Cudworth, Dennis Venema’s Christian Darwinism is an alarming symptom – but only a symptom – of a much bigger problem
|September 8, 2011||Posted by O'Leary under Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science|
Here, Thomas Cudworth writes about the latest misrepresentation of design theory by BioLogos’s Dennis Venema, associate professor of Biology at Trinity Western University (one of Canada’s few evangelical Christian universities):
For him to speak and write publically about evolutionary theory without being aware of the mounting critique of Darwinian mechanism within the field is nothing less than intellectually irresponsible; and if he knows of this mounting critique, his suppression of it is nothing less than intellectually dishonest.
Strong words, but well justified. It’s one thing for a born-again, made-for-TV airhead to emit social noise like “Darwin helps me love Jesus better!” It’s another for a biology prof at a Christian university to misdirect his students and the public about the ferment in biology today. Eugene Koonin’s latest (free on Kindle) gives some sense of that: It
examines a broad range of topics in evolutionary biology including the inadequacy of natural selection and adaptation as the only or even the main mode of evolution; the key role of horizontal gene transfer in evolution and the consequent overhaul of the Tree of Life concept; the central, underappreciated evolutionary importance of viruses; the origin of eukaryotes as a result of endosymbiosis; the concomitant origin of cells and viruses on the primordial earth; universal dependences between genomic and molecular-phenomic variables; and the evolving landscape of constraints that shape the evolution of genomes and molecular phenomes.
Koonin is no friend of ID.
We can’t know why Venema shortchanges Christian students by promoting unbelievable beliefs instead of engaging facts, but he is a minor figure in a broad, and depressing, picture.
Christian universities are prone to the treachery of mediocrity. Central to the witness of far too many of them is born-again profs who sound just like materialist atheists, if you overlook the Jesus jaw. And most people do overlook the Jesus jaw, make no mistake.
These people impress Earnest Air TV hostesses, not the academy. That’s because materialist atheists are stuck with the failings of their faith. Darwin is a key but hardly lone example of that. Now mark what follows: Identified Christians, who are free to walk away, embrace the atheists’ flops and goofs, and their malign social programs, in a bid for respectability. My favourite example is, “See! We’re so broad-minded we have a prof here who’s an atheist!”
Excuse me. “Atheist” is not a job skill.
I had dinner with one of those types a few years ago. He was, it must be said, a complete ass, and I soon realized, no secular institution would have him. On their turf, he couldn’t score just by recounting his “deconversion” story. So he earned his living by providing a Christian institution with a cover of respectability.
One mustn’t be uncharitable here: The Christian institution was already adrift in an unnavigable swamp of mediocrity. The one strategy that might save them – to chart a genuinely different course from the materialist atheist-run institutions – was not possible. No one there had the intellect for such a program, let alone the courage. They were preoccupied with producing a “Christian” version of any given materialist enterprise. Their highest hope was to be accepted by people they could have dismissed. That hope is their legacy. And their epitaph.
See also: Memo to Dennis Venema: The Search for Darwin’s Christ is not a priority anywhere.
Venema’s vacuous arguments against ID
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