Andrew Scholberg, a freelance writer and member of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Gainesville, wrote a guest column for the Gainesville Sun entitled Gainesville’s evolution vs. creation saga. In it he laments the absence of any good evolution vs. creationism debate at the University of Florida since the 1980s. Back in the 80s, he writes, there was a debate between creationist Dr. David Kaufmann and UF philosophy professor Dr. Robert Primack. His unverified account, based on an interview with Kaufmann, claims:
When the debate ended, Primack immediately slipped out through a stage door with his tail between his legs while Kaufmann stayed in the auditorium to answer questions from the students who surrounded him, eager to hear more of his thoughts.
After the great evolution debate, the students were asking for more debates. But none of the UF evolutionists dared to debate Kaufmann, who told me, “They were hiding under their desks!”
I’m not sure that a philosophy professor was the best opponent for a die-hard creationist. But a possible alternative reason for no one else debating Kaufmann, other than fear, could be that it’s simply best not to legitimize the non-science of creationism or intelligent design by giving them the spotlight alongside real science. Or maybe the “Darwinists” have been quaking in their boots. Who knows.
I’m not familiar with this debate. I don’t believe I came across it during my research for Going Ape. Or maybe I did and decided not to include it. I only wrote about debates that had some connection to other events in my book, so perhaps I neglected it for that reason. But just now I spent some time poking around my usual research haunts and I have yet to find any news blurbs or Internet hits about this particular debate. If you know of anything I’m missing, please clue me in!
Nonetheless, Scholberg’s column is good for a laugh. For instance:
Those who still believe in evolution might as well believe that the same person could keep on winning the Powerball lottery year after year after year. Similarly, the odds against life-by-chance are so overwhelming as to be impossible. Therefore, evolution has no legitimate place in any science textbook, science class or science lecture. Darwinism is a false worldview: philosophical materialism (atheism) dressed up to look like science.
And I’m heartened to see that the reader comments are, so far, taking the side of real science.
But, according to Scholberg, Kaufmann is still available:
Kaufmann told me he’s still available to represent the creationist viewpoint in a public debate. Does any Darwinist at UF have the courage to debate him, or are they still hiding under their desks?
[edited to add …]
Further research (thanks, Glenn!) turned up a mid-80s article featuring Primack’s views on creationism “the Bible is not a good textbook.” And the article says he was UF foundations of education professor.