Home » Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science » Cudworth, Dennis Venema’s Christian Darwinism is an alarming symptom – but only a symptom – of a much bigger problem

Cudworth, Dennis Venema’s Christian Darwinism is an alarming symptom – but only a symptom – of a much bigger problem

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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10 Responses to Cudworth, Dennis Venema’s Christian Darwinism is an alarming symptom – but only a symptom – of a much bigger problem

  1. I agree there is a crisis here in the church and in Christian institutions. We have lost the battle because we no longer hold to God’s Word as the standard of truth. Once we give in on that point, there is no telling how far we will stray. Some stray far, others still remain close, but the gate has been opened and it is only a matter of time until there is a mass exodus from Christianity. There is nothing left to defend or stand for.

    For Venema, science trumps the Bible every time, no matter if that science is dealing with things of the past that cannot actually be observed or proven, no matter if that science is determined by naturalism, no matter yesterday’s science has long been discarded. Man’s evolutionary interpretation of nature trumps God’s Word of truth every day in Darwinland!

    I’m afraid that even some in the ID camp have fallen into the same trap, although fortunately, they haven’t strayed all that far yet, but what will happen to the next generation once the gates have been opened? I think we all know the answer.

  2. There’s a long history of science trumping religion, going back to Galileo. Nothing in science is ever proved. It’s all a matter of asking what is the best explanation for a phenomenon.

    The assumption of “naturalistic” explanations leads to specific research proposals. The assumption of extra-natural intervention does not suggest lines of research.

  3. “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.”

    How true. Take a look at Baylor, for example.

    Actually I think it has something to do with funding, and not wanting to look like “fundies.” IOW, having an air of respectability in the larger secular academic world. I call it the “fundie/funding dilemma.” :)

    I attended a Christian College (now University) that had a tendency to seek out professors who had some secular academic credentials. They ended up in one instance courting Tony Campolo in Sociology from the UofP. No friend of Darwin, though. So there is a way. Of course, I don’t really know if there aren’t any open Darwinists there, but perhaps some secret Darwinists.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if practically every Christian college has it’s secret Darwinist, just as practically every secular college has it’s open Christian.

    What’s really alarming though is the open Darwinist in a decidedly Evangelical college. This is the sort of practice that eventually causes a college to abandon it’s Christian roots. Then the foundation is lost and it becomes another secular college like all the others that have gone before: Princeton (Presbyterian), Yale (Congregationalist), Dartmouth (Puritan), to name a few. Well funded colleges to be sure, but not exactly Christian anymore. Some discernment is in order.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if practically every Christian college has it’s secret Darwinist, just as practically every secular college has it’s open Christian.

    I’m confused. Why would Darwinists have to hide their thoughts at a Christian college while Christians are allowed to be open at secular colleges? I’d think it would be the other way around if Expelled is correct.

  5. This is Casey Luskin’s first article, in a series of eight, that will thoroughly dismantle Venema’s supposed scientific evidence against Intelligent Design; (Of note, it still amazes me that anyone would have to actually, rigorously, defend against the absurd proposition that random mistakes, filtered through differential death, can generate functional information. Functional information that is found to be far, far, more complex than any computer program ever written by man.)

    Intelligent Design and the Origin of Biological Information: A Response to Dennis Venema
    Casey Luskin September 8, 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....50571.html

  6. Of related note to Venema:

    CMI has finally uploaded some videos from its ‘Super Creation Conference’. Of particular note is the video entitled, ‘Are All From Adam and Eve?’ by Dr. Carter, at the bottom of the list of videos after you click on the ‘Super Conference link,,,, In my opinion, Dr. Carter does an excellent job of completely dismantling Francis Collins and Dr. Venema’s claims,,,
    http://www.biblediscoverytv.com/

    Here is the related article, to the video, that will be a valuable resource for anybody dealing with TE’s:

    Human DNA points to historical Adam and Eve
    The Non-Mythical Adam and Eve! – Refuting errors by Francis Collins and BioLogos
    http://creation.com/historical-adam-biologos

  7. It might be an even bigger problem than that: http://theologicalsushi.blogsp.....ution.html

  8. College professors with secular academic credentials – truly alarming!

  9. This is Casey Luskin’s first article, in a series of eight, that will thoroughly dismantle Venema’s supposed scientific evidence against Intelligent Design; (Of note, it still amazes me that anyone would have to actually, rigorously, defend against the absurd proposition that random mistakes, filtered through differential death, can generate functional information. Functional information that is found to be far, far, more complex than any computer program ever written by man.)

    That’s pretty funny — the whole point of Luskin’s critique seems to be to *avoid* Venema’s main argument, which is that evolution can clearly produce new genes (and thus new functional information); therefore intelligence is not the only cause of “information”; therefore Meyer’s argument, which *explicitly* *completely* *depends* on the idea that intelligence is the ONLY cause of information, fails.

    If Luskin thought Venema was wrong about information, he would defend Meyer’s central premise, which is that ONLY intelligence can produce information. But instead, Luskin is dodging Venema’s fatal point by obfuscating that Meyer was “only talking about the origin of life”, even though Meyer’s argument clearly was not set up that way. Making this move abandon’s Meyer’s explicit original argument. Ooops.

  10. Well Nick, as usual your Darwinian blinders are preventing you from seeing the the light. For in this series of eight articles, that Luskin is in the process of posting in the near future, not only does Luskin make it clear that he is showing that Venema is attacking a strawman argument of his own making against Meyer, but Luskin also makes it clear that he will show where Venema’s case collapses in the argument Venema is actually making:

    Notes:

    Part 2 of 8

    Why Did One Theistic Evolutionist Part Ways with BioLogos?
    Excerpt: Venema’s arguments focus on the origin of information via Darwinian processes — after the origin of life. The arguments he makes, while missing the point of Meyer’s book, are relevant to many other ID claims. They are, for that reason, worth investigating.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....50621.html

    Part 3 of 8

    What Is a Proper Test of Intelligent Design?
    Excerpt: In subsequent responses to Dr. Venema, we’ll assess whether the empirical examples cited by Venema are actually within the “edge of evolution” and if they show, as he suggests, that natural selection and random mutation can produce “functional, information-rich genes and proteins.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....50631.html

    Stayed tuned Nick, who knows perhaps a little light will pierce the darkness after all. :)

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