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American Scientific Affiliation – bright guys living in fear?

Recently, I received an e-mail from someone well known in the American Scientific Affiliation, an American organization of Christians in science, asking me to mute my criticism of its worse-than-useless policies in dealing with the current anti-religious materialist agenda. The note followed on the heels of “Public questions for Denyse O’Leary” (and eventually an “open letter to Bill Dembski and Denyse O’Leary”)

Incidentally, while I am here, anyone know what’s with the “Public” questions and “open” letter stuff?

Usage note for composers of public questions and open letters: Dearest muffintins, if you put something on theWorld Wide Web, it IS public and open. That’s what putting it on the Web means. So you don’t need to tell me or anybody else that it is public or open.

Well, anyhow, below follow some “public” answers. It is a longish post in which I say things like,

Message to American Association for the Advancement of Science: In a country where individuals have civil rights and the majority of people who work to pay your bills are professing Christians, it would be very unwise to be “inherently hostile” to the Christian faith. So we will assume, for now at least, that whatever happened was only a misunderstanding or a mistake.

About the American Scientific Affiliation: Is it possible that the ASA types are just bright guys living in fear? The whole sense I get from years of monitoring the ASA list is of a bunch of people who act as if they really think that materialism has won and they must live in the ruins, and hope materialists will behave respectfully toward them.

The trouble is, as I realized while researching The Spiritual Brain, materialism has lost. Lost big time. Materialists sense it and they are frantic. …

But first, a brief summary:

I have followed the “ASA list” with fascination for years, sometimes participating in its discussions. When I first realized in about 2001 that the intelligent design controversy would explode mid-decade, I assumed that ASA would be  the sort of organization I could treat as a resource on what was happening! Well, I could not have been more right in the first forecast (explosion) – or more wrong in the second one (resource). But hey, we learn from our bad calls as well as from our good ones.

The reason I continued to study the ASA list in particular, while writing and researching By Design or by Chance? is that it seemed to typefy the failed response of Christians in academic science to materialism. I later came to know some of the list’s older history (how constitutional lawyer Phillip Johnson (the godfather of ID ) abandoned it long ago and drew closer to people who shared his own vision – that serious (not feel-good) accounting with the materialists is needed, for example).

Still later, I often found myself wondering on my coffee breaks while working on The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist’s case for the existence of the soul - why would Christians in academic science not be enraged by all the garbage that passes for informed comment on spirituality – and much of the worst garbage is directly traceable to the influence of Darwinism? “Evolutionary psychology” essentially attributes to either natural selection or the random workings of evolution (depending on your brand) what the world’s spiritual traditions see as contact with transcendent reality. One outcome has been to attract to the study of religion many people who are plainly unfitted to it, who posit weak and foolish ideas based in speculations about cave men, ideas vastly inferior even to their own predecessors’ efforts at a materialist  account of religion. But that is a story for another day, and it is told in The Spiritual Brain.

More recently, the ASA list’s general silence on the atheistic materialists’ current anti-God campaign (using Darwinism) merited close focus.

A cute trick – but wearing a bit thin now?

Anyway, I started to talk about my questions, here, for example, and here.

I also started bugging people to explain to me, among other things, exactly why the ASA organization is so collectively confused as to even sponsor the”ASA list”. See, the list is essentially a cute trick whereby ASA’s name appears to endorse constant attacks on Christians in science who are sympathetic to intelligent design, whether or not they could be classified as theistic evolutionists like Mike Behe. A frequent contributor is Pim Van Meurs of the Darwinist Panda’s Thumb, announcing – for example – the good news that Richard Dawkins is not really inciting hateful bigotry.

(And Dawkins’ attacks on Christianity are all the ID guys’ fault anyway, remember? That would be news to Dawkins, of course, who is proud to have been anti-religious long before ID meant anything other than the photo card that guys under 19 have to forge if they hope to drink beer here in Ontario.)

So why are the ASA listas even discussing the question with van Meurs? Well, my guess is, the “ASA list” is a sort of Thumb for guys who probably (okay, maybe) go to church.

Sometimes, the whole thing takes a hilarious turn, as when one endearing ASA-lista gushes, about evolutionary psychologist David Sloan Wilson:

If you get a chance to hear David S. Wilson, I would recommend doing so. Though a nonbeliever, he is very respectful of religion, loves talking about it, and will ask questions that will make you think. He will also actually listen [I mean really listen] to what you say. I’m not a biologist, but my impression is that he has almost single-handedly made group selection a respectable topic again.

I do think that he imports values into his system that are not inherent in it, and thus some of his ideas could be mis-used. [...]

Misused? Oh my stars. Imagine that. Well, here’s what Wilson has to say in Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society:(University of Chicago Press, 2002):

Darwin’s Cathedral …people who stand outside of religion often regard its seemingly irrational nature as more interesting and important to explain than its communal nature. Rational thought is treated as the gold standard against which religious belief is found so wanting that it becomes well-nigh inexplicable. Evolution causes us to think about the subject in a completely different way. Adaptation becomes the gold standard against which rational thought must be measured alongside other modes of thought. In a single stroke, rational thought becomes necessary but not sufficient to explain the length and breadth of human mentality, and the so-called irrational features of religion can be studied respectfully as potential adaptations in their own right rather than as idiot relatives of rational thought. (pp.122-3).

Respectful of religion … because religious folk – the majority of Americans, for example – turn out not to be governed by the “idiot relatives of rational thought”?

And he actually listened to the people speaking to him. Now that’s respect.

Well, hadn’t he bloody well BETTER listen? Why should materialists deserve praise for behaving themselves in a civilized way in a public place? The supine posture so typical of the ASA list mentality (you materialists have the right to behave badly to those foolish people who doubt Darwinism, so we will praise you when you graciously don’t) is beautifully imaged in comments like these. (Note: I do not mean to single out individuals, but must quote specifics.)

Making it all about the young earth creationists

Anyway, Bill Dembski finally realized that I wouldn’t quit bugging him until I got some answers (hello, hello, yes Bill, it’s me again, oh I know, and do pardon me, but I really must update my book, and I was just wondering once again if you had given any more thought to ….) so he eventually got somewhere near the bottom of his in tray and dug out something which revealed that ASA had decided years ago to attack young earth creationists (who have very little social influence) rather than materialists (who are promoting an atheistic religion, aimed directly at young people, using public systems whenever possible). In other words, the ASA policy seems to be to divide the Christian community rather than address attacks by materialist atheists on Christians and other theists.

I call that selling out. In general, getting into a row with American fundamentalist denomination heads about the age of the earth makes about as much sense as getting into a row with Benedict XVI about the Catholic teaching on the perpetual virginity of Mary, Jesus’ mother. If you want to be regarded as not only wrong but just plain evil, aim right at whatever beliefs that the other guy in your own communion is especially sensitive about (Eve? Mary?), beliefs that generally pose no public threat.

So it turns out it’s not just the ASA list after all. The problem involves the larger organization. I don’t buy the excuse offered, that if Christians in science decide that a doctrine of their denomination about the age of the earth is not true they will “lose their faith.”

If they were serious Christians, they would simply change their denomination instead.

(However, I am hardly surprised to learn that many ex-fundamentalists drifted away from Christianity over Darwinian evolution. Darwinism is the creation story of atheism, so an obsession with promoting and defending it is probably diagnostic of much more general problems with Christianity, admitted or otherwise.)

How to use fundamentalism to defend Darwinism – now, that IS a neat trick!

Which reminds me: Another cute “ASA list” trick is to suddenly strike a fundamentalist pose and attack the ID guys because “the intelligent designer is not necessarily the Christian God.” Huh?

Here’s the deal: Are you a Christian? A theist? A believer in karma? A perennialist ? Then you can’t not accept intelligent design. (Even a non-materialist atheist should accept design, though many are too confused to do so.)

However, materialist atheists have a chokehold on science today, which is why design is supposed to be Public Enemy Number One in their view. I expect them to fight pretty hard to defend what they view as their property and theirs only (science), and it won’t be no beauty pageant. Any Christian in science whose response to the problem is to make trouble for other Christians in science is AWOL.

Civil rights for non-materialists?

Which reminds me: What about professionally qualified Christians in science who are YEC – for example, Marcus Ross, who recently received a PhD, amidst much anxiety? There is lots of disparagement of YECs on the ASA list, although Ross has written to me, pointing out that the quality of YEC work had become much more rigorous recently.

I don’t get YEC myself (it seems to me like an answer to a problem that shouldn’t exist), but I don’t have any special reason to doubt Ross’s word in the matter of rigor. I had observed that process at work while writing By Design or by Chance? It seems to me that a formal organization of Christians in science should not be sponsoring a list that so regularly attacks other Christians in science, whether YEC, ID, or structuralist like Sternberg. (The recent list attacks on Rick Sternberg made especially sobering reading. )

Anyway, I have good news. I am happy to report that ASA list types are much more sensitive when crap happens to them – even if there are no career implications whatever! One of the “ASA listas” was kvetching to me recently about the fact that some other listas had got themselves banned here at UD. I replied,

People do get banned at UD all the time, for saying things they would be praised for on the ASA list. I can’t and don’t speak for Bill on this point, but I get the impression he is a bit tired of the denigration routine that is standard fare among TEs. It is just possible that he sees the denigration as a cover for non-engagement with the key issues.

As in: “I would believe that the universe shows detectible evidence of intelligent design if only Dembski were not such a dork/didn’t have access to the moderator keys at UD/got rid of O’Leary and Springer and …”

Bill … suspects that most of the people who claim that they would be nice to him in that case wouldn’t ever admit to believing anything that puts them in direct conflict with the materialism that runs the academy today. In which case they are no use to him and never will be.

And if they’re upset, they’re upset. Just think, it’s still that free a country.

Just who ARE you running around with, anyway?

Just what ASA is doing right now became clear when someone posted to the ASA list the Executive Director’s Corner from the March newsletter, including the following:

In my last column I mentioned that several secular scientific organizations had contacted ASA for in-depth discussions on science/religion issues. One of them was the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS is the oldest and largest scientific organization.

[...]

The first meeting brought seven evangelicals to Washington, five of whom were ASA members. Alan and Connie [from AAAS] pointed out that the mission of the AAAS is to “advance science and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” They felt AAAS may not have done all it could have for the benefit of evangelicals, a rather large segment of the population. They sought to understand the evangelical community better and to determine how they could help meet its needs.

Huh? Well, how about they start by stopping the anti-ID campaign? At least one ASA honcho likes to assure me that far more ASA members are sympathetic to intelligent design than the “ASA list” would seem to suggest. Well, this is his (and their) chance to prove it. Is ASA even raising the question of whether the AAAS’s anti-ID pages are a bad idea? Or is it merely selling its ID sympathizer members out?

Then the Corner reassures us:

One message that the AAAS wishes to convey to evangelicals is that mainstream science is not inherently hostile to Christian faith. The vocal minority, like Dawkins and Harris, who advocate the abolition of religion under the guise of science, does not represent the thinking of most secular scientists, they assured us. The majority of scientists respect and honor the moral values that religion provides, even if they may not concur in theological details.

Wow! I love it! “Not inherently hostile to the Christian faith.”

This is right up there with deep gratitude that D.S. Wilson knows how to behave like a gentleman at a public meeting. (Am I supposed to fall and kiss the ground before the materialists at this point, or will three deep curtsies suffice for now?)

Message to AAAS: In a country where individuals have civil rights and the majority of people who work to pay your bills are professing Christians, it would be very unwise to be “inherently hostile” to the Christian faith. So we will assume, for now at least, that whatever happened was only a misunderstanding or a mistake.

I love the part about “may not concur in the theological details.” Presumably the Corner means to reference the fact that the vast majority of elite scientists today are materialist atheists and they have a heavy investment in keeping their club exclusive. In fact, that is the precise reason that being anti-ID is so important to them. No other philosophical orientation in the world requires that.

It IS time we talked about all this, yes, but I somehow doubt that that’s what AAAS sees as the problem. In fact, the AAAS agenda is pretty transparent: Be nice to the ASA, and get a reputation for being tolerant while giving up nothing whatever of substance.

Come to think of it, if the AAAS types are serious, can’t they prove it by denouncing Dawkins’ and Harris’s anti-God campaign instead of ID? Maybe they have and I didn’t notice. On the other hand, from what I can see, the ASA types are probably well enough rewarded if they are merely treated politely. We all know that evangelicals in general are poor, undereducated, and easily led. Right?

The culture of the ASA list is pervasive. One ASA-lista, looking for homeschooling texts to recommend, suggested NCSE as a source – a key Darwin lobby organization. Yes! As if people homeschool in order to have their kids fed a materialist/dying liberal church line (you know, “the Pope ‘accepts’ evolution” and all that rot, even as the controversy over materialism and its creatin story (Darwinism) goes worldwide).

Yes, worldwide. And the ID guys did that. I want my next book tob e about how t hey did it, exactly.

From what I can see, ASA is still AWOL, and proud of it. There is certainly no prophetic voice there.

Is it possible that the ASA types are just bright guys living in fear? The whole sense I get from years of monitoring the ASA list is of a bunch of people who act as if they really think that materialism has won and they must live in the ruins, and hope materialists will behave respectfully toward them.

The trouble is, as I realized while researching The Spiritual Brain, materialism has lost. Lost big time. Materialists know it and they are frantic. Materialism’s most basic agendas (people are just clever apes, computers can really feel and think, the mind and free will are an illusion, Darwin explained everything – are not confirmed). Materialism is currently supported principally by persecution campaigns. Materialists maintain their chokehold in part because of groups like ASA do not challenge the basic materialist agenda. Indeed, they act so pleased to just be noticed.

So, no, no, no! I won’t keep quiet about this. I know a scandal when I see one. And so yes, I accuse ASA of being AWOL from the central conflict in the science of our age – between the materialists and just about everyone else who has a stake in science enterprises.

My personal recommendations for ASA:

1. Develop an office to address the problem of Christians/theists in science who are subjected to materialist persecution, whether on design issues, bioethics issues, climate issues or others that will undoubtedly arise – especially any cases where irregular methods have been employed to get rid of evidence-based dissent. Continued silence in these situations is shameful.

2. Cease the campaign against the young earth creationists. To the extent that YEC is a doctrinal position, just don’t get involved. If YEC scientists are subjected to persecution based solely on supposition about their point of view and not on failure to perform work to standard, defend them as one would defend any Christian subjected to persecution.

3. Check out of campaigns against the intelligent design guys, whether of the old earth creationist or theistic evolutionist variety. (Campaigners, you’re not fooling anybody. The materialists whose good opinion you want probably despise you way more than I do.)

4. Pull out of any discussions with AAAS while that organization attacks intelligent design as a concept and – on your way out – ask them to denounce Dawkins instead and get back to you when they have.

5. Recognize that, as ID and non-materialism become worldwide forces, fewer and fewer people are fooled by materialist protestations of tolerance for Christianity, accompanied by attacks on something as fundamentally obvious to any theist/perennialist as the intelligent design of the universe.

6. Change the name of the “ASA list”, take it private, or shut it down.

The honchos at ASA would be best off to do this stuff before more people get wind of what’s been going on in recent years. After all, not everybody reads Uncommon Descent … yet.

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46 Responses to American Scientific Affiliation – bright guys living in fear?

  1. I don’t know beans about the ASA except what I’ve read here – so who founded it?

    I checked out their web site. It has all the right jargon and key religious buzz words. But, that doesn’t mean anything these days.

    From what you write Denyse, it sounds to me like the ASA is more of a TE Darwinist prop than anything else.

    Maybe like the use of KGB assigned “priests” in the former Soviet Union. All intended to look like religion while actually promoting the opposite.

    I remember some Darweenies actually suggesting that Sternberg was a “sleeper cell operative for the creationists”. (Can you say ‘paranoid’?)

    Perhaps they thought of this because they have their own sleeper cells in the ASA – and elsewhere. Or worse, the ASA IS a Darwinist org. in pseudo-religious garb!? Gasp!

    This of course is not to imply that all of it’s members would be aware of this. But it does smells a bit like hard liner Darwinist tactics in deception to me.

  2. This post brings up multiple times a central issue in the id debate for me. Denyse seems to be saying that anyone who does not agree with id is arguing against a designed universe. I do not think this is the case at all. I definitely believe in a designed universe. It certainly does seem to be where the evidence points. The question of design for me and most people is a metaphysical question. My problem with id and probably many other people’s problem as well is that it attempts to try to take the question of design out of the metaphysical realm and into our necessarily limited knowledge of empirical reality. To be able to detect design means being able to point to a time and place and saying design happened then and there. Of course I do not mean with absolute precision, but when you point to a system and say that it is irreducibly complex its formation necessarily becomes a design event. To many including myself this sounds like a supernatural event, something that is by definition beyond the scope of scientific investigation.

    The universe has very consistently lended itself to investigation using scientific methods. Our traditional application of supernatural forces to nature has consistently proven itself completely unreliable. This does not necessarily mean that supernatural events will never be a correct explanation, but it does show the efficacy of the scientific method thus far and provides a solid argument to continue with the same methods.

    There is nothing about science that denies the possibility of design. As we currently understand it, science will never have anything to say about a designed universe. Problems only arise when people want to pigeon hole the designer. It is true that our cultural memory of God does not fit well with our understanding of nature. Our understanding of nature has changed dramatically in the past few centuries, but our ideas of God are still rooted in medieval times. Why do we have to find magic to find God? Our scientific understanding of the universe will always amount to our best theoretical construct of reality. No one should ever claim that it is reality. There will always be room for God in reality. Why would we ever think ourselves capable of comprehending the designer’s methods?

    We should be pointing out the inadequacies of arguments from the likes of Dawkins that attempt to prove the universe devoid of design. Instead of stooping to that faulty level of trying to prove the unprovable we should be promoting science as a useful tool for humanity and an exciting intellectual pursuit but certainly not as a window to the divine (or lack thereof).

  3. “To many including myself this sounds like a supernatural event, something that is by definition beyond the scope of scientific investigation.”

    If you have irreducible designs that are so fantastically complex and you agree they cannot come about by naturalistic means than what options do you have left?

    1) Aliens
    2) God
    3) Something else?

    But to many, including me, who believe that supernatural events are possible, we believe that nature shows clear evidences of teleology and this coincides very well w/ supernatural phenomenon.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that when ppl are looking for God in nature or other “supernatural things” we are not looking for the “how” of God’s way, just the finished product.

    For instance, we believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When go to look for the validity of those claims we don’t look for strange supernatural events like weird auras or sparkly lights, but evidence that would indicate the supernatural event did happen.

    In this way a “supernatural event” is not beyond the scope of scientific investigation. We are looking to see if what God said in the Bible can be ascertained and not looking to irreducible complexity to point to a specific God (like DNA having a Bible verses quoted into it). I feel ppl always think that Christians are looking for John 3:16 in bacterial flagellum, but that is clearly not the case.

    *Just looking for the signature of the Designer

  4. Denyse,

    Why do you not mention that Pim van Meurs is an atypical contributor to the list and virtually no-one agrees with him? As you must have read the thread on Dawkins and children you will see that Pim is the sole voice in support of Dawkins. I personally am horrified by Dawkins’s comparison of religious upbringing to child sexual abuse and have been trying to take Pim to task over it.

    Please don’t make unfair attacks on us like this.

  5. Jpark, good comparison. If Yeshua rose from the dead, it is a historical, physical and therefore, “scientific” question. We can ask “Did this event take place?” and use all the tools of historical science to try and find an answer.

    The second question, “If Yeshua rose, how was it done?” is logically separate, and may or may not be answerable by naturalistic science (which jmcd conflates with “science”). If it was done by purely physical means, then we can give a naturalistic answer. If not, then “science” may not be able to ever give an answer.

    But notice, this does not mean we can’t answer the first question just because we may not be able to answer the second. And even then, we may be able to answer both.

  6. 6
    The Scubaredneck

    Atom wrote:

    “If Yeshua rose from the dead, it is a historical, physical and therefore, “scientific” question. We can ask “Did this event take place?” and use all the tools of historical science to try and find an answer.”

    The Scubaredneck responds:

    This statement isn’t necessarily true. There are a number of things that are obviously true but are not open to scientific scrutiny. For example, what scientific tests would one perform to confirm that Abe Lincoln was our 16th president? There are none. It’s an historical question, not a scientific one. Similarly, the Resurrection is an historical question and not necessarily a scientific question.

    Notice, however, that being outside the realm of science does not make it less certain or less likely to be true. It is the doctrine of scientism, based in logical positivism, that demands that every true thing be scientifically provable. The Resurrection can be objectively, historically true and still fall outside the realm of traditional scientific inquiry. Monickers such as “historical science” typically only serve to extend the definition of science into other areas that we know with certaintity but are not properly part of science.

    The reason this distinction is important is that Intelligent Design typically involves a rejection of scientism (which should be rejected prima facia anyway) along with a rejection of positivism. To claim ID to be true and then attempt to argue based on scientism and positivism (as Atom appears to do here) is like a horse running back into a burning barn. It does you no good and ultimately can bring down your own argument.

    This is exactly the mess that the Neo-orthodox scholars created in the 1960′s. Rather than rejecting the liberal scholarship to which they were attempting to respond, they accepted things such as the non-reality of miracles and the Resurrection and merely placed these things in a Kantian “upper story” of knowledge, thus making it unassailable by scientific falsification. This served to make the Resurrection not historically true but still religiously significant (pace Karl Barth). Thus the fruits of a union with positivism and scientism.

    Ultimately, you are correct in that we can indeed answer the first question. However, the tools with which we answer that will not be the tools of science but the tools of legal/historical/forensic research. These tools are just as legitimate and produce knowledge just as certainly as the tools of science.

    The Scubaredneck

  7. Denyse writes:

    The trouble is, as I realized while researching The Spiritual Brain, materialism has lost. Lost big time. Materialists sense it and they are frantic.

    Exactly so. Consider atheistic philosopher Quentin Smith’s article from the Journal Philo a couple years back. Entitled The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism, the abstract reads:

    The metaphilosophy of naturalism is about the nature and goals of naturalist philosophy. A real or hypothetical person who knows the nature, goals and consequences of naturalist philosophy may be called an “informed naturalist.” An informed naturalist is justified in drawing certain conclusions about the current state of naturalism and the research program that naturalist philosophers ought to undertake. One conclusion is that the great majority of naturalist philosophers have an unjustified belief that naturalism is true and an unjustified belief that theism (or supernaturalism) is false. I explain this epistemic situation in this paper. I also articulate the goals an informed naturalist would recommend to remedy this situation. These goals, for the most part, have as their consequence the restoring of naturalism to its original state (approximately, to a certain degree, given the great difference in the specific theories), which is the state it possessed in Greco-Roman philosophy before naturalism was “overwhelmed” in the Middle Ages, beginning with Augustine (naturalism had critics as far back as Xenophanes, sixth century B.C.E., but it was not “overwhelmed” until much later). Contemporary naturalists still accept, unwittingly, the redefinition of naturalism that began to be constructed by theists in the fifth century C.E. and that underpins our basic world-view today.

    In the article, Smith bemoans the fact that Theism has become “respectable” in philosophical circles in academia…a condition that causes Smith much consternation, in fact. He blames much of it on Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame:

    The secularization of mainstream academia began to quickly unravel upon the publication of Plantinga’s influential book on realist theism, God and Other Minds, in 1967. It became apparent to the philosophical profession that this book displayed that realist theists were not outmatched by naturalists in terms of the most valued standards of analytic philosophy: conceptual precision, rigor of argumentation, technical erudition, and an in-depth defense of an original world-view. This book, followed seven years later by Plantinga’s even more impressive book, The Nature of Necessity, made it manifest that a realist theist was writing at the highest qualitative level of analytic philosophy, on the same playing field as Carnap, Russell, Moore, Grünbaum, and other naturalists. Realist theists, whom hitherto had segregated their academic lives from their private lives, increasingly came to believe (and came to be increasingly accepted or respected for believing) that arguing for realist theism in scholarly publications could no longer be justifiably regarded as engaging in an “academically unrespectable” scholarly pursuit.

    For Smith, this is an unacceptable state of affairs. Imgaine, he sniffs later on, “a sizeable portion of the articles in contemporary physics journals suddenly presenting arguments that space and time are God’s sensorium (Newton’s view) or biology journals becoming filled with theories defending élan vital or a guiding intelligence?” How horrible the very idea must be to commited materialists like Smith. Why, look at the foothold theism has gained within philosophical academia, where, Smith laments, “Naturalists passively watched as realist versions of theism, most influenced by Plantinga’s writings, began to sweep through the philosophical community, until today perhaps one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors are theists, with most being orthodox Christians.” (Is anyone getting the image of Smith leaping onto his trusty steed, grabbing a lantern and riding through the the academic countryside, Revere-style shouting “The Theists are coming!! The Theists are coming!!”) What? a quarter to one-third of all academic philosophers becoming theists? And, most of those orthodox Christians??!!?? Why its enough to make a materialist swoon in disbelief!!!(which Smith does throughout his article)

    What never seems to occur to Smith and his fellow materialists is that philosophical materialism is coming to ruins precisely because it lacks persuasive argument. Rather, he and others seem to think the problem lies in the cleverness of the theists coupled with the sleepy headedness of the materialists who failed in their duty to see the “danger”.

    To me this all is exactly what I’d expect from someone whose ideas and arguments have been taken to task and, in many cases, outright defeated. Indeed Smith is so sure that materialsm can re-gain the high ground that he offers a four program for its recovery. (Can a 12-step program for recovering materialists be far behind, I wonder?)

    For those interested, you can read the entire article in Philo: A Journal of Philosophy, Volume 4, Number 2. I bring it up here, because I think it goes directly to Denyse’s larger point that its time that organizations like the ASA quit acting as if they had to apologize for not being materialists and realize that materialism is in deep weeds any way you want to look at it. Its time for members of the ASA to put the materialists on notice!!

  8. “…not be the tools of science but the tools of legal/historical/forensic research…”

    I was including forensic research and archeology as scientific disciplines. You think that is a controversial view to hold?

  9. If you really want to be precise, all science is “historical” since we can only test things in time, and our measurements and recordings will always be of the “past.”

    Please, let’s not nitpick now.

  10. 10
    The Scubaredneck

    Atom,

    The point I was attempting to make wasn’t necessarily dealing with demarkation criteria (what is the difference between science and non-science) but with the notion of scientism, that the only reliable knowledge is scientific knowledge. This is what was implicit in your argument (that the Resurrection is not outside the bounds of scientific inquiry and, therefore, is knowable). Scientism is demonstrably false and logically self-defeating. As I pointed out in my post, it’s not nit-picking at all but is central to the debate between ID and materialsim.

    The Scubaredneck

  11. Hmm, I see that the ScubaRedneck is a demarcationist—as someone here the other day said, ID passes muster under the most rigorous demarcation criteria—except of course where an a priori allegiance to materialism is mandated. Anyway the ScubaRedncek might have a look here.

    Kudos to Denyse for the piercing honesty and valiant bravery!

    Is it possible that the ASA types are just bright guys living in fear? The whole sense I get from years of monitoring the ASA list is of a bunch of people who act as if they really think that materialism has won and they must live in the ruins, and hope materialists will behave respectfully toward them.

    It has to be because they’re fearful of being branded as heretics. But it’s one thing to cower in a corner till the battle subsides, quite another to do the devil’s work for him!

    Yes—what a way to peer into the soul of each would be elite! Who really wants to know? Who’s just in it for approval? Who is cowardly? Who is craven? Who is brave? Who is opportunistic? Who is honest? Who will fight for the right?

    I’m reminded of a recent article by Leon R. Kass (Science, Religion, and the Human Future)—no doubt not an ASA member but a fairly conservative theist nonetheless. He sees the fallacy of the fence sitters and yet just can’t align himself with ID. And he cannot call it like it is—NATURALISM masquerading as “science”. He’s obviously a nice guy but, sadly, not quite as courageous as he is nice.

  12. “…sounds like a supernatural event, something that is by definition beyond the scope of scientific investigation.”

    This is the standard methodological naturalist’s line. But it too requires proof.

    So 1st, let’s remember that “the scientific method” was invented by theists – not materialists.

    Wonder why it is always pre-assumed that the supernatural cannot be detected or inferred from known physical events?

    2nd, Let’s define our terms of reference

    su·per·nat·u·ral (spr-nchr-l)
    adj.
    1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
    2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
    3. Of or relating to a deity.
    4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
    5. Of or relating to the miraculous.

    So, if we’re talking of an event that is entirely outside the natural universe then of course we have no known at this time means of detecting it.

    However, the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies the metaphysical. A well understood implication. So we know that the metaphysical exists and that by a physical event.

    We also know the metaphysical because of the existence of logical absolutes; logic itself requires mind and, like information, is not an attribute of matter or energy.

    Moreover, if we’re talking events that occur within the natural world that we suspect (due to their nature and attributes) must have a supernatural origin, the case is entirely different.

    The event is physical, it’s origin, or the power that manipulated it’s intrinsic substances is not.

    Why is this not empirically detectable since the event has already been empirically detected and we may be able to positively rule out any known sequences of purely natural processes?

    Eg. Say a genuine supernatural event occurs in plain sight – such as the mentioned resurrection of Christ from death, or a person in the last stages of cancer on a death bed suddenly becoming perfectly healthy (a late friend of mine eye-witnessed this many years ago).

    How do you detect that it is the result of the supernatural? How would you prove it isn’t? What really differs the one from the other?

    No matter, you still have to explain it.

    We may claim purely natural causes all we wish, in our attempt to adhere to the dogmas of methodological naturalism – it won’t work. Everyone intuitively knows such an event was not the result of natural processes.

    This form of reasoning is called abductive reasoning. It is perfectly valid and used in many science domains and in our own lives every day.

    IOW, I think the standard materialist doctrine, that supernatural events are outside the scope of empirical science, contains non-empirically provable and false assumptions.

    But as Dr. Dembski has been saying for many years, the biological evidence requires a design inference (the reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion or making a logical judgment on the basis of circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than on the basis of direct observation).

    Back to ID square one. The inference is nevertheless empirically obtained. Not as obviously as a resurrection (we did not eye-witness the beginnings of life), but nevertheless perfectly logical no matter what the inherent time frame.

    Unfortunately, Darwinists and atheists are the worst reasoners in the world when it comes to logical implications and inferences.

    Finally, “The history of organic life is undemonstrable; we cannot prove a whole lot in evolutionary biology, and our findings will always be hypothesis. There is one true evolutionary history of life, and whether we will actually ever know it is not likely. Most importantly, we have to think about questioning underlying assumptions, whether we are dealing with molecules or anything else.” Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Professor of Biological Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, February 9, 2007

    Looks like Darwinism is the real empirically unprovable hypothesis.

    Design is the most reasonable and most intuitive explanation – and by definition it need not require the “supernatural” anyway.

  13. 13

    Frankly, it would be enough for me if the ASA opposed the mirror opposite of ID – the insistence that there is no intelligent planning seen at work in biology, for example. I see ID as a great equalizer in that regard.

    If you cannot prove design in nature, then you cannot prove the lack of it. But how many opponents of ID (excepting theistic ones, I suspect) are going to sacrifice Dawkins-style claims of science disproving design in order to get rid of the claim that science proves design?

    Again and again, I can’t help but see that as the reason ID stirs up so much controversy.

  14. 14
    The Scubaredneck

    Rude,

    As I point out specifically, I am not arguing in favor of demarkationism but am arguing against scientism and logical positivism. As a result, it is not clear to me how JP’s article impinges on my argument as JP specifically and vehemently rejects scientism and logical positivism. Indeed, in his other writings, JP goes to great lengths to defend explicitly non-scientific forms of knowledge, such as ethical and religious knowledge, as being just as real and reliable as scientific knowledge.

    Interestingly, Borne’s post is a perfect example of exactly what I’m talking about. When faced with the notion that a supernatural event is outside the realm of natural science, rather than arguing for the efficacy of other forms of knowledge, he attempts to show that the natural sciences can indeed detect supernatural events. What reason is there to go to such lengths unless one is convinced that science is the only way to certain knowledge?

    Similarly, expanding the scientific tent seems to me to be a capitulation to scientism and positivism. Afterall, why would one wish to call historiography “science” unless one thought historiographic knowledge was not reliable unless it were shown to be “scientific”?

    So, Rude, my point is not specifically dealing with demarkationism per se but with the tendancy to call things “science” as a means of butressing them rather than simply calling them what they are and defending them as knowledge per se.

    The Scubaredneck

  15. mullasalus

    If you cannot prove design in nature, then you cannot prove the lack of it. But how many opponents of ID (excepting theistic ones, I suspect) are going to sacrifice Dawkins-style claims of science disproving design in order to get rid of the claim that science proves design?,/blockquote>

    I don’t think its quite that simple. It might be more accurate to say that in order to say that something isn’t designed, we need a pretty good idea of what the system in question would look like if it was designed. This seems to be more the line taken by the materialists. And, it also gets them quickley into theological waters, because there’s no version of the argument from sub-optimal design that doesn’t entail the unspoken (usually) premise that “God wouldn’t have done that way”. That’s where these arguments really get into trouble.

    ID “stirs up controversy” precisely because it challenges the notion that chance and necessity alone posses all that is needed to explain the full panoply of life on planet earth. But if you’re a materialist, c & n are all you have to work with, so ID ultimately challenges materialism, and THAT is why ID stirs up so much controversy.

    To me, the better question is “How do we know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos (or physical systems) are such that any apparent design we see can not be actual design, even in principle?

  16. Scubaredneck,

    I never said that only Science™ can give us true knowledge. What I did say is that if there is an event that affects physical things in time and space, then we can inquire into those things using “science.” (Notice, I didn’t say that all events affect physical things or that physical things are the only such thing we can inquire about.)

    Design events, luckily, happen to be such events, which can and do affect physical things. Therefore, we can use physical science means (including historical science, remember, all science is historical in a sense) to confirm or deny whether the event actually took place. This is what I am saying. I get the distinct feeling you’re not paying attention to what I’m actually saying.

  17. 17

    DonaldM,

    “God wouldn’t have done that way” – I’m in utter agreement with you that the moment this is uttered by materialists (or atheists at least – there can be atheist non-materialists, yes?), they lose. Take a look at the recent eye news on this site alone, and I consider that one instance among many. Philosophically, I side with Leibniz – we live in the best of all possible worlds, and all that entails. Others may disagree, but the arguments are persuasive to me.

    Actually, I agree with you in a way. I think ‘chance and necessity’, or other similar constructs, either obviously fail or at least aren’t ultimately persuasive compared to intention and design. Which is why I maintain what I said; the emotion stirred by ID (Which was never present against YEC, keep in mind) is because defeating it clearly will require giving up ‘chance and necessity’ in the lab. Those concepts aren’t necessary to explain anything; the data and research illustrates the mechanisms. If someone looks at the data and says ‘Brilliant design!’, the claim can only be made invalid if ‘The beauty of mindless nature at work!’ goes out the window too. Both or neither. Or at least that’s what ultimately has to happen.

  18. jmcd is correct, there are people who argue for designed universe, but for some reason seem to be agianst ID.

    (item 2: “Denyse seems to be saying that anyone who does not agree with id is arguing against a designed universe. I do not think this is the case at all.”)

    One such interesting and very important person is father Stanley Jaki, a well know and highly respected Catholic scientist, and an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Science. He is criticizing ID because:

    “The shortcomings, often very serious, of Darwinian
    theory cannot be remedied with Intelligent Design theory, which philosophically cannot cope with design and purpose. Moreover, it is a subtle rehash of the doctrine of special creation. Even worse, as it claims to be a “scientific” theory of evolution, it implies that design, insofar as it means purpose (and indeed divine purpose) can be the object of measurements, which is the touchstone of truth in science.”

    http://pirate.shu.edu/~jakista.....Design.pdf

    It might be worthwhile to respond to father Jaki’s criticism, since he carries a lot of weight in Catholic and in scientific circles.

  19. Hmm … maybe the demarcation problem is pertinent. ScubaRedneck’s point was about “the tendancy to call things ‘science’ as a means of butressing them rather than simply calling them what they are and defending them as knowledge per se.” He doesn’t disagree in regard to detecting design, but let’s not forget that most TEs are big time demarcationists and we know on which side of the fence they see Darwin and on which side they relegate the Designer. Endlessly they say that we’re making a category mistake, which means they’ve swallowed materialism’s two tiered view of reality that Nancy Pearcey critiques in Total Truth. For me—am I’m repeating a “meme”?—knowledge advances via observation, reason, and authority. Our disciplines—physics, biology, history … —mark out different nitches for inquiry, but overall the methodology boils down to mixes of these three—plus the most important one that I left out: honesty.

  20. 20
    The Scubaredneck

    Atom,

    I am paying attention to what you’re saying and you’re saying exactly what I alledge. If science isn’t the key to knowledge, then why do you insist on suggesting that all science is historical? Can historical knowledge not stand on its own without being butressed by the claim of being “scientific?”

    The arguments that defend the Resurrection are historical arguments, not scientific arguments. They are arguments based on evaluating eye-witness testimonies and the varacity of ancient manuscripts, along with logical arguments based on internal and external consistancy. Is the Resurrection still a fact even if there were, in principle, no valid scientific argument that could be formed in its defense? Of course it is.

    You seem to be arguing that, although an historical event, a scientific argument could be made in its defense. Unless a scientific argument is necessarily better epistomologically than an historical argument, I am at a loss to understand the purpose of such a line of argumentation. Afterall, no one has ever suggested that we need to make a scientific argument to prove that Washington was our first President. An historical argument has always sufficed in this case.

    The Scubaredneck

  21. OK boys, let’s not get lost in a “semantic” argument when the real point is summed up so well in Romans 1:28–”And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not [suitable]…” We’re talking knowledge and however we used the word “science”–be it in a vernacular or philosophical sense–let us concede that the TEs have gone along with ruling God out of all public knowledge which is now limited to “Science”. Note that now even history and public documents (other than the tax code) are deemed irrelevant in this postmodern age.

  22. Thank you Rude.

    SRed,

    “Can historical knowledge not stand on its own without being butressed by the claim of being “scientific?””

    I said all science is historical, not that all history is scientific. History can stand on its on, but when it also happens to be scientific, why say otherwise?

    You seem to think I have some hidden capitulation motive, but in fact, I don’t. Let’s not make a big deal over nothing. My point was simply as Rude said, that it is public knowledge. I consider most fact finding in the public sphere “science”, in a general sense.

    And since when are archeology and forensics not science?

    I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m bored with this argument as it is over a nitpick.

  23. rockyr,

    The description of the pamphlet that Jaki has on Intelligent Design has some misnomers. He says

    “The shortcomings, often very serious, of Darwinian theory cannot be remedied with Intelligent Design theory, which philosophically cannot cope with design and purpose. Moreover, it is a subtle rehash of the doctrine of special creation. Even worse, as it claims to be a “scientific” theory of evolution, it implies that design, insofar as it means purpose (and indeed divine purpose) can be the object of measurements, which is the touchstone of truth in science.”

    ID does not address purpose so this comment is inappropriate. Most attempts to infer motive or purpose lie outside science and Jaki should know this.

    If ID is a subtle rehash of special creation, then why is this a problem because if something was designed it has to be created by someone. ID claims it is not an inference to creation by God and the identity of the designer is unknown. It is not inferable by ID.

    So Jaki has set up straw men and is no different in this brief blurb than are the materialist and the people at ASA who also make the same specious claims. If you want to argue that these are not specious claims then do so but these claims seems to be the last refuge against ID.

    I will agree with Jaki on something and that the shortcomings of Darwinian theory are often very serious. Would Jaki argue that this concept should be part of the education curriculum of the country. If so, and the rest of the society agreed, then we could shut this site down and all go home.

  24. 24

    Just an additional thought in regards to the ASA’s stance on YECs.

    Based on what I’ve read, the ASA mostly combats the idea that a YEC view is required by Christianity. Considering that guys like Dawkins make more or less the same exact claim, I have trouble faulting them for taking issue with that particular part of the view. Someone who, for whatever reason, feels the need to abanding YEC should not be led to the idea “atheism is right” as a result.

  25. Jerry said:

    ID claims it is not an inference to creation by God and the identity of the designer is unknown. It is not inferable by ID.

    This is exactly right. ID only infers design itself, not the identity of the designer–not in any way, shape, or form. However it never ceases to amaze me that those opposed to ID can’t seem to grasp this concept. I suppose this is due to the fact that once you accept the presence of design in biology, the implication of God as designer is inescapable. If you happen to promote materialistic limits on scientific inquiry and conclusions (atheist or ASA) then this is heresy.

  26. nullasalus,

    It is not just ASA among Christian organizations that are against the science of the YEC’s. There are others including the Catholic Church who have made strong statements on this.

    Where the ASA seem to differ is that they do not seem to distinguish between the YEC’s and ID and make nonsense arguments against ID. It seems their theology requires this which is why I made the statement a couple weeks ago that the science of YEC’s, Darwinists and many TE’s are all driven by ideology.

    From what I understand many Catholics hold to a TE point of view but there is nothing in the theology of Catholicism that requires it. It was driven by the accepted science rather than ideology. Maybe some Catholics here might want to comment. However, you get Catholics like Jaki whose viewpoint of ID seems to be driven by theology.

    Denyse, Behe and Bruce Chapman are Catholics and I do not think their viewpoints are driven in anyway by theology but by science.

    I find the ASA stance kind of interesting because until 150 years ago most scientists and theologians thought there was active creation by God throughout history. Now it is a no-no scientifically and theologically for them.

  27. 27

    I’m a Byzantine Catholic myself, though that doesn’t make me any more astute about what’s up with the Catholic take on things. But you’ve pretty much got it down – there’s no view of force, and a range is accepted.

    I do object strongly to ID being equated with YEC, and correct anyone who uses the two interchangeably.

  28. nullsalus,

    There were three Greek Catholic seminarians in my home last week rehearsing for a concert with my wife’s singing group. They are all good tenors which are more valuable than gold to a choral singing group.

    I was about to ask them what if any were their thoughts on evolution when I thought better of it. My wife would have been mad and they would have probably thought the question strange and wondered what I was up to.

  29. I’m a YECer because I believe the best evidence points that way, because I had a conversion experience that utterly convinced me of the reality of God’s existence and power, and because I think the YEC worldview is theologically sound. If Adam and Eve were mythical figures who committed an equally mythical sin, and if death is only figuratively the wages of sin, then how can Jesus, by dying, save us from real, rather than figurative, death? There is no judicially-fair, account settling there; no “It is finished”. Jesus might just as well have died because Goldilocks ate the three bears’ porridge.

    In my experience theistic evolutionists who claim to be Christian can get upset with YECers because they think that YECers think they’re not Christian and also because they think that YECers are ignorant Biblical literalists whereas they, themselves, are well educated, nuanced thinkers who, in a sometimes heroic fashion, struggle with, and overcome, doubt. And there, I think, lies the key; they are proud of themselves and their achievements. They are even proud of their doubts. ID troubles some (many?) of them because they know what it implies; a real God who really created and who demands total allegiance, not just Sunday church attendance with all the rest of the week to keep to yourself and do with it whatever pleases you, may advance your career, or make you well respected by well respected people and so on and so forth.

    I do not think that theistic evolutionists can’t be Christian. I do think the real Christians among them would be more content, even joy-filled, if they would look to their security in God, believing what he has told us, rather than in the good opinion of their friends and colleagues and of those who have the power of hiring and firing. Eternity lasts a lot longer than a career. Friends, colleagues and HR people aren’t God. Suffering in this life is only for a little while. And not believing God is not believing God.

  30. Jerry,

    “It is not just ASA among Christian organizations that are against the science of the YEC’s. There are others including the Catholic Church who have made strong statements on this…From what I understand many Catholics hold to a TE point of view but there is nothing in the theology of Catholicism that requires it. It was driven by the accepted science rather than ideology. Maybe some Catholics here might want to comment. However, you get Catholics like Jaki whose viewpoint of ID seems to be driven by theology.

    I wonder who you are referring to?

    One of the Popes?

    The Church is against Christian “Fundamentalism”, but that is “Fundamentalism” in another sense. These Fundamentalists are typically anti-Catholics proselytising the Catholics.

    Catholics tend to be TE probably because (1) evolution is not actively opposed; (2) catholics tend to avoid reading “Fundamentalist” literature. And YEC literature is included here.

    Particular Catholic clergymen may have spoken something very strong against YEC. But these are considered personal opinions.

    Father Jaki: “The shortcomings, often very serious, of Darwinian theory cannot be remedied with Intelligent Design theory, which philosophically cannot cope with design and purpose. Moreover, it is a subtle rehash of the doctrine of special creation. Even worse, as it claims to be a “scientific” theory of evolution, it implies that design, insofar as it means purpose (and indeed divine purpose) can be the object of measurements, which is the touchstone of truth in science.”

    Father Jaki probably has a twisted understanding about ID – the ID of the secular media and “scientists” (read “Darwinists”). Or, perhaps, he has real philosophical reasons.

    Note he said: “ID ***philosophically*** cannot cope with design and purpose.”

    I am a bit mystified by this statement. Maybe some philosophers among us here can comment.

  31. Jerry, and MatthewTan, I agree with you, father Jaki’s pamphlet, or his view of ID, seems to have misnomers which I also find baffling. However, having read many of his books, and actually learning a lot about science, I don’t want to simply dismiss him as ignorant about ID. Although I don’t buy everything he writes as “Scriptural truth”. And perhaps he is a bit prejudiced against ID, or perhaps he is still confusing it with YEC or literal creationism.

    Nevertheless, Jaki is perhaps the most respected living Catholic scientist, historian of science, and philosopher of science, and many Catholics take all that he says or writes as absolutely true. That is why it might be a good idea for the ID movement, and for the defenders of ID, to engage him in an open debate. (While they still can, Jaki is quite old, and once he dies, his opinions will acquire a mythical status, and there won’t be anybody else of his stature to fill his shoes.)

    Let’s see what his objections really are, and whether they are valid.

    Just a guess, “special creation” means a different thing to different people, and the term has a long history, so perhaps some clarification is in order.

    see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_creation

  32. Janice, I am sure many of us ordinary Christian will envy you your conversion experience, since most of us haven’t had anything like that. Having a powerful experience like yours makes it easier to immediately grasp what most of us have to struggle with, so please be patient with us. The problem the “non-fundamentalists” find (and I don’t mean it disrespectfully), is that they just don’t buy your belief that YEC is fully theologically or scientifically sound. Philosophy and theology can be objectively evaluated and if you want to argue with them, you have to argue on these terms. Perhaps the educated have a tendency to be more proud, but pride is a universal sin, so it wouldn’t hurt if all of us learned how to be more humble. After all, even the knowledge of the most educated and most wise isn’t wiser than God’s “foolishness.” Philosophically, the problem of fundamentalists, if I may categorize YEC as such, is that they are not fundamental enough in their theology.

  33. rockyr,

    I just bought a bunch of Jaki’s pamphlets on science and evolution and will see what he says.

    He now lives in Princeton and he apparently still gives lectures on occasion so I will see if there is anything in the near future in the New York/New Jersey area where I live.

  34. jerry, let me or let us know what you find, especially if you manage to engage Jaki in a debate about ID. BTW, where did you order these pamphlets from?

  35. Jerry you wrote

    The description of the pamphlet that Jaki has on Intelligent Design has some misnomers. He says

    “…Even worse, as it claims to be a “scientific” theory of evolution, it implies that design, insofar as it means purpose (and indeed divine purpose) can be the object of measurements, which is the touchstone of truth in science.”

    ID does not address purpose so this comment is inappropriate. Most attempts to infer motive or purpose lie outside science and Jaki should know this.

    ID does imply purpose. If something is intelligently designed then it was done so on purpose and for a purpose. The bacterial flagellum or the eye are good examples of this. If the flagellum was designed then it was done so on purpose for the purpose of giving the bacteria the ability to move in the way it can move. Similarly if the eye was designed it was done on purpose for the purpose of providing sight. Intelligent design is inherently purposefull. I am sure you know this so I assume that you meant to counter the claim that ID implies it can measure the epistemological purpose of the designer beyond the empirically verifiable specific function of a design. Of course what ID does not do is go into purpose beyond that which can be empirically deduced from a life form e.g. ID implies eyes are designed for the purpose of sight but does not address the reason for some people being born blind. ID does not go into the identity of the designer or what the purpose of the designer is beyond designing life forms.

  36. I have Jaki’s Genesis 1 through the ages. To me it was a bit disappointing, it left out most of the stuff that interests me, but that’s to be expected for were I to write the book I’d probably leave out most of of what interests Jaki. One mustn’t be too hard on an old man—he’s spent a lifetime accommodating Darwin—not many can pull off an Anthony Flew at that point.

    TE types keep being confused about ID—what is it they ask and ask again? Well, it’s not about the age of the cosmos, it’s not about common desent, it’s not about the supernatural (or whether there even is such a thing), and it’s not about the Bible. All ID says is that it is legitimate to ask in regard to biology (organisms, organs, proteins, processes, etc.): Is this designed? Materialists say NO! You can’t ask! And the TE types concur, all the while complicating and obfuscating things as best they can.

    I tell people that I believe in evolution, that life has a history on this planet, that there has been progress (which is difficult to get materialists to admit these days). I’m agnostic on common descent and a whole lot of things that I’m not competent to judge. But I do know enough to know that Darwinism is the atheists explanation for the history of life, and that Darwinism predicts nothing, has no evidence going for it, and is a fraud from top to bottom.

    That’s where this thing is headed. Sooner or later the timid types will sense this and then there will be a scrambling to get on board.

    Of course anything can happen. There might be reversals, we might be entering a postmodernist Dark Age where the very institutions of learning disintegrate. Anything can happen. But we should hope for the best. Just look at history and see how over against the constant din of doomsday predictions—and the terrible reverses of Naziism and Communism—that in the end “the good guys” triumph. Who are the good guys today? First and foremost they are in ID. Why do I say this? Because if there is no evidence for purpose or design in the cosmos—if the atheists are right—THEN NOTHING MATTERS!!! So this is the first hurdle to hurdle, but coming fast and furious are others—radical Islamic terrorism, for example, and the return of outright paganism.

    As always the battle is waged militarily and via words, and the goal of those who wage it with words is to be clear—not muddle the waters with high sounding, unintelligible intelligence and nuanced puffs of pompous pandering to the powers that be.

  37. 37
    The Scubaredneck

    Rude wrote:

    All ID says is that it is legitimate to ask in regard to biology (organisms, organs, proteins, processes, etc.): Is this designed? Materialists say NO! You can’t ask!

    I have to say that this is an excellent encapsulation of the core ideas of the debate!

    The Scubaredneck

  38. rockyr,

    I’d be grateful if you would expand a bit on this please.

    Philosophically, the problem of fundamentalists, if I may categorize YEC as such, is that they are not fundamental enough in their theology.

  39. rockyr,

    Try 1-888-808-2882. I believe this is the number. There is a different number on the internet but when I called that they gave me this number. I left a message and someone got back to me a day later.

    To get a list of his publications just go to google and put in stanley jaki. Most of them are on religion but there are several on science so I expect these will be a mixture of religion and science.

  40. Rude,

    Stanley Jaki is certainly not like Anthony Flew in that he never was nor is an atheist. His quote said

    “The shortcomings, often very serious, of Darwinian theory cannot be remedied with Intelligent Design theory”

    so he recognizes the science of Darwinism has problems. I will see what his pamphlets say on the issue.

    My experience is that if you listen to everyone here you would think there is no evidence for a naturalistic form of evolution when there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that supports it.

  41. Mentok, Jerry

    to counter the claim that ID implies it can measure the epistemological purpose of the designer beyond the empirically verifiable specific function of a design.

    Fr. Jaki “…Even worse, as it claims to be a “scientific” theory of evolution, it implies that design, insofar as it means purpose (and indeed divine purpose) can be the object of measurements, which is the touchstone of truth in science.”

    Is Fr. Jaki talking about higher-order purpose of God in the metaphysical sense, or is he talking about functions of designed objects?

    Metaphysical purpose indeed cannot be measured.

    On the other hand, engineering functions can be measured.

    Flagellar motion – velocity, rounds per minute (rotation), distance travelled, etc.

    Vision – just go to the spectacles shop.

    So, Fr. Jaki must be talking about metaphysical purpose. But this is out-of-scope of ID.

  42. Fr. Jaki:

    On no account should they espouse the fallacy of
    the “biblical” doctrine of the special creation of each
    species. This notion flies in the face of sound exegesis
    and sane theology. The shortcomings, often very serious, of Darwinian theory cannot be remedied with Intelligent Design theory, which philosophically cannot cope with design and purpose. Moreover, it is a subtle rehash of the doctrine of special creation. Even worse, as it claims to be a “scientific” theory of evolution

    Theology, exegesis and philosophy.

    These are beyond ID, and beyond me.

  43. http://www.ewtn.com/library/HUMANITY/EVOLUTN.TXT
    EVOLUTION: A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

    by James B. Stenson

    Catholic teachings*

    It comes as a surprise to many Catholics to learn how little the church
    teaches in this area–how few tenets are established as true beyond doubt,
    and therefore how much latitude is left to Catholics for their personal
    judgment. The Church has not been concerned with evolutionary questions
    as such, but rather with their possible implications for Catholic belief.

    The Church has maintained that the first three chapters of Genesis contain
    historical truth. Their inspired author used a popular literary form of
    his day to explain certain historical facts of Creation. These were named
    specifically by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, with the approval of
    Pope Pius X in 1909. The official document states that the literal
    historical meaning of the first three chapters of Genesis could not be
    doubted in regard to:

    “the creation of all things by God at the beginning of time; the
    special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the
    first man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness of our
    first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the
    command given by God to man to test his obedience; the transgression of
    the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a
    serpent; the degradation of our first parents from that primeval state
    of innocence; and the promise of a future redeemer.”

    Note that the Church says nothing definite about how, in specific detail,
    God created the world and its various forms of life, or how long any of
    this took. The only “special creation” mentioned is that of man, who is
    unique in having a spiritual immortal soul. In the Church’s eyes, Genesis
    deals with historical fact, not scientific process–with the *what* of
    creation, not the *how*.

    In 1950, Pope Pius XII addressed the question of man’s origins more
    specifically in his encyclical *Humani Generis*. With a few terse
    paragraphs, he set forth the Church’s position, which we may summarize as
    follows: 1. The question of the origin of man’s *body* from pre-
    existing and living matter is a legitimate matter of inquiry for
    natural science. Catholics are free to form their own opinions, but
    they should do so cautiously; they should not confuse fact with
    conjecture, and they should respect the Church’s right to define matters
    touching on Revelation. 2. Catholics must believe, however, that the
    human *soul* was created immediately by God. Since the soul is a
    spiritual substance it is not brought into being through transformation
    of matter, but directly by God, whence the special uniqueness of each
    person. 3. All men have descended from an individual, Adam, who has
    transmitted original sin to all mankind. Catholics may not, therefore,
    believe in “polygenism,” the scientific hypothesis that mankind
    descended from a group of original humans.

    So, from the Catholic point of view, the scientific questions of evolution
    are largely left open to debate. Evolutionary hypotheses which attempt to
    explain the development of living things may be accepted except where they
    conflict with these few explicit truths.

    [James B. Stenson, Headmaster of Northridge Preparatory School in Des
    Plaines, Illinois, is a specialist in the history of evolution science.]

    Catholic Position Papers
    Series A — Number 116
    March, 1984 — Japan Edition

  44. Janice, philosophy and logic is, or ought to be, at the very root or base or foundation of everything we do, including reasoning. That is what the word “fundamentum” means in Latin. If there is a disagreement, one needs to look at what exactly this disagreement is about. That is why the Scholastics, or the “logicians” of the Middle Ages went to a lot of trouble about “splitting hair”, or finding the root causes of disagreement. Historically, this problem is also at the root of Protestantism and that is why we today have up to 10,000 Christian denominations and sects. Take any theological issue – So who is ultimately correct? In this sense I think the Catholic theology is the most fundamental, the most rationaal, and that is, the most correct.

    Arguably, theology is the queen of “sciences”, it is important because it defines what we believe and why we believe it. Differences in theology are thus what divides us all. (In the widest sense an atheist has a theology too, even if very primitive.) I have a great respect for any honest religious person, I am glad whenever a person believes in God but in real life the problems is when the different theologies start clashing. And since theology is or ought to be “logical” (Theo-logos, or science about God), as people conforming to the same logic & rationality, we should be able to split the hair until we can find the problem of our misunderstanding.

    More about “fundamentalism” and “literal creationism” see my post 30 here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

  45. Thank you for that rockyr. I appreciate your willingness to take the time to respond to my request.

    In relation to YEC the disagreement most people have is that, as far as they can see, the evidence suggests that the earth is very old. They have that view because it is the authoritative view – the one professors at major universities have, the one that gets taught in universities and in schools and the one that is repeated ad nauseum in the mainstream media.

    All Galileo needed to satisfy the church was evidence that his position was correct. He didn’t have it. So he lost out to the Aristotelians whose view (via Aquinas) was the authoritative one.

    These days evidence that the authoritative view about the age of the earth is wrong need not be considered by university authorities. They have no obligation to defend their views to any Pope or other ecclesiastical leader. They can choose for themselves before which altar they will bow and what they choose is not to consider any evidence that goes against what they have already chosen to believe. It’s a whole different ball game in which those in authority refuse to “look at what exactly this disagreement is about” and cannot be compelled to do so.

    I think the Pope is working with what he has. He is being “as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove” within the tradition he has inherited and I respect his efforts. Indeed, I’m glad for those efforts. But what is more important to me personally is to believe God. I know of no good reason (and I have been following the arguments for nearly 30 years) why I shouldn’t believe that God began his creative work about 6,000 years ago as the Biblical record implies he did. I’m not dogmatic about that. Maybe it was about 10,000 years ago. But 4.5 billion years ago, on this earth? That just doesn’t compute. And I don’t care who the authority is who says so. I’d rather believe God. He is, after all, the ultimate authority.

  46. Janice, Why is it such big deal for the YEC Christian to insist on the Young Earth?

    Replying to: “I know of no good reason (and I have been following the arguments for nearly 30 years) why I shouldn’t believe that God began his creative work about 6,000 years ago as the Biblical record implies he did. I’m not dogmatic about that. Maybe it was about 10,000 years ago. But 4.5 billion years ago, on this earth? That just doesn’t compute. And I don’t care who the authority is who says so. I’d rather believe God. He is, after all, the ultimate authority.”

    If you are not dogmatic about +/- 4000 years, why are you also not open to a wider range, let’s say +/- 40,000 years? And by extension, why not 4.5 billion years? What difference does it really make? God, being outside time, as any decent theology must acknowledge, could speed up or slow down any natural processes, or our perception of them.

    Also, you say “I’d rather believe God”, and I assuming you mean the word of the Scriptures. BUT, and this is where the YEC problem lies, to a Christian the Bible is an inspired word of word, for sure, although it really depends on how you or your pastors or your scholars “interpret” the words in YOUR Bible. I hope you know the history of the Bible, that Genesis was transmitted for a long time only orally before it was written down by Jews, that many of these written Jewish scrolls disappeared even shortly after the death of Jesus, that St. Jerome, the “father” of the Christian Bible went to live in the cave in Jerusalem in the 4th century so that he could hunt down the available manuscripts, that he had to learn the language, etc. The bottom line is that what was originally revealed to the author (or authors) of Genesis, may not be exactly what we have today – the language was different then, the words, their meaning, the cultural context, changes and errors due to oral transmission, translations into a different language, etc. Today we have many modern translations of the Bible and they differ significantly – so which one is correct?

    One example — Do you “literally” (or for real) believe that Jonah was swallowed by a “whale”? If you do, you are mistaken — a whale cannot physically swallow a human being, not to mention to regurgitate him, so the word “whale” most likely meant something different. Better translations use something like “a great sea monster”, but that’s quite different from a whale, and implies all sorts of other thing in the interpretation. You can always say, ah but God could have made a miracle in Jonah’s case. But what if, in fact it wasn’t a whale at all? By such arguments you could justify anything false! In the link I provided, if you cared to read it, that is what the Catholics believe by good & valid “exegesis” of the Scriptures.

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