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Ted Davis — “The Theistic Evolutionists’ Theistic Evolutionist” — Rising above the fray

Ted Davis, a historian of science at Messiah College, used to be part of a list I moderate. He has some good insights into the history of science (especially into the work of Robert Boyle), but he consistently misses the mark concerning ID. Here is a nice synopsis of his view of ID (also with a jab at UD). It is written to Pim van Meurs, as a mentor would write to his disciple. The short of his view is that ID is a reaction to the scientific materialism of Richard Dawkins, which it tries to displace by setting up a new science, which is really just a disguised form of religion. His counsel is to rise above the fray and realize that both are ideologically motivated. Ideological motivation is all fine and well, but has ID identified fundamental conceptual flaws and evidential lacunae in the conventional materialistic understanding of biological origins and is its appeal to intelligence conceptually sound and empirically supported? I have yet to see Ted address that question.

From: Ted Davis
Date: Mon Apr 02 2007 – 08:56:27 EDT

For Pim and others,

I can only echo David’s comments about Dawkins, who came across in the interview as a much kinder, gentler person than he does in many of his books and articles. Dawkins simply hates religion, and does think that religious people are either stupid or wicked, if not both. And he has company in this.

I recommend to all, the chapter on the “Council of Despair,” in Karl Giberson & Donald Yerxa, “SPecies of Origins.” It’s a splendid overview of scientific atheism in the past couple of decades. For anyone who doubts that this view really exists and is influential, take a look at “Wired” magazine for Nov 2006, with its cover story on “The New Atheism: No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science.”

Also, Pim, I esp recommend that you step away a bit from PT (which is not much more objective than Dembski’s blog, when it comes right down to it) and realize something very, very important about ID. Philip Johnson was responding to two specific influences, when he wrote “Darwin on Trial.” One, to be sure, was Denton’s book, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,” but the other one was Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker.” If there were no Dawkins and company, I have little doubt, there would be no Johnson and company as a direct, highly vocal response.

This is something about which the scientific establishment is still somewhat ambivalent, IMO. Some do see what Dawkins is doing in the name of science to be a completely inappropriate extrapolation of science that goes well beyond the sphere and authority of science. But others do not–people like Steven Weinberg, the late Isaac Asimov, the late Carl Sagan, Sam Harris, or Steven Pinker. These are highly influential people, Pim, and it is not surprising to me if they provoke a response in the form of ID. What ID is going goes well beyond science, of course–and they admit this, despite their continued insistence that ID is nevertheless scientific. But Dawkins and company believe in the religion of science (as Dawkins himself as called it), so why not have a science of religion (ID) in response to it? Dawkins’ work goes so far beyond merely debunking ID–which itself is just a big way of debunking his own work. He wants to demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of all traditional religions, using science as his club. The sooner this is understood, and the sooner its link with ID is recognized, the sooner the conversation about science education can move
forward.

My best,
Ted

SOURCE: American Scientific Affiliation discussion group.

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128 Responses to Ted Davis — “The Theistic Evolutionists’ Theistic Evolutionist” — Rising above the fray

  1. If there were no Dawkins and company . . . maybe Davis would get the point of ID.

  2. Interesting point tribune7. We might go further and say that ID is the inherently more reasonable position (scientifically, philosophically, etc.), that Darwin and Dawkins are the reactionaries, and that Ted Davis fails to see the point of ID because he mistakenly casts it as the reactionary position.

  3. ID is a critique of mecahnistic neo-darwinism is it not?

    This Buddhist thinks it is a very sharp critique indeed. I read Uncommon Dissent after Stove’s critique, and if there were any scales left to fall from my eyes they were gone. (Thanks.)

    I didn’t appreciate how widespread the panic was in scientism until I clapped eyes on the ID wikipedia pages. A good sense of humour must be essential for ID scribes.

  4. We might go further and say that ID is the inherently more reasonable position (scientifically, philosophically, etc.),

    Considering the Bacons, it’s quite to fair to say it’s an axiom upon which science was founded.

    Ted Davis fails to see the point of ID because he mistakenly casts it as the reactionary position.

    Note that he says PT (which is not much more objective than Dembski’s blog, when it comes right down to it)

    I don’t spend much time on PT but as of 11:52 a.m., April 2 this was its list of recent entries:


    The Silliest Thing Yet, or Sheer Genius?
    by Pete Dunkelberg
    SUCKERED
    by Guest Contributor
    The Smarch of My Life
    by Prof. Steve Steve
    KCFS Response to IDnet Proposal
    by Burt Humburg
    Jonathan Wells: Who is He, What is He Doing, and Why?
    by Burt Humburg
    Egnor just doesn’t know when to quit
    by Tara Smith
    Mammal Evolution – Fossils and Molecules
    by Mike Dunford
    Don’t blame the dinosaurs
    by PZ Myers
    The Addiction of Egnorance
    by Reed A. Cartwright
    Don’t teach ID — at least not until our textbook is published
    by Nick Matzke

    7 out of 10 are reactions to the things IDers were doing.

  5. I know nothing about Ted Davis except what has been posted above. But anyone that views Pim van Meurs as a credible spokesperson for anything, especially one’s own position, has to be suspect. Does Ted Davis really buy PvM’s act? If he does then that says something about Ted Davis and it is not positive.

    Maybe Ted Davis should read PvM’s rants last year on the Cornell ID course blog and see how he approves of his conduct in mutual conversation.

  6. I would posit that ID is a reactionary position.

    It is a well reasoned reaction to the misinformed reasoning of the materialistic anti-ID position.

    And that sharply constrasts with the knee-jerk reactions observed over on PT.

  7. Davis comes across as reasonable to me, though I’d have some disagreement with him. Still, he hits an important point – mostly that Dawkins is rabid about the subject of religion, and doesn’t seem to realize that he’s advancing a faith of his own. The dawning point for me was hearing the moral abuses of atheistic governments explained away as ‘Well, (communism, fascism, etc) became religions’. I wonder how long it will be before Dawkins asks himself, ‘If atheistic views can become religion, what am I fighting against? In fact, have I become what I insist I’m fighting?’

  8. It certaily isn’t accurate to call ID a “science of religion”. A science of religion would be some kind of anthropological or sociological study into religion. ID would be more accurately described as a scientific challenge to metaphysical naturalism.

    Dawkins ideology also is not really a “religion of science”. Science is nothing more then a process through which humans can presumably understand and illuminate something. Since science can be used to challenge and refute much of what Dawkins may believe, therefore Dawkins isn’t making a religion of science, he is making a religion of atheism i.e faith that some kind of god does not and cannot exist and therefore human society should act accordingly with that article of faith as it’s foundation. Really what Dawkin’s ideology is more properly called is “evangelical militant atheism”.

    To claim that ID is a reactionary movement based on respoding to the actions of Dawkins is also in error. The ID movement is a reaction to the promotion of metaphysical and methodological naturalism as the only acceptable approach to giving an accurate ontolgical account of our existance by the academic and scientific establishment. The “establishment” has been trying to “re-educate” the masses into accepting metaphysical or methodological naturalism as being absolute objective reality ever since the current establishment ideology became the establishment ideology back in the 19th century. That action was bound to inspire a reaction from scientists who disagree with that approach. Once that happened of course they were attacked as being religiously motivated, but the truth was that they were reacting to a movement which itself was religiously motivated in insisting that metaphysical or methodological naturalism was the only acceptable ontolgical foundation for establishing objective scientific truisms. The establishment promotion of metaphysical or methodologcal naturalism as absolute objective truth was itself accepted as a reaction to religious ideology. Tt was and still is an attempt to undermine religious belief due to the fear and or dislike of religious ideology and it’s ability to influence society.

    The fraudulent claim of the establishment is that they are not biased and that their acceptance of metaphysical or methodologcal naturalism as the only acceptable form of science is due to the inability to objectively and rationally understand and prove anything other then through methodological naturalism.

    Metaphysical naturalism is objectively unscientific because it a priori denies all avenues of information input, methodological naturalism is nothing more then acceptance of ignorance as a basis for establishing parameters of acceptable truths. If you tell us that we can discover the objective ontological truth about anything yet we first must proceed by establishing ground rules which disallow information from any particular source we deem to be beyond our ability to objectively understand, then we no longer can presume to be objective because we have removed the unknown from becoming known. It’s like trying to be an art critic who is supposed to evaluate the paintings of Rembrandt by first setting the rule that your critique will be limited to touching the paintings. By setting predefined boundaries and parameters of what inforation can be tolerated as objective ontological truth the result is that subjective truth becomes accepted in it’s place and the whole affair becomes a sham in the name of science, integrity and scholarship.

    What we do not understand cannot be used to justify the putting on of constraints and the setting up of parameters and boundaries for what is acceptable as objective truth. ID is fighting the insistence that “science” must reject all information if that information leads to the conclusion that something beyond mechanistic processes can account for the natural order. Foolishly even though our own intelligence as humans we can manipulate the natural order and by doing so show that something non mechanistic can impose it’s will over the natural order, the idea that some kind of entity with more ability then ourselves can do so is somehow unthinkable. More amazingly is that most of those people will agree that some alien life from some other planet may be far more advanced then we as humans are, but tell them that there may be an alien life form which can build humans or create planets, then that is unbelievable. Maybe it’s a size and scale prejudice. Maybe they can easily conceive of an alien civilization with beings who are similar in size and composition and ability with humans, but they cannot conceive of an alien which is of a completely different type, which maybe is trillions of times larger then us and older then us and without reliance on some kind of cellular body. Conceiving of the existance of a Klingon is perfectly acceptable and plausible, but acceptance of an alien so much larger and different from us and so far more scientifically advanced then us that humans would be like microscopic specks and planets are like little games it builds and plays with, well that is just not possible.

  9. the conversation about science education can move
    forward.

    These critics STILL think ID is about what gets taught in the schools. As important as the question of what is taught in schools is, it pales in comparison to the possibility the ID is the correct description of reality.

    The debate is whether ID is true, not what should be taught in public schools.

    If Darwinist parents want their school kids shielded from ID in public schools, fine. I don’t like it, I hope they’ll change their minds, but that’s their privilege as parents.

    Ted fails to see the debate is the truthfulness of ID in cosmology and biology. Most every thing else, including what is taught in public schools, pales in comparison, imho.

    Salvador

  10. I am the “David” to which Ted Davis refers and whose earlier comments Ted “echoes” in the discussion thread from the ASA email list which Dr. Dembski has referenced. The context of that thread was a discussion of Richard Dawkins’ recent “Fresh Air” interview.

    The person to whom Ted is directly responding in that discussion, Pim van Meurs (of Panda’s Thumb), was suggesting that Dawkins’ main target is ID rather than religion generally. Pim seemed to be defending Dawkins as a champion of Science. I reacted strongly to that, and others jumped into the fray, including Ted.

    The suggestion that Ted’s post “is written to Pim van Meurs, as a mentor would write to his disciple” is patently absurd, bordering perhaps on defamatory. If you read through the whole thread, and indeed if you were to participate regularly on the ASA list, you would immediately see that nothing could be further from the truth. Ted never hesitates to call out over-the-top nonesense like a defense of Richard Dawkins as a reasonable chap who is just concerned about ID.

    Indeed, in my many online conversations with Ted, I’ve come to appreciate deeply his somewhat moderating stance between TE and ID. It is true that Ted also doesn’t hesitate to criticize what he sees as the flaws in the “strong” ID program. But at the same time, he often defends the basic notion of design from excessive criticism by TE’s, and the historical context he is able to provide to these discussions invariably is invaluable.

    Above all, Ted is a gentleman as well as a scholar. From what I’ve seen of Ted’s writing and of his leadership in the ASA, he has refused to allow the politics of ID to overwhelm careful scholarship and calm, reasoned discussion.

    It is a shame that we can’t say the same for everyone involved in this discussion, particularly for those who publicly identify themselves as followers of Jesus. Personally, I used to be much more sympathetic to ID than I am now. One of the main reasons for my increased skepticism about ID is that nasty, strident, politicized tone of many ID leaders — as exemplified by this unfair attack on a fellow Christian scholar. You may think you are winning a battle here and there, but you will lose the war if you keep going down this track. The shame is that it isn’t really your war to fight, and the tools you’re using to fight it are not those of the Kingdom all of us Christian scholars are supposed to represent.

    I am a law professor, a Christian scholar along with Ted and Dr. Dembski, though not possessed of anywhere near their achievements, influence or stature. We who are called to serve the Church with our teaching and scholarship, perhaps more than anyone else, ought to model patient, careful, deep and reasonable discourse. We together name Jesus as Lord and agree that all Truth is God’s Truth. Our bond in those facts should transcend this sort of petty sniping.

    (And now, let’s see with what love and grace everyone here treats me for daring to defend my friend Ted Davis).

  11. dopderbeck

    I didn’t see any real serious attack on Ted Davis — saying it’s defamatory to call one a mentor of PvM is an absolutely billiant dig at Pim, btw, nice job — but there is the point of the matter and that is what you and Dr. Davis are apparently missing.

    Does ID go “well beyond science” and if so why doesn’t the same standard apply to the existing neo-Darwinian paradigm held by the cultural and scientific and legal establishments?

    Remember, this paradigm is supported by propaganda and indoctrination, and those who dissent from it are subject to threats and punishment.

  12. Tribune — you raise some important point that are worth talking about. Ted Davis has said lots of worthwhile and interesting things about all those points, and he brings a rich historical perspective to the discussion.

    On the question of “threats and punishment,” for example, there was a lively discussion recently on the ASA list about the Sternberg affair. If you read through that thread, I think you’ll see that Ted and many others on that list recognize the persecution that can come to scientists who question the status quo (though certainly not everyone in that discussion did so).

    You would not agree with everything Ted or other TE critics of ID have to say, which is fine. But let’s carry on that discussion in a charitable and civil way. Admittedly I seem to have reacted a bit strongly, but I’m sorry, I can’t see any way to read Dr. Dembski’s original post as an unfair attack on Ted. And I’m sorry to have to say this as well, but it seems to me that fellow Christian scholars who dare to question ID are often subject to the same kind of unfair treatment by the movement’s leaders as Sternberg was subjected to at the Smithsonian. Goodness, if we can’t all unite behind criticism of Richard Dawkins, what do we have left?

  13. Errata: where I said I’m sorry, I can’t see any way to read Dr. Dembski’s original post as an unfair attack on Ted, I meant “I can’t see any way to read Dr. Dembski’s original post except as an unfair attack on Ted.”

  14. Admittedly I seem to have reacted a bit strongly, but I’m sorry, I can’t see any way to read Dr. Dembski’s original post as an unfair attack on Ted.

    OK, I don’t see the statement made by Dr. Davis as posted above beyond the pale. He doesn’t look like an idiot or a monster or unreasonable in any way and he has a point considering whom he’s addressing.

    But I don’t see Dr. Dembski’s reaction as anyway unreasonable either. There are numerous sources and forces out there insisting that ID is not science solely so they can dismiss it without addressing its claims.

    And this propaganda techinque does have an effect as seen by the manner in which Dr. Davis treats ID.

    And this can be annoying to those of us who are fascinated by ID and understand it. I mean, to me it seems that Dr. Davis is saying OK, let’s all get together, sing Kumbayah, and become theistic evolutionists. (OK that was mean) And as far as the math and reasoning behind ID, well don’t worry about it. Those guys are just like Dawkins and Pinker.

  15. As a person who regularly interacts with both Ted and Pim the whole point of the argument here is missed. For example,

    “Ideological motivation is all fine and well, but has ID identified fundamental conceptual flaws and evidential lacunae in the conventional materialistic understanding of biological origins and is its appeal to intelligence conceptually sound and empirically supported? I have yet to see Ted address that question.”

    The short answer to the question is no. Actually Ted has many times in the past and so have many others on the ASA list have discussed in great detail why much of ID is bad science but that was not the topic of the argument. If you put the argument as a debate topic would be:

    Resolved: Given specified complexity is a flawed argument would backing away from that argument get Richard Dawkins to behave like a civil human being.

    Pim took the affirmative and Ted the negative. Ted is pretty much representative of the ASA here. Even though we have problems with the particular arguments put out by ID are there other arguments from design that are valid? Again, there are a number of us in the ASA who contra Pim say yes and Pim says no.

    If you follow the thread you will note it was my posting that started all this. I said the recent interview of Francis Collins on Fresh Air marks several pieces of common ground between TE and ID. Namely,

    1. The Universe is fine tuned for life.
    2. Human conscience is not well explained by evolution.
    3. Richard Dawkins should be refuted.

    The difference between us is how we do number 3. I’ll close with a comment I made on the ASA thread:

    “One of ID’s concerns is whether TE is a lap dog of atheism. Hopefully, Collins continual engagement with Dawkins will provide for some good will that will convince them otherwise. Furthermore, I hope that ID proponents see that how Collins engages Dawkins is more fruitful than their “warfare” model. What Pim is doing is unfortunately reinforcing all the wrong stereotypes about TE with the ID proponents. This is why TEs like myself are distancing ourselves from such a naive appraisal of Dawkins. Dawkins is not merely going after the bad science of ID. He is going after all Christians.”

  16. Dawkins is more fruitful than their “warfare” model. . . Dawkins is not merely going after the bad science of ID.

    You say we should engage in Dawkins et al with love etc. and fine. You’re right.

    Then you come here knowing full well most of us have a strong opinion that ID is good science (or at least better science than Darwinism) and spit on floor.

    A bit of an inconsistency there wouldn’t you say?

    Now, tell us again how that’s going to make us IDs think you TEs are nothing better than bootlicking lapdogs for NDEs?

    And as far as warfare goes we are not the ones chasing them out of their jobs.

    Dawkins is not merely going after the (quite reasonable) science of ID. He is going after all Christians.”

    When did you figure that one out, Sherlock?

  17. dopderbeck your claim that Bill made an “unfair attack” on Ted is not something I can see at all. While Ted may be as you claim i.e some kind of moderating influence at the forum he and you participate in, that doesn’t make him nor his views sacrosanct and above being critically examined. Ted makes some claims which are in my opinion less then honest and quite specious to a crowd of people to whom you seem to think he enjoys some rank as a “sane” alternative to the nattering delusional extremists at both ends of the ideological spectrum when it comes to evolution and ID. Since Ted tells them (and us):

    “What ID is going goes well beyond science, of course–and THEY admit this, despite their continued insistence that ID is nevertheless scientific.”

    Why you seem to think that this swipe at ID is some kind of rational and sane moderate voice is beyond me. Not only is it a lie (who are “they”? and where do they admit such a thing?) and a concession to the establishment propagandists (i.e that ID is unscientific even though ID proponents claim it isn’t) it is certainly not the rational moderate conclusion we would expect if what you claim about Ted is correct.

    It is clear that Ted is the one with the agenda to evangelize and he is willing to abuse ID in his attempt to paint “christians” as intellectually sober enough to accept evolution and to see through the ID charade. He may defend ID in your opinion to some degree from so called excesses from the Dawkins of the world, but to what degree and for what purpose? I have no problem if he believes in evolution and if he is a christian, but simple because he is a christian does not put him above being criticized when he uses ID as some kind of laughing stock in order to impress the darwinist bourgeois idiots he communicates with in some futile quest to make christianity respectable to them.

  18. scordova said:
    These critics STILL think ID is about what gets taught in the schools. As important as the question of what is taught in schools is, it pales in comparison to the possibility the ID is the correct description of reality.

    There are advantages to making sure the battle is staged in the field of public school curriculum.

    In one respect the school debate amounts to a skirmish. Any resources expended in quashing the skirmish are not expended in the main battle: the debate about the validity of NDE versus ID. This is why any statements by Discovery Institute, et al, to ensure the public that the debate is not about teaching ID in schools, are virtually ignored. If the public can be convinced that this is all about teaching creationism — teaching religion in public school science classes — then the misdirection pays off and the real debate is kept in the background.

    However if the skirmish is successful, it has a big payoff. Fewer bright young individuals are asking the tough questions about NDE over the next 5-10 years down the road, and the NDE camp can regroup for another generation of skirmishes. If this skirmish is lost, and the weaknesses of NDE can be openly questioned in the public schools, then it is just a matter of time before NDE must battle ID, man for man, in open war.

    (For those tiring of bad battlefield analogies, this post is almost over.)

    The media “noise” about public education and ID, far from being the random reactions of various NDE proponents in public media, appears to be intelligently designed.

  19. Mentok said: It is clear that Ted is the one with the agenda to evangelize and he is willing to abuse ID in his attempt to paint “christians” as intellectually sober enough to accept evolution and to see through the ID charade.

    Sigh. And you know this how? By reading one sentence ripped out of context by someone with an axe to grind? I don’t recall seeing you participate in any of the relevant discussions on the ASA list. It seems to me that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    And yes, I do believe Dr. Dembski is grinding an axe here against Dr. Davis and agains the ASA generally. There is a huge amount of history within the ASA and between the ASA and the political ID movement. From what I’ve observed, there’s blame to go around on all sides. It’s a shame, and it’s a bigger shame that the divisions get perpetuated by this kind of nonsense.

    But I’ll also have to differ with my friend Rich just a bit here — the ASA as a whole is not an ID vs. TE organization, or at least that is not what it aspires to be. Take a look, for example, at the most recent issue of the ASa’s Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith journal, which contains a very thoughtful dialogue between Loren Haarsma, a TE, and Mike Behe (http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2007/PSCF3-07.html). That is the model we need — a forceful but respectful exchange of perspectives.

    And this is the crux of my deep disappointment with a post like this one. Why is the ID movement above critique by thoughtful Christians? Why is every effort to probe and examine and further develop a careful Christian response to materialism that might differ in some respects from Dr. Dembski’s views some kind of sacrilege meriting a personal attack on this blog? Why demonize Christians who are convinced by the evidence that common descent is probably in some form correct (except I guess Mike Behe, who’s belief in common descent as a general matter seems get glossed over)?

    Perhaps more importantly, in what way are folks like you, Mentok, involved in consensus building, reasonable discusion, and debate within a framework of humility and peace? Are you willing to grant that you don’t know everything and that you might even be wrong about some things? Are you willing to take a lesser place at the table sometimes and learn even from those you ultimately disagree with? Or is your mind so closed that must unleash the attack hounds whenever anyone disagrees with you?

    I see Mike Behe writing for the ASA journal and presenting his views carefully. All I ever seem to see on this site is bomb-throwing blog-speak (“darwinist bourgeois idiots” and such) that serves no intellectual or apologetic purpose. Stuff like this reinforces the impression that ID has become essentially a right wing political movement rather than a serious scientific and intellectual enterprise. This “culture war” perspective, IMHO, is a blight on contemporary American Christianity and is contary to what the Kingdom of God is all about. And the Kingdom of God, rather than any particular view about how to understand the concept of design, is what I most care about.

  20. “Dawkins is more fruitful than their “warfare” model. . . Dawkins is not merely going after the bad science of ID.

    You say we should engage in Dawkins et al with love etc. and fine. You’re right.

    Then you come here knowing full well most of us have a strong opinion that ID is good science (or at least better science than Darwinism) and spit on floor.”

    No, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying address Dawkins with the best arguments available. Dawkins believes just because he slices through your weak arguments that he has conquered Christianity.

    Note carefully what I am saying. Some of ID’s arguments are much stronger than others. The anti-evolutionary ones are its weakest. Focus on the stronger arguments you already have.

    When I talk of warfare that’s warfare between science and faith and not between faith and unbelief.

  21. “Dawkins is not merely going after the (quite reasonable) science of ID. He is going after all Christians.”

    What gave you the right to misquote me? Since when did bad get changed to quite reasonable? It’s precisely this kind of debating technique that gives Christians a bad name.

  22. dopderbeck you wrote:

    “Mentok said: It is clear that Ted is the one with the agenda to evangelize and he is willing to abuse ID in his attempt to paint “christians” as intellectually sober enough to accept evolution and to see through the ID charade.

    Sigh. And you know this how? By reading one sentence ripped out of context by someone with an axe to grind?”

    I am well read on Ted’s views. If he wants to denigrate ID and this blog it is right to do so. Look what he wrote:

    “Also, Pim, I esp recommend that you step away a bit from PT (which is not much more objective than Dembski’s blog, when it comes right down to it)”

    I mean c’mon. Have you read PT? It offers little more then juvenile name calling, ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, political axe grinding and hate speech, yet Ted tells everyone that it is “more objective” then this blog? Gimme a break. Then Ted also writes that ID is a “science of religion” when he knows full well the efforts ID scientists make to repudiate that disinformation technique which seeks to discredit ID as a religious rather then a scientific endeavor. Ted also writes:

    “What ID is going goes well beyond science, of course–and they admit this, despite their continued insistence that ID is nevertheless scientific.”

    Well Dave, what am I supposed to make of these statements? What is the correct context which I am missing in seeing a denigration of ID, this blog, and an agreement in principle with the anti-ID rigmarole? What exactly did Bill say that was so wrong? What axe is he grinding? That he is right and that anti-ID is wrong? Should Bill and other ID advocates simply agree with people in order to get along with them? I wasn’t commneting on ASA or what they do or have how they view anything, I commented on what Ted posted.

    You wrote:

    “Why is the ID movement above critique by thoughtful Christians?”

    Where was the thoughtful critique in what Ted wrote. He bashed this blog and agreed with the nonsense spouted by the anti-ID crowd. That is “thoughtful critique?”

    You wrote:

    “Why is every effort to probe and examine and further develop a careful Christian response to materialism that might differ in some respects from Dr. Dembski’s views some kind of sacrilege meriting a personal attack on this blog?”

    I don’t know what you are talking about. Where are these “careful Christian responses” you talk about and where are the “personal attacks” on those responses?

    You wrote:

    “Why demonize Christians who are convinced by the evidence that common descent is probably in some form correct (except I guess Mike Behe, who’s belief in common descent as a general matter seems get glossed over)?”

    Where is this demonizing you speak of? If someone wants to seriously misrepresent ID and this blog and then he is criticized for it how that critique “demonizing”?

    You wrote:

    “Perhaps more importantly, in what way are folks like you, Mentok, involved in consensus building, reasonable discusion, and debate within a framework of humility and peace?”

    Consensus of what? If someone tells me that ID is bogus and that this blog is less objective then PT then that is “humble reasonable consensus building in peace”, but if I take issue with that characterization of ID and this blog then I am the opposite of that?

    You wrote:

    “Are you willing to grant that you don’t know everything and that you might even be wrong about some things?”

    Any human who doesn’t have that attitude would be a fool.

    You wrote:

    “Are you willing to take a lesser place at the table sometimes and learn even from those you ultimately disagree with? Or is your mind so closed that must unleash the attack hounds whenever anyone disagrees with you?”

    What table? I don’t know what you are talking about. What hounds are you speaking of? What do you want? For people to tell people they disagree with that they do not disagree with them? Ya lost me here Dave.

    You wrote:

    “All I ever seem to see on this site is bomb-throwing blog-speak (”darwinist bourgeois idiots” and such) that serves no intellectual or apologetic purpose.”

    Hmm, really? Is that all this blog offers? What happened to “consensus building, reasonable discusion, and debate within a framework of humility and peace”? And what happened to “Or is your mind so closed that must unleash the attack hounds whenever anyone disagrees with you”?

    You wrote:

    “Stuff like this reinforces the impression that ID has become essentially a right wing political movement rather than a serious scientific and intellectual enterprise.”

    Stuff like what? Defending the ID viewpoint from misrepresentations of it?

  23. I made a typo in the first part of my previous post, It should read “it is HIS right to do so”.

  24. Mentok, I’d love to take the time to Fiske your effort at Fisking me, but let me just address this one comment of yours, which goes to the heart of the matter.

    You said: Have you read PT? It offers little more then juvenile name calling, ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, political axe grinding and hate speech, yet Ted tells everyone that it is “more objective” then this blog? Gimme a break.

    Yes, I have seen PT, and you are absolutely right about it. But you are wrong that Davis called PT “more objective” than this blog. Read what he said, and more importantly, read the whole thread on the ASA list and understand the context of jousting with Van Meuers. Davis was confronting Van Meurs with the fact that PT is not any more “objective” about ID than this blog. You don’t claim this blog is “objective” about ID, do you? This is an ID advocacy blog, which is perfectly fine. But PT purports to be something “objective” and “scientific,” which it clearly is not. That was Davis’ point to Van Meurs. It was a way of debunking Van Meurs’ pretense to objectivity. Several other TE’s blasted Van Meuers in a similar way in that thread, BTW.

    But more importantly, the “juvenile name calling, ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, political axe grinding and hate speech” that you rightly attribute to PT also happens here on UD on a regular basis. Don’t you see that? Heck, I’ve been repeatedly called “dishonest” here by one of your esteemed moderators, shoved into moderation, and threatened with expulsion, because I once dared to question the distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution. And what’s up with all the “off topic” posts about right wing political issues that have nothing to do with materialism, evolution or design? Please.

    This is what disturbs me the most and what sets me off about a post like this one sniping at a fellow Christian scholar. Yes, of course, Dembski is free to express his disagreement with Davis — but why not do it in the original context on the ASA list itself? Why pull one paragraph out of context and drop it onto a community that is eager to rip TE? That is a way of playing the game that is no different than how the rest of the world plays it. I believe it is profoundly wrong.

  25. I am saying address Dawkins with the best arguments available. Dawkins believes just because he slices through your weak arguments that he has conquered Christianity.

    I don’t see a whole lot of slicing from their side. It seems their number 1, number 2 and number 3 line of defense is to shout ‘Don’t listen to the creationists!!”

    The anti-evolutionary ones are its weakest.

    What about ID is anti-evolutionary?

    When I talk of warfare that’s warfare between science and faith

    There is no warfare between science and faith — at least not from this side.

    Since when did bad get changed to quite reasonable?

    Since I put it in parentheses. Unfair? Of course not. As noted, it’s bad manners for peacemakers to spit on the floor of their hosts.

  26. Davis was confronting Van Meurs with the fact that PT is not any more “objective” about ID than this blog. You don’t claim this blog is “objective” about ID, do you? This is an ID advocacy blog, which is perfectly fine. But PT purports to be something “objective” and “scientific,” which it clearly is not. That was Davis’ point to Van Meurs. It was a way of debunking Van Meurs’ pretense to objectivity.

    That’s a good point, Dave.

  27. dopderbeck, Ted wrote about PT that it is “not much more objective” then this blog, whereas you characterize what he wrote as meaning “PT is not any more objective” then this blog. Maybe I am wrong but in my view there is a difference in saying “not much more” from “not any more”. Either way I find that PT is without any objectivity whatsoever and in fact is the polar opposite of objectivity. Of course this blog is an an advocate for ID, but I see the advocacy presented here to be done as objectively as possible, whereas the advocacy on PT is without any attempt at objectivity whatsoever. I guess the reason for that is that they feel that they are representing the establishment and that they are standing up against a cynical political and cultural agenda, so maybe they feel their role as protectors of western civilization from the horde of devious religious bumpkins out to enslave them frees them from having to care about being objective. So be it. Advocacy doesn’t necessarily negate objectivity, ID advocates are fighting an uphill battle to convince others of the objective nature of their research, the other side doesn’t seem to care at all. So if Ted makes a claim to atheist evolutionists or theistic evolutionists that PT is at the least slightly more objective then this blog, that seems to me (along with everything else he says about ID)to be callow misrepresentations in pursuit of his own religious preaching agenda at the expense of the honest scientific agenda by ID advocates. In other words he’s throwing ID under the bus in order to make points for his evangelizing or for his social status. If not, then what is his purpose? The establishment accepts evolution, he is aiding the worst of them by repeating the same things they do in their paranoid disinformation campaign against ID.

    The problems you have had on this blog I am unaware of so I cannot comment on them.

    As for off topic posts, well there are many contributers with diverse points of view and diverse topics they wish to bring up. I don’t see a bunch of “right wing political issues” being discussed here, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. There have been a bunch of articles on global warming, but that is a science issue.

  28. rblinne [21] responding to tribune7 [16]

    “What gave you the right to misquote me? Since when did bad get changed to quite reasonable?”

    Maybe it was a random mutation? You know these things happen all the time. After all, the chance that this error would have been produced is one in 79,766,443,076,872,509,863,361 attempts.

    Oh, and that excludes the brackets on either side. Seriously though, if someone is going to quote use these [] not these () and don’t remove anything.

  29. Mentok said: Either way I find that PT is without any objectivity whatsoever and in fact is the polar opposite of objectivity.

    I agree with you 100%. When the Dover case was decided, PT picked up on a blog post of mine that was critical of the decision for unnecessarily trying to define “science,” and they shredded me. But I also was shredded on this site for debunking the myth that Judge Jones improperly “plagiarized” the ACLU’s brief by using it as the basis for his opinion (a common judicial practice that isn’t in any way improper). Usually I know I’m on the right track when I simultaneously offend both extremes on an issue.

    I can’t speak for Ted Davis or anyone else on the ASA list, but I’m pretty confident that the people there like Davis who study this debate for a living are well aware of what PT is all about. I think you’re misunderstanding the main point that was being made in that thread (remember too that it was an email thread and not a carefully polished journal article — snippets of email threads don’t always capture the tone and intent of what is being said).

    Anyway, I’d like to move off of the specific he-said-she-said with regard to Davis’ comments. He’s written lots of stuff over the years, much of which is published in scholarly books and journals, and he’s more than capable of defending his own views, not all of which I necessarily completely agree with, but all of which I completely respect.

    The main point is that we should be able to do better than this carping and finger-pointing and sniping. Even if Dembski felt Davis had gotten it all wrong, there are ways to respond forcefully but with humility and grace. The very title of this thread — “Rising Above the Fray” — shouldn’t be employed with the sort of sarcasm displayed here. We ought to rise above the fray in a sense. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14) is the way of victory through the cross.

  30. Hello, everyone.

    I don’t like to blog for many reasons, including limited time (one could easily fall into a blog and never come up for air), a certain dislike for flaming and trivialization (which seems popular on many blogs), and just plain old fashioned addiction to print, which (rightly or wrongly) I believe will still be in existence after PCs are obsolete.

    I have almost never participated in a blog, except to respond to personal attacks on friends, esp Guillermo Gonzalez, who (as you all know) fell victim to a witchhunt by an atheist professor of religion, and Rick Sternberg (whom I have not met personally, but I would like to), whose treatment has some disturbing overtones with the Galileo affair. As I say, I don’t like blogging, and even in these cases I prefer to do the old fashioned thing: for example, I wrote a letter to the president of Iowa State, defending Gonzalez’ academic freedom and calling into question the motives of his main adversary.

    I am making an appearance here, however, since there is a third-person conversation about me and (implicitly) about some of my ideas–which have not really been well represented by a single post, lifted by Bill or someone else out of an exchange I had on the ASA list with Pim, challenging his ridiculous view that Richard Dawkins harbors kind thoughts about religious believers. I invite people to go view the whole thread, nearly all of which is by others, in order to see how my post fits in with the larger conversation. I think it all happened this month, though I could be missing something; the April archive is here: http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200703/

    Let me say, flat out, that I am not offended by Bill’s comments about mine. It’s no secret that we often differ on issues related to the origins controversy, and I think his joke about Pim being my disciple is actually pretty funny. Pim likes to cherry pick my ASA posts and put selected portions or entire posts on PT–only those he likes, of course, those that would go down well on PT, which are a fraction of those I write. Some ID advocates also cherry pick my posts from time to time, which is what apparently happened here. But no one who follows my many exchanges with Pim would regard him in any sense as my disciple, or me his mentor. We rarely agree, and that applies with full force to the exchange from which a cherry was picked. Go see for yourselves.

    As for my comments about objectivity, this post from tribune7 has it right:
    Davis was confronting Van Meurs with the fact that PT is not any more “objective” about ID than this blog. You don’t claim this blog is “objective” about ID, do you? This is an ID advocacy blog, which is perfectly fine. But PT purports to be something “objective” and “scientific,” which it clearly is not. That was Davis’ point to Van Meurs. It was a way of debunking Van Meurs’ pretense to objectivity.

    That’s a good point, Dave.

    Now, as for my views on ID, which mentok claims to know very well, I would be happy to talk about them here, and listen to opposing views. I don’t know how much time I can devote to this–I will be away for much of the Easter holiday, and even if it weren’t a holiday I’d still have to be careful how much time I devote to it. My request, however, is simply that you first read three articles (well, two articles and one short op-ed piece) I have written about aspects of ID over the years, for old fashioned publications, and then draw conclusions about whether or not I have any understanding of ID, and whether or not I treat the issues fairly–understanding that I am not an ID advocate, do I try to state things accurately and honestly? Also please note my critical comments about the “other side,” from time to time.

    Here are the URLs:
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/gaps.htm
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/EditorBigBang.htm
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavi.....0Trial.pdf

    Now, once these have been read–what would you like to talk about?

    *********

    Final note: I write about many other things, usually but not always historical things–and even when I write about contemporary issues I like to do so in a broader historical perspective. Whether or not you agree with some of my views on the ID controversy, you might like some of the other things I’ve done. Like many other Christian scholars, I am doing my best to think Christianly about the world, in my case about both the created order and the interpretations that we make of it in our science, which is a human creation. I respect the truth (as I see it), and I respect those who honestly see the truth differently.

    Here are a few more essays of possible interest, with abstracts of a few other essays that are not available on the web (though I will send copies to interested persons upon request):
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavi.....yEssay.htm
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1.....Davis.html
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/AMSCI.htm
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/papist.htm
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/newton.htm
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/boxer.htm
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavi.....stract.htm

    The Lord is risen!

    Ted

  31. All the quotes from our list were in the context of whether there could be dialog between TE and ID even though we disagree on some points. My personal opinion is that ID is actually a variant of TE and thus should make dialog at least theoretically easy.

    Prior to this thread on the ASA list, we were challenged by a person who is neither TE or ID to make our list less hostile to ID even though he noted that the vast majority on the list and evangelical scientists in general are TE. My quote that got interpretted as “spitting on the floor” should be seen in that context, noting we have a common enemy, Richard Dawkins and militant atheism.

    Ted, David, others, and I noted as long as we had Pim’s sniping by calling ID “scientifically vacuous” makes this dialog very unlikely. Nevertheless, we believed that absent that it was possible.

    Pim countered:
    “ID has chosen its path, ignoring dialogue and pursuing a political path.”

    Congratulations. So far, you are making Pim’s point. I’ve heard much of “teaching the controversy” from ID. The question arises can ID itself allow for any differences of opinion and truly have a big tent not just with YEC but also TE? I hope the answer is yes and while my hope doesn’t match the strident appearance of our e-mail list (which is not limited to members) it matches ASA’s membership when we meet face to face.

  32. I don’t see many similarities between ID and TE. Intelligent Design is about as theistic as big bang theory. The idea that ID is theistic is the typical, “confusing the theory with it’s implications” misconception.

    As to whether ID can dialog with TE: I am in absolutely no position to judge whether this is the case; but from what I’ve read on this thread, it would help if TE stopped taking the “wayward child” approach to dealing with ID.

  33. My personal opinion is that ID is actually a variant of TE and thus should make dialog at least theoretically easy.

    I always thought so.

    My quote that got interpretted as “spitting on the floor” should be seen in that context,

    OK, so what specifically do you see in ID as being “bad science.” How are ID’s “anti-evolutionary” arguments weaker than the claims of evolution?

  34. My personal opinion is that ID is actually a variant of TE and thus should make dialog at least theoretically easy. . . .I always thought so.

    Let me rephrase that as that I never though there was any inherent incompatibility with it. TE and ID, although quite complementary, don’t really have a common ancestor.

  35. rblinne you wrote:

    Pim countered:
    “ID has chosen its path, ignoring dialogue and pursuing a political path.”

    Congratulations. So far, you are making Pim’s point.

    I don’t know what you mean by agreeing with Pim. Evolutionists are the ones going to court and making political hay over ID, they are the ones who are constantly harping that ID is nothing but a political agenda driven by the desire to force christianity into public shcools. They are the ones who refuse to even acknowledge that ID is worth having a dialogue with. They are the ones whose approach to ID is purely political, and then when they do grant ID their royal audience and make some scientific argument against ID it is inevitably nothing more then straw man arguments or bald face lies. I don’t see why defending ID from disinformation and misrepresentation should be labled “political”. By that standard any advocacy can be caled political regardless of it’s attempt at objectiveness and integrity.

    TE may have common ground with ID depending on the individual conception of TE that one may have (Does Ken miller have common ground with ID?), but those who support TE shouldn’t make it their business to misrepresent ID in the name of their religious agenda or political agenda. TE is on very shaky ground as far as I am concerned. There is no fossil evidence for it just like there is no fossil evidence for any type of evolution. Some people from the ID side do believe in common descent but that is different then accepting wholesale the neo-darwinian evolutionary schema with the addition of some kind of theistic angle attached to it. ID is trying to promote an objective honest attitude towards biological research, whereas TE is supporting the opposite approach taken by the evolutionary establishment in the name of some kind of kumbaya. Yet ironically ID advocates are the ones accused of being non objective and dishonest in the pursuit of a religious agenda in it’s promotion of ID.

  36. My personal opinion is that ID is actually a variant of TE and thus should make dialog at least theoretically easy.

    I always thought so.

    “My quote that got interpretted as “spitting on the floor” should be seen in that context,

    OK, so what specifically do you see in ID as being “bad science.””

    The proposed tests for design don’t seem to be right. What I do for a living is engineering. Evolution looks more like what I do than specified complexity. For example, I use a random number generator to avoid local minima in the solution space. This “randomness” is because of the design and not despite it. Evolution does such a good job of solving problems a whole class of algorithms called genetic algorithms mimic it in order to do design optimization.
    In my opinion, tests for design should be looking for order rather than specified or irreducible complexity.

    “How are ID’s “anti-evolutionary” arguments weaker than the claims of evolution?”

    The comparison is between biological ID and cosmological ID. The latter is arguments such as fine tuning arguing the ratios of the different kinds of forces are so fine tuned to life that it requires an Intelligent Designer. This is stronger because it still stands even if evolution is proven to be true.

    The recent advances in genetics pretty much prove common descent. The techniques are similar to how we do DNA paternity test. Combined with observations of evolution happening right (e.g. bacteria that metabolizes nylon) along with many transistional forms found in the fossil record (at least 10 from fish to amphibians, 6 from amphibians to amniotes, 6 from synapsid to mammals, 6 from diapsid to birds, 6 from hominids to humans) now makes evolution to be quite likely. The other thing is the genetics line up with the fossil record. The fossil record predicts that we are related to Neanderthal and Chimpanzee. We are genetically closer to Neanderthal (98%) than Chimpanzee (96%). Genes turn into pseudo-genes and back again. The variations in the genome are not limited to SNPs but also include differences in copy number variation. The genome is not merely stacking the functional legos differently. The Chimpanzee genome has one more pair of chromosomes than the human one. But, our chromosome 2 is basically the two unique Chimp chromosomes spliced end-to-end. If the bone in the throat is natural selection, note that in neo-Darwinian evolution natural selection is only one of many mechanisms that drive it. Personally, I would prefer that biological ID was correct and evolution wrong. But, the evidence points in the opposite direction.

    The worst case scenario is that ID remains an unproven hypothesis with no positive theory behind it. Here I mean a naturalistic explanation that is an alternative to evolution that explains the strong genetic evidence behind common descent. It may very well be there is no scientific evidence for design. This does NOT mean there is no evidence for design. ID may be giving science more power than it’s due. Science can only explain certain things and we should not make it the final arbiter for all truth like Dawkins does.

    Design and evolution need not be in opposition. If you can prove design then you disprove evolution. But, if you prove evolution you don’t disprove design. In the end, when I am asked do you believe in Intelligent Design or Evolutionary Creationism, I say yes.

  37. rblinne you wrote

    The recent advances in genetics pretty much prove common descent.

    That’s a pretty strong statement especially when considering the fact that the “proof” is nothing more then conjecture based upon homology and or pure speculation. The evidence for common descent can also be used as proof of common design, therefore it is not “proof” of anything except of dishonesty in claiming that there is proof. Common descent is unprovable even if it was true. Why? Because actual proof would require a time machine.

    along with many transistional forms found in the fossil record

    Some more dishonesty. What are called transitional forms by you guys are nothing more then species with similar traits, which actually proves nothing. If evolution was in fact true then we should see in the fossil record a massive amount of true transitional forms, not the bogus transitional forms evolutionists like to fob off on us. A true transitional form would be animals showing the different stages of growth of new limbs and organs e.g. partial limbs, partial organs, etc. Where are the millions of fossils of creatures showing the gradual growth of new body parts? not to be found. How about the fact that we don’t see evolution occuring anywhere in living animals? Where are the bears growing new limbs and organs, the cats growing new limbs and organs? Where is evolution? The attempt to try to fob off microevolutionary action as macroevolutionary action is just a sign of the true and deep problem with evolution. So what we get from this serious blow to evolution is quackery in the form of dishonest attempts to claim that species with slight variations from other species are something which they are not i.e proof of evolution in the fossil record or proof of evolution in action, or claims that microevolution proves macroevolution. Proof is one thing, the so called proof for evolution is in reality conjecture based upon ambiguous data.

    The other thing is the genetics line up with the fossil record.

    Genetics can be used to support the claim of common design or the claim of commmon descent because in either instance there is no actual evolutionary or design of species being observed. Therefore both claims can only surmise from indirect evidence, and the honest answer is that the evidence only shows that there are similarities between species, not how they got that way. So again, you are being dishonest in your claim by mistating the obvious and through omission.

    Look, I could go down the line and pick apart every argument you make and show that you do the same thing over and over. But that has been done much better by others for quite some time. The point is that you are dishonest in your claim of proofs.

  38. “Seem”, ‘looks” and “opinion” are fine but you shouldn’t declare a methodology to be “bad science” on the basis of what is apparently a hunch — especially if you are looking to be a peacemaker.

    Your view regarding evolution, btw, seems quite similar to front-loaded evolution which is held by many here.

    The techniques are similar to how we do DNA paternity test.

    Similar though they may be the level of certainty is not.

    And transitionals are more of an argument against evolution. There should be far more and their interpretations are far from certain.

    This does NOT mean there is no evidence for design.

    And there is nothing wrong with challenging evidence that is presented.

    The problem those of us here have is dismissing it.

  39. Apollos said: The idea that ID is theistic is the typical, “confusing the theory with it’s implications” misconception.

    This is another one of those things that has caused me to back away from ID over the past year. I used to make this kind of argument too, but I no longer think it’s credible or desireable.

    It isn’t credible because ID is obviously primarily a movement spearheaded by Christians who are concerned about preserving the doctrine of creation.

    It isn’t wise, IMHO, because at the end of the day taking this strategy weakens the doctrine of creation and also damages a holistic religious epistemology.

    I think Christians who are concerned about the doctrine of creation (as I am) should simply say that, and should move the discussion to questions about foundational assumptions in epistemology. A Christian notion of “design,” after all, makes no sense unless the “designer” is the Christian God.

    This will not get our ideas into public school science classrooms, but I think the price of trying to do that under existing U.S. law is too high. We Christians assert that Truth is foundationally rooted in God. When we say “design” can be detected apart from acknowledging God as designer, we are ceding the epistemic ground to rationalists and materialist. That is always a losing proposition in the long run. (If you detect echoes of a Radical Orthodoxy perspective here, you would be right).

    Mentok said: Some people from the ID side do believe in common descent but that is different then accepting wholesale the neo-darwinian evolutionary schema with the addition of some kind of theistic angle attached to it.

    This is interesting because I think it betrays a common misunderstanding arising out of the way some ID advocates use the word “evolution” (or “neo-darwinian”). As I understand it, Mentok, you’re using “evolution” here to mean an essentially metaphysical proposition: that life arose spontaneously and evolved without any guidance from a designer. That is not what most theistic evolution proponents mean by “evolution”. Theistic evolution (setting aside panentheism) is theistic, meaning evolution is not just a happenstance. It sees God’s providential guidance in seconary causes as well as primary causes — just as a farmer might say God “sent the rain” he had been praying for, even though the weatherman can offer a naturalistic explanation for the rainstorm. Paradoxically, ID of the sort that Apollos was referring to seems to weaken this strong notion of providence, because it suggests that if something can be explained via secondary causes, God was not involved.

    Theistic evolutionists often seem to use “evolution” to mean common descent. For an ID advocate to acknowledge “common descent,” then, is huge from the perspective of possible confluence between TE and ID. Essentially, such folks agree that “evolution” happened. The question is merely one of whether secondary causes can explain the development of all of life throughout natural history, or if it is instead necessary and appropriate to posit that God intervened at some places in natural history through primary causes — for example, by directly creating some complex systems fully assembled. The gap between (non-panentheistic) TE and ID of that sort, IMHO, is not that huge, and is primarily a question of theology and epistemology.

  40. Mentok said concerning Rich’s evidence for common descent: The point is that you are dishonest in your claim of proofs.

    Tribune said concerning Rich’s position: Your view regarding evolution, btw, seems quite similar to front-loaded evolution which is held by many here.

    Mentok: is Tribune being “dishonest” as well when he acknowledges that front-loaded evolution can be a legitimate position? Thank you, Tribune, for making that observation. I think many people like myself who are uncomfortable with the “strongest” versions of either TE or ID would lean towards something like a “front loaded evolution” view. Mentok, the kind of rhetoric you resorted to there, particularly in the context of not really understanding what some key ID folks are saying about common descent, is a big part of the problem in discussions like this one.

  41. rblinne:

    The recent advances in genetics pretty much prove common descent.

    That flies in the face of Woese’s discoveries. But even granting common ancestry, common ancestry does not imply mindless origins of life nor that Darwinian evolution was the mechanism of evolution. For example, Kimura showed Darwinism is not the principal mechanism in molecular evolution.

    See: Perfect architectures which scream design. Also, you might follow the links provided in Blythian evolution explains antibiotic resistance, not Darwinism.

    Evolution does such a good job of solving problems a whole class of algorithms called genetic algorithms mimic it in order to do design optimization.

    Engineered GA’s are designed GA’s. Remove the component of intelligent design, and the algorithms become useless.

    The position you outline equivocates the meaning of the word evolution and effectively makes double speak.

    Evolution in the sense of GA’s is carefully designed toward an objective and is heavily dependent on a designing intelligence. If that were not the case you would not need software engineers to write GAs.

    One could more properly argue intelligently designed GA’s prove intelligent design.

  42. A Christian notion of “design,” after all, makes no sense unless the “designer” is the Christian God.

    That is not completely accurate. I suggested reasons why even Christian creationists would have some trouble making deliniations, especially in the modern era of genetic engineering and bacterial intelligence.

    See:

    Who are the (multiple) designers? James Shapiro offers some compelling answers

    Design theory independent of the scriputres is important even to people who believe Christ is the Principal Intelligent Designer of life.

    The most well-known principles of chemistry and physics transcend world views. Because of this transcendance, these principles are given the status of extremely reliable truths.

    If ID is similarly transcendent of world-views, ID will be seen by Christians as a reliable truth, and thus a strong evidence for the faith they profess. I for one would like to have faith in something that has a good chance of being true, not just something I want to believe is true. Therefore ID being decoupled from the scriptures is important to me personally.

    It is very satisfying to hypothetically assume atheistic naturlism as a starting premise, and like Flew come to the opposite conclusion.

    Ironically, the theology-free approach of ID will actually confirm theological ideas inspired by Romans 1:20 and John 10:38, namely, the physical universe evidences major truths which transcend world views. In fact, the transcendance is so strong it will actually over turn certain world views…..

    The decoupling of ID from faith is important to people of faith. In contrast, for people who are resolved to reject ID, no amount of reframing the argument will persuade them, thefore what they think is of little value in how the ID argument should be framed. The ID argument should be framed in a manner that makes it the most logically sound, not because of any political or marketing considerations.

  43. Thank you, Tribune, for making that observation.

    You’re welcome.

  44. That flies in the face of Woese’s discoveries.

    True. Good point. I’m Mr. Kumbayah today!

  45. Hello dopderbeck–

    You quoted me as saying:

    The idea that ID is theistic is the typical, “confusing the theory with its implications” misconception.

    Then you said:

    …It isn’t credible because ID is obviously primarily a movement spearheaded by Christians who are concerned about preserving the doctrine of creation.

    As a hypothetical, if ID proponents are concerned about preserving the doctrine of creation, it has no bearing on the theory itself. I don’t see the relevance of determining the motives of those spearheading a scientific theory, I only see its political angles.

    Political and religious motivations are irrelevant in determining the legitimacy of scientific discoveries, IMHO. The conclusions of a pagan scientist should be judged on their merits, not on whether he or she hopes to promote a pagan understanding of science through experimentation. The same for the atheist, the agnostic, the Christian, Jew, or Muslim. (I didn’t mean to leave anyone out).

    I will stick to the understanding that the political or religious beliefs of a scientist may invite scrutiny, but ultimately are irrelevant to the quality of their work.

    You said:

    I think Christians who are concerned about the doctrine of creation (as I am) should simply say that, and should move the discussion to questions about foundational assumptions in epistemology. A Christian notion of “design,” after all, makes no sense unless the “designer” is the Christian God.

    Since our respective views on the doctrine of creation are likely at odds, and a matter for deeper theological discussion, I will refrain from addressing this. However a Christian notion of design may make the best sense of any, I would agree with this whole heartedly, but primarily from the perspective of special revelation in scripture.

    You said:

    When we say “design” can be detected apart from acknowledging God as designer, we are ceding the epistemic ground to rationalists and materialist.

    I have to disagree with this as well. Romans 1:20 provides strong scriptural support that the general revelation of nature is wholly sufficient to call out the existence of an omnipotent God.

    The apostle Paul said:

    For since the creation of the owrld God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

    It may defy the stereotype, but ID is not an exclusive Christian creationist club. It’s been painted that way for political expediency.

    Grace and Peace, dopderbeck

  46. Scordova said If ID is similarly transcendent of world-views, ID will be seen by Christians as a reliable truth, and thus a strong evidence for the faith they profess. I for one would like to have faith in something that has a good chance of being true

    And this is where I think you have things exactly backwards, and where I think the truly major epistemological divide between ID and the general Christian doctrine of creation lies.

    You have already surrendered, I believe, to a non-Christian epistemology and worldview by taking this approach. What you are saying here suggests that human reason is the ultimate arbiter of truth. And, by coupling ID to Science, you are suggesting that Science is the ultimate arbiter of what is reasonable and true. You are therefore ceding the plausibility of Christian truth claims to Science. I think that is profoundly wrong.

    My epistemology is drawn from the classical Christian tradition of “faith seeking understanding” as mediated through the Reformation’s distrust of unaided human reason. I contend that belief in God is properly basic and is not subject to some more foundational test of human reason. I take it as foundational that the Christian faith not only “has a chance of being true,” but simply is true. My principal evidence for that is the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit.

    I understand your position to be exactly the opposite: it is “understanding seeking faith,” with human reason as the proper foundation for any legitimate knowledge claim. It seems to me that in this you stand with Descartes, and ultimately unwittingly agree with folks like Richard Dawkins, in rejecting the mainstream of historic Christian thinking about Truth.

    Scordova also said: Ironically, the theology-free approach of ID will actually confirm theological ideas inspired by Romans 1:20 and John 10:38, namely, the physical universe evidences major truths which transcend world views.

    And this, I think, is a fundamental misunderstanding of Biblical natural theology, and underlines the major theological divide between the strong ID program and a thoroughly Christian doctrine of creation.

    The passages you point to, and others like them, argue that creation demonstrates the power and glory of God. Notice that this refers to the “ordinary” operation of creation according to secondary causes, not to some miraculous intervention in natural history. The Psalmist says the heavens declare the glory of God, and focuses specifically on the sun, which “rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other” (Ps. 19). But there is nothing “miraculous” about the sun’s circuit across the sky; we can explain it entirely through secondary causes, in heliocentric terms that would have been foreign to the Psalmist. Yet through the lens of faith in God the sovereign and loving creator, we can draw lessons from the beauty and power of the sun about the beauty and power of God and his law (notice the parallel in Ps. 19 between the light of the sun and the light of God’s law).

    Without the spectacles of scripture(to use Calvin’s phrase), received in faith supplied through grace by the Holy Spirit, no one will acknowledge God through natural theology — as Romans 1 makes clear. In other words, natural theology standing alone, without faith or scripture, is always a dead end.

    By eliding a robust Biblical doctrine of creation from the concept of “design,” the strong ID program, IMHO, betrays, rather than supports, genuine Christian faith. It becomes a futile apologetic effort and ultimately weakens the faith of those who learn through its efforts to think Science is the ultimate arbiter of Truth.

  47. dopderbeck,

    Even though you intensely disagree with me, I do appreciate your response as it is surprisingly reprsentative of the view of many Christians, but it is not my view.

    you are suggesting that Science is the ultimate arbiter of what is reasonable and true.

    No I am not. I am suggesting reality is structured to force certain people to certain conclusions. That is a promise from the scriptures.

    The scriptures do not teach that one needs the Christian worlview as a prerequisite to discerning Christendom’s most important truths. If that were the case, then no one would be saved since no one could come to faith. If being a Christian was pre-requisite to believing in Christ, then none one could become a Christian.

    The historical facts and events are structured to help men who have faulty and darkened minds. Consider the apologetic Jesus offers in John 10:38:

    though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

    Jesus does not assume the person is even believing His words! Rather Jesus appeals to physical events as a reason to believe.

    the strong ID program, IMHO, betrays, rather than supports, genuine Christian faith

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is not made a more credible argument by affixing “thus saith the Lord”, neither is information science, math, nor quantum mechanics from which ID proceeds.

    To try to build a “biblical foundation” of physics and chemsitry does injustice to the bible and science.

    The pressure to justify art, science, and entertainment in terms of their spiritual value or evangelistic usefulness ends up damaging both the gift of creation and the gift of the Gospel.

    Michael S. Horton, Westminster Theological Seminary

    Where in the World Is the Church?

  48. dopderbeck you wrote

    Mentok: is Tribune being “dishonest” as well when he acknowledges that front-loaded evolution can be a legitimate position?

    Well he can be dishonest or honest about any number of things, what I actually called dishonest was his claims of proof for his positions when the honest position would be that he finds the evidence to be persuasive to his way of thinking, not actual objective proof.

    You also wrote

    It isn’t credible because ID is obviously primarily a movement spearheaded by Christians who are concerned about preserving the doctrine of creation.

    I don’t know what you mean by “concerned about preserving”. What does that mean? I am not a christian and there are many others who support ID who are not christian, maybe it is true that most of the leading ID proponents are christian, but I doubt they see their motivation as wanting to preserve biblical creation doctrine, whatever that means. I believe that they, like myself, are motivated by the desire to see common sense and honesty be the hallmarks of science research and education rather then being under the dictatorial commands of a clique of bigoted dishonest closeminded high priests of materialism whose motivation is indoctrination rather then illumination. I can’t speak for them, but that is my motivation.

    You also wrote

    I think Christians who are concerned about the doctrine of creation (as I am) should simply say that, and should move the discussion to questions about foundational assumptions in epistemology. A Christian notion of “design,” after all, makes no sense unless the “designer” is the Christian God.

    Well people who think like you can take your advice if they like, but ID is about science, it’s not an endeavor into christian philosophy or theology.

    As for your thoughts on the relationship between TE, ID, and common descent goes, I think that you see TE in one way but many other who also believe in some type of theistic evolution may have a very different vision then your own. There is no single TE point of view. Common descent is a view held by some who believe in ID but there are people who believe in TE and common descent who see god as taking a hands off approach to this world, and that the basic neo-darwinian schema is what is true i.e. god may or may not have created the first life but then from then on evoution occured through random mutation and natural selection. The people who believe in ID and common descent would have to reject that scenario because it takes the ID out of anything but the very first life form (or even negates that as well). Combining common descent and ID seems to be a contradictory position since it implies evolution of some type and evolution means mutation plus natural selection. In order to keep those positions together they would have to believe in a completely different kind of evolution from neo-darwinism, as you rightly point out. But from what I have read most people who profess belief in TE and who reject ID seem to accept random mutation plus natural selection as the mechanisms of macroevolution, whereas the people who accept ID with common descent see intelligent design as the cause of macroevolution.

  49. To those from ASA,

    From reading this discussion something bothers me. I used to believe in Darwinian evolution without thinking too much about it. My religious faith did not depend one way or the other whether it was true or not. Then I went to a conference in New York City several years ago where Dembski, Behe and several others presented. I had never heard of any of them before.

    What I took away from this was that the generally accepted theory of evolution (Darwinian gradualism) has a lot of holes in it. Since then I have read a lot like many others here and instead of the generally accepted theory of evolution having a lot of holes in it, there is instead no evidence at all to support it. It is one big empty hole. Everything is circumstantial at best or actually uses one’s imagination at worse, using just so stories. It really takes faith to believe it is true.

    So I am not so much a proponent of ID as a critic of any form of naturalistic mechanism of evolution mainly because I have never seen any evidence to support any of it. But I am perplexed because statements like the following have been made

    “Dawkins believes just because he slices through your weak arguments that he has conquered Christianity.”

    “Some of ID’s arguments are much stronger than others. The anti-evolutionary ones are its weakest. Focus on the stronger arguments you already have.”

    My observations were that the anti-evolutionary arguments were very strong and that there was no evidence for any naturalistic mechanism for the transition of one species to another. In fact I used to joke here with those who accepted Darwin or Neo Darwinism and challenge them to defend their theory and none could. Occasionally one would bring us something in the fossil record but it was either slim or specious. Nothing that would count as hard evidence without a lot of wishful thinking. The best example at present seems to be the forrest animal to whale progression.

    So if those at ASA think there is good evidence to support any naturalistic mechanism for the origin of species, let’s discuss it here politely and we can learn. Many of us here would welcome an extensive discussion on the details of evolution. For several years, we have been asking anyone who could, to provide the evidence but none have done so. That is why we are skeptical, not because we are pre-disposed to disbelieve.

    Just to see what the other side was saying, I watched two separate courses on evolution that Berkeley puts up on their website (each had 14 lectures). After watching them I became even more convinced that there was no evidence except circumstantial evidence as I watched the two different professors spin the information to fit the pre-determined conclusions. One professor pretty much falsified Darwin as he discussed “The Origin of Species” but he didn’t express it that way. Both also distorted ID in their presentations but I have become so used to seeing those tactics that it just seemed part of what I believe they felt they had to do.

  50. I made a typo in the first part of my previous post, I wasn’t refering to tribune, I was refering to rblinne.

  51. Well he can be dishonest or honest about any number of things, what I actually called dishonest was his claims of proof for his positions

    Mentok, I figured you were referring to rblinne. :-)

    Anyway, while his claims of proof are exaggerated I think it’s safe to say he’s not dishonest. I’d be seriously shocked if his post wasn’t sincere.

    “Dishonest” implies a character flaw. Rblinne strikes me a being honorable. Wrong, but honorable.

  52. Dave,

    And, by coupling ID to Science, you are suggesting that Science is the ultimate arbiter of what is reasonable and true.

    There are many (non-Christians, anti-Christians etc) who have long felt that way. We are simply witnessing to them on their terms.

    We are playing on their court and under their rules and giving them a spanking.

    My faith has nothing to do with ID. The evolution (no pun intended) of my views was similar to Jerry’s. I pretty much accepted Darwinism without thinking about it. Then started thinking about it, then saw the man behing the curtain.

    Darwinism is bad science. It uses whisper campaigns, intimidation, censorship and publishing double standards against its critics. If that’s not bad, bad has no meaning.

    It’s certainly not science.

  53. Following are some reponses to Scordova (Scordova comments in italics). Thank you, BTW, for a reasonable and interesting discussion.

    The scriptures do not teach that one needs the Christian worldview as a prerequisite to discerning Christendom’s most important truths. If that were the case, then no one would be saved since no one could come to faith.

    All I can say here is that I think your position contradicts scripture and traditional Christian theology, and leans towards the Pelagian heresy.

    My view of the ordro salutis is essentially the classically Reformed view: no one can be saved absent the hearing of the Gospel and the illumination and effectual calling of the Holy Spirit. The ordo salutis does not begin with human knowledge or understanding. It begins with God’s election and His gracious regeneration of a person’s mind and heart.

    If being a Christian was pre-requisite to believing in Christ, then none one could become a Christian.

    Obviously, but that is not the Reformed position. The proper way to state it is that no one can become a Christian through the exercise of unregenerate reason. No one can reason his or her way to faith. Reason becomes enlightened to the truth of the Gospel only through the gift of faith and the quickening of the Holy Spirit.

    Perhaps you are a Catholic and won’t agree with some aspects of Reformed soteriology. That’s ok — even within Catholicism, I think the Church has substantially moderated the excesses of rationalistic scholasticism. I think the epistemology of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, etc. — as most recently interpreted by John Paul II in Fides et Ratio — differs from the Reformed position only in certain matters of emphasis or degree. Take this, for example, from John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio:

    These considerations prompt a first conclusion: the truth made known to us by Revelation is neither the product nor the consummation of an argument devised by human reason. It appears instead as something gratuitous, which itself stirs thought and seeks acceptance as an expression of love. This revealed truth is set within our history as an anticipation of that ultimate and definitive vision of God which is reserved for those who believe in him and seek him with a sincere heart.

    Or, perhaps you take an Arminian position. There as well, I think the pietist strains of Arminianism are in many ways consistent with classical Christian epistemology. The emphasis there is often on an sort of mystical experience of conversion that transcends rational categories.

    None of this, of course, means that human reasons and evidential arguments are completely worthless. It simply means they always have to follow the illumination provided by revelation and grace. (In this regard, your reference to the miracles of Jesus misses the boat — Jesus is God’s ultimate self-revelation, and his miracles were by definition special, unusual, gracious means by which God revealed his power to unregenerate people. A miracle is not a rationalistic proof, it is a revelation.)

    However you slice it, the mainstream of Christian thought has never accorded reason priority over faith with respect to conversion or to epistemology generally. I would argue that the rationalist strain of American Evangelicalism is an anomalous phenomona that owes more to Descartes than to Augustine, Jesus or Moses. And the interesting thing is that the rationalist strain of American Evangelicalism — exemplified by the “Biola School,” the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society — supplies a substantial part of the intellectual and apologetic firepower for the strong ID program. I have become convinced that it’s impossible to separate the strong ID program from rationalist Evangelicalism. Despite protests to the contrary, they are hand in glove.

    To try to build a “biblical foundation” of physics and chemsitry does injustice to the bible and science.

    I agree with you completely. You shouldn’t take me to be suggesting that the Bible can supply information for Science. My presuppositional position is concerned with epistemology generally. I think Science as a method and social enterprise can only be properly understood and can only occupy its proper place when it is viewed through the prior framework of Christian faith. But that means Science occupies its own, limited sphere. And I should note here that the doctrine of common grace is important to understanding why otherwise unregenerate people can also do good Science.

    Ironically, it is the evangelical rationalists I mentioned above whom I believe are improperly mixing the Bible and Science through ID. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and the similar position on inerrancy adopted by the Evangelical Philosophical Society, demands that the Bible be understood as foundational on matters of scientific fact whenever the Bible purportedly touches on those matters. It is critically important, then, for a Chicago School / EPS person who believes the “kinds” of Genesis 1 require acts of special creation, that the “facts” of Science harmonize with this “fact” of revelation.

    I am convinced that the most important reason why ID has found such traction in American evangelicalism is that, on the surface, it seems to support the notion of the separate, special creation of the different animal “kinds” and of Adam. When you have major ID conferences organized and presented by folks with these overriding concerns, it defies credibility to suggest that ID is essentially a neutral Scientific enterprise. For these key leaders, it is not that at all; it is rather a tool to support their presuppositions about the Bible. I think we’d be better off acknowledging that and then having a conversation about whether those presuppositions are entirely valid.

  54. Some comments for Mentok:

    Mentok said: Well people who think like you can take your advice if they like, but ID is about science, it’s not an endeavor into christian philosophy or theology.

    I appreciate your view here and appreciate that many ID advocates self-describe in this way, but see my comments above to Scordova. If you understand the dynamic between ID and rationalist American evangelicalism, I don’t think the claim that ID is separable from philosophy and theology holds water.

    I think that you see TE in one way but many other who also believe in some type of theistic evolution may have a very different vision then your own. There is no single TE point of view.

    That is certainly true. Personally, I’m not comfortable self-identifying as “TE” for this reason. I prefer to say that I’m simply a Christian, and that along with Christians throughout the millennia, I “believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible” (Nicene Creed). The question of whether God created primarily through secondary causes via evolution, or not, is an interesting one but not in itself a foundational one; yet there seem to be very good theological and epistemological reasons to believe God mostly works in natural history through secondary causes rather than by punctuating natural history with miraculous interventions. (Because of my presuppositions about scripture and the doctrine of original sin, however, I might differ from many TE’s in how I understand the creation of humanity).

  55. Tribune said: There are many (non-Christians, anti-Christians etc) who have long felt that way. We are simply witnessing to them on their terms. We are playing on their court and under their rules and giving them a spanking.

    I think the epistemic terms you are accepting are disastrous. I don’t think this is merely a question of being missional. I think it is a sort of syncretism.

    As to the “spanking,” I think you are deluding yourself if you see it this way. The secular rationalists and materialists, as a public relations matter, have succesfully boxed ID together with young earth creationism and pseudoscientific quackery. ID has gained no real foothold in any major university, it was decimated as a legal strategy in Dover, it has produced no literary organs that are widely read, and it has failed to convince even most Christian intellectual who think about these things.

    This isn’t in itself to say that the claims of ID are wrong, but I don’t think any honest assessment of the state of play can conclude that ID is on the ascendant, much less that it is “spanking” mainstream origins science.

    [Darwinism is] certainly not science.

    Well, again, you have to define a term like “Darwinism.”

    Is the metaphysical view, that life must be purposeless and unplanned, science? I agree with you (as do nearly all TE’s): it is not.

    Is the huge amount of data about the genetic relationships among all life, and the fossil evidence of morphological change, science? I’d say it is.

    Is the inference drawn from that genetic and fossil evidence, that organisms change and that the tree of life branches as a result of those changes over deep time, science? I’d say again that it is.

    We no longer live in the time of Francis Bacon; science is inferential as well as observational. Are all the inferences drawn by mainstream science about the tree of life ultimately True? Maybe, maybe not. They seem to be the best explanation (apart from inexplicable miracles) at this point. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit, however, if the inferences science is drawing 200 years from now look as different as contemporary Darwinism does from what preceded it. That is a good thing about Science, defined within its proper sphere: its explanations are never those of ultimate Truth; they are always provisional and subordinate to more foundational Truths.

  56. Jerry: a couple of years ago I leaned more towards the view you hold now. However, the more deeply I studied it, the more I became convinced that the debate over ID versus evolution is not so easily settled either way without plubming the deeper philosophical presuppositions involved.

    You reference in particular that the evidence for evolution is mostly “circumstantial.” Circumstantial evidence, however, is not bad evidence. People are convicted of murder every day based only on inferences drawn from circumstantial evidence.

    This is, I think, an important philosophical undercurrent in the ID debate. Some key ID advocates seem to desire a return to Baconian Science — Science based only on repeatable laboratory experiments. I will suggest that for a not insubstantial number of people who hold this view, it is tied to young earth creationism and a general distrust of inferring anything about the unrepeatable past. But, as in murder cases, people make justifiable knowledge claims about unrepeateable events that happened in the past all the time based on inferences from the historical circumstances. Inductive reasoning is a valid way of doing Science.

    From a Scientific perspective, the question is whether any inferences can be drawn from the historical evidence that are better than those drawn by evolutionary theory. ID perhaps in some ways points up holes in the inferences — e.g., can natural selection and genetic drift really explain highly specified complex structures — but that alone doesn’t necessarily overthrow an entire theory.

    The question from a scientific perspective is whether ID supplies any more attractive positive inferences. ID advocates say yes, they do, in the form of the design inference. Personally, I don’t discount that argument, but at the same time I don’t think it’s nearly as well established as ID advocates would like — at least not without resorting to more foundational beliefs about theology and philosophy.

  57. dopderbeck,

    There is nothing and I mean absolutely nothing to infer a gradual approach to evolution. The only reason that it is accepted is because Darwin postulated it. All the evidence points to abrupt changes. On other threads currently on this site we point to how natural selection would prohibit gradual changes.

    What kind of science builds a foundation on one man’s speculation?

    When I say circumstantial evidence, I am pointing to evidence to support a naturalistic mechanism but not gradualism. For gradualism there is nothing.

    So why would anyone accept it. That is the interesting philosophical question at hand.

    If you think otherwise, then present some evidence for this. Until that the only intellectually consistent viewpoint is to say there may be some naturalistic mechanism but we have no clue what it is.

  58. dopderbeck,

    You said

    “As to the “spanking,” I think you are deluding yourself if you see it this way. The secular rationalists and materialists, as a public relations matter, have succesfully boxed ID together with young earth creationism and pseudoscientific quackery.”

    I have preached this message here but it essentially goes on deaf ears. There has been a couple threads recently on this very issue and most have either failed to listen or don’t accept it. As one who comes from the very secular Northeast, I can attest to the correctness of your comment.

    The one point you should not make from this observation is that the science that gets discussed here is based on creationism. Yes some threads will come up but they essentially don’t go anywhere. So if you stay here long enough you will see honest attempts to get at correct science. There is one going on now about the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Science is all some of us are interested in and would prefer quotes from the bible not be part of any discussion. But a lot of participants on this site are driven by one thing only and that is their religious world view. Others may be driven by that too but prefer to keep it to themselves and discuss science only.

  59. dopderbeck:
    The secular rationalists and materialists, as a public relations matter, have succesfully boxed ID together with young earth creationism and pseudoscientific quackery.

    It is only “successful” in the minds of the ignorant.

    dopderbeck:
    ID has gained no real foothold in any major university, it was decimated as a legal strategy in Dover, it has produced no literary organs that are widely read, and it has failed to convince even most Christian intellectual who think about these things.

    You are delusional if you think that “Dover” did anything to ID. And ID has convinced a once avowed atheist- Anthony Flew.

    dopderbeck:
    This isn’t in itself to say that the claims of ID are wrong, but I don’t think any honest assessment of the state of play can conclude that ID is on the ascendant, much less that it is “spanking” mainstream origins science.

    Mainstream origins science is nothing more than sheer dumb luck.

    Did you know that the alleged “tree of life” has been toppled?

    Did you know that there isn’t any data that demonstrates that any mechanism can account for the range of change required (if all living organisms owe their collective common ancestry to some unknown population(s) of single-celled organisms)?

    Did you know that people who were once convicted by circumstantial evidence are being freed from prison once reality comes knocking?

    Circumstantial evidence is a funny thing in that it is completely controlled by personal biases.

  60. Jerry said: There is nothing and I mean absolutely nothing to infer a gradual approach to evolution.

    I have to disagree with you here. The evidence of genetic markers that concur across the genomes of related species such as humans and other primates, IMHO, is very compelling evidence of the gradual transitions between such species. Again, I would agree that this alone doesn’t necessarily “prove” gradual evolution on the grandest scale, but I think it is an observation that is very strongly consistent with it, and that can’t just be blown off. And, I would note that the “front-loaded” evolution ID folks Tribune referred to don’t blow it off — they for the most part accept it.

    As one who comes from the very secular Northeast, I can attest to the correctness of your comment.

    Interesting — I live in the Northeast as well, and worse yet I work in academia.

    Joseph said: You are delusional if you think that “Dover” did anything to ID.

    Joseph, I don’t think the evidence supports you on this. Note that I’m referring to the practical and public relations impact of the Dover decision, not to its scientific merits or lack thereof. As a practical and public relations matter, the Dover decision crippled the ID movement’s efforts to legitimize ID in public education — there is no way of getting around that reality — and it further entrenched the “ID=creationism” meme in the public mind. Even the Discovery Institute folks will candidly acknowledge that the Dover School Board made poor choices and hurt their cause.

    Did you know that there isn’t any data that demonstrates that any mechanism can account for the range of change required

    That would be wrong, depending on what you mean by “data.” If you mean repeatable Baconian experiments, you’re quite right. If you mean the sorts of data that can inform statistical models, you’re quite wrong.

    Did you know that people who were once convicted by circumstantial evidence are being freed from prison once reality comes knocking?

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to here. If you’re referring to DNA testing, yes, in a few cases people who have been wrongly convicted have been exhonerated by such testing. But that remains relatively rare. I don’t think you understand the extent to which the legal system, in both criminal and civil cases, depends on “circumstantial” evidence and inferences from non-repeatable historical events.

    Circumstantial evidence is a funny thing in that it is completely controlled by personal biases.

    “Completely controlled?” Hardly. You seem to have even less faith in human reason than I do.

    I will agree, however, that personal biases influence all knowledge claims to some degree. Even supposedly “objective” Baconian observations are rarely truly “objective,” as Polanyi and others have shown. But for this reason, the potential for personal bias can’t in itself defeat a knowledge claim, or else we’ll be right back to Descartes’ solipsism.

  61. dopderbeck:
    “None of this, of course, means that human reasons and evidential arguments are completely worthless. It simply means they always have to follow the illumination provided by revelation and grace.”

    But isn’t the whole point of the Romans 1 passage precisely that (natural) revelation has been graciously provided to all, so that all are without excuse? How then can the scientific search for the truth behind this revelation not be illuminating?

  62. dopderbeck,

    We have gotten to something concrete. Maybe we can get one of the moderators here to start a thread on the applicability of genetic markers as evidence of a naturalistic mechanism for evolution and a gradualistic approach in particular. And if so then maybe you are someone who supports your position could participate.

    Hopefully, it will be congenial if it happens. As a consequence each will learn about the other side.

  63. I meant to say

    “you or someone who supprts your postion”

  64. I think the epistemic terms you are accepting are disastrous.

    As opposed to what? Agree with them and hope they don’t laugh at you? That had the previous strategy.

    This isn’t in itself to say that the claims of ID are wrong, but I don’t think any honest assessment of the state of play can conclude that ID is on the ascendant, much less that it is “spanking” mainstream origins science.

    That it is ascendant is the only rational way to look at it. From what point did it start? As Gandhi said: First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. Phases one and two have occurred, and now we are at stage three.

    Do you think ID is Young Earth Creationism? Despite the attempts by establishment to paint it as such more and more in academy are starting to understand it isn’t. Some thought the propaganda of the Soviet Union was working up until the end.

    Is the huge amount of data about the genetic relationships among all life, and the fossil evidence of morphological change, science? I’d say it is.

    And I wouldn’t disagree, although threatening one with loss of job if one should challenge them is certainly not science.

    Is the metaphysical view, that life must be purposeless and unplanned, science? I agree with you (as do nearly all TE’s): it is not.

    And that is what this fight is about isn’t it?

  65. Phinehas said: But isn’t the whole point of the Romans 1 passage precisely that (natural) revelation has been graciously provided to all, so that all are without excuse?

    No, that is only part of the point. The remainder of Romans 1 and indeed the remainder of Romans as a whole makes clear that no one comes to faith through natural revelation. Everyone spits in God’s face, as it were.

    Indeed, Paul goes on to argue that no one comes to faith even through the Law as revealed in the Hebrew scriptures. The revealed Law only demonstrates our rebelliousness and teaches us that we need grace.

    How then can the scientific search for the truth behind this revelation not be illuminating?

    Because there is not a prior, “scientific” truth “behind” natural revelation. Natural revelation is simply the beauty and power you see out your window every day and the inner sense of wonder this stirs. Natural revelation is not some kind of mathematics of information theory behind or underneath the visible world, waiting to be discovered. Nor is it some kind of gap encoded like a secret message into the ordinary operation of secondary causes. It is rather all of creation operating as it normally does, without visible intervention by God.

    Tribune said:

    As opposed to what? Agree with them and hope they don’t laugh at you? That had the previous strategy.

    First, that wasn’t the previous strategy — the previous strategy was to make up our own cosmology that bears no relationship to the real world, starting with geocentrism and going right on through to young earth creationism.

    Second, the best and foremost apologetic is humble love. We are not at war with people who have not yet tasted God’s grace; rather, we are at war with “principalities and powers.” And that war is not really ours to fight through our own means. We fight it through participating in Christ’s sufferings. It is the way of the cross, not the world’s way of violence.

    This does not mean “agree with them and hope they don’t laugh.” It means “identify the epistemic presuppositions” and expect that they will laugh at our radically contrary presuppositions that begin, in their minds absurdly, with the incarnation and the cross. Through that kind of sacrificial love — the “kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies” (John 12:24) — the Kindgom of God paradoxically grows. We need less Descartes and more Jesus.

    That it is ascendant is the only rational way to look at it. From what point did it start

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree here. I’d suggest that it started with scholastic theology centuries ago, that it flowered in the Scottish Enlightenment, and that it has never recovered from the Radical Enlightenment, notwithstanding bursts of activity here and there since the seventeenth century.

    Do you think ID is Young Earth Creationism?

    No. But I do think ID has become very unhelpfully entangled with young earth creationism, particularly to the extent ID criticizes non-Baconian historical science.

    And that [metaphysical question] is what this fight is about isn’t it?

    It is what the conversation ought to be all about. But if that’s what it’s all about, there’s really no need to spend so much time going on about common descent. Whether common descent is true, or not true, or mostly true, or partly true, or whatever, the metaphysical question is the same.

    It is really no different, I think, than the decoupling of metaphysical and descriptive questions that the Church had to address after Copernicus and Galileo. Remember, a key Biblical text on natural theology is Psalm 19. In what sense can it be true that the “heavens declare the glory of God” if it is not also descriptively true that the sun “rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat” (Ps. 19:6)? The “heavens declare the glory of God” had to be understood, correctly, as a metaphysical statement and not a “scientific” one.

    The same is true today when it comes to biological science. The fact that science can describe the process human conception, fetal development, and birth, from start to finish, in terms of genetics and physiology, detracts nothing from the statement in Psalm 139:14 that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, or from the affirmation in verse 13 that God “created my inmost being” and “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” These are theological and metaphysical statements, not descriptively scientific ones. Likewise with common descent and the belief that I am purposefully created by God, if common descent in one form or another is indeed True as a matter of descriptive science. It is a classic mistake to allow a theological / metaphysical proposition about creation to stand or fall based on a descriptive scientific proposition.

  66. Crud. I typed a bunch of long responses and seem to have lost them. Or maybe I’m banished to the moderation pen again. If it doesn’t show up I’ll have to revisit another time.

  67. Nuts, looks liked I bollixed it up and lost a long post. Only have time for a briefer summary:

    Phinehas — I think the point of Romans 1 and indeed throughout Romans is that no one comes to faith through natural theology. We all spit in God’s face, as it were.

    Tribune — no, not agreeing with them and hoping they don’t laugh. Rather, stating our radical presuppositions of the incarnation and the cross, expecting that they will laugh as Jesus promised they would, and yet seeing the Kingdom of God paradoxically grow through our participation in his sufferings on the cross, as Jesus said it would.

    As to the “fight” being about metaphysical views, yes and no. No, in that the “fight” is not between us and other people who have not yet tasted grace; it is rather a fight between the Kingdom of God and the “principalities and power” that oppose it. Yes, in that the focus should be on metaphysical questions rather than descriptive science — which is why the enormous amount of time and energy that is spent trying to deprove the descriptive aspects of common descent often seems wasted.

    Don’t forget that a key natural theology passage is Psalm 19. The Church eventually had to be able to decouple the metaphysical assertions about how the “heavens declare the glory of God” and how the sun “rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat” (vs. 6) from descriptive heliocentric science. I don’t see why the same can’t be true regarding the metaphysical assertion of “creation” and the descriptive science of common descent.

  68. dopderbeck:
    As a practical and public relations matter, the Dover decision crippled the ID movement’s efforts to legitimize ID in public education —

    Umm there never was any efforts to legitimize ID in public schools. The Dover school board was clueless as to what ID was.

    For example if I were on that school board the decision would have been different.

    dopderbeck:
    and it further entrenched the “ID=creationism” meme in the public mind.

    I doubt the public even noticed. It was an insignificant district and the ruling was full of easily refutable nonsense.

    And then once the people who do buy that nonsense will be pissed off they were lied to once reality opens their door.

    Did you know that there isn’t any data that demonstrates that any mechanism can account for the range of change required.

    dopderbeck:
    That would be wrong, depending on what you mean by “data.” If you mean repeatable Baconian experiments, you’re quite right. If you mean the sorts of data that can inform statistical models, you’re quite wrong.

    If you mean statistical models based on an assumption then that is not objective and definitely not scientific. IOW of course one can lead the data to the assumption one already has. I was talking about something real.

    I know our legal system depends on circumstantial evidence. And that is really too bad. If science ever takes up the Court’s reasoning then it too will be useless.

  69. Joseph — we’ll just have to agree to disagree. We don’t agree on the public relations significance of the Dover case, the nature of valid inductive reasoning, the relationship between observational data and theories, or the use of scientific evidence in court cases (see the Daubert case and its progeny on that).

  70. dopderbeck,

    At the risk of being presumptuous, it seems that most on this blog would prefer to address the scientific issues regarding ID and evolution. The philosophical discussion over which group is more true to Christian principles (it seems to me) has run its course and, as it happens, is irrelevant to ID.

    I gather from your (very friendly and eloquent) posts that you see this as a political and philosophical tug-o-war with the “fundies” over a religious movement. IMHO, this is really at the core of the differences of opinion, minus TE and ID’s differences over methodological naturalism and neo-Darwinian mechanisms for biological origins and change.

    I detect an attitude in TE to marginalize ID to a political fomentation, and a knee-jerk response to militant atheism. The tendency to deflect the discussion from scientific criticism of Darwinism — along with the scientific theories of ID, to a philosophical debate about Christianity, is likely to be perceived as a lack of respect for ID proponents.

    Is irreducible complexity a serious challenge to NDE? Does it presuppose theism? What are the implications of a lack of observable mechanism for NDE? What constitutes complex specified information? Are design inferences made in science? Does science rely on them? How does the “Privileged Planet” hypothesis challenge the naturalistic suppositions of NDE proponents? These may be juvenile assumptions of what would interest this blog, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.

    Jerry’s post was exactly of this order:

    Maybe we can get one of the moderators here to start a thread on the applicability of genetic markers as evidence of a naturalistic mechanism for evolution and a gradualistic approach in particular. And if so then maybe you are someone who supports your position could participate.

    I think if TE expects good dialog with ID, it needs to engage in a scientific debate; otherwise it looks like you are just running interference for NDE.

  71. First, that wasn’t the previous strategy the previous strategy was to make up our own cosmology that bears no relationship to the real world, starting with geocentrism . . ..

    Speak for yourself. Copernicus was an IDer. :-)

    And actually that gets to another point. You can have a culture that assumes happenstance. Or one that assumes design. The powers that control definitions in the science and the arts have adopted the former. Western Civilization, however, has traditionally held the latter.

    Which one is right?

    Second, the best and foremost apologetic is humble love.

    Love means telling the truth even when it hurts.

    I’d suggest that it started with scholastic theology centuries ago, that it flowered in the Scottish Enlightenment,

    Ascendent does not mean zenith. :-)

  72. Apollos said: I gather from your (very friendly and eloquent) posts that you see this as a political and philosophical tug-o-war with the “fundies” over a religious movement. IMHO, this is really at the core of the differences of opinion, minus TE and ID’s differences over methodological naturalism and neo-Darwinian mechanisms for biological origins and change.

    Personally, I think you’re exactly right — that is how I’ve come to see it personally, and I also think this is a significant part of the difference between TE and ID generally. And I do understand that I’ve led the discussion here in ways that might seem a bit far afield. But in my mind, this isn’t far afield at all — this is where the heart of the discussion should be. It should be first and foremost a philsophical and theological discussion, IMHO. I think if the discussion happened most deeply at that level, some of the other differences would narrow substantial.

    Tribune said: Love means telling the truth even when it hurts.

    True. But it means telling the truth “in love” (Eph. 4:15). I’m afraid we sometimes give more of what we take as “truth” and less of what should come from “love.”

  73. Dopderbeck wrote:

    Perhaps you are a Catholic and won’t agree with some aspects of Reformed soteriology. That’s ok

    I am member of the PCA and profess 95% of the Westminster Confession, the only portion I am very undecided about is the issue of the Sabbath. I was raised a Roman Catholic, but left that denomination when I joined the PCA many years ago. You are mistaken.

    Or, perhaps you take an Arminian position. There as well, I think the pietist strains of Arminianism are in many ways consistent with classical Christian epistemology. The emphasis there is often on an sort of mystical experience of conversion that transcends rational categories.

    You are mistake. I’m probably regarded as a Supralasarian Calvinist, so I’m defintely not Arminian.

    It is apparent you have misstated and misunderstood my position. The rest of your response criticizes things I didn’t say nor believe.

    I argue there are transcendant truths independent of Christian world view, (i.e. gravity.). I never said that unregenerate minds perceiving such trancendendant truths would be sufficient for salvation.

    However, there are several times when the notion of “saw and believed” occurs. The force of a miraculous event is the very fact that it is a trancendant truth. If one insists that one needs a Christian world view to recognize a miracle has taken place, then that denigrates the meaning of miracle.

    God used transcendant truths to confirm His Word. He confirmed the word through signs and wonders. In light of that, the notion of the Holy Spirit’s witness does not seem limited to some inner inkling given that physical events like miracles testify of God’s word…

    I do thank you however for offering your thoughts to our readers.

  74. True. But it means telling the truth “in love” (Eph. 4:15). I’m afraid we sometimes give more of what we take as “truth” and less of what should come from “love.”

    Dave, that’s fine. You look at what we write, say and do and you are going to find mistakes but that’s only because we have written, said and did.

    When Dembski and Behe wrote their first books was there any meaness in them? No, but they sure go hit with a pile of rocks.

    So we are going to face up to our opponents and not back down. We are going to occasionally say things that shouldn’t be said. When we do and you want to correct us, do it with the same consideration you would give someone on the other side.

  75. dopderbeck:
    We don’t agree on the public relations significance of the Dover case,

    I go with reality on that one.

    the nature of valid inductive reasoning,

    ID is based on valid inductive reasoning.

    the relationship between observational data and theories,

    All observational data points to stasis. That NS conserves and sexual reproduction puts an end to Common Descent- please read wobbling stability

    or the use of scientific evidence in court cases (see the Daubert case and its progeny on that).

    Now you’re just confused. I know there is a difference between circumstantial evidence and scientific evidence.

  76. Scordova said:

    It is apparent you have misstated and misunderstood my position. The rest of your response criticizes things I didn’t say nor believe.

    I don’t think so. I was summarizing various approaches, and demonstrating how they are all related. I didn’t presume your approach was any of those I summarized in particular — which doesn’t matter in any event, because they all are similar.

    God used transcendant truths to confirm His Word. He confirmed the word through signs and wonders. In light of that, the notion of the Holy Spirit’s witness does not seem limited to some inner inkling given that physical events like miracles testify of God’s word…

    From this, it seems to me that I did understand your position: it seems to me that your position on these theological questions, repsectfully, is confused and not thought out.

    In this response, you are confusing the witness of the Holy Spirit with the witness of revelation. The Holy Spirit’s witness is an inner witness of illumination.

    Revelation is an external witness, which includes God’s ultimate self-revelation in Christ, the revelation of the written scriptures, revelation by miraculous signs and wonders, and general revelation.

    Natural theology relates to general revelation. General revelation is a particular type of revelation that, according to Romans 1, never lead to salvation. Rather, general revelation only tells us generally that there is a God, who is powerful, beautiful, creative, orderly, caring, etc., and also (I would suggest) that there is a moral law woven into the fabric of creation. We inevitably reject the message of general revelation without illumination and special revelation.

    In earlier posts, you seemed to be suggesting that ID is a way of exploring general revelation. I was trying to suggest that this is a confusion of categories, because general revelation concerns nature as it ordinarily operates. General revelation does not concern miraculous signs and wonders. General revelation can be explored through the exercise of human reason even apart from special revelation precisely because general revelation operates according to regular, orderly patterns and laws. We can see the beauty, order, and yes, in a general sense, “design” within the ordinary operation of nature. I consider this a “weak” or “traditional” form of ID, which I think is quite valid.

    Your continued reference to miracles, however, seems to confuse these categories. The special revelation of miracles / signs and wonders is not a kind of truth discernable by science. By definition, “miracles” are, as you say, “signs and wonders” that happen outside the ordinary operation of nature. Moreover, by definition, “miracles” are rare and are offered for specific purposes within redemption history. They do not reflect order and regularity; rather, they disrupt and transcend order and regularity in ways that only God can accomplish.

    This is another important aspect of my theological problem with the strong ID program — it seems to be an effort to use science to prove the miraculous. In some iterations, it seems to be a very specific effort to explain miracles of special creation through mathematical information theory — miracles as Shannon Information.

    The information theory being employed entails an ontology of information that accords information an ontological status apart from matter. Setting aside the tendentious (and I think wrong) nature of the claim that information is an ontic entity apart from matter, I think there’s a very real danger here of exalting this ontology of information into another form of revelation. In a way, it seems to me at times like the efforts to find a “Bible code” in the grammatical syntax of the Hebrew Bible — a kind of gnostic mathematical proof of God’s existence. I am troubled by what this does to the traditional, Biblical categories of illumination and revelation.

  77. Joseph: I’m sorry, but you’re just not listening to the points I’m making. On the one hand, you suggest courts should abandon the use of “circumstantial” evidence because it’s invalid, and should move towards a system in which only “scientific” evidence is valid; on the other, you purport to understand how the Daubert case relates expert scientific testimony to the independent fact-finding functions of the judge and jury. It seems to me that you need to do a bit more reading on epistemology, the nature of scientific evidence, and in connection with the judicial process, the independent role of the judge and jury. The Daubert case itself is a good place to start.

  78. Tribune said: When Dembski and Behe wrote their first books was there any meaness in them? No, but they sure go hit with a pile of rocks.

    This is an excellent point. Dembski and Behe’s books, I thought when they first came out and I still think, were outstanding — scholarly, erudite, and properly moderated in tone. And, you are right, they got slammed with inappropriate viciousness by the establishment.

    At that point it seems that things could have gone in various ways. One way would have been to sift the valid criticisms from the invalid, and to try not respond in kind but with continued strong scholarship. Another way was to politicize the “movement” and to make it a lynchpin of the culture wars. I’m afraid that, from my perspective and I think from the perspective of some of the TE’s in the ASA (though I don’t presume to speak on their behalf), the latter is increasingly what has happened. The result, it seems to me, is that within some ID and Christian circles, questioning ID is often met with the same vitriol as is questioning capital-D Darwinisim on Panda’s Thumb. In some circles, it seems to me, ID has become a sort of apologetic gospel, such that questioning ID is akin to questioning the faith itself. That is the sort of thing that concerns me most.

  79. One way would have been to sift the valid criticisms from the invalid, and to try not respond in kind but with continued strong scholarship.

    Such as Dr. Stephen C. Meyer submitting a paper to the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington?

    Perhaps Dr. Dembski could have started a research center dedicated to the study of ID while he was at Baylor.

  80. In some circles, it seems to me, ID has become a sort of apologetic gospel, such that questioning ID is akin to questioning the faith itself. That is the sort of thing that concerns me most.

    I don’t think anyone would find it unacceptable to question or challenge any specific claim made by any of the leading lights of ID.

    There was a long thread here a few weeks back hacking away at CSI.

    The problem comes when ID is distorted (i.e. called YEC) or when the entire concept is attacked especially when the attack is based on distortions or gotchas on small points.

  81. dopderbeck you wrote

    The information theory being employed entails an ontology of information that accords information an ontological status apart from matter. Setting aside the tendentious (and I think wrong) nature of the claim that information is an ontic entity apart from matter, I think there’s a very real danger here of exalting this ontology of information into another form of revelation.

    If we think about this in purely theological terms then I don’t see why you have a problem with this. According to christian theology (and my own beliefs) information precedes matter i.e God has information which he uses to arrange and build matter. Therefore in this theological conception of information it is indeed originally ontologically apart from matter and then built into matter. An example is information written on your hard disc. First you have two separate ontological systems which then become infused with each other. Even though they become one system, they arise and ultimately maintain inherently separate ontological natures. Information is different from that which is being informed or doing the informing, information is knowledge while the informed or the informer are repositories of information or knowledge. You have written something about panentheism as being in conflict with this concept, I would disagree. I am a panentheist, I see all of reality as an expression of God’s being. Yet at the same time I see different ontological categories being expressed within the oneness of everything. I see oneness and simultaneous differentiation. An example of this concept would be the ontological nature of the human soul or consciousness in relation to the ontological nature of God. As a panentheist I see the human soul as being a part of God but not being the same as God. I see a categorical difference between human consciousness or soul from God. Even though we are one in substance we are different in size and nature e.g God exists everywhere whereas I do not, God is conscious of everything whereas I am not, God exists in more dimensions then I do, etc. So even though I see myself as ontologically one with God because everything is manifested within and comprised of God, at the same time I see myself in a different ontological category of existence from God. So for a panentheist it is not a problem to see information and matter as seperate ontological categories. Information is what makes matter…matter. From my understanding matter comes into existence due to God building or creating matter through the use of information onto a non material or subquantum substance i.e God’s original self same consciousness/soul substance or energy. In that sense I see matter as alive as you have pointed out, but it is in a transformed state, a state which has gone from pure original essence of God into a a different ontological category containing specified complexity and specified information in order to function within specific parameters and do the job it is designed for.
    You also wrote

    In a way, it seems to me at times like the efforts to find a “Bible code” in the grammatical syntax of the Hebrew Bible — a kind of gnostic mathematical proof of God’s existence. I am troubled by what this does to the traditional, Biblical categories of illumination and revelation.

    Traditions become traditions through God’s arrangement and they can also change through God’s arrangements. God is not a static entity, God is very much an active agent in the here and now. Revelations or the processes or nature of those revelations should not be thought of as being subject to human constraints or control, they are transcendental and operate under their own inner logic and purpose. In other words God is a free agent and is not bound to any tradition nor to any expectation or personal belief. If God wants to reveal himself in whatever fashion of his choosing, then it will be done regardless of a lack of a precedent or a lack of conforming to traditional understandings.

  82. Tribune:

    You make some good points about Baylor and such, and honestly I don’t know all the history of that to comment on it intelligently.

    But how about this: the ASA has a very nice, peer reviewed journal. It offers a variety of perspectives and isn’t polemical. There is no over-the-top political stuff clogging up the works. Some leading ID’ers write for the ASA journal sometimes. But why not a similar, broad based journal from an ID perspective? Why do the primary outlets right now seem to be polemical blogs and popular trade press books?

    Mentok: very interesting, my impression was that most panentheists are theistic evolutionists of a sort.

    You said this: According to christian theology (and my own beliefs) information precedes matter i.e God has information which he uses to arrange and build matter.

    I can see how God might be considered a form or repository of “information” from a panentheistic perspective, but I’m not really sure this is an accurate statement of orthodox Christian theology. (I don’t understand panentheism to be orthodox Christian theology, but I don’t intend that statement to be taken as a slight — just as a statement of what Christian historical theology represents).

    In orthodox Christian theology, God doesn’t “use information” to arrange and build matter. He simply creates — in the traditional phraseology, He speaks the world into existence. There is nothing prior to God’s act of creation — it is “ex nihlo,” out of nothing.

    Of course, one challenge for TE or for any kind of progressive creationism is how to contextualize creation over a long period of time with creation ex nihlo. But there is good precedent, I think, for understanding creation ex nihlo as the initial act of creation in which God endows the universe with the its fundamental properties, such as basic physical laws. Even this, though, I think, isn’t the impartation of “information” as some kind of separate ontic entity that God injects into the universe. Rather, I’d suggest it involves the creation of matter and physical laws, including quantum mechanics, in such a way that “information” — whether patterns of regularity such as genetic codes or less predictable properties such as minds — can emerge. And, an adjunct to God’s initial creative activity is is continual sustaining activity in creation. The notion of God providentially sustaining creation as it develops according to His will is congenial, I think, to an orthodox understanding of God’s sovereignty — which is one place I would depart from panentheism.

    Now, I suppose ID can offer an answer that might seem more satisfying: God created “information” as a separate ontic entity and injected it, either at the start or periodically throughout natural history, into the rest of creation. But I personally think this causes more philosophical and theological problems than it solves.

  83. dopderbeck I have a problem with creation ex nihilo when it is interpreted too literally. For me that is an impossible proposition due to the nature of reality from a philosophical standpoint. Nothing cannot become something because there needs to be a causal ground of being for something to come into existence, at least that is what is considered logical when considering the ontology of physics. My understanding of creation ex nihilo is that nothing existed but God (in God’s original essential state) before creation. Ex nihilo for me means God created matter and the universe from a state where there was no matter nor a universe nor anything but God in God’s original state of existance. Ex nihilo means that God didn’t create the world from pre-existing elements, not that God created the world out of nothing at all. God created the world out something, but that something was not of this world, that something was God’s being and God’s intelligence and God’s will and ability. In that interpretation ex nihilo makes sense to me, otherwise something coming from absolutely nothing seems to me to be a logically flawed interpretation of creation ex nihilo because nothingness lacks on it’s terms the pre-requisite existential foundation to give it the ability to become somethingness.

    As for your point that in orthodox christian theology:

    God doesn’t use information to arrange and build matter. He simply creates — in the traditional phraseology, He speaks the world into existence.

    “Speaking” in the blblical context of creation, in my interpretation, is a simplified explanation for information formation and also a metaphor for utilizing that information to create something. We do the same thing whenever we try to build anything. What is speech that can create logical complex systems (e.g. God spoke the world into existence) but a process of information formulation and transference? For us if we create a machine the process begins with speech in our mind as we try to organize information into a capable plan. Then that speech becomes transfered in some way as some type of information in the process of actually building a machine. The bible in my understanding is giving a complex understanding in a simplified version of what actually happened and happens.

  84. As CS Lewis once said, Mentok, the idea of an Egg that came from no Bird is no more rational or irrational than a Bird that existed for all Eternity.

    Regardless of your beliefs about what the Primal Cause is for the whole ball of wax we call the Big Bang (sometimes called Creationism for Nerds!), we have the same problem. SomeTHING must ultimately have come via some processes from NOthing. Else all existed forever, which I think some nontheists may have entertained at one time and many still do, but they are stuck in the same Egg-Bird timebound quandry as the rest of us earthlings.

    The problem is that we can’t compare to other events since the sample size does not exceed exactly ONE event. Recess time back into the distant past and you will come to a point, like it or not, where there does not even exist the great curtain of time to open up for All Avents to happen. The only other option is for things to have existed forever, which using the same method of recessing back in time you’ll (illogically) NEVER reach any moment on the time graph at which it can be said that you are any closer NOR farther from the present; the very notion of “infinity” of time would have to move in both temporal directions, thus does not allow “closeness” to current events, nor “distance”.

    It’s like trying to jump one’s way back OUT of a bottomless pit. There is no leverage to do so since there is nothing to launch from.

  85. But why not a similar, broad based journal from an ID perspective?

    It’s not a bad idea although what has to be kept in mind is that an effective hit will draw screams no matter how much niceness surrounds it.

    What I fear would happen to any such journal, though, is that extra-scientific means would be used to marginalize it and make it basically valueless.

    Potential contributors and reviewers would face near insurmountable intimidation etc., leaving only those not caring what the establishment thought, which would mean it would almost certainly turn into a polemic.

    Maybe I’m just being pessimistic.

  86. dopderbeck you wrote

    Mentok: very interesting, my impression was that most panentheists are theistic evolutionists of a sort.

    Maybe amongst christians, but in the entire world it is the opposite. I mean the large population of hindus. Most hindus are panentheists. Between 60 to 70% of all hindus claim to believe in some form or tradition of Vaishnavism. Vaishnava traditions are panentheistic (non vaishnava traditions are also mostly panentheistic but they also mostly profess monism as well, which vaishnavism does not) and profess intelligent design in their own fashion. Even though most hindus have probably never heard of intelligent design nevertheless the vaishnava scriptures and teachings are professing that God created all living things through the use of his/her intellect and plan. In fact vaishnava theology professes that there are countless earth type planets with the same life forms and which serve the same purpose as our earth does. It is also taught that many life forms and nature in general on earth type planets have their origin in the heavenly or spiritual kingdom (heavenly planets or vaikuntha) where God lives in human forms with countless humans who have attained to life in heaven. Heaven is also described as being populated with many of the animals and plants we find on earth. The idea taught is that God created most life as we know it for the purpose of eternal enjoyment in heaven, and that earth type planets are temporary pale reflections of the perfect eternal heavenly planets. Vaishnava scriptures go into fairly detailed descriptions on how god created the various life forms, not in a modern scientific fashion, but in a fairly complex metaphoric description nevertheless.

  87. Mentok — thanks for reminding me of Hinduism, I’d forgotten about that. I see what you’re saying about something coming from nothing. If what you’re saying is that God had to pre-exist the creation, I agree, as that is orthodox Christian doctrine. I like the old analogy of God as the “unmoved mover.” My understanding of panentheism, though is that God is often thought of not as preexistent, but as emerging out of the universe. And if you think of “information” as an ontic entity apart from God, you would still have to explain where that entity came from. It seems to just add another layer to your problem with creation ex nihlo. Either way, God and his power to create something out of nothing have to be taken as givens.

  88. Tribune — re: the journal idea — yes that probably is what would happen. But then again, what’s the alternative? Angry blogs in which the interesting stuff gets gummed up with dumb cheap shots and irrelevant hyper-conservative political rants?

  89. dopderbeck,

    On another thread there is starting to be a discussion of genetic markers as evidence for common descent. This was not in response to your comments here but came up independently. If you want, you could comment or just observe to see what some here are thinking. The thread is titled

    Friday Musings — Irrational Hatred of ID and a Scientific Sea Change

    and the discussion starts at comment 6 on down. There is also some comments about angry blogs.

  90. dopderbeck you wrote

    My understanding of panentheism, though is that God is often thought of not as preexistent, but as emerging out of the universe.

    I’ve never heard panentheism described like that. I know that hindu traditions do not teach that. They teach that God is the primeval substance, with no origin, and that the universe comes into existance through God’s desire and will, and that the universe is comprised of God.

    you wrote

    And if you think of “information” as an ontic entity apart from God, you would still have to explain where that entity came from.

    Information in the form of what we can perceive in matter or ourselves was/is created by God.

    You wrote

    It seems to just add another layer to your problem with creation ex nihlo. Either way, God and his power to create something out of nothing have to be taken as givens.

    God cannot do the impossible, what is impossible is impossible regardless of the ability of anyone. Creating something out of nothing is impossible. God creates matter out of something i.e out of God.

  91. Angry blogs in which the interesting stuff gets gummed up with dumb cheap shots and irrelevant hyper-conservative political rants?

    Dave

    There is a lot more good than bad on this blog. You’re posting on it right? More to the point you’re reading it.

    Dembski’s Design Inference site would be far more akin to what you might find in a journal than UD, anyway.

    Rather than an expensive to produce journal, a better option would be for ASA to invite (better, recruit) ID perspectives to its own blog with its own moderation policies.

    Link to the papers on Dembski’s DI site that you find of interest. Or ask him if you can repost them there.

  92. Wakefield you wrote

    SomeTHING must ultimately have come via some processes from NOthing. Else all existed forever, which I think some nontheists may have entertained at one time and many still do, but they are stuck in the same Egg-Bird timebound quandry as the rest of us earthlings.

    The view I have is that something has always existed. If anything exists then logically something must have always existed because you cannot get something from nothing.

    You wrote

    The problem is that we can’t compare to other events since the sample size does not exceed exactly ONE event. Recess time back into the distant past and you will come to a point, like it or not, where there does not even exist the great curtain of time to open up for All Avents to happen.

    I disagree. Time is amorphous. If something has always existed then time has always existed relative to that something.

    you wrote

    The only other option is for things to have existed forever, which using the same method of recessing back in time you’ll (illogically) NEVER reach any moment on the time graph at which it can be said that you are any closer NOR farther from the present;

    I disagree. 1 year ago was closer to the present then 2 years ago and 1 year in the future is closer to now then 2 years in the future.

    the very notion of “infinity” of time would have to move in both temporal directions, thus does not allow “closeness” to current events, nor “distance”.

    Infinity means no beginning and no end. But that doesn’t mean that points within infinity cannot be measured relative to other points. If space is infinite that doesn’t change the fact that I live X number of miles from New York City. The same with time. If time begins and ends or if it is infinite that doesn’t change the fact that we can measure points in time relative to each other.

  93. Tribune: Rather than an expensive to produce journal, a better option would be for ASA to invite (better, recruit) ID perspectives to its own blog with its own moderation policies.

    The ASA doesn’t really have a blog to speak of (it has one, but it stinks). The journal is where the action is, and ID folks are recruited to write for it and do.

    As for an ASA online presence, the ASA email list is where the action is. ID folks do post there from time to time, and a few of the regulars are TE-ID hybrids of a sort (I guess in some ways that describes me, though again, I don’t claim to represent the ASA). However, (1) unfortuntaely often that activity involves someone who really has no clue about what TE’s really do or think stopping in to drop the equivalent of an F-bomb on anyone who dares question the tactics and ideology of political ID (I will not name names but one the occasion or two that I’ve seen a well-known ID advocate jump into the ASA list (NOT Bill Dembski or Mike Behe) the combination of ignorance and arrogance was simply astonishing); and (2) equally unfortunately, there are some TE’s on the ASA list, as well as some other hangers-on who aren’t even really ASA folks, who treat just as poorly anyone who disagrees with them (Ted Davis, BTW, is not one of those bomb-throwers). We have been discussing recently on the ASA list our need to be more gracious and open in this regard. Some agree; not all do.

    Anyway, there’s no substitute for a peer reviewed journal produced by a group of people who together are committed to serious scholarship. There’s something about a community of scholars that limits excesses.

  94. Tribune said: There is a lot more good than bad on this blog. You’re posting on it right? More to the point you’re reading it.

    I was going to pass this over, but then I went looking for the “Friday Musings” post someone mentioned, and saw this post: Angry Old Fat Man: The Algorecalypse, and I remembered again why I don’t visit this site on a regular basis. How is this kind of schlock defensible? How does it help anything? Why would a smart person who publicly identifies as a Christian intellectual and teaches as a Christian seminary want to be party to such nonsense. Credibility down the drain. Sigh.

  95. and saw this post: Angry Old Fat Man: The Algorecalypse . . .

    And you watched it :-)

    I suspect if Niels Bohr and Einstein had video cameras we might have seen a different side to them.

    I too think it is a shame standards have dropped but I don’t think AOFM (much less more innocent things like South Park) are anywhere near as responsible as 8 years of Bill Clinton and a series of remarkably stupid Supreme Court decisions in the early 60s.

    And think about this – a few months back a group of doctors were attacked for expressing support for ID because they were not “biologists.” Now, we have Gore, a divinity school drop out, about to persuade the world horrifically inconvenice itself while transferring billions of dollars to bad scientists and their enablers in the name of bad science.

    Anyway, I sincerely commend you in your attempt to maintain standards.

  96. Actually I didn’t watch it. I am not really a fan of Al Gore. However, I think you’re wrong about the science of global warming, though you might be right about being cautious concerning policy — but that’s a whole nother kettle of fish. And yeah, the President getting hummers in the oval office is a really bad thing. But in any event, fat jokes about Al Gore, videos with fart noises and whatnot, do not to me and I think to many thoughtful people bespeak careful, credible deliberation. It really hurts your cause — too bad if you can’t see that.

  97. But in any event, fat jokes about Al Gore,
    What fat jokes about Gore?

  98. Scordova said:

    It is apparent you have misstated and misunderstood my position. The rest of your response criticizes things I didn’t say nor believe.

    dopderbeck: I don’t think so.

    Really? Given you suggested I was Arminian when I’m not [unless you can figure a way to say a Calvinist like myself is also an Arminian], that I’m Roman Catholic, when I’m not [unless you can figure a way to say a PCA member is a Roman Catholic also], and still insist you characterize my position accurately, I see no reason for further dialogue.

    It’s pointless to dialogue with someone who feels free to project and attribute statements and ideas and even denominational affiliations to me which I do not maintain. You had the opportunity to simply say, “I misunderstood what you were saying” but rather you seem bent on attributing ideas to me which I do not maintain.

    Such conduct does not project a willingness for fair and open dialogue.

    it seems to me that your position on these theological questions, repsectfully, is confused and not thought out.

    Given you attribute thelogical ideas to me whcih I don’t maintain, it’s understandable you think I’m confused. You should understand my theologcial position before you begin criticizing it.

  99. dopderbeck, I urge you to give dialog a chance. Yes, based on scordova’s handle, I would also assume that he is Catholic. Nevertheless, I believe a dialog between TEs and IDs would be very helpful and timely. So now that you know more about his theological heritage (which doesn’t seem too far removed from your own), how about engaging him on his own theological terms? You seem sophisticated theologically, and I certainly would look forward to such a dialog (if not in this venue, then in some other).

  100. Scordova said: Really? Given you suggested I was Arminian

    Go back and actually read what I said. I made no such suggestion; I summarized a variety of positions, Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, and suggested that whichever you might hold, the result is the same. I don’t understand how you can suggest I’m the one backing away from fair dialogue here.

    Lutepisc said: I urge you to give dialog a chance…. So now that you know more about his theological heritage (which doesn’t seem too far removed from your own), how about engaging him on his own theological terms?

    Again, I would urge you to give dialogue a chance, and to go back and read what I actually wrote. I started with the Reformed tradition and Barth. To show that the points I was making weren’t a quirk of the Reformed tradition, I demonstrated how Catholic and Arminian views on natural theolgy and reason in many ways converge.

    I made no assumptions about Scordova’s theological views and presented a broad and fair survey of my position from a variety of theological traditions. The only responses I’ve gotten so far are ones which suggest that dialogue is only welcomed if it is a one-way street.

  101. The relevant post, BTW, is number 53.

    There, Scordova said: If being a Christian was pre-requisite to believing in Christ, then none one could become a Christian.

    And I responded as follows:

    Obviously, but that is not the Reformed position. The proper way to state it is that no one can become a Christian through the exercise of unregenerate reason. No one can reason his or her way to faith. Reason becomes enlightened to the truth of the Gospel only through the gift of faith and the quickening of the Holy Spirit.

    Only after first summarizing the Reformed position did I tie in the Catholic and Arminian positions. I then concluded with the following:

    However you slice it, the mainstream of Christian thought has never accorded reason priority over faith with respect to conversion or to epistemology generally. I would argue that the rationalist strain of American Evangelicalism is an anomalous phenomona that owes more to Descartes than to Augustine, Jesus or Moses. And the interesting thing is that the rationalist strain of American Evangelicalism — exemplified by the “Biola School,” the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society — supplies a substantial part of the intellectual and apologetic firepower for the strong ID program. I have become convinced that it’s impossible to separate the strong ID program from rationalist Evangelicalism. Despite protests to the contrary, they are hand in glove.

    I hope it is clear that if there is a failure of dialogue concerning the TE position (or at least what I understand the TE position to be), it isn’t on my part. If after reading through all my posts here in context you are still interested in discussing theological perspectives on the TE position, let me know what is unclear and I’ll do my best to clarify.

  102. Scordova said: Given you attribute thelogical ideas to me whcih I don’t maintain, it’s understandable you think I’m confused. You should understand my theologcial position before you begin criticizing it.

    Given that it should now be clear that I wasn’t attributing to you a position you don’t hold, and that I was quite clear in summarizing what I believe the Reformed position on natural theology and epistemology to be, perhaps you can explain why you believe the following statements of yours in post #42 are consistent with the Reformed tradition:

    Design theory independent of the scriputres is important even to people who believe Christ is the Principal Intelligent Designer of life.

    And

    the theology-free approach of ID will actually confirm theological ideas inspired by Romans 1:20 and John 10:38, namely, the physical universe evidences major truths which transcend world views.

    Both of these statements seem to me to be outside the Reformed view of epistemology, natural theology, revelation, illumination, and the noetic effects of sin.

  103. D. Operdeck,

    I salute your education. Forgive my brevity of adoration.

    You lecture people here not as a teacher, but as a dog trainer w/o treats. Your impatience is telling, especially with those in Christ less educated than you. You express your displeasure of those “in Jesus”. Let your behavior speak for itself and stop the lecture. I’m sure we can learn from you, but we are not your students. We’re all imperfect beings here, many learning not just about ID, but of humbleness in Y’shua. The comments above yours including Dembski’s were measured. Some valid points were made. The only line of text you consider “unlike Christ” was Davis “mentoring” PvM. Then you take a wide swing at all here.

    Some posters here may be quick tempered and inconsiderate at times. But as a lawyer and someone claiming love, your lack of integrity in wordsmithing is horrendously clumsy, or cunningly sharp as a wolf’s fangs in ripping apart an arguments flesh, while leaving the heart still pumping. I still see the heart of the questions unanswered.

    I have not made up my mind fully yet. But I notice you appear to look down your nose at others with 1) less education, 2) more aggressive in their causes – like abortion.

    Dembski’s post asked clear questions in summary. And he pointed out the fallacy of ID as reactionary to Dawkins. Valid comments pointed out the weak argument as well. He posted the entire note for all to see Ted was fair in areas. I did not personally judge Davis as a person. He may be the most sincere, kind Christian like Jimmy Carter, but his discerning abilities just as flawed in regards to ID. I give you Churchill or Chamberlain. Who was the true peacemaker?

    I’ve read your comments here in the past and on your own site. I am amazed how you attack those of less education, but immensely important value to the Lord’s work. You might look at the degreed log in your own eye. As we all must, just some to lessor degrees than others.

    You set yourself up as a great discerner of all thoughts Christ and all thoughts of us here. And I notice of all thoughts of all others you comment on at your site.

    Maybe we all, you, me should read the Sermon on the Mount again, because I fail to see how your intellectual discourse and projection of your thoughts onto others are any more worthy than those of the Pharisee pronounced onto sinners that Christ took in.

    Remember, it took 3 1/2 years of fulltime morning/night discipleship by our Lord Himself to educate the original followers. And even then, it was not until Pentacost that the Holy Spirit fully enveloped them.

    We all think much of ourselves don’t we, including it appears – you.

    Patience and love is welcome on all sides not just for ID proponents, but for Ted and yourself in evaluating ID and those like me who intuitively are attracted to the base reality of our complex being.

    Might Ted answer the questions posed by Dembski? Maybe there are many who read here; besides commenters, that are learning much more than you realize? Learning not just biology, evolution, complexity, but in the art of debate and rhetorical devices to defend their beliefs. Many here do learn from good examples, few as they are in your eyes. Last I read of Christ, He was more patient with the poorly educated and lost than those of ivory towered temples.

    But then, who am I to lecture you?

    I’ll not pretend to be near most on this site, nor near you in such verbal fencing, but certainly I have myself learned forms in comparison that equips me in future Conversations where one must know how to parry, riposte or reprise.

    In this case, I think your Salute was a good start, but your lunge was far to deep and unbalanced. You ignore Davis’s ballestra lunge at Dembski’s blog or equally ineffectual lunge at ID. Then you respond to Dembski’s yielding parry by your own reprise to the blog as whole, yet again committing the original move of your friend in arms. Thus leaving yourself short of the original target, just like Davis. That of the questions at hand regarding ID.

    Whether myself or others behave any better or worse than PT is not important to the eventual outcome of the Bout between ID and Materialistic theories in biology or cosmology. Whether Davis, Dembski, or yourself are fantastic representations of Christ love is not a measure of ID’s scientific future either.

    The questions remain at the end of the day….

    “… has ID identified fundamental conceptual flaws and evidential lacunae in the conventional materialistic understanding of biological origins?”

    “…and is its appeal to intelligence conceptually sound and empirically supported?”

    If Ted Davis has addressed these questions fully, then please point them out to us. They should make for great discussion here. If you think that you might per chance, per charity, per love, grace us more with your presence. I wonder, how do you think Paul survived in Pergamon? Or among the Grecian and Roman gods?

    Thicker skin, allows us all with more vigor to advance.

  104. Scordova said: Really? Given you suggested I was Arminian

    Doperdeck wrote:
    Go back and actually read what I said. I made no such suggestion

    You wrote:

    Perhaps you are a Catholic and won’t agree with some aspects of Reformed soteriology.
    ….

    Or, perhaps you take an Arminian position.

    In fact, you seemed quite sure I did not subscribe to Reformed Theology:

    All I can say here is that I think your position contradicts scripture and traditional Christian theology, and leans towards the Pelagian heresy.

    My view of the ordro salutis is essentially the classically Reformed view: no one can be saved absent the hearing of the Gospel and the illumination and effectual calling of the Holy Spirit. The ordo salutis does not begin with human knowledge or understanding. It begins with God’s election and His gracious regeneration of a person’s mind and heart.

    Let the reader understand what sort thing dopderbeck insinuated toward me.

    The Pelagian heresy says [according to the Catholic Encylopedia]:

    The value of Christ’s redemption was, in his opinion, limited mainly to instruction (doctrina) and example (exemplum), which the Saviour threw into the balance as a counterweight against Adam’s wicked example, so that nature retains the ability to conquer sin and to gain eternal life even without the aid of grace.

    It’s pointless to even project such positions onto me as I am neither a Roman Catholic nor Arminian nor Pelagian.

    Now Doperdeck could of course admit he didn’t know I was a PCA member professing the major tenets of Westminster’s Reformed theology

    If he did know that, then that raises the question as to why he would speculate I was a Catholic or Arminian or that my position leans toward the Pelagian heresy.

  105. dopderbeck said:

    Note that I am not saying all ID folks are YECs, but the discussion, in my experience, continually gets muddled by objections to common descent on that basis (which I sense is where some of the objections to common descent are coming from here).

    So are there no good reasons to doubt common descent other than a fundamentalist, literalist, reading of the Bible? Would it be accurate to say that this is your way of dismissing “common dissent” as a strictly biblically motivated enterprise? (I note your use of the word “some” in reference to the CD objections, but perhaps you are intending to be generous). Yet would I be correct in assuming that your perspective on dissent from Darwinism in general, not limited to CD objections, is biblically motivated, and in the arena of YEC?

    dopderbeck said:

    “Design” is, and should be, an inherently theological concept, and we who are Christians should assert design on those grounds rather than caving in to the positivist epistemology of materialistic science.

    I’m just curious: is this an endorsement of Gould’s NOMA?

    dopderbeck said:

    Moreover, I do not believe there is any adequate concept of “design” apart from the distinctives of the Christian God. Anything less is an unhealthy compromise.

    I have an arrowhead that I found more than ten years ago. It is obviously designed. I have no idea who fashioned it (other than a general idea). It could just be a rock, except that it has an obvious application and conforms to a recognizable pattern. I infer design. This is indeed an adequate notion of design distinct and separate from the Christian God. No need to leap to a broader philosophical notion of “who designed the designer.”

    We could possibly get into a drawn out discussion about whether the design of the arrowhead is metaphysical. I would put forth that it is indeed metaphysical, not necessarily supernatural. Must we broach theology to determine design in this case? Might there be a way of ascribing design in a scientific manner to non-biological objects and systems? And if so, why would the rules for biological systems be so different?

    I confess to an inordinate number of questions in my post; and I recognize that you are attempting to single-handedly field questions/objections from a number of commenters.

    In a later post you said:

    I hope it is clear that if there is a failure of dialog concerning the TE position (or at least what I understand the TE position to be), it isn’t on my part.

    This may indeed be the case, but your insistence to define ID on TE’s terms is on you. Perhaps there doesn’t exist the similarity between the two that you insist. After all, I posit several distinct differences:

    – TE begins with the philosophical declaration/assumption of the existence of God and His role in creation
    – TE conforms to methodological naturalism
    – TE accepts common descent as necessity
    – TE accepts RM+NS as the naturalistic creative mechanism behind evolution

    Beyond those, there is TE’s attitude toward ID, which is unlikely to be acceptable to ID proponents in the foreseeable future:
    – There can be no non-theological concept of a designer
    – ID does damage to the notion of a Christian God
    – ID is strictly politically and religiously motivated
    – ID doesn’t warrant scientific debate
    – ID is a “god of the gaps” explanation for observations in nature

    I’ll accept that you may take issue with some of my assertions.

  106. Sigh. Oh dear. It’s truly amazing what people (mis)perceive.

    Michaels7, I’m sorry I’ve offended you so. Truly. If you knew me and understood the intent of my writing, I hope you wouldn’t judge me that way. I’m not sure why referring to stuff I may have read or learned along the way is taken the way you take it. Goodness knows I try to be a learner more than a teacher. I don’t recall ever once suggesting I am more educated than anyone else or any such thing. I simply tried to start my arguments forcefully but respectfully.

    Scordova, I’m equally sorry that you want to attack me in the third person rather than engage in a conversation. I did not know you were a PCA member, true, but I did in fact assume at first you were speaking from some kind of Reformed perspective. But then, based on some of your additional statements, I thought perhaps I was wrong and that in fact you weren’t writing from a Reformed perspective. So I tried to flesh out my point with a variety of perspectives, all of which I think are similar at the end of the day — that’s all.

    As to the reference to the Pelagian heresy, perhaps that statement was too rhetorically strong. The point is that your position on natural theology, it seems to me, is either not well-defined or too extreme. Am I permitted to suggest that without being accused of all sorts of dishonesty and arrogance and such?

    What is most amazing to me is that this thread, which started out as a a personal attack on a fine and established Christian scholar, is now becoming about how bad I am for stating plainly what I think. Unfortunate.

  107. Apollos said: So are there no good reasons to doubt common descent other than a fundamentalist, literalist, reading of the Bible?

    No, I never said that. All I said (or meant to say) is that it seems to me that, in discussions about ID, people who reject common descent out of hand often do so because of particular presuppositions about the Bible. I’m not suggesting people who hold those presuppositions are all rubes or morons, nor am I suggesting such presuppositions are the only basis for questioning common descent. But I think the basic observation, which I make after a couple of years of being engaged in these discussions, is a fair one.

    Apollos also said: I’m just curious: is this an endorsement of Gould’s NOMA?

    No. I think Gould’s NOMA is facile. My view is that there is one magesterium — “all Truth is God’s Truth.” When I say “we who are Christians should assert design on [theological] grounds rather than caving in to the positivist epistemology of materialistic science,” I’m suggesting that the supposed magesterium of positivism is an imposter. Theological presuppositions, including a belief in God, are properly basic (per Plantinga) and do not need to be justified by prior empirical evidence. So, I think my position couldn’t be further from Gould’s NOMA.

    I wish I had time to respond to each of your characterizations of TE, but all I can suggest here is that I think TE is as much misunderstood and maligned among some ID advocates as ID is misunderstood and maligned among some TE advocates, and that there are many strong points of contact between the two that both sides often seem to want to ignore. The links Ted Davis dropped into his post supply some of that context.

    Let me also note this about the ASA, which is some information that I think Ted wanted to pass along to this thread but which may be hung up in moderation: the ASA membership includes folks such as Bill Dembski and Steve Meyer. The next ASA President is Walter Bradley, who co-authored an early ID book. Recently elected ASA “Fellows” include TE geneticist Francis Collins, but also Princeton physicist Bob Kaita (a fellow of TDI), Biola physicist and ID advocate John Bloom, and Pitt physicist and ID advocate David Snoke. Ted Davis currentlyis an ASA officer.

    As I said somewhere earlier in this thread, some TE’s, particularly some vocal folks on the ASA email list, take unfair swipes at ID sometimes. The organization as a whole, however, is much more diverse than that, and there is often a healty exhange of ideas among TE’s and ID’s — again, see the most recent issue of the ASA’s Perspectives journal.

  108. dopderbeck,

    This is just an observation. You said

    “is now becoming about how bad I am for stating plainly what I think. Unfortunate.”

    I am not so sure about the “plainly.” It is obvious you steer the conversation to religion at every turn when the premise of the site is about science. Yes, many of those here are here for religious reasons but the primary basis for their participation is stated on the top right hand side of every page

    “Materialistic ideology has subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins so that the actual content of these sciences has become corrupted.”

    This is a site about science and when religion is introduced as bluntly as you have done, it can cause some shock waves. People have been fighting over minutiae in religion for several thousand years so what is the likelihood of you finding anything different here if you seek to discuss it. This is a place where all sorts of religious viewpoints are held by the contributors but rarely discussed because it is not supposed to be a factor. Science is a more objective discipline so we try to limit most of the discussions to that. The debates are over the logic of what data reveals.

    When pushed to science you just espouse platitudes and seem to have no real desire to discuss the implications of your comments. So I guess that you really do not understand the biology more than a superficial manner or feel threatened by a discussion of it.

    My guess is that you espouse the TE point of view solely for religious reasons and not for scientific reasons. This is a discussion we have had here many, many times and always leads to the same answers. In other words Darwin is espoused by TE’s not because it is good science but because it is consistent with a religious view point. We can understand that since it has come up as I said many times before.

    The problem is that we tend to follow where the science leads and never feel it threatens our religious beliefs. You seem to think ID is not necessarily bad science because it is making false conclusions from the data but it is must be bad science because it doesn’t sync up with your religious views. So like the YEC, the Darwinists the TE’s seem to be driven by an ideology first and science must conform to it.

    As I said this is just an observation and is based on how you responded to each time you were given a chance to discuss the science and how you characterized ID as pursuing materialist science.

    Let me make my own observation from someone who believed in Darwin till a few years ago. Even though I had a science background, my beliefs were based on ignorance because I never examined the science. Of those in our society who do believe in Darwin the huge majority do not understand the science and then choose an atheist understanding of the world. Just look at your colleagues in the Northeast. It is what Darwin chose. So by pushing Darwinism, the net result is not only bad science but an atheistic interpretation as the zeitgeist.

    You do not have to agree with us but go back to your TE havens and let them know the truth. ID is not a religious doctrine of the YEC’s but science based and if you want to establish a dialogue it has to be based on science and not religion. Discussions of religion will just lead to fractious conversations.

  109. Jerry said: ID is not a religious doctrine of the YEC’s but science based and if you want to establish a dialogue it has to be based on science and not religion. Discussions of religion will just lead to fractious conversations.

    I guess the best response to this is the text at the top of this blog:

    Uncommon Descent holds that…

    Materialistic ideology has subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins so that the actual content of these sciences has become corrupted. The problem, therefore, is not merely that science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview that this worldview is actively undermining scientific inquiry, leading to incorrect and unsupported conclusions about biological and cosmological origins.

    It seems clear to me, then, that ID, or at least this blog, is not “only” about science. It is also, and centrally about ideology and worldviews.

    my experience is that the dispute between TE and ID usually comes down not primarily to science but to theology, ideology, and worldviews, as Davis noted in the original post Dembski quoted. Do you really think the public debate about ID would be so intense if it wasn’t all about worldviews? Isn’t one of the main points ID advocates make that their ideas are taboo in mainstream science because of worldview barriers?

    Appropos to this thread, my experience is that many ID advocates think TE’s are “caving in” to the materialistic worldview — indeed, I’ve seen that argument made directly by someone involved in this blog on the ASA list. I believe that criticism is largely wrong and unfair, whatever else might be said about the relative merits of TE and ID. There is no way to address that criticism other than by discussing questions of theology, ideology and worldviews.

    In particular, this thread has been about Ted Davis and theistic evolution. Given that theistic evolution is “theistic,” I’m at a loss to understand why it would be improper to discuss the “theology” behind it. You can’t understand and criticize “theistic” evolution if you’re unwilling to delve a bit into theology.

    Finally, I don’t see anywhere in this thread where I’ve been pushed to talk about biology but have avoided it. Perhaps you’re thinking of another thread relating particularly to common descent. You are quite right, however, that my understanding of biology is relatively shallow compared to many others here(though I don’t think I’m a complete rube there either). Yet, it is curious that you would attack me for focusing on some things I know at least a little bit about — theology and worldviews — when they are centrally implicated in the discussion of something like “theistic” evolution.

  110. dopderbeck,

    This will probably be the last comment on this thread since it disappeared off the listing but I really think you are wrong on a lot of things,

    You said:

    “It is also, and centrally about ideology and worldviews.

    My experience is that the dispute between TE and ID usually comes down not primarily to science but to theology, ideology, and worldviews, ”
    What ideology, theology and worldviews? You have to be kidding. There is none here of any of them that I have seen. Oh yes, there are plenty of people here that have them and they frequently express them but the range of views is so widespread that to say there is worldview or theology here is ludicrous. Upholding any specific worldview would chase 2/3 of the commenters away. The answer is there is none common to us.

    That is not quite true. What drives most people here is a distaste for dishonesty and what we see is rampant dishonesty in the educational, scientific, legal and media establishments in the US and world in general on the topic of evolution. So that is our worldview and if you disagree with it then you are on the dishonest side of the view. You might want to ask why this dishonesty exists but that does not seem to bother you.

    I ask you how you expect to come here and find a theological basis for our interests when there are YECs, other Protestant denominations, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslim and agnostics who contribute here. It is ludicrous to expect that ID is theological driven. There are even some who don’t believe in God.

    The one thing in common is that good science should be followed. Many of us will then feel vindicated when that is done and then on some other playground worldviews can be debated but not here.

    The one thing your comments have done here is explain why TE’s hold their worldview and it is clear it has nothing to do with science. When science interferes with your worldview, science loses. So I lump the YEC’s, Darwinists and TE’s into the same group, namely, that their science conclusions on evolution are driven by ideology and not science. If you disagree with this particular assessment, then try keeping all your comments on other threads strictly to science and see where it leads. I am sure if you want to have theological discussions with particular people that can be arranged somewhere else or maybe on some threads here but it will not be of interest to many who comment here.

    By the way I am not attacking your worldview. It is not mine but I recognize I am in a minority on a lot of things. I just making some observations on it and how it relates to this site and science in general

  111. Jerry — I’m sorry, I just don’t have time to keep this up. I think you’re misunderstanding much of what I was trying to say. I’ll just have to let what I’ve already tried to say speak for itself.

  112. What drives most people here is a distaste for dishonesty and what we see is rampant dishonesty in the educational, scientific, legal and media establishments in the US and world in general on the topic of evolution.

    Well said, Jerry. And take note that the same ones who throw a fit in defense of undirected evolution are the same ones who throw a fit about a host other causes where science is improperly used or invoked.

  113. Ted Davis has been trying to respond directly to some of the comments here, and it seems his posts are getting caught up in the spam filter through no one’s fault. He asked me to pass this along to the list. The Blockquote below is directly from Ted:

    I have tried to post a few comments on this thread, which carries my name at the top, but except for my initial comment they have not shown up here. I am unable to say why not, and the moderators are also perplexed. Therefore, I have asked David to send in my comments on my behalf. My thanks to him for this favor.

    I have been asked to respond to Bill’s question about my views on ID as science, and I address that directly in the essays linked in my comment above. Thus far, no one (as far as I can see) has brought up any discussion points from my essays, so I assume they have not been read.

    If you want to know what I think — if you want evidence that I have not ignored Bill’s question, whether or not I have answered it to his (or anyone else’s) satisfaction — then please do go back and look at those links. There you will find that I do discuss some of the science issues, and I also explain my own view that ID is not (yet) an alternative theory to evolution. The rationale for my view is not easily explained in a few hundred words, and I won’t review it all here, but if you read my essay “Intelligent Design on Trial,” which contains observations and reflections on the Dover trial, you will find my views on this outlined clearly.

    I invite conversation about my views, once they are adequately understood. Any takers?

    Please note that what I invite is conversation, not the questioning of one’s honesty or motives. In a recent post, Jerry writes: “What drives most people here is a distaste for dishonesty and what we see is rampant dishonesty in the educational, scientific, legal and media establishments in the US and world in general on the topic of evolution. So that is our worldview and if you disagree with it then you are on the dishonest side of the view.”

    I agree with Jerry, that not everyone is always honest about aspects of this topic. But his final sentence does seem to lay out an ultimatum — either someone agrees with him, or they are dishonest. I don’t know whether or not Jerry agrees with the views I have expressed in the essays linked above. But I trust that honest disagreement will be recognized for what it is.

  114. To all moderators,

    Please read the quote by Ted Davis in comment #113 on this thread and hopefully start a new thread based on his views. I think it is only proper that we thoroughly discuss his ideas here in a more direct way.

  115. Ted Davis,

    If the thread you asked for is granted and I hope it will be, then both sides can have a chance to understand the other better. Right now the perception of ID in the general public is not what I see espoused on this site or by the Discovery Organization. The ones to blame for that misperception are the groups mentioned.

    We all here can point to the “rampant dishonesty” about ID in each of the various groups I mentioned. My comment is aimed to those who do not condemn these distortions and even more so to those who actually condone these expressions of dishonesty. Most make no attempt to understand before condemning and willfully distorting. When I was a kid, that was called bigotry. I believe it still is.

  116. Scordova said:
    “I am member of the PCA and profess 95% of the Westminster Confession, the only portion I am very undecided about is the issue of the Sabbath. I was raised a Roman Catholic, but left that denomination when I joined the PCA many years ago.”

    I have a common heritage and I was once an RE in the PCA. One of the theological weaknesses of ID from a Reformed perspective is that it fails to coincide with the doctrine of concursus. See Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology Vol. 1 p. 598ff. A Scriptural example is the archer who shot an arrow at “random” and killed Ahab. This following concursus is still caused by God even though from a human perspective is “purposeless”. If a physicist noted that the arrow followed a ballistic path invalidate this? Nope. Likewise, as the Westminster Confession you subscribed to says:

    “Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.”

    Gaps do not need to be filled by first causes but can be second causes such as evolution. This is one of the big misunderstandings concerning evolution theistic or no: that it is purposeless or unplanned. Even Richard Dawkins doesn’t say that.

    Moving from theology to (computer) science for a second. You don’t really understand genetic algorithms or other algorithms that use random processes to drive solutions such as simulated annealing. All of these have a cost function that designs an end such as minimize wire length in a semiconductor placement algorithm. The means are not specified. The problem is the solution space is often order NP-complete and thus you cannot do a brute force search. Genetic algorithms and simulated annealing search the solution space somewhat but not completely “randomly” to get a good but not optimum solution. If evolution is the mechanism of design then it gets around Voltaire’s critique of Leibnitz’ theodicy. For those who don’t know my historical reference, Voltaire made fun of Leibnitz in Candide by having Pangloss constantly utter that this is “the best of all possible worlds”. The design need not be optimum to be a design. Further, this particular kind of design allows life to adapt to different environments.

    With respect to biological evolution the cost function is survival and reproduction. This has been shown quite effectively by hundreds of thousands if not millions of studies to work to produce species. In my opinion, Behe’s refusal to read the many, many studies that showed his irreducible complexity really wasn’t lost the case in Dover. In fact, the judge noted in his decision that Behe’s cross examination should be studied in law school.

    Having said all this, I am not saying like the secularists that evolution is a “theory of everything.” It does not explain the origin of life because you need a mechanism to generate almost perfect copies (the almost part is critical) and you need life to generate life. Nor does it explain human morality because that doesn’t optimize the cost function above.

    While David has noted that people tend to be TE or ID because of theological reasons I am the exception that proves the rule. I believe in evolution because the evidence points in that direction and I also believe in ID because the evidence points that way, also. I switched from YEC to TE because I had to review trial records of a member who was transfering to our church. Terry Gray was indefinitely suspended from office in the OPC because he was a TE (theistic evolutionist not teaching elder :-) ) I found his arguments so compelling I switched positions — slowly, after a few years. If you want to see what changed my mind, read Terry’s chapter in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation editted by Keith (not Kenneth) Miller.

    I believe that it is possible to believe both TE and ID because both groups have failed to disprove the other leaving the synthesis option viable.

  117. I said:
    ” I found his arguments so compelling I switched positions — slowly, after a few years.”

    The reason I changed slowly was not due to the lack of force of his arguments but becuase I had to overcome my internal bias. Changing ones mind is rarely easy and it wasn’t for me particularly with all the dire warnings produced by AiG.

  118. Rich said: While David has noted that people tend to be TE or ID because of theological reasons I am the exception that proves the rule.

    Just to clarify — I didn’t actually say that. Someone else characterized what I said that way. What I was trying to say is just exactly what you just said about concursus and secondary causes.

  119. I invite conversation about my views, once they are adequately understood. Any takers?

    Ted Davis,

    Thanks for the list of required reading. =D

    For the record, I read your essay, Intelligent Design on Trial (twice) when you originally posted it. I even took the time to convert many of the statements in the article to text (I did it the hard way) so that it could be quoted. (The PDF is a non-OCR graphic scan).

    If it weren’t for the fact that there was already a lively and extensive thread in progress dealing with TE and ID, I probably would have taken the time to ask some questions, to seek clarification to my understanding of your views

    However, at the end of it all, I am weary of the discussion, for a variety of reasons, none of which I’ll bother to enumerate. Perhaps that’s not the case with all here. When I’ve had the chance to take a brief holiday from the subject, I may revisit.

    However, there are in excess of 25,000 words here on this thread. Since you apparently have been following the discussion to some degree, perhaps you could summarize the misconceptions and offer your comments.

  120. I read Ted’s stuff and the reason I didn’t comment on it was because while the views expressed were not hostile to ID in the way that is often seen when evolutionists give simplified vilifying caricatures of ID, at the same time what Ted wrote comes across as what you would expect from a father gently telling his teenage daughter that Justin Timberlake just may not be the musical genius she thinks he is. Amiable condescension is the mood Ted writes in. As far as making any interesting points…meh. It’s nice that he can agree that teaching more objectively about neo-darwinian evolution rather then letting run rampant the wholesale indoctrination into it’s cult would be a good thing in schools, but other then that, your soooo 1859 dad.

  121. rblinne:

    One of the theological weaknesses of ID from a Reformed perspective …

    ID does not have to be premised on theology any more than the 2nd law of thermodynamics are premised on theology.

    The major reason ID’s relation to theology is even so seriously considered by Christians is that it is proper to weigh whether any idea is in conformance to the faith one professes. If there is a conflict, one can then decide if one will reject the faith or reject the idea at variance with one’s faith.

    But if one wishes to form a theological stamp of approval for the 2nd law of thermodynamics, that is fine. If the 2nd law passes doctrinal standards, then I suppose ID should be given a pass as well.

    However, a sceintific hypothesis is not a profession of faith. In fact, it is highly useful in mathematics to explore a hypothesis, assume it is true, in order to see if it is false. That is a classic Proof by Contradiction. When I speak of ID in the context of science, I offer it as a hypothesis.

    I may refer to ID in a theological context, but then, that is not formally the scientific formulation of the hypothesis, it is a personal view. If I say, “ID tells me God exists” that is a personal opinion, not a valid scientific formulation of what ID is. By way of comparison, I could say, “The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics says the universe had a beginning, therefore something brought the universe into existence, therefore the universe has a creator, therefore the 2nd law suggests to me God exists.” That is an opinion about the 2nd law, it is not a scientific formulation of the 2nd law.

    The scientific formulation of ID theories are things like the 4th Law, LCI, displacent theorem, No Free Lunch, etc……

    “ID is the study of patterns that signify intelligence”. That is an awfully minimal hypothesis about artifacts in the physical world, and it’s hard to see how it could be construed as a theological statement any more than Newton’s approxmiation:

    F = ma

    Regarding the PCA’s position on ID:

    Report of the Creation Study Committee

    Thus, the church must be prepared to address the claimed “scientific truths” of the science communities and be prepared to “manage by fact” as the data from the science pours forth. The present day intelligent design movement would appear to be a good example of how the church in the broader evangelical context can be effective in this manner.

  122. Here is a follow up comment Ted Davis wanted to post:

    I suppose if I’m going to be condescending (see comment #120), then at least I can do it amiably.
    That’s something good, isn’t it?

    Well, if I’m going to be soooo 1859 dad, let me at least play out the role.

    Mentok, do you have a clue about the context for my article about the Dover trial? Do you realize that the issues debated there were very, very serious issues about the future of ID and public education? The judge, quite properly, was looking for ways to tie the specific situation in Dover to existing, decades-old precedents prohibiting the teaching of “creationism” in schools. That’s what judges do: they look to apply existing case law to the specific case in front of them. The very capably argued case for the plaintiffs put all the dots onto the table, and all the judge had to do was connect them. (And never mind that he borrowed most of the words from the plaintiffs — judges do that all the time, as law professor David Opderbeck has explained in various places, it isn’t anything like plagiarism.) The defense did not adequately erase enough of those dots for the judge to have ruled differently, IMO. Nothing surprised me about his ruling, nothing at all, even though I dissented from parts of it.

    This context is really important for understanding my comments, mentok. What I did in that essay is to suggest that there may be a legally defensible way to discuss ID (and please note that “to discuss ID” is not at all the same as “teaching it as an alternative to evolution,” which I do not believe it has ever been) in public school science classes. That is, the judge’s ruling may have more wiggle room than the ACLU would like it to have, and if so it might be along the lines I suggested. I’m hardly in a position to render a legal opinion on my opinion — Mr Opderbeck and others would be qualified — but I have proposed something consistent with good secular educational pedagogy, and therefore is potentially legal, within existing case law — including the Dover case itself. That’s the bottom line, and I hardly think that constitutes condescension. It may well prove to be wrong, but at least it’s respectfully wrong.

    Let me add that I have given a public lecture partly (not entirely) based on this essay in several venues, and no one has responded in the way you have. The first time I did this was for the Forum on Science, Ethics & Policy, a postdoc and grad student led organization at the Univ of Washington in Seattle. Right in the heart of ID country, but obviously at a place that was not exactly friendly to ID. A place where some students had gone around defacing the poster advertising my lecture, called “Honest Talk about Intelligent Design,” by circling the title and my Messiah College affiliation and writing “Yeah, Right,” in big letters on the posters. An audience that (by a show of hands in response to my questions) was overwhelmingly biology students, faculty, and postdocs, with a good representation of philosophers as well. (I invited TDI to send representatives, but none came.) Some in the audience were clearly sceptical of some of my arguments and conclusions, but if anything they thought I was far too generous to ID. The strongest support for my talk, incidentally, came from Arthur Fine, a leading philosopher who knows Bill very well (Bill can fill you in if he wishes). I was more than pleased by that, esp given Fine’s professional stature and lack of religious convictions (to the best of my knowledge).

    Thus, mentok, I’d like to ask you a question. What precisely is condescending about my essay? The fact that I don’t think ID is really an alternative to evolution? The fact that I think it is unwise to piggyback cultural transformation on criticisms of evolutionary theory? Or something else?

  123. Ted I wasn’t only refering to the article you wrote on the Dover trial, I was refering to the other articles you gave links to as well. My take on your writings on ID is that you seem to believe that there are various problems with ID and the way it is presented. When you make your criticisms they come across like you are giving some parental advice on how ID is messing up and that your criticisms are obvious and true on the face of them. Since you mentioned the Dover article here is a bit you wrote

    Similarly, public school science teachers have a legitimate secular purpose in discussing various philosophical objections to aspects of evolution that have been raised by scientists in the 147 years since Darwin’s book was published. The general education of a science student is well served when such topics are introduced.

    Still, I cannot criticize the judge for overlooking this possibility, because the defense did not make a case for it. Rather, the defense kept insisting that ID is science, not philosophy of science, despite the near total lack of backing for that claim in the scientific literature.

    And also

    “Those who disagree with our holding,” Jones wrote near the end of his opinion, “will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge.” I make no such accusation, but The Discovery Institute did not hesitate. Hardly had the decision been issued than John West, a politics professor at Seattle Pacific University who is also a long-time fellow of the institute, offered the following response on the institute’s webpage ( http://www.discovery.org ):

    “Judge Jones found that the Dover board violated the Establishment Clause because it acted from religious motives. That should have been the end to the case. Instead, Judge Jones got on his soapbox to offer his own views of science, religion, and evolution. He makes it clear that he wants his place in history as the judge who issued a definitive decision about intelligent design. This is an activist judge who has delusions of grandeur.”

    Someone may be deluded here, but I doubt it is the judge.

    Also

    It is not a strength of ID that it avoids offering a grand narrative. As the late Thomas Kuhn argued, scientists do not abandon an existing paradigm unless or until they see a better paradigm out there to embrace. I am convinced that, without such a paradigm, ID will never be regarded as science, not even bad science, by the scientific community.

    But in order for ID to provide a plausible alternative to evolution, its proponents would have to address the one issue they least want to face: the age of the earth and the universe. Their refusal to discuss this issue directly and publicly has less to do with science than with movement politics.

    Currently, the ID movement is, to use its own language, a “big tent” under whose sprawling canvas there is plenty of room for differences of opinion about theological and biblical issues related to the age of the earth. A full public discussion of these issues would not disturb most of the intellectual leaders of the movement. But it would alienate the many grass-roots creationists who support ID – and who provide it with much of its political support. So while ID is not creationism, creationism remains the elephant in the room. Judge Jones evidently smelled the elephant quite distinctly.

    From one of the other articles

    A principal goal of the ID movement is to convince working scientists that information cannot and does not spring from matter, which they understand as brute and inert. This is essentially the same dualistic conception of matter that was shared by the founders of mechanistic science in the seventeenth century, such as René Descartes, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton. However, although the mind/matter distinction remains philosophically problematic and some types of dualism may be possible to defend, most contemporary scientists (including most Christian scientists) no longer hold to this type of dualism, even if they retain the mechanistic science it was once linked with. The same is true of many contemporary theologians, especially those committed to panentheism and/or process theology. They generally hold a more active view of matter and its capabilities, either that matter itself can think or at least that cognition arises out of it in some naturalistic manner yet to be determined. This is one important reason why adherents of the ID program are facing an uphill climb. They don�t really confront the fact that the philosophical landscape has changed, and they fail to engage those Christian thinkers who recognize this.

    I take those as condescending remarks and illustrative of your general mood of writing about ID.

    Also you sprinkle your articles with erroneous information that you try to pass off as obvious and true.

    At this point, there simply is no ID “theory” to teach – or even to practice in the laboratory, let alone to place at the center of a new scientific paradigm. ID currently consists only of an interesting philosophical critique of the explanatory efficacy of Darwinian evolution, combined with an appeal for scientists to add “design” to the set of explanatory principles they employ in biology and other sciences.

    Your claim that there is no ID theory to teach is mistaken as is your claim that ID is nothing more then a philosophical critique of neo-darwinism. Consider that if I make a valid scientific criticism that attempts to refute a basic assumptions made by neo-darwinists about some aspect of evolutionary theory then that is categorized by you as a “philosophical criticism”, but if a neo-darwinist makes a scientific critique of and attempts to refute a basic assumption of ID then that is “science”. To me that smacks of your overall attitude towards ID and evolution. From your writings it appears to me that you see yourself as the reasonable openminded well educated and rational adult trying to point out the obvious about the ID crowd.

    I don’t have a problem with everything you write, I don’t see all of it as condescending. Nor is it all unobjectionable to me, in fact I find you have some good ideas, but alas they have been put forth by countless others so I don’t see them as original thoughts or ideas. I can appreciate that you seem to be motivated in this debate by your evangelizing agenda and therefore may want to come across as the “reasonable rational christian” so that your religious agenda is not hampered by being tarred with the ID brush. Or maybe I am wrong and you really believe that ID is wrong and that you want to enlighten people to that fact for philanthropic reasons.

  124. Further response from Ted Davis:

    This is a response to some of mentok’s points in comment #123.

    Let me start by thanking you, mentok, for reading the essays I linked. And for reading them carefully, so that our points of disagreement are clear. When I stated my points of disagreement with ID, you see some of them as somewhat condescending b/c they are stated with authority, as if there were no other views on this topic worth considering. Is that a fair representation of your point? (I’m putting words into your mouth and if they aren’t right I hope you’ll correct me.)

    Assuming this is a correct understanding, then this would be my reply. I write with conviction when I write — at least I try to, when I have a conviction (which isn’t always). But lots of people do that, including most of the leading advocates of ID — especially when they write for opinion magazines, which is what my essays about ID were published in. Isn’t this true? Is my tone significantly different in this respect than that of (say) Philip Johnson or Bill Dembski? Do you see them as condescending, when they clearly and directly state their considered opinions about evolution or science education?

    Speaking for myself, I don’t usually see it as condescending when I read another writer who also has conviction but whose views differ significantly from my own. Sometimes, to be sure, writers can be condescending (including ID authors), and I can do that too if I’m really annoyed — when ( e.g.) I think that someone is simply being unfair, or dishonest, or condescending for that matter. But nearly all of what I wrote in those essays, I assure you, was not intended on my end to come across as condescending. That is, it wasn’t intended to get under the skin of someone who disagrees with me. It was intended to convey, clearly and with conviction, views I have come to after expending a lot of time and energy thinking and reading about the issues.

    And, in some places, I intended to convey implicit advice about how to approach the whole ball of wax, or certain parts of the ball. You were bothered by some of this, but perhaps that is mainly b/c you don’t agree with the advice. When Phil, Bill, and others criticize mainstream science, they often offer advice about what should be done. They are Christian scholars, opining on matters of importance to which they have devoted much study; the only difference in my case is the content of the opinions.

    Let me propose a thought experiment, and you can take it as a rhetorical question to which no actual reply is needed. Please reread any parts of those essays where you agree with what I am saying, esp where you strongly agree if that applies. I do say some things that are quite critical of “the other side,” and I am guessing you might agree with me. Do my comments come across there as condescending, or do you tend to say, “yes, you’re right, I’m glad you said that”? If you also find them condescending, then maybe there is a problem with my style since that is not what I want to convey. If not, then maybe it’s simply that you don’t agree, and you’d prefer that I be less convicted myself.

    Turning to another of your points, let me respond to this one:

    “Also you sprinkle your articles with erroneous information that you try to pass off as obvious and true.”

    [Here you insert a paragraph from my article on the Dover trial, as follows:
    At this point, there simply is no ID "theory" to teach - or even to practice in the laboratory, let alone to place at the center of a new scientific paradigm. ID currently consists only of an interesting philosophical critique of the explanatory efficacy of Darwinian evolution, combined with an appeal for scientists to add "design" to the set of explanatory principles they employ in biology and other sciences. ]

    Your claim that there is no ID theory to teach is mistaken as is your claim that ID is nothing more then a philosophical critique of neo-darwinism.

    The paragraph you are responding to here, mentok, was written shortly after a long phone call to a leading ID advocate. You would instantly know the name — and no, it isn’t Bill Dembski. I asked this person, point blank, whether there is presently an ID theory to teach as an alternative to evolution. I stated my view, made it clear that I was writing something, and wanted a frank evaluation of my view: was this a fair point? The words in the paragraph are mine, but they convey a view that is also shared by more than one prominent ID advocate. I doubt you will see this in published ID writings, but I didn’t simply invent this as a cheap shot: I believe it is accurate, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t out to lunch on my own — especially not a free lunch, if you will allow me a further joke.

    As for my “passing it off as obvious and true,” I think it is much fairer to say this: readers will take it as obvious and true that this is my opinion. I stated my reasons clearly, based on my prior opinion that Thomas Kuhn’s opinion about paradigm changes is correct. My language here is, “I am convinced that, ….” Wouldn’t you agree that most readers will understand me as stating a considered opinion, not an obvious fact?

    If you want to take issue with Kuhn’s opinion (many people do on various points), or how I am applying his opinion to ID, that’s all well and good.

    I should also point out something else, which goes beyond what I wrote in the limited space I was allotted in the magazine, but which is one of the reasons I emphasized this “philosophy of science, not science” thing. At the Arkansas creationism trial, the late Judge Overton ruled in effect that science is what scientists do; since scientists don’t do creationism — you don’t find creationism in the professional literature — then creationism isn’t science. That’s a sociological definition of science, obviously, and one might take issue with it, but the point remains that it shaped one of the precedents that Judge Jones had to work with. This is partly what I was thinking of, when I wrote, “Rather, the defense kept insisting that ID is science, not philosophy of science, despite the near total lack of backing for that claim in the scientific literature.” This is at the end of an example you offered of my talking down to people. In this case, I agree: I was more than a little annoyed by that particular piece of courtroom strategy, and I was talking down to the defense attorneys. Nearly all of the refereed literature advocating ID falls into or near philosophy of science, not science per se. That’s a fact, not an opinion — unless you take it as an opinion, not a fact, that philosophy of science is not science per se. Several examples of such literature were noted on the record by both sides in the trial, but the defense kept playing the “ID is science” card, despite the likelihood that it was going to be much harder to convince a neutral observer of this. The strategy I suggest in the article would have been much better, IMO; it would have stood a much better chance of making a secular case for teachers discussing aspects of ID in science classes. But most ID advocates think I’m wrong about this (and so do you), and Richard Thompson (lead counsel for the defense) agrees with them more than with me. Consequently, he passed on the one potentially winning hand available to him, IMO — I’m quite sure it had at least crossed his mind, however briefly it may have been.

  125. Ted for me the difference between condescending and non condescending criticism when it comes to intricate science related issues is that non condescending critique should be in-depth, without resort to formal or informal fallacies of some type, which doesn’t present a single viewpoint as representative of the majority, and which is objective in that one’s own personal biases or agenda is not what is trying to be presented as the correct vision regardless of where the evidence leads. In other words critique should be more then just an attempt at shallow showmanship in order to gain or prove oneself worthy of respect.

    As for the claim that there is no theory of ID, that all ID in literature fall under “philosophy of science” etc. We will just have to agree to disagree. Both neo-darwinism and ID are postulating causes for the agreed upon effects. They are sharing the same bank of scientific research and data and methodology. ID proponents make the claim that matter alone, without purpose or plan, cannot account for the effects seen and therefore a more competent cause is required. Neo-darwinists make the claim that matter alone is a competent cause for the effects seen by all and that no other cause is needed or even allowed to be considered. Why should the outlook which does not limit the type of causation which can be considered be labled as religion or philosophy, while the other outlook which does restrict and confine causation to a priori subjective philosophical parameters be labled as science? They are both using the same data and the same methods of interpreting that data yet have different conclusions on what that data implies. Beyond that there is no more reproducable proof of evolution then there is for ID. If ID is not science then neo-darwinism certainly isn’t. If neo-darwinism is a bonafide science with something to teach then so is ID, they differ only in what is acceptable to be considered as plausible cause. Which is acting more in the spirit of unbiased objectivity when it comes to science research?

  126. More from Ted Davis:

    Mentok writes:

    “Ted for me the difference between condescending and non condescending criticism when it comes to intricate science related issues is that non condescending critique should be in-depth, without resort to formal or informal fallacies of some type, which doesn’t present a single viewpoint as representative of the majority, and which is objective in that one’s own personal biases or agenda is not what is trying to be presented as the correct vision regardless of where the evidence leads. In other words critique should be more then just an attempt at shallow showmanship in order to gain or prove oneself worthy of respect.”

    That’s a very clear definition, mentok, even if it is not the one that I would give. If this is what it means to be condescending, then I could fill this blog with condescending passages from ID advocates (leaving aside their critics, who would be equally guilty). But I won’t condescend to do that. I’ll simply note in passing that the parts of my essays that you identified as condescending, were not the parts in which I was commenting on some of those critics. The little thought experiment suggested above might perhaps be carried out.

    We’ve been talking about some of the things I said. Now, I’d like to turn the tables, mentok. Let’s talk about something you said, in comment #37, responding to Rich Blinne: “That’s a pretty strong statement especially when considering the fact that the ‘proof’ is nothing more then conjecture based upon homology and or pure speculation. The evidence for common descent can also be used as proof of common design, therefore it is not ‘proof’ of anything except of dishonesty in claiming that there is proof. Common descent is unprovable even if it was true. Why? Because actual proof would require a time machine.”

    I sense that this particular type of objection to evolution (and also to modern geology, though you did not comment directly on that) is widely held. I think it relates closely to the distinction that YECs have made for decades, between what are sometimes called “origins science” and “observational science” or “empirical science.” In the abstract, I think it’s a legitimate distinction to draw. The late Ernst Mayr gets at it from a very different angle in his last book, What Makes Biology Unique? But Mayr and most other scientists never push it nearly as hard as the creationists do, obviously. And, in the abstract, I would go even further than you went; I would say, in a very theoretical way, that ultimately there is no valid inductive logic that will provide us with incontrovertible “proof” of anything at all. But that’s not the sense in which scientists typically talk about “proof”; the sort of certainty implied here is for mathematicians and logicians, not scientists or engineers or physicians.

    I recently wrote an essay (in process of publication) called “Galileo and the Garden of Eden: Historical Reflections on Creationist Hermeneutics,” in which I talk about the significance of this distinction in YEC thinking. It’s absolutely crucial in creationist hermeneutics, I concluded, for keeping Galileo’s figurative approach to astronomical texts in the Bible from being applied to the early parts of Genesis. In other words, you need to push this type of distinction very hard in order keep Galileo out of the garden of Eden.

    I have a growing sense that it is also crucial to ID — not necessarily to ID as it proclaims itself to be, but ID as it is actually practiced — and I’d like to hear what you think about this opinion. Right or wrong? Is it crucial to ID to deny the legitimacy of the so-called historical sciences?

    Let me take this further now. The paper I mention above focuses mostly on astronomy, specifically on the solar system and how two contemporary groups of YECs (geocentrists and heliocentrists) respond to Copernicanism. Evolution comes in only near the end, when I draw some larger conclusions. In teaching about Galileo and Copernicus, something that it seems I’m always doing, I often think about how the geocentrists justify their rejection of a moving earth. (To see some of their materials, just google “geocentrism” or “geocentricity,” and you’ll find more than you need or want.) The bottom line, theologically, is that they simply reject the principle of accommodation, not only as used by Galileo but even as used by John Calvin (and Calvin actually used it far more than Galileo), who wasn’t even a heliocentrist as far as we know. The bottom line, philosophically and scientifically, is that they just do not regard heliocentrism as a “fact.” In looking at all the kinds of evidence they do not accept as conclusive (you name it, they don’t accept it), it seems to boil down to this: no one has ever gone above the plane of the solar system for a few years, looked “down” on it, and watched the earth and the other planets orbit the sun. Short of that type of direct observation, the earth’s motion just is not to be accepted as a “fact.” True, they offer some sophisticated answers too, based on the relativity of motion and the absolute authority of the Bible (as they interpret it), but the empirical arguments boil down to what I just stated.

    I am struck by the similarity to the type of comment you made that I quote above. Unless I have misunderstood you, you seem to be saying that we just can’t have any real science of the fossil record, b/c we did not and can not observe directly just what took place. Am I understanding you correctly, mentok? If not, please tell me what I am missing.

    On the other hand, if I correctly understand your point, then I would like to hear any comments you may have about what I have said here, concerning the similarity of attitude that I find between the modern geocentrists, who do not regard the earth’s motion as a “fact,” and the attitude you expressed concerning our inability to “prove” anything about the history of biological types.

    I might or might not want to respond, but I very much want to listen.

  127. Ted I think the comparison between the so called lack of “proof” for heliocentrism is categorically different from the so called proof of common descent. With heliocentrism we can make direct observations and then calculations based upon those observations without having to be outside the solar system. With common descent we can make no observations of common descent therefore all calculations are based upon evidence which is ambiguous at best and self contradictory or specious at worst. For example you mention the fossil record as an example of indirect proof of common descent when in fact the fossil record is contradictory to common descent for numerous reasons e.g. cambrian explosion where all the phyla appear without any sign of common descent, no true transitional fossils (fossils of animals showing the various stages of the development of new limbs and organs), no competent mechanisms which can account for the development of specified complexity i.e competent mechanism which can cause a flightless animal to develop wings, etc. There are also many other genetic and molecular problems with common descent but those problems can be overlooked if one accepts common descent with ID. Without ID common descent not only lacks any real indirect evidence but confronts contradiction after contradiction from every angle.

    So I think your proposition is a false analogy because you are comparing a worldview that is trying to prove a specific unique theological point of view with ID which is trying to promote and objective (honest) appraisal of the evidence which is not guided by an enforced bias by creating a priori restraining paremeters on where the data can lead.

  128. I didn’t mean to come across as putting neo-darwinian common descent in the same category as modern geocentrism. Neo-darwinian common descent has no support from the evidence and is contradicted by pretty much all of the evidence. Whereas mordern geocentrism (geocentricity) can hold it’s own with modern heliocentrism. Interestingly the ancient hindu cosmological schema is almost identical to the modern geocentricity theory. The only major difference that I could see from a quick perusal of the writings of the leading geocentricity theorists is that in the Puranic accounts of the cosmos there are a great many universe bubbles within an infinite godhead, each with a geocentric cosmology, whereas in the biblically based geocentric theory there appears to be only one universe bubble (our own) within an infinite godhead.

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