The Florida Sun-Sentinal has early coverage of Chabad's Torah and Science conference:
But the main focus will come Wednesday with a keynote address by William A. Dembski, a champion of intelligent design and the first evangelical Christian ever to address the conference. Dembski, of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will share the dais with three Jewish experts who will look at various facets of evolution.
Ask Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, one of the conference organizers, about the topic, and he sounds much like a conservative Christian.
"The moral and ethical morass today -- hate among nations, juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, family breakdown -- comes from people not believing there is a higher authority that owns and directs the world," said Lipskar, of The Shul of Bal Harbour. [This must be the problem! Quick! Let's tell Osama Bin Laden about religion!] "But when we look to purpose and meaning, a superior authority, things fall into place, socially and spiritually."
Lipskar met head-on the suggestions by some that intelligent design is meant as a "back door" to putting religion in schools. "It's not a back door, it's a front door!" he said. "But the objective is not to make people religious. It's to make them understand that the world was put into place by an intelligent being. We are not random chemical reactions."
To have a conference on Torah and Science whose keynote speaker is a Baptist is, shall we say, unusual. But even more unusual is to have a keynote speaker with no peer-reviewed work, and for the conference to present that work as peer-reviewed science. Even worse, that speaker is sharing a presentation with scientists, including Yeshiva University's Rabbi Dr. Moses Tendler, who give his presentation authority it would not otherwise have.
… The literal meaning of Torah’s words must always be upheld. Terrible damage has been caused by the attempts in the past — and that are again being made — to “smooth” some people’s inner confusion and perplexity by arguing that the words of Torah should be understood non-literally. [Yet, Rishonim did understand parts of the Torah non-literally.]
This is especially forbidden when dealing with areas that are relevant to practical Halacha. The question that you mentioned is of this variety: The existence of spontaneously generated worms is mentioned with regard to the laws of Shabbat, since such creatures may permissibly be killed on Shabbat. It is therefore obvious that there is no issue of a parable here; we are talking about real, live, and factual entities.
It is also forbidden to undermine the literal meaning of the verses with regard to the six days of creation — days, not eras! — since it is connected with the fundamental concept of the Shabbat day, which was established on the seventh day of the world’s existence, as well as with specific laws concerning Shabbat.
On the other hand, there is no need to ignore the seeming contradiction. Someone whose faith is strong is not bothered by such a contradiction, since the foundation of our faith is that the Torah of truth is the ultimate truth. However, if some people do feel bothered by what seems to them to be a contradiction, it is obviously necessary to examine seriously and in detail the root of the contradiction, and to prove the mistake in a specific experiment or theory. It is also possible that an unjustified generalization or inclusion has been made in the extrapolation of some scientific result or another.
The issue with spontaneously generated worms is very simple. True, experiments do allow for following the process through which a worm [larva] develops from an egg. And, when there are also explanations for the process of how these eggs were laid, that allows for the conclusion that these specific worms were created through a reproductive process. However, when eggs found in rot are identified as belonging to a specific species of worm, and the worms found there also bear signs of belonging to that species, that in no way proves that it is impossible for these worms to have appeared without the eggs, through spontaneous generation.
RebelJew's riff on this is very important and should be read. Even more important is knowing the name of the co-author of the above Chabad quote – it is none other than Dr. Herman Branover, the co-head of Chabad's Torah and Science conference and an avowed messianist. Worse yet, the entire quote is a paraphrase of a letter written by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, the 'Sorbonne'-educated 'scientist,' Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
So much for the science of charlatans.