Students gathered at the UCen and later the Arbor from 12:30 to 6 p.m. as preacher and founder of the Whitefield Fellowship Keith Darrell debated students on a number of topics such as evolution, the laws of nature and inductive reasoning.

Darrell, who preaches on college campuses daily with the goal of “proclaiming the glory of God,” condemned evolution, with a sign stating “evolution is a lie” while various students and Isla Vista residents stepped up to present counterarguments. Many students criticized him for his anti-scientific views and debate tactics, while others thanked him for being receptive of their arguments.

Paul Warden, a teaching assistant with the history department, said he initially attended Darrell’s discussion to observe a potentially informed debate, but instead wound up contributing after disagreeing with statements Darrell made about “Christians as a minority.”

“By himself he’s just a man shouting, but when he gets a crowd around him, he gets a forum,” Warden said. “That’s okay, except it got to the point where it became clear that he was arguing circularly … I felt that somebody needed to call attention to the fact that he’s … not conducting himself in a way that is academic or that inspires real discussion.”

First-year psychology major Luis Narvaez said he listened to the debate, because he was interested in hearing what Darrell had to say in light of his own religious views.

“I feel like he’s making a fool out of himself, which is also why I’m standing here,” Narvaez said. “You are talking to a bunch of college students and people are, like, evolutionary ecology majors and stuff. So it’s like you’re telling them that everything they are being taught here is a lie, so it’s, like, how are you going to defend yourself in that perspective?”

A second-year math and physics major, who preferred to not be identified, said that while he does not mind individuals like Darrell coming to campus to preach their religious views, he felt the need to challenge Darrell to make students aware of the flaws he saw in Darrell’s reasoning.

“I take serious issue with his denial of science and his sign that says evolution is a lie,” the student said. “I am a science major, and I work my ass off to understand these things. This guy comes up, and he obviously has very little understanding of the topic on which he’s pontificating, I take serious issue with that and I want to challenge him on that.”


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Photos by John Clow / Daily Nexus

This story appeared as an online exclusive on Thursday, March 13, 2014.