.
In fact, all my college courses that deal with the human brain just show how limited it is. Just a few examples:
Just think of how many items you can store in working memory: five to nine. Psychology tells us how easy it is to fool our perception and emotions. Neurobiology reveals that our sensory system reacts according to what happened before - it almost never delivers objective information. Or take Neuroinformatics: When you assemble some neurons together, even with very few neurons involved you get a Dynamic System, so vastly complex, we can never grasp what happens in it. We're not build to understand Multi-Dimensionality: three dimensions is all we can take. We are mathematical underdogs.
I can imagine that some creationists would love to take those considerations as evidence for their campaign to stop asking, but they are not right. We're still on the road to find out where we came from. It is not our job to beam ourselves to the target somehow, but to make the next step.