Home » Expelled, Intelligent Design » Jeffrey Schloss, and Now Richard Weikart’s Reply to Him

Jeffrey Schloss, and Now Richard Weikart’s Reply to Him

Jeff Schloss, formerly an ID supporter and Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute (until August 2003 — click here for Way Back Machine), has since been distancing himself from ID and even going on the offensive against it. I witnessed the beginnings of this offensive at a symposium featuring Ron Numbers, Howard Van Till, Schloss, and me in 2007 at Grove City College (go here for the program). His criticisms of ID at that event seemed to me naive and ill-considered. Yet he did seem to advance them sincerely, and I hoped to have an opportunity try to persuade him otherwise, which unfortunately never happened.

Schloss’s critical review of EXPELLED, however, raised his opposition against ID to a new level and frankly upset me for what I perceived as its disingenuousness (the review appeared with official sanction of the American Scientific Affiliation [ASA] on its server here). By offering so many nuances and qualifications, his review missed the bigger picture that many ID propoents really are getting shafted. I confronted Jeff about this and we had an exchange of emails. As it is, Jeff and I go back and had been friends. He contributed to the MERE CREATION volume (1996) that I edited (his essay was a fine piece on altruism and the difficulties conventional evolutionary theory has in trying to account for it). I even had occasion to visit him in the hospital after he had a surfing accident. The exchange ended with my asking him to admit the following four points:

(1) ID raises important issues for science.
(2) Politics aside, ID proponents ought to get a fair hearing for their views, and they’re not.
(3) A climate of hostility toward ID pervades the academy, which often undermines freedom of thought and expression on this topic.
(4) That climate has led to ID proponents being shamefully treated, losing their reputations and jobs, and suffering real harm.

As it is, Schloss never got back to me. I suppose I could have responded to him on the ASA website — Randy Isaac, the executive director of the ASA, invited me, as an ASA member, to do so. But by putting Schloss’s review front and center as the official position of the ASA on EXPELLED, I saw little point of trying to argue for EXPELLED in that forum.

In any case, Richard Weikart has now responded to Schloss’s review on the most controversial aspect of EXPELLED, namely, the Nazi connection. Weikart’s response may be found by clicking here.

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186 Responses to Jeffrey Schloss, and Now Richard Weikart’s Reply to Him

  1. Perfect.
    Logical, historical, factual, measured, comprehensive ….

  2. Perfect.
    Logical, historical, factual, measured, comprehensive

    Who?
    Dembksi or Schloss?

  3. Weikart.

  4. It’s pretty hard to deny the influence Darwinism had on the 20th Century.

    And that it was a very bad influence.

  5. Wonderful piece by Weikart!

    In the insanity of the Sixties it was perceived that history was an enemy (it didn’t support the “agenda”), and now the trivializing of history has resulted in a couple of generations of naive innocents utterly ignorant of how we got to where we are. It is important we know both the good and the bad that has made our world.

    In school I loved science and math and found history difficult, but I can see that history is more important.

    History is Hebrew—it’s proper telling will preserve us, it’s dismissal will doom us—long live the Hebrew side of our civilization!

  6. I didn’t read all of the Weikart piece, but while I was reading it something stuck in my mind. Darwinism does lead to eugenics, not by purity of derivation but by association.

    The complaint often comes in the form that Eugenics and racism weren’t necessary fallout from Darwinism. To some degree this would be fine, were Science kept restrained to what it directly evidences.

    But it doesn’t.

    Today we are told that Global Warming is Science. Why? Do we have undeniable proof–flawless computer models, even? No, just that a lot of scientists believe that it is.
    We’re told that Science is only materialistic. Why? Has Science ever reduce all things to pure working parts? No, because, to some, it seems to be the way that technology works. (It’s not.)
    We’re told that theism is un-scientific. Why? Is it because we’ve come up with experiments that disprove God? No. It’s because higher education corresponds to a lower level of belief in masses. And some really snide scientific sounding guys don’t like it.

    If the moderns can everywhere argue that there is a mindset, though not purely derived from the evidence of scientific studies–more fitting to Science, then they are only engaged in special pleading: “Those trappings of Science were unnecessary–ours haven’t been proven wrong yet!”

    And because we don’t even know exactly what evolution is, it’s hard to say what’s a proper extensions and what we’ve used to fill in the blanks. But if we are now trying to push a culture of Science–a vogue of Science, then it is ridiculous to say that all evils must be a direct result of the Science.

    It’s ironic to think that none of this discussion matters to Science, doesn’t help clear up the questions on evolution with all the filler is what determines how “scientific” you are and whether or not your a waste of space in Larry Moran’s classroom or in any academic department somewhere. For the most part it’s even about teaching bored kids who anyone could doubt are 1) going to get just the facts, or 2) care more about the strict facts than achieving status by adopting popular behaviors.

    Eventually, it is this mixing of Science and politics that has us all here.

  7. Also, don’t we have this new principle that Science is whatever scientists do? So if scientists are racist eugenicists, that’s Science.

    It’s hard to imagine all that Darwinism would be under the same model, except it’s what Darwinists do. If Darwinist practice racist eugenics, then I guess that’s what Darwinism is.

    Or is it only recently that Science is what scientists do? In that case it doesn’t have very long coattails. While they argue that methodological materialism goes back to Newton, they can’t possibly argue the same thing for the self-definition idea, because it doesn’t extend to past the 1920s. Accepting both makes for a baroque rationale.

  8. I think that in the end the safest thing to say is that if Darwinism does not lead to racism, it at least provides an excuse for it. Religion may have been used to justify ethnocentrism as well, but the essential lesson is that Darwinists are every bit as fallible as anyone else- a reality people like Dawkins seem to reject.

  9. You have Christianity which tells you to love your neighbor and pray for your enemies and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    And still people have used this rather clear-cut system of values to justify oppression and cruelty.

    And then you have Darwinism that teaches we are not intrinsically different than animals (and plants) and that it is proper for the strong to survive at the expense of the weak.

    And when slaughter not seen since the end of the pagan era occurs after the widespread adoption of Darwinism, why do some insist that Darwinism has nothing to do with it?

  10. tribune7 wrote:

    And when slaughter not seen since the end of the pagan era occurs after the widespread adoption of Darwinism

    I’m with you that Darwinism is no good in what it does to ethics, but I think my slaughtered West Indian ancestors might feel differently about your last point…

    Unless you want to consider the Conquistador Spanish kingdoms pagan, which I’m fine with.

  11. but I think my slaughtered West Indian ancestors might feel differently about your last point…

    I dunno. If your slaughtered West Indian ancestors were Arawaks they’d probably hold a bigger grudge against the Caribs. Or smallpox if they understood what it was.

    If Caribs, well take comfort in that their legacy lives with the word “cannibal”.

  12. Try Taino…nearly annihilated every last one of them from my island.

    Not to mention the West Africans that were thrown in the ocean or murdered in the plantations who were brought in to replace the Taino once they had been killed off (for the most part.)

    I do agree that disease was the main killer of the Amerindians (the studies on the epidemics that followed European contact are saddening and incredible), but the hacienda/plantation/encomienda systems of the Spanish took a toll that is every bit as disgusting as the Holocaust. Again, ask the Taino…or the Carib…or the Arawak…or the Mexica…or the Maya…or take your pick.

  13. And by the way, the Caribs didn’t destroy the Arawak peoples or the Taino group…they made war with them, yes, but didn’t annihilate them or their culture.

    So I doubt you are the person to judge who they’d hold a bigger grudge against.

  14. Try Taino

    They’d hold a bigger grudge against the Caribs too.

    And by the way, the Caribs didn’t destroy the Arawak peoples or the Taino group…

    They didn’t have smallpox

    I do agree that disease was the main killer of the Amerindians (the studies on the epidemics that followed European contact are saddening and incredible), but the hacienda/plantation/encomienda systems of the Spanish took a toll that is every bit as disgusting as the Holocaust.

    If the Spanish wanted the Indians as slaves, and if it was not their desire to wipe them out via disease or other means, how could you compare what happened to them to the Holocaust or the Ukraine famine which were premeditated attempts to wipe out whole peoples as in seem them all die?

    BTW, this is not a defense of the Spaniards. It’s just pointing out that as bad as they were they did not come close to what occurred post-Darwin, or even among contemporaneous pagans such as the Caribs & the Aztecs.

  15. tribune7,

    Please don’t just guess at who you think they’d have a bigger grudge against…while you may think you’re being cute, you’re talking about my ancestors and it is actually very offensive. It would be like me telling a person who had family murdered in the Holocaust: “I bet they held a bigger grudge against the Castilians…” These aren’t characters in some history book, this is my family.

    Your comment that the Carib didn’t have smallpox only holds relevance on one end (population reduction)…smallpox doesn’t destory culture and language, so it doesn’t affect my point that the Carib never eliminated the Taino as a whole or their way of life.

    The Spanish wanted the wealth, the slaves were only a means to getting the wealth of the Americas. They cared nothing about the slaves or the indians. Do a quick wikipedia search on spanish colonization or the conquest of the americas. I’m not making this stuff up. They would mutilate or murder those who couldn’t produce enough gold to ransom themselves, as they expected each Native to produce a set amount of gold.

    According to eyewitness accounts of the time, hundreds of thousands (low estimate) to millions were killed in the mines, plantations and haciendas. Those who weren’t killed were raped and tortured. (See Friar Bartholomew De Las Casas’ firsthand accounts, for example. Again, this isn’t just my opinion, it is doecumented history.)

    You should read some books on the topic: “1491″, “The Open Veins of Latin America”, etc. You’ll learn about what you’re so glibly dicussing.

    The First Nations peoples will tell you themselves who they hold the bigger grudge against. And I’ll give you a hint, it ain’t other Amerindian groups.

  16. tribune7 wrote:

    It’s just pointing out that as bad as they were they did not come close to what occurred post-Darwin

    So 500 years of Holocaust isn’t as bad as 50 years?

  17. 17

    So what are Schloss’ views now on evolution? Is he a theistic evolutionist? I ask this because I noticed that he taught (or now teaches?) at Westmont College, which is a very conservative Christian College in Santa Barbara California. Or has he reverted back to Creationism?

    JJCassidy stated: “The complaint often comes in the form that Eugenics and racism weren’t necessary fallout from Darwinism. To some degree this would be fine, were Science kept restrained to what it directly evidences.”

    It seems to me that science (as it is generally practiced today) doesn’t start with science, and neither does it end with it. It begins with the human (frailty?) of either wanting to know something more precisely, or from wanting to seem as though one wants to know something more precisely. It may be different from person to person.

    But the point is that methodological naturalism seems to be more philosophy than science, and yet, this is what most scientists today seem to believe is the basic foundation of doing science.

    I’ve heard it said that scientists make poor philosophers. It appears that many scientists see themselves as practicing something that comes purely from the scientific method. Yet if that is true, and they are still founded upon methodological naturalism, then apparently they either don’t know how to separate the science from the philosophy, or they willfully ignore their own philosophical assumptions when doing “science.”

    It’s no wonder then, that when they apply “science” to make a more perfect world (such as in eugenics), any moral implication is seen as not a part of what they do as scientists.

    Someone mentioned Global Warming (now more popularly known as Climate Change, and formerly known as global cooling – and on and on we go). Well isn’t the issue of climate change a moral one for even the scientist? What then gives the scientist the “moral” grounds to dismiss philosophical questions when doing science, if the reasons for doing science in the first place is to know something more precisely in order to more perfect conditions in the world?

    It is no surprise to me then, that we have philosophers who know a lot about science, becoming believers in a God – seeing the limits of methodological naturalism, and going where the evidence leads (as in Antony Flew).

    The theist understands that not only does belief in God hold a moral key to who we are and what our purpose is, but it also apparently holds the key for the intricacies we see in the natural universe. Dismiss it if you will on “scientific” grounds, but understand that such dismissal comes from misguided philosophical assumptions.

    Anyone, therefore, is capable of misusing science to further philosophical agendas, and deny that they are doing so.

  18. (See Friar Bartholomew De Las Casas’ firsthand accounts, for example. Again, this isn’t just my opinion, it is doecumented history.)

    Researchers today doubt Las Casas’s figures for the pre-contact levels of the Taíno population, considering them an exaggeration. . .Scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the American natives.

    To get to the point, there are those who claim Christianity not just fails to mitigate evil but encourages it. Do you agree with them?

    If you ever get a chance see the movie The End of the Spear

    I suspect that pre-Columbian life was pretty much like that.

  19. Schloss’ criticisms don’t seem even half as naive and ill-conceived as the idea that ID will gain wider acceptance by arguing that Darwinian theory was a necessary factor in the holocaust.

    I used to think the major obstacle to getting ID more widely accepted in the science community was its close association with young earth creationism. But you know, at least young earth creationists use scientific arguments to make their case that the creation account in Genesis is how it really happened. Even when I don’t agree with the arguments at all, which is most of the time, it’s still at least an attempt to keep the focus on science and I can respect that.

    This Darwin/Nazi stuff is pure politics and exceedingly bad politics at that. It’s turning off those who might otherwise have given us a serious hearing like nothing else I’ve seen. Words fail me in describing how ill-conceived it is to associate this with intelligent design.

  20. History can be considered science and is no less politics than Global Warming; a UD non-ID favourite.

  21. CannuckianYankee: To see where Schloss stands now, go to

    http://www.issr.org.uk/id-statement.asp

  22. “Why can’t a good philosophical argument count against the alleged deliverances of “science”?”

    Because science is based on evidence. You may be able to come up with a good philosophical argument to say how many teeth a horse has, but a biologist can actually go out and count the teeth. The biologist will have evidence and you won’t, and I’m afraid that’s why your good philosophical arguments don’t count against the actual deliverances of science.

  23. Lol!
    The Yoko Ono of philosophy –
    Well said, Frank Beckwith.

  24. For the most part, Schloss’s commentary is less of a movie review and more of an apologia for theistic evolution. In his judgment, the movie wasn’t fair because evolution doesn’t necessarily lead to atheism. To make that point, one gathers, the producers should have included those “evolutionists” who also believe in God, meaning, of course, the theistic evolutionists.

    But how would that have helped? Aren’t theistic evolutionists simply Christian Darwinists? Do they not agree with the Darwinist agenda that ID scientists should be expelled from the academy? Do they not participate with Darwinists in the enforcement of methodological naturalism, which is the academy’s way of justifying the expulsion? Of what significance is their lip service to theism when their Darwinist ideology calls all the shots? What good is personal piety if it translates into professional atheism?

    Also, Schloss insists that the Movie doesn’t define ID sufficiently. Well, no, it doesn’t. It is trying to dramatize the fact of persecution, and there is no reason to deviate from that theme. You don’t move people or mobilize a group effort by making fine shades of distinction. Anyone who sees the machine-like bits in a DNA molecule gets it; nothing else is needed. In any case, ID has already defined itself very well. Unlike Darwinists, who go around using weasel words like “evolution,” which can mean anything to anybody, ID puts it on the line by offering precise terms and logical arguments. William Dembski and Michael Behe have not been persecuted for being ambiguous; they have been persecuted for being exact.

    To me, Shloss is at his most comical when he criticizes Ben Stein for saying, “either we were designed or we were an accident.” Like the typical TE, he wants to have it both ways and characterize us as a “designed accident.” But no, a thing cannot be and not be at the same time and under the same formal circumstances. Of course, it is possible that God designed evolution, but then that would be design now, wouldn’t it? Of course, that is the very thing that the TE’s sensibilities will not allow—design. So, to fool the public (and themselves) they use the rhetoric of design even as they argue for non-design.

    Finally, Schloss resorts to the well-tested, “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” ploy. If ID is to tear down walls, he insists, it must stop polarizing the two sides. Oh, I get it. The victims of exclusion and slander should learn to be more inclusive and magnanimous. Well, sorry, but Ghandi-like passivity has not been known to work well under Nazi—like oppression. But the irony doesn’t end there. On the one hand Schloss admits that that “it is suicide” to posit intelligent design in an academic setting, on the other hand, he questions the testimony of those who did committed suicide and are now dead in their careers. Oh, well, the man does write well.

  25. 25
    CannuckianYankee

    William Dembski: “CannuckianYankee: To see where Schloss stands now, go to

    http://www.issr.org.uk/id-statement.asp

    Thanks for the link. I appreciated the fact that the statement separates Biblical Creationism from Intelligent Design. I sensed, though, that theistic evolutionists do just as their atheistic Darwinist counterparts do, and that is to elevate a philosophy of methodological naturalism as science, and as such, leave out any place in science for Intelligent Design, which leaves open philosophical assumptions, while looking at the evidence.

    Dr. Dembski, I am not a scientist, so it really is not my place to determine what is and what is not science based on current scientific thinking. I am, however, well read, and can think logically, and I cannot fathom how naturalists come to equate a philosophical assumption with science. I know the history of how this happened from Hume and beyond, but it appalls me that many naturalists do not grasp the philosophical history behind their thinking.

    I think that it behooves ID theorists to continue to recognize that the enemy is methodological naturalism, the basis for Darwinistic thinking in the first place. Phillip Johnson I believe argued this very well in “Darwin On Trial.”

  26. The idea that ideas don’t have consequences has consequences.

    And it seems to me that “the idea that ID will gain wider acceptance by arguing that Darwinian theory was a necessary factor in the holocaust” is not Ben Stein’s and not Richard Weikart’s idea. Right or wrong it’s the truth they’re after!

    If what we want is acceptance we should all be TEs.

  27. To see where Schloss stands now, go to http://www.issr.org.uk/id-statement.asp

    From the ISSR ID statement:

    In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it [ID] has not provided examples of “irreducible complexity” in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be “irreducibly complex” today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

    This ISSR group is apparently a collection of clowns who have never checked anything for themselves, and just swallow anti-ID drivel completely uncritically.

    Research has led to the conclusion that the vertebrate eye can be readily understood as a product of natural selection? Just which research is this? Oh yes, now I remember: First you start with a light-sensitive spot, then you get a concave cup, then you get a lens — that research. Or perhaps it’s the research that resulted in the famous “evolution of the eye” computer simulation that Dawkins talks about but that never existed.

    ID has not provided examples of “irreducible complexity” in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes? Which scientifically understood processes are these? Oh yes, now I remember: Ken Miller has explained it all by redefining IC as the fact that none of the parts can serve other functions and then talking about a homologous protein. Or perhaps it’s that “scientifically understood process” called co-option or exaptation which scientifically explains it all with: First you get a bunch of parts that have other functions but that just happen to be compatible with each other to serve another function when they accidentally get assembled by a bunch of assembly instructions that happen by accident. I almost forgot about that scientifically understood process.

  28. Probably this powerful example from the University of Delaware, which conclusively shows that the mousetrap evolved via RM+NS.

    Drat! Darwin was right. This scientifically proves it and explains all of biology.

  29. tribune7 wrote:

    Researchers today doubt Las Casas’s figures for the pre-contact levels of the Taíno population, considering them an exaggeration. . .Scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the American natives.

    Scholars have estimated low numbers for decades, even though all first hand accounts recorded high numbers. The scholars thought that it was impossible that so many people could have died in so short a period of time, even though the Americas are literally littered with cities and all first hand accounts record how populated the land masses were. In North America, it was said that prior to Invasion boats had trouble finding spots on the coast to land, since the entire coastline was inhabited with indigenous peoples.

    That scholarship has recently undergone revision and discoveries have shed light on the true numbers of people living in the Americas. For example, pottery mounds (basically old school trash heaps) found in obscure cities have been found to be larger than those of ancient Rome. Meaning the population size was probably as big, if not bigger.

    Tenochitlan (Mexico City) was actually the biggest city on the planet when the Spanish arrived, more populated than London or Paris.

    So anyway, your “scholarship” is a couple decades outdated. “1491″ by Charles Mann gives a good overwiew of the current state of the scholarship, including going over Bartholomew de las Casas’ accounts and the controversy surrounding them. It is one thing to say the eyewitnesses probably “exaggerated”, but you have to back that up with evidence. Scholars say eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection were exaggerated as well. I’ll stick with the people who were actually there.

    Speaking of which, have you ever been to Tenochitlan? Cuzco? Chincha (the black capital of Peru, home of the El Carmen plantation)? Aguadilla (where the last of the Taino sought refuge from the Spanish and were hunted down…my family hometown)? To the Taino center at Tibes? La Paz in Bolivia? To Argentina, where the indigenous population was wiped out to a degree not seen in the surrounding countries (lowest indigenous and meztizo population in the Americas)? Oaxaca? Chipas? Merida?

    Have to seen Ollantaytambo, the city the Inca were building when the Spanish arrived? Have you talked with the remnant of these Amerindian groups and found out how colonization affected them and their ancestors?

    Which books have you read on pre-colombian civilization and the Amerindian Holocaust?

    End of the Spear? Come on, the majority of Amerindians (by population) lived in cities. Cities like Chan Chan, Cahokia, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, etc. The hunter gatherer image of pre-colombian indian life is an outdated hollywood idea based on contact with some of the tribes that did not live in cities. This would be like a traveller visiting hillbilly mountain folk and concluding that North Americans as a whole were really backwards people without running water or basic math skills.

    Until you’ve done even some of these things, you’re really not in a place to debate me on these issues. You are free to debate, but I know that you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve been to these places and seen the effects of Colonization. I’ve talked with these people and I can tell you who they hold grudges against. It changed my way of thinking real quick. (I was a right-wing Republican at the time, and thought what happened wasn’t that bad, the people were cannibals and probably deserved it, etc.) Seeing the reality (being confronted with it actually, it was not something I went out looking for) set me straight real quick. Needless to say, it does tick me off when I see people denying the suffering that took place and still continues to this day in places like Peru and the Mexico.

  30. I have just read Weikart’s response.

    Jeffrey Schloss is an embarrassment to scientists who claim to be Christians and part of the ongoing disgrace of the American Scientific Affiliation.

    His scholarship is unbelievably poor.

    But, of course, anyone who attempts to deny that Hitler was influenced by the Darwinism of his day would have to sign on to poor scholarship just for starters.

    It is one thing for a group of Christians in science to disavow young earth creationism on insufficient evidence, but quite another to deny design in nature and suck up* to atheistic materialists.

    = Hey! Guess what! The atheistic materialists as worried about design as we are! They have the courage of their convictions but we don’t. Still, they and we are friends, and whoop, whoop, they have invited us to coffee! So we are no longer scum, like the ID theorists.

    Any serious scientist who belongs to such an organization had better have a plan for rescuing it.

  31. Mods,

    sorry for discussing politics here, but the comment was made to imply that the whole 500 year period of death and slavery for blacks and Native Americans never happened or somehow wasn’t as bad as the 50 years or so of Holocaust that happened to the Jews in Europe. My people dying in forced labor camps, plantations and mines, are every bit as horrible as Jews dying in German forced labor camps. More Natives died, the time period was an order of magnitude longer, and the different groups affected were more in number…any way you look at it, the tragedy was as bad if not worse. Anyway, Darwinism does lead to a dire view of human worth, but so did (pre-Darwinist) racism.

    But I’m willing to drop it. I would just like tribune7 to stop guessing at who my slaughtered ancestors would dislike more.

  32. Dave, I don’t think you’re appreciating the sheer weight of my argument. It’s not about Darwinism -> NAZI-ism necessarily.

    That’s just one of the possible outcomes when combined with modern materialistic propaganda. One of the ideas central to this conflict is that Darwinism–or learning Darwinism–promotes the social good, the Council of Europe argued as much.

    Is this a direct implication of the scientific implications Darwin’s theory or an interpretation? If you are arguing for a auxiliary effect as an affect of Darwinism, then you cannot simultaneously use the fig leaf that racism wasn’t a central result as well.

    The entire argument of the opposition is rendered inconsistent or invalid. (Including all the chiding about “Dark Age” thinking, or getting with the times…)

    I’m trusting that you know enough about math and logic to know invalidating something does not imply anything else has been validated, unless that alternative makes up the entire complement of the possibilities.

    I’ve shown the methodological problem of the progressive position.

  33. Denyse,

    You’re terrific. I just slogged through the first half of Schloss—somebody should deal with the way he disses Crocker, Sternberg, and Gonzalez. Did the movie misrepresent their cases? If Schloss is as bad here as he is with Weikart, then Crocker, Sternberg, and Gonzalez deserve to have their reputations defended.

  34. Atom — So anyway, your “scholarship” is a couple decades

    It’s not “my” scholarship. It’s a link to Wiki and there is no reason to think that it doesn’t reflect the best and most up to date understanding of events.

    Granted, consensus doesn’t mean “truth” but neither does an appeal to a favored authority that perhaps reflects what you want to believe.

    Note– the Wiki version would follow the logic of plantation imperialism. It was clearly understood by the conquerors that it was undesirable to see their labor force die off. This should be obvious to you since the importation of black slaves began after the Indians died.

    Um, with regard to your appeal to the mods, why do you distort my arguments? In what post did I “imply” that the whole 500 year period of death and slavery for blacks and Native Americans never happened?

    And the second clause in your sentence indicates a grave ignorance of history. The Holocaust was not “50 years or so”. The mass murder of Jews did not start until 1939 and the Final Solution did not begin until 1942. The end in either case came in 1945 with the defeat of Hitler.

    You seem to be unable to comprehend the uniqueness of what happened in 20th century Europe.

  35. tribune7 wrote:

    And the second clause in your sentence indicates a grave ignorance of history. The Holocaust was not “50 years or so”. The mass murder of Jews did not start until 1939 and the Final Solution did not begin until 1942. The end in either case came in 1945 with the defeat of Hitler.

    For my “grave ignorance of history”, I was approximating not just the time of the German Holocaust, but of the “Darwinist atrocities” you mentioned…I was tyring to be generous and estimate 50 years of the 20th century were spent in genocide, the Jews being the primary example.

    I was going to say 10 years, but I didn’t want you to think I was underplaying the extent of carnage that took place, so 50 years sounded like a good estimate to me. Sorry if I didn’t make my reasoning clear.

    I’m not speaking from authority (though the current scholarship agrees with me), I’m speaking from firsthand observations I’ve made in Latin America and the Caribbean (13 different countries, hundreds of cities and regions.) Have you done the same?

    As you’ve ducked all my questions and are clinging to the hope that Wikipedia is the state of the art scholoarship at the moment (on a politically contentious topic such as the Conquista, nonetheless), I’ll let you off the hook. Obviously you didn’t mean to get in over your head and I don’t want to cause ill will on the board. But do take some time to read up on the subject before you ever argue it with another person.

    The implication was from the following statement of yours:

    And when slaughter not seen since the end of the pagan era occurs after the widespread adoption of Darwinism

    You missed out on the entire Black and Indigenous Holocaust by the statement, implying either it didn’t take place or that it somehow it wasn’t as bad as what happened in the *10* years you informed me you were speaking of.

  36. Atom –I would just like tribune7 to stop guessing at who my slaughtered ancestors would dislike more.

    And why would your guess as to whom your slaughtered ancestors would dislike more have greater merit than mine?

    You are just as far away from this culturally as me.

  37. I’m speaking from firsthand observations I’ve made in Latin America and the Caribbean (13 different countries, hundreds of cities and regions.)

    And you found persons who were Indians. Now, go to Poland and find someone who is Jewish.

  38. tribune7 wrote:

    And why would your guess as to whom your slaughtered ancestors would dislike more have greater merit than mine

    I was talking about my family (Taino descendants maternally, African descendents paternally) and who WE hold a grudge against for what happened. I’m also speaking of the passed down stories, recorded histories and current indigenous and black attitudes about the 500 year holocaust. So yeah, I think I may have a little bit more insight than you think into the situation.

    Culturally, we are not looking at it from the same place. Unless you’re really a Native with strong Native identity who has traveled extensively throughout the Americas investigating what occurred and following this up with historical research on the topic.

  39. tribune7 wrote:

    And you found persons who were Indians. Now, go to Poland and find someone who is Jewish.

    And ask them what? Who they hold a bigger grudge against, the Germans or the Spaniards that expelled them in 1492?

    I have no problem admitting the atrocity that took place in Europe against the Jews. I’m only arguing that their 10 years of misery and death and forced labor and genocide happened in the Americas for 500 years, to more people and in more places. I’m willing to call them equal atrocities, being generous to the European Jews.

  40. And when slaughter not seen since the end of the pagan era occurs after the widespread adoption of Darwinism . . .You missed out on the entire Black and Indigenous Holocaust by the statement, implying either it didn’t take place or that it somehow it wasn’t as bad as what happened in the *10* years you informed me you were speaking of.

    You have it backwards. The death toll of (all) Amerindians is estimated at between 13.7 and 20 million (per Wiki, feel free to find another source) over 500 years. That’s 40,000 per year (high estimate) due to contact with Europeans (and leaving out that the vast majority of those deaths were due to inadvertent exposure to disease).

    The toll from Hitler’s democides ranged from 15.4 to 21 million most of which occurred between 1939 and 1945 or about 2.5 million deaths per year (low estimate) almost all of which were deliberate.

    So yes. I stand by my claim that what Hitler did was worse.

  41. Now, go to Poland and find someone who is Jewish. . . And ask them what?

    You REALLY missed that point too.

  42. tribune7, for your estimates of Native populations:

    from 1491 (p. 104):
    (Discussing the outdated original inhabitant estimates, which could be the source of some of the Wikipedia estimates):

    Alfred L. Kroeber, the renowned Berke;ey anthropologist, built upon Mooney’s work in the 1930′s. Kroeber cut back the tally still further, to 900,000 – a population density of less than one person for every six square miles. Just 8.4 million Indians, Kroeber suggested, had lived in the entire hemisphere.

    Later studies, however, would show that those “low numbers” (the ones I alluded to in earlier posts) were dramatically wrong:

    When Columbus landed, Cook and Borah concluded, the Central Mexican plateau alone had a population of 25.2 million. By contrast, Spain and Portugal together had fewer than ten million inhabitants. Central Mexico, they said, was the most densley populated place on earth, with more than twice as many people per square mile than China or India.

    from 1491 (p. 109):

    Between the visits of De Soto and La Salle, according to Timothy K. Perttula, an archeologist consultant in Austin, Texas, the Cadoan population fell from about 200,000 to about 8,500 – a drop of nearly 96 percent. In the eighteenth century, the tally shrank further, to 1,400 And equivalent loss today would reduce the population of New York City to 56,000, not enough to fill Yankee Stadium. “That’s one reason whites think of Indians as nomadic hunters, ” Russell Thornton, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, said to me. “Everything else – all the heavily populated urbanized societies – was wiped out.”

    Disease was the main killer of Amerindians, I never argued otherwise, and together with the slavery and outright murder the populations dropped by 95%. Imagine, 95 out of every 100 people dead in the end. Either way, the Americas were way more populated than wikipedia suggests and the death toll much higher than 20 million. If you take the 25 million people living around Mexico City alone and kill of 90% of them, you have a death toll of 22 million.

    So the Wikipedia numbers are outdated and wrong.

    Let me lay out my points very clearly:

    1) The Americas were extremely populated, with most people living in cities.

    2) Greater than 90% of the population was killed by disease and murder.

    3) The remnant were put into labor camps, raped, and had their possessions and lands confiscated.

    4) The cultures of these people were largely wiped out in some areas and some distinct groupd so peopels (such as West Indian groups) were basically wiped out (not counting ine intermarriage or few who escaped. The people as a distinct unit, however, were gone.)

    5) This pattern of death, forced labor and robbery continued for 500 years.

    6) This is a Holocaust of proportions dwarfing that of the European Holocaust, with tortures rivaling or surpassing that of the Nazis.

    7) I don’t think it matters that more Indians or balck were killed, an atrocity is an atrocity. Just because 5 or 500 more people were killed doesn’t make it any less (or more) horrific. Both were large scale slaughters.

    So yeah, read some books on the subject, don’t just go by wikipedia. (You should know this dealing with ID.) I suggest “1491″ and “The Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galleano to start with. Also consider taking a trip to South America, Chiapas/Oaxaca or the Caribbean, so you can do your own research into what occurred. Again, let’s not overlook what happened here.

  43. groupd so peopels = *groups of peoples

    ine = *the (don’t ask me how that happened!)

  44. tribune7 wrote:

    Now, go to Poland and find someone who is Jewish.

    I see, so you’re implying there aren’t any Jews living in Poland? Could be true, I haven’t been to Poland. But I can reply (if we’re playing the Country game) go to Argentina and find someone who is Indian. Or Puerto Rico, and find a full-blooded Taino.

    I did miss your point, but it wasn’t much to miss.

  45. I guess there are some Jews in Poland:

    Most of the country’s Jews live in Warsaw, the capital, but there are also communities in Krakow, Lodz, Szczecin, Gdansk, and in several cities in Upper and Lower Silesia, notably in Katowice and Wroclaw. In the last few years, there has been a reawakening of Jewish consciousness. Young people of Jewish origin who had no Jewish knowledge are joining the community.

    http://info-poland.buffalo.edu...../jer.shtml

    It says 85% of Polish Jewery were wiped out. This is horrific and saddening. It’s also why we must never forget or overlook what happened. (Either there or in the Americas)

  46. I Googled Galleano and it looks like he’s a hardcore leftist, maybe even a communist.

    Most of those I have known in academia (going back to high school) who took dogmatically took the position “Europeans always bad/Natives always good” were less interested in the truth than in advancing a political agenda.

    I don’t think you would be in that category but if Galleano writes for The Nation, he would certainly fall into it and so I would not trust him as an authority.

    “1491″ looks like an interesting book and I will make plans to read it.

    Something you might find of interest would be European history. Before Christ, human sacrifice and cannibalism were not uncommon in northern Europe. After Rome fell, the land was basically ruled by warlords, very tough, shrewd illiterate men, the most successful of which begat Europe’s royal houses.

    We would not approve of their jurisprudence nor their respect for civil rights, nor their treatment of the conquered who were often slaughtered (see Harrying of the North) or became the quasi-slave peasants & serfs.

    Nonetheless, Christianity was a powerful moderating influence and, after the fighting, it did manage to make things better for the losers.

    And the same thing happened in the Caribbean (and other parts of the Western Hemisphere).

    And I’m not saying there wasn’t abuse and oppression and acts of unpunished murder by powerful persons, but there still was a basic respect for the humanity of the conquered i.e. nobody ever wiped out (or tried to) all the blacks and Indians in the Caribbean off the face of the Earth.

    The difference is that in the 20th Century murder became an instrument of state fully justified by a system of ethics.

  47. Atom– I guess there are some Jews in Poland:

    There were about 3.3 million Jews in Poland in 1939.

    In 1989, only 5,000–10,000 Jews remained in the country.

  48. Atom:

    groupd so peopels = *groups of peoples

    Or you could just call them “grouples”.
    :D

  49. Guys, racism is a distraction. Pre-Darwinian racism is about racial purity, racial isolation. Occasionally, it’s about war or the balance of power and thinning the odds–especially if the Spaniards did any of the genocide with intention.

    Gobineau, mentioned in Schloss and Weikart’s conversation actually wanted Arayans to stay away from empire-building (i.e. putting the beat down on other nations) because empire-building brought you into inevitable contact with other stocks of people, because you then had to manage them.

    Only with Darwin did extermination become advancement of the species and death improvement of the race. And death-as-a-value is a direct result of the theory. The arrival of better genes is a crap shoot, but it’s only when the inferior start dying off does it become a standard in the gene pool.

  50. Only with Darwin did extermination become advancement of the species and death improvement of the race. And death-as-a-value is a direct result of the theory.

    I’ll go with that.

  51. Denyse

    Jeffrey Schloss is an embarrassment to scientists who claim to be Christians and part of the ongoing disgrace of the American Scientific Affiliation.

    His scholarship is unbelievably poor.

    Maybe you could write an article titled “Former Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute Demonstrates Unbelievably Poor Scholarship that is an Embarrassment to Christian Scientists.”

    Or maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea. What do you think?

  52. Good point, Dave.

    But nobody is saying that Dawkins can’t do zoology simply because he can’t handle subjects outside of science too well.

    Meanwhile, Denyse seemed to be talking about Schloss’ role in the Weikart discussion.

  53. jjcassidy

    Only with Darwin did extermination become advancement of the species and death improvement of the race.

    That is a fallacy and Schloss rightly pointed it out. It was well known and practiced in animal husbandry long before Darwin came along. Darwin’s only real significant contribution to science was coming up with the notion that the well known principles of artifical selection to improve breeds of animals had a working corrolary in nature which he termend natural selection and further that natural selection operating over millions of years led to the emergence of new species.

    I made the exact same argument that Schloss made months ago. It’s painfully obvious to anyone who hasn’t made it a mission in life to demonize Charles Darwin.

    In point of fact Darwin was right that new species come about in this manner. The mistake is in thinking that the same mechanism which can cause new species to emerge can account for all of phylogeny. It’s an unjustified extrapolation. Mike Behe in the “Edge of Evolution” explains this very well and tentatively puts the limit of Darwinian evolution’s capacity for change somewhere between class and family IIRC.

  54. jjcassidy

    Meanwhile, Denyse seemed to be talking about Schloss’ role in the Weikart discussion.

    It doesn’t matter. You simply don’t go around calling former executives at your firm incompetents as it raises questions such as:

    o Who’s the incompetent who hired the incompetent?

    o Are there other examples of such incompetents still working there?

    Criticisms of people your firm once considered good enough to put in a senior capacity should be undertaken with the utmost diplomacy and couched in terms that don’t reflect poorly on the judgement of people still at the firm.

  55. I have to agree with DaveScot on this last point.

  56. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Darwinian evolution was a neccessary factor in the holocaust and it’s right for us to point this out.

    Our opponents often argue that ID is a neccessary factor in the establishment of a theocracy and it’s right of them to point this out.

    We validate their tactics by engaging in the same tactics ourselves.

  57. A truthful investigation of history does not validate unwarranted speculations about the future.

    DaveScot, at the risk of making your list, I recommend you apply the logic of your comment at #55 to your continually questioning your blog host’s judgment.

    Maybe once per thread is enough?

  58. Maybe once per thread is enough?

    It’s indeed not Dave who brings up the chain Materialism –> Darwinism –> Atheism –> Nazism –> Holocaust in every second thread.

  59. Dave:

    It doesn’t matter. You simply don’t go around calling former executives at your firm incompetents

    I did say “Good point.” It was not sarcastic. I was just pointing out the context of Denyse’s comment.

    As for the other point, explain to me how ID becomes theocracy. The theoretical “ID could cause theocracy” should never trump actual occurrence “Darwinism inspired Third Reich genocide” (which you granted for the sake of argument). No doubt that a number of ID opponents believe the former without as much evidence as the latter.

    We’ve had theocracies to learn from. The awesome thing about the secular Darwinian states is that humanity has never seen such efficiency of liquidating humans as in the 20th century materialist regimes. In spans of as little as 20 years, they put up numbers that put them in the all time top 10.

    Thats why they are a point of contention.

  60. One thing that might get overstated–and perhaps by me–is the the suggestion that Darwinism introduced a devaluation of life. But we need to identify that human life has always been of debatable value throughout its history. “Debatable” in the form that various people have held various ideas about the value of various lives.

    Wars and empires devalue human life, no doubt. They also have several millennia of years of establishment.

    Additionally, I probably overstated my case that only with Darwin does death gain value. Not true. Death always had value. The death of Carthaginian warriors trying to stop Roman soldiers was rather valuable to the Roman soldiers and the Roman empire. If I’m a mobster and you’re going to rat on me, your death is very valuable.

    But then again we’re talking about the cultural context that Darwinism takes place within. It was a Christian world under the idea that human life–all human life had value under God. And even if all monarchs did not uphold this ideal, during the age of Church, they at least felt the pressure to answer to it–to try to make some answer for their behavior. The cultural context also contained animal husbandry and eating meat and beasts of burden, and all were bred for qualities.

    They were considered neutral aspects of the culture as God granted that humans were universally valuable, but animals were put here for our use.

    The only way to transfer the commodity of animals caused by the “evil” of animal husbandry was to remove the theoretical barrier between man and animal.

    You put yourself in a precarious position to argue that animal husbandry did such damage to the human psyche that it causes downstream effects, when killing humans is far from explicit in the idea of animal husbandry. And you can’t argue this while arguing that only explicit ties are valid, or explicit countering statements are sufficient restraint.

    Removing the explicit relationship between man and animal enables the techniques of animal husbandry to be thought of in human terms.

    Now, in most of what I have said before, death has a subjective value. We’ve always known this. It’s how we identify motive: who gains by the removal of a person. We can objectively determine that it has a subjective value.

    Empires have subjective value, mob hits have subjective value. Animal husbandry has a practical value, but it is mainly subjective. The person who wants to win races or outfit scouts breeds a faster horse. The rancher who wants more meat breeds larger cattle. If that’s what you want to do, then here’s how to do it.

    Darwinism gives death an objective value. Even if we use the idea Schloss takes from Dawkins: only we can protest the cycle of selfish genes. But only the death of countless ancestors who couldn’t can bring us this advancement.

    It wasn’t to win a race or gain incrementally more meat, or weed out sickness. The death of subsets of species that don’t share the enhancement is the way to a new feature, more empowerment, more capability.

    It’s also hard to say that Darwinism doesn’t abstract all beings into bags of capabilities–as the total of the scientific model. Although people have thought of human beings as a means to an end, whole societies convinced themselves of a functional identity–and no higher analysis (because Science is the summit of analysis)–of every individual human beings.

    Darwinism hardly created every human vice that went into 20th century Marxism or naziism. But it removed barriers and gave a scientific, objective value to death.

    In addition, Darwin’s stipulation that we would lose the noblest part of ourselves is not explicit in his research. This is not something he observed in the finch beaks on Galapagos. I doubt that any of his research was the “nobleness” of any creature.

    But advancement through death is inescapable, in the central part of the theory, if we really believe that creatures as capable as ourselves came up from fish by only the fittest surviving.

    If we want to stress only what is central to the theory than Darwin’s beliefs about “nobleness” also have no effect. But regardless of frame, they don’t have any of he weight of the stuff he actually documented, and not only posited.

  61. And even though I’ve already written more than the anyone wants to read, there are points that I have left unstressed.

    My main argument is still the methodical incoherency of arguing for worldviews that elaborate on science, arguing for its superiority, while distancing themselves from other sciency vogues because they weren’t inevitable from the scientific theories.

    What? Was Hitler supposed to say “Whose Wagner? I recognize only Darwin.” Was he not supposed to know who Nietzsche or Faust were? Was he never supposed to have agreed with or be inspired by another author?

    It is the conceit of the hyperrationalists that the human being can rationally compose himself of only conscious principles. The human mind is really a mixture of uncontested tensions and outright inconsistencies.

    National pride is not directly implied from Darwin, but if you learn about Volkism, it is more clear how it relates. The Volkisch movement was a particular application of materialistic Darwinian concepts.

    For example, no Darwinian concepts–that I know of–make a raccoon inevitable. Thus, though raccoons are applications of Darwinian forces, they are in no way central or explicit in Darwin. Yet, everything we can consider efficient or neat about a raccoon we are to believe owes entirely to Darwinian processes.

    Now obviously Volkism is an application of Darwinian theory and raccoons are applications of Darwinian processes. So don’t get the idea that I’m equating the two. Instead what I’m doing is showing that the matter in dispute recognizes the idea of a divergent, non-inevitable result.

    What does the Darwinian Animal look like? If you pick any one species, that helps us focus, you’re picking another non-necessary consequence of the processes.

    Thus NAZI-ism is expressly not Darwinism because it has features unlike Darwinism. What does the Darwinistic society look like? Does it look like a society with any non-Darwinian attributes?

    Also how can such an idea without any previous social effect (because it wasn’t pure) be advisable because of the overall social advantage it’s supposed to give us? Will that be pure? There are no houses in Darwinism, how will we live in houses–or are houses strictly inevitable from Darwinism?

    This is the argument that the argument from purity really has no validity.

    Finally, I just want to touch on Dave’s contention that Animal Husbandry provides the same value for death as Darwinism. We’ll use Darwin’s innocent words: “Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

    He doesn’t say “Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to not slay his worst animals.” Schloss, who Dave suggests as my rebutter, gives no evidence that animals were wantonly killed for being inferior, instead both Darwin and Schloss witness effects not of death but restriction from breeding. All horses die. The value is the elimination from the stock.

    It’s a subtle difference, no doubt. But there definitely is no value in extinction as improvement. And neither does Schloss touch on this (so he can’t rebut me on this). Nature does not pen a creature and restrict its contact in the way that vigilant humans can. Instead nature must rely on features that make animal undesirable to other members of the species, defects that create sterility, or removal by death. Death is probably the most common and universal factor.

    Of course again, 1) the methodological critique is primary. 2) The NAZI argument is properly an “if anything” provisional argument. And the analysis on purity is only a strong argument against the non-pure argument. In addition, the bit about animal husbandry only addresses the disconnect I see, and makes animal husbandry an insufficient parallel to Darwinism in promoting a rational, objective, scientific value for death and dying out of inferior strains.

  62. Dave –Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Darwinian evolution was a neccessary factor in the holocaust and it’s right for us to point this out. Our opponents often argue that ID is a neccessary factor in the establishment of a theocracy and it’s right of them to point this out.

    And that wouldn’t be unfair. Of course, it wouldn’t be unfair to then point out that a theocracy would be almost invariably superior to the Holocaust.

    I guess we ought to put in the caveat that it would demand upon the values upon which the theocracy was based. If the society worshiped a god that demanded human sacrifice and warred on its neighbors to obtain such sacrifice, as per say the Aztecs, then they might match the Nazis and communists as undesirable rulers/neighbors.

    Now, you could come back with the claim that a non-theistic society with the proper values wouldn’t be a bad place to live but:

    –Every atheistic society that has existed has been a nightmare

    –The values implied in Darwinism don’t lend itself to happy, altruistic place.

  63. trib

    it wouldn’t be unfair to then point out that a theocracy would be almost invariably superior to the Holocaust

    That depends on who’s theism wins out. If for instance it’s fundamentalist Islam that wins out I shudder to think of what happens to the billions of infidels who refuse to accept it. One might make a reasonable case that some moderate form of Christian theocracy would be a good thing but I’d argue that we already have, in the United States, a moderate form of Christian theocracy. I’d also argue that as Christianity’s influence on US society has eroded over time that societal interaction has suffered for it.

    Just yesterday, for example, I took my daughter for a drive through Amish country between Randolph and through Conewango valley in southwestern New York state. This was her first experience. Probably the most startling aspect of if for her is just about every last Amish person who saw us, even from a distance as we drove by, smiled and waved to us in sincere greeting even though it was apparent that our way life differed radically from theirs.

    As I explained that the Amish way of life eschews electricity and motor driven vehicles and embraces only the “technologies” that were utilized in the time of Christ she was at first aghast, asking how these people possibly survive and lead such evidently contented happy lives. I told her to just watch and learn. As we continued driving and she observed the beautifully tended gardens and fields, saw plows being pulled by horses, and field after field of contented beautiful and healthy horses and cows grazing at pasture, and people at work doing other things it dawned on her that there was a lot to be said for their way of life.

    Then we stopped in my favorite Amish destination, a food & craft store. As I knew she would she loved the handmade quilts and pillows and other crafts and, since she’s a vegetarian, I bought pounds of handmade cheeses and candies, telling her that it was all made from the local farms without any added presevatives and she discovered that it was all vastly superior to what we buy out of grocery stores. Unfortunately it was a Thursday and they sell fresh baked goods on Fridays and Saturdays. There’s nothing in the world that compares to fresh baked Amish bread IMO.

  64. jjcassidy

    As Schloss pointed out Hitler leveraged Martin Luther’s hatred of the Jews to whip up German Christians’ support for Jewish genocide. Thus it can be just as rightly said that Christianity was a “necessary factor” in the Holocaust.

    People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Period. The ID movement would benefit greatly by distancing itself as far and as fast as it possibly can from this Darwin/Holocaust connection. I simply cannot comprehend why this dead horse is still being beaten. The only plausible explanation I can imagine is that it serves as a distraction from the equally valid premise that Christianity was a necessary factor in the Holocaust. The father of Protestantism is equally culpable, if not moreso, than the father of modern evolutionary theory. Give them both a rest. There’s plenty of blame to spread around in both camps and none of it serves any good purpose.

    And just so we don’t give the other major division of Christianity a break, the Catholic church, in its historical zeal to preserve patriarchy, instigated the burning at the stake of perhaps millions of innocent women in the larger estimates. The Nazis at least did their killing in less stunningly brutal ways than burning people alive in the public square. All of us, theists and atheists alike, have outgrown such brutality with some notable exceptions like Muslim fanatics videotaping themselves beheading live conscious people with butcher knives. In credit to the modern world their performance in that regard became their downfall and served to turn most of world, even their moderate Islamic peers, against them. So one might reasonably ask if the historic rise of atheism is in any way responsible for ending the religiously inspired atrocities of the past. Personally I’d rather not go there.

    If it weren’t for the fact that it’s my own camp who won’t let this Darwin/Holocaust connection die the death it rightly deserves I’d be deleting this crap before it saw the light of day and the bannination hammer would be dropping fast and hard on anyone who insisted on carrying on with it. I’d also be deleting and banning anyone who tried to connect religion with historic atrocities just as efficiently. The only reason I bring it up is to provide the needed balance in perspective in what is fast becoming a forlorn hope that my ID supporting compatriots realize that there is blame to be shared amongst everyone and none of the finger pointing is constructive. Opening up old wounds is generally not a good thing and these are no exception. All it does is inspires counter-attacks in the same vein.

  65. Atom

    Your “people” are slaughtering each other in Africa today as fast or faster than any other period in history. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    As far as native American indians, and especially those in central and south America, they too were engaged in the killing of each other as fast as their weapons technology allowed. The only new thing the white man brought to the table in any of this were vastly superior weapons and tactics.

    There are few innocents dating back to the age of expansion and conquest. There are only winners and losers and I’m not at all willing to apologize for my ancestors being the winners. They fought, they won, and the outcome today is that virtually every western democracy the world over is at peace with all the other western democracies. If all the world were western democracies there might actually be peace and prosperity for everyone. I don’t think the same claim can be made for any other kind of governance. Moreover western democracy is deeply rooted in the Protestant Reformation so I think it can be said that despite its sometimes brutal history of conquest that the Protestant Reformation was a “necessary factor” in what peaceful coexistance between nations is solidly in place in the world today.

  66. —–Dave: “That depends on who’s theism wins out. If for instance it’s fundamentalist Islam that wins out I shudder to think of what happens to the billions of infidels who refuse to accept it. One might make a reasonable case that some moderate form of Christian theocracy would be a good thing but I’d argue that we already have, in the United States, a moderate form of Christian theocracy. I’d also argue that as Christianity’s influence on US society has eroded over time that societal interaction has suffered for it.”

    Excellent! That is precisely the point. You can only build a well-ordered society around a well-ordered God. Only a Judeo/Christian God that is both TRANSCENDENT, (a God who instructs on the natural moral law) and IMMANENT, (a God who confers inherent dignity on humans) can edify the culture and protect human rights. Islam accepts transcendence but it rejects immanence, so it leads to an abundance of law and a scarcity of freedom. Atheism rejects both, and leads to the same thing. The only difference is that the former tyrannizes in the name of God while the latter does it in the name of the state. Insofar as the United States has abandoned the Judeo/Christian God, it has, to that extent, degenerated into vulgarity and mediocrity.

  67. Atom

    FYI

    I don’t know about anyone else but in all the history of the world I’ve read the bloodiest people of them all were the Aztecs but the rest of the indigenous American cultures weren’t far behind. The Amerindians had some awfully bad forms of torture; staked out on an ant hill; tied to a stake and having the limbs cut off in small pieces while a fire underneath cauterized each fresh wound so the victim didn’t bleed to death; having one’s gut cut open, an intestine tied to a stake, and the victim being made to circle around the stake with his intestines pulling out and wrapping around it as he went; the guantlet, scalping, and simple burning at the stake were humane practices in comparison. The Christians in Europe had some rather inventive methods too; the rack, impalement, drawing and quartering; but I digress. These were modes of deterrance or punishment, not human sacrifices for sake of sacrifice and sacrifice alone.

    Regarding the Aztecs, behold, from

    http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/CIVAMRCA/AZTECS.HTM

    Slavery was common among the Aztecs; it was not, however, racial or permanent. One became a slave by being captured in war, by committing certain crimes, such as theft, by voluntarily entering into slavery, or by being sold by one’s parents. If one was captured in war, slavery was a pleasant option, for the purpose of Aztec warfare was primarily the capture of live human sacrifices. If, however, one had a useful trade, the Tenochca would forego the sacrifice and employ the captive in that trade.

    There was little distinction between the religious and the secular hierarchy, although historians and anthropologists argue that the Aztecs developed farther than any other Mesoamerican group a secular aspect of society. At the very top of the hierarchy was the tlacatecuhtli , or “chief of men.” He dominated all the religious ceremonies and served as a military leader. Below the tlacatecuhtli were a series of religious offices and some secular functions, such as military generals.

    Religion The religion of the Aztecs was incredibly complicated, partly due to the fact that they inherited much of it from conquered peoples. Their religion was dominated by three gods: Huitzilopochtli (“hummingbird wizard,” the native and chief god of the Tenochca, Huitzilopochtli was the war and sun god), Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror,” chief god of the Aztecs in general), and Quetzalcoatl (“Sovereign Plumed Serpent,” widely worshipped throughout Mesoamerica and the god of civilization, the priesthood, and learning). Below these three gods were four creating gods who were remote and aloof from the human world. Below these were an infinity of other gods, of which the most important were Tlaloc, the Rain God, Chalchihuitlicue, the god of growth, and Xipe, the “Flayed One,” a god associated with spring.

    The Wall of Skulls, Tenochtitlan

    The overwhelming aspect of Aztec religious life in the imaginations of non-Aztecs was the predominance of human sacrifice. This had been practiced all throughout the Mesoamerican world, but the Tenochca practiced it at a scale never seen before or since. We don’t know a great deal about the details, but we have a fairly good idea of its general character and justification. Throughout Mesoamerica, the theology involved the concept that the gods gave things to human beings only if they were nourished by human beings. Among the Maya, for instance, the priests would nourish the gods by drawing their own blood by piercing their tongues, ears, extremities, or genitals. Other sacrifices involved prayer, offerings of food, sports, and even dramas. The Aztecs practiced all of these sacrifices, including blood-letting. But the Aztec theologians also developed the notion that the gods are best nourished by the living hearts of sacrificed captives; the braver the captive, the more nourishing the sacrifice. This theology led to widespread wars of conquest in search of sacrificial victims both captured in war and paid as tribute by a conquered people.

    Great Temple Stairs, Mexico City
    We can successfully reconstruct Aztec human sacrifice with a high level of accuracy. Some sacrifices were very minimal, involving the sacrifice of a slave to a minor god, and some were very spectacular, involving hundreds or thousands of captives. Aztec history claims that Ahuitzotl (1468-1502), who preceded Mocteuzma II as king, sacrificed 20,000 people after a campaign in Oaxaca (“O-a-sha-ka”). No matter what the size of the sacrifice, it was always performed the same way. The victim was held down by four priests on an altar at the top of a pyramid or raised temple while the officiant made an incision below the rib cage and pulled out the living heart. The heart was then burned and the corpse was pushed down the steep steps; a very brave or noble victim was carried down the steps. The most brutal of human sacrifices were those dedicated to the god Huehueteotl. Sacrificial victims were drugged and then thrown into a fire at the top of the ceremonial platform. Before they were killed by the fire, they were dragged out with hooks and their living hearts were pulled out and thrown back into the fire.

    While human sacrifice was the most dramatic element of Aztec sacrifice, the most common form of sacrifice was voluntary blood-letting which occurred at every religious function. Such blood-letting was tied to rank: the higher one was in social or priestly rank, the more blood one had to sacrifice.

    There was an urgency to all this sacrifice. The Aztec believed that the world was controlled by divine forces that were in constant conflict and opposition to one another. The universe was poised between conflicting forces of creation and destruction; human beings could, in part, influence this balance through the practice of sacrifice.

  68. —–Dave: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Period. The ID movement would benefit greatly by distancing itself as far and as fast as it possibly can from this Darwin/Holocaust connection. I simply cannot comprehend why this dead horse is still being beaten.”

    The Darwinists are the favorites in this fight and we are the underdogs. Inasmuch as they are playing hardball, we had better play a little hardball ourselves.

    Here’s an analogy: Even though both claim to be “turned off” by negative advertising, politicians use it anyway—because it works, and the public is affected by it anyway—because it works.

  69. Dave,

    Thanks for the input. The Mexica were indeed a very bloodthirsty people, but it would be a mistake to think that this was representative of First Nations peoples as a whole. They were death obsessed (as seen in their art and ritual sacrifice), but only represent one people out of literally thousands that built cities and inhabited this hemisphere.

    Why bring the practices of one group (the Mexica) up?

    (No one was arguing the goodness or wickeness of the people involved, Jewish or Gentile, only discussing the historical genocide committed on two hemispheres)

    And as you mentioned, we could to get into the torture methods practiced by the Europeans and Spanish in particular…

  70. As Schloss pointed out Hitler leveraged Martin Luther’s hatred of the Jews to whip up German Christians’ support for Jewish genocide. Thus it can be just as rightly said that Christianity was a “necessary factor” in the Holocaust…There’s plenty of blame to spread around in both camps and none of it serves any good purpose.

    I agree that both Christianity and Darwinism played prominent roles in the Holocaust. Within months of the end of the War, for example, the Protestant Church in Germany issued the Stuttgart “Declaration of Guilt.” http://tinyurl.com/4lgyv7

    From this beginning, many statements of apology and repudiation have been issued by Lutheran church bodies in Germany and around the world. For example http://jcrelations.net/en/?id=993

    I can’t agree that Darwinists and Christians should enter a conspiracy of silence about the roots of the Holocaust. On the contrary, I believe an open, honest exploration of those causes will help to prevent such a catastrophe from happening in the future. Moreover, I would like to propose that it is an essential characteristic of the Christian ethos to take such stock of oneself so that corrective action can be taken.

    I will leave the Darwinists to contemplate whether such an ethos is also present in their ranks.

  71. That depends on who’s theism wins out. If for instance it’s fundamentalist Islam that wins out I shudder to think of what happens to the billions of infidels who refuse to accept it.

    Dave, that’s a very good point. Whatever undermines good values is bad.

    And theocracies are very undesirable. No matter how good the system of values are upon what they are based, those who wield power will inevitably do something selfish/unjust/cruel/stupid/incompetent and bring the basis of governance into disrepute.

    One of the many things that make the USA great is that the foundation of our political process is predicated on the expectation that those who wield power will inevitably do something selfish/unjust/cruel/stupid/incompetent and hence should never be completely trusted.

  72. Then we stopped in my favorite Amish destination, a food & craft store.

    I live very close to Amish country. I think the Amish might be the happiest people on Earth. I am still amazed at how they were able to pray for that man who killed their children.

    the Catholic church, in its historical zeal to preserve patriarchy, instigated the burning at the stake of perhaps millions of innocent women in the larger estimates.

    Ah but that’s not true :-)

    Witchburnings did not become common until the Reformation and they were more likely than not to occur in Protestant countries — or at least places where the influence of Rome was weakened due to religious conflict.

    In fact, up until the Reformation it was the belief in witchcraft, not the practice, that was considered a sin.

    The Malleus Maleficarum, which was the handbook of the witch hunters was published in 1487 and condemned by Rome in 1490.

    One of the ironies of history was that Spain under the Inquisition had very few witch burnings.

  73. Dave,

    The Luther-Hitler connection is poor. It could be argued that Hitler played into the existing Lutherian prejudice in the populace. How that makes for genocidal prejudice is then problematic, because the dirtiest of NAZI secrets were hidden from the masses.

    Thus it becomes not the religious prejudice of the masses, but the particular prejudice of the NAZIs. Hitler identifies that existing religious prejudice cannot accomplish the goal. In fact in Chapter 2, where he ends it with the Will of Almighty God quote which Schloss misuses in the traditional form of its misuse, Hitler explains that he rejected religious prejudice, as his father didn’t raise him that way.

    Instead, Chapter 2, about his life in Venice explains how he learns of the “true” malice of the Jews. I know that Luther found the Jews deceitful, and Hitler no doubt comes to the same conclusion.

    Dave, it’s hard to end an argument when you keep raising explanations that don’t explain or equivalencies that aren’t equivalent. So, how can it end if you use the Luther angle–one of the weakest argument in the standard Hitler toolkit? (Schloss doesn’t even begin to answer me with that line, because he seems oblivious (as many do) of the previous four paragraphs as to why Hitler felt that he was serving the Will of the Almighty God in his fight against the Jews.)

    If we need to end this, then we can end it unresolved. However, I doubt that two biologists (Schloss and you) win by default over a historian (Weikart) citing current historical study. Since when is the default resolution that the dilettantes win?
    Especially when a third dilettante (me) hasn’t found one thing in Schloss’ critique that he doesn’t already know how to defeat based on his reading of Mein Kampf and knowledge of German history from late 18th to early 20th century.

    But I really want to ask what has as much “street cred” as Science? What other scientific development contributed to the NAZI ideology? What scientific findings about the value of human life could restrain them? What would William Provost say?

  74. Ignored in that exposition on human sacrifice is the fact that the Aztecs and Mayans were imperialists and they had very material reasons for the action.

    And therein lies a clue as to a reason for human sacrifice in addition to those of a purely religious nature: submission.The institution of human sacrifice served to glorify the status of these elites and to intimidate their subjects both at home and abroad. The religious aspects of human sacrifice reinforced the status of the elites as favourites of the Gods and as those privileged to eat rather than to be eaten. The bloody reality reinforced the structure of domination and submission – any sign of resistance or even resentment was a sure ticket up a steep temple staircase.

    Rodney Stark, Discovering God

    And it is not cherry-picking to look at the Aztecs and Mayans as they are not isloated. Probably every tribe that can be studied will reveal slavery, rape, brutality, torture and human sacrifice. All records show that sacrifice in Meso-America existed across all cultures and eras.

    ==
    On witches, the estimate of “millions” killed is a gross exaggeration. For over a millennia Christianity stood against the Pagan practice (of hunting and burning) on the premise that there was no such thing as a witch.
    In 400 years of witch-hunting (the early modern era of the Renaissance and Enlightenment) the death totals are more likely 30-50,000.
    http://www.catholiceducation.o.....h0056.html

    Neither were the majority burned, but rather hanged.
    http://departments.kings.edu/w.....error.html
    Pavlac, Brian A. “Ten Common Errors and Myths about the Witch Hunts, Corrected and Commented,” Prof. Pavlac’s Women’s History Resource Site. (June 6, 2006). URL: (date accessed).

  75. Thus it becomes not the religious prejudice of the masses, but the particular prejudice of the NAZIs. Hitler identifies that existing religious prejudice cannot accomplish the goal.

    I think this is a good point, jjcassidy. Luther’s disposition toward the Jews was religiously-based, and has properly been called “antijudaism.” His goal would have been to have all Jews baptized…not incinerated. The Nazis, however, were out to improve the human genome by eliminating the Jewish “race.” Religion was not a factor in their calculations…except for the pockets of resistance they encountered from within the church (both Catholic and Protestant).

    But as far as I can tell, the Nazis’ notion that the Jews occupied the bottom rung of the “race” ladder links to the prior notion that their religion was somehow inferior and incomplete. So the historic antijudaism, with its social/psychological and economic effects over time, coupled with modern understandings of biology, ensued in the antisemitism of the Nazis.

    It is necessary to add still a couple more steps to get from antisemitism to the Holocaust.

  76. Of course, I want to very succinctly say that the biggest annoyance out of all this is the seemingly willful obliviousness that Expelled‘s argument wasn’t “WATCH OUT!! The Darwinists are NAZIs!!”

    It was that a godless, scientificcy worldview is NOT an unquestionable good. I think it was mistaken by many liberals (who tend to fall on the other side) because they are so used to making the argument conservatives ARE fascists.The connection between talking about Hitler has a common connotation in their heads, whose simplest resolution is “Watch out for the opposition!! They’re nazis! (Oh, and they spread fear. Make you fear things–watch out for them fear-spreading nazis–they’ll take us back to the Dark Ages!!)”

    That’s probably reason #1 that Schloss criticism of Weikart and Expelled is invalid. As far as I know Expelled does not make the consequentialist’s fallacy, that Darwinism is wrong because it’s dangerous. The point about the danger is given in the part of the film where they are talking about the social cost of ID.

    [I wrote more on this but deleted it. I'm done. ]

  77. If your thesis be correct, Lutepisc, then Hitler placed Muslims, predominantly Arab, and the Japanese above Germans – genetically – as he envied them their religions.

  78. I still can’t find Luther’s writings on the mentally ill, who were the first targets of the Nazi program. Nor on the Romani and the slavs.

  79. Lutepisc,

    Hitler said that the Jews were on the lowest rung. But from reading him, I can’t believe that was his full belief.

    Let’s face it, the Jews were a peculiar people. They were singular in that they 1) had a strong sense of identity that Eurpoeans had only seen the parallel in nationalism. 2) Yet had no nation.

    Since nationalism was the way that every other people answered the question of who was the better strain, the Jews situation appeared unnatural.

    Hitler practically admitted that the Jews had been very successful (although never explicitly) in their competitive strategy: 1) Spreading universal socialism which made people fictional citizens of the world and dissolved the pride of nation and native culture, and 2) amassing wealth and power in business and media.

    A successful competitor cannot be completely unfit.

    Hitler is forever problematic because he flat out endorses the value of propaganda to motivate the masses. Any one explicit statement of Hitler’s–especially in speeches–can prove deceptive. However, in MK he is at least trying to play the intellectual scientific observer, expanding on his vision. And here, he flat out endorses propaganda.

    I can believe that Hitler had contempt for the Jews as the only “nation” that won’t engage in honest competition for supremacy. It is also reasonably clear to me that Hitler saw the Jews as an universal menace. They dissolved any culture. And their hopes for a Messiah to put all their enemies at their feet seemed to prove that they at least had desires in that area.

  80. Hey! A quote from Luther:

    There is no difference whatsoever with regard to birth or flesh and blood, as reason must tell us. Therefore “neither Jew nor Gentile” should boast “before God of their physical birth.

    If they can’t be pure Darwinians, they weren’t pure Lutherians either.

  81. I still can’t find Luther’s writings on the mentally ill, who were the first targets of the Nazi program. Nor on the Romani and the slavs.

    Hahahaha! Great point, Charlie. As you point out, Luther is not a “racist” in the modern sense, since he has no understanding of genetic contribution to future generations.

    His heinous pamphlet “On the Jews and Their Lies” was written toward the end of his life…three years before he died. It was not exactly his finest moment…he was long past his prime, and frankly some of us Lutherans wish he’d died before writing something like that. But write it he did, and it left a permanent stain on his reputation which those of us who bear his name must repeatedly disavow. (Which I do without hesitation.)

  82. After I wrote that I actually thought my sarcastic nature would be my undoing and somebody would show up with such a quote.

  83. jjcassidy

    What scientific findings about the value of human life could restrain them?

    E=MC^2 seemed to do the trick well enough.

    how can it end

    Once you realize that no one can win. This isn’t science or math. We can’t turn back the clock, erase Darwin, and see if the Holocaust still happened. It’s stupid unending BS until you figure that out and accept it.

    Expelled’s argument wasn’t “WATCH OUT!! The Darwinists are NAZIs!!”

    It sure seemed that way to many viewers including me. If the Holocaust connection wasn’t made to smear modern Darwinists what then what the hell was it included for? The movie was supposed to be about suppression of ID in academia. The Holocaust seems pretty far removed from that theme. What am I missing?

  84. 85

    Darwinism introduced the idea that death of the unfit is essential for progress. Death of the unfit prevents them from reproducing and/or makes room for the fit or the fitter. Death of the unfit in the form of natural selection created the human race from protozoa. The human race owes its existence to death of the unfit. The “fundamental concept underlying all of biology” is death of the unfit. Isn’t death of the unfit wonderful? If we don’t have natural selection in the human race, let’s replace it with artificial selection. Let’s buy “I love Darwin” T-shirts and coffee mugs. Let’s confer “Friend of Darwin” certificates. Let’s celebrate Darwin Day and the Darwin-Lincoln birthdate coincidence. Etc..

    Also, some basic principles about Darwinism’s influence on the Nazis are still largely being missed –

    (1) Anti-semitic Nazi programs targeted fit Jews as well as unfit Jews and so were not true eugenics programs. Eugenics’ contribution to Nazi ant-semitism was to create the idea that it is morally OK to get rid of undesirables.

    (2) A “systematic” Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no objective and reliable ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews.

    Another issue is the need for objectivity in the study of history. When the Anti-Defamation League says that we should ignore the Darwin-Hitler connection because Hitler did not “need” Darwin (“O, reason not the need!” — King Lear), that is not being objective.

  85. H’mm:

    Muy interesante. Especially, JJ Cassidy — good job!

    I think it may be helpful to note on several (hopefully, balancing) points. In particular, I think we need to learn the point that we should learn from history, let we — once again — repeat its big mistakes. (That is the issue is not that Darwinists (or Christians . . .) are “Nazis,” but that we had better learn from the all too recent past and make a decision to nip abuses in the bud, before they have time to bear rotten and massively destructive fruit. So, pardon the somewhat lengthy (in aggregate)comment :

    1 –> History, science, power and ethics: We are looking at a historical exemplar that serves as a warning. Since, one of the clearer lessons of history is that ANYTHING that absolutises power in finite, fallible and fallen hands [such as we all have] without accountability is destructive or at minimum dangerous. But, we tend to ignore or be ignorant of such lessons; thus the tendency of the worst chapters to repeat. Can we avert this sad trend this time around?

    2 –> Theocracies vs secularist or neopagan tyrannies: Historically, the mere establishment of religion is not sufficient for tyranny and a high incidence of large scale genocide etc, e.g. in much of Europe, i.e the realm of Christendom [as opposed to other religious traditions that tend to entrench absolutism], for many centuries and up to today — across time, the examples run into the thousands of cases — there have been established churches. In many of these cases, we have of course had a significant [but comparatively speaking relatively low] incidence of abuses of power and great sins and massacres [such is the nature of the beast potentially within us all . . .], but equally we have had liberty, reformation of evils and progress as there is a sensitising of conscience and as there is a rise of the principles of accountability in government: accountability before God, before prophetic, reforming spokesmen and before the people. (Cf my discussion here on the Judaeo-Christian contribution to the rise of modern liberty.) By contrast, the secularist and neopagan tyrannies of the past century have by and large consistently been horrors that beggar description. KEY LESSON: Absolutising revolutions, whether open or creeping, and however motivated or rationalised, are the precursors to democides, and in the past 100 or so years, such revolutions have generally been anchored in more or less respectable “Scientific” claims. [BTW, on this, I am now quite concerned that the extreme radical environmentalists of our day -- if they continue to politicise and subvert science and to undermine democratic political institutions while demonising those who differ with them -- could well become a creeping-in case in point . . . So, environmentalists, please, please, look carefully at how you are operating; before it is too late.]

    3 –> Rationales for tyranny: Given the inescapably moral nature of humans [which of course has very strong hints as to our origin!], power has always needed a “legitimising” rationale. In religious eras and cultures, it will be religion or religiously linked ideology, and in the Judaeo-Christain case, this is immediately balanced by the moral restraints in that tradition; they can be subverted, but they are there as resources for protest and reform. In a “scientific” age, the rationale has been “science,” which claims to be the basis of knowledge, but which by its nature as a methodology of investigating “what is” has no real framework for morality, i.e the “what should be — but too often is not.” The resulting key issue is, what then happens to the moral issues that are connected to power, and whether there is room for corrective protest and restraint on power, and effective provision for peaceful removal of rulers gone bad. That in turn is why the reformation era breakthrough of envisioning state power as existing in a context of conditional covenants of nationhood and government under God, so that the ruler becomes accountable to the lower magistrates and the people at large led to the wave of liberating and democratising revolutions from the 1580′s to the 1780′s. [Thereafter, revolution was absolutised in the French Revolution; its subsequent history has been both sad and bloody, massively bloody. in the name of scientific and rational enlightenment and liberation, much has been done that should shake us all, making us forever wary of political-utopian messianism.]

    4 –> Absolutising “science”: In this context, Darwinism served as in effect a second scientific revolution, one that over the past 150 years has made “science” into the generally accepted arbiter of “knowledge” and the handmaiden and rhetorical champion of atheism and its travelling companions. One consequence of this has been to reduce human-ness in our civilisation from the image of God to the image of the ape. Thus, the intrinsic value of human life and worth has been lost in the minds of many. That, beyond reasonable doubt, has historically undercut a major restraint on abuse or murder of the powerless; especially where a revolution has triumphed openly or by creeping in.

    5 –> Darwinism, racism, nationalism, classism and state power: While improper and abusive appeals to race, nation and class predate the rise of Darwinism, there was a decisive shift in ideological and worldview framework due to the rise of Darwinian science, so that the “more progressive” had a handy “scientific” rationale for seeking the elimination of the less advanced. Thus, we see social darwinism, we see eugenics, we see euthanasia and we see class-based or race-based genocide. And, on the race/nation basis, coolly predicted — without serious moral stricture — by no less a figure than the very first social darwinist, Charles Darwin himself. [Onlookers cf the recent lengthy exchange in this blog on this, here.] We must never forget Darwin’s own words in his Descent of Man, Ch 6; first from near its beginning, then as he begins to draw his conclusions and makes “scientific” projections:

    Man is liable to numerous, slight, and diversified variations, which are induced by the same general causes, are governed and transmitted in accordance with the same general laws, as in the lower animals. Man has multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species . . . . At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    –> As I have noted before, there is not the slightest sign of compunction in this.

    –> We must observe, too, that here CD has made “races” into a stand-in for diverse species, which has serious implications for the dehumanising of the identifiable other in society.

    6 –> The Communist and Nazi-fascist revolutions: it is in this context that in the first half of C20, we had the rise of Communist and Nazi-fascist parties to absolute power. Perhaps most telling on this is the often overlooked fact that it is precisely in those places and times where there was still a fairly strong church influence that there was a restraint on the dynamics. E.g. Fascist Italy was nowhere near as destructive as Nazi Germany, though of course the tendencies are there. [The Ethiopians have much to say about Mussolini!] Another overlooked fact is that weakness or want of effective democratising accountability structures and restraints — which in major part trace to the impact of the reformation era developments as most powerfully exemplified in the British isles and the United States — was another key factor. [Contrast how the Wiemar republic and even the Hohenzollern and Austrian Empires in Germany and Austria-Hungary were far, far less destructive than Nazi Germany; with the same basic social attitudes and general culture prevailing. Lutheranism and Catholicism were not sufficient to get to Nazism, of which Social Darwinism was an integral and highly material component, at a time where as a consensus across the leading lights of the day, various now regretted social applications of Darwinism were popular and seriously held to be "scientific." (Maybe that too is a lesson on how the label "science" can enable and then help to cover up a multitude of sins . . . )] It is the difference that needs to be explained.

    –> Moral equivalency arguments simply don’t wash for that.

    –> Nor does the longstanding tradition of restraining “inferior” animals and plants from breeding explain the “scientific” massacre of dozens of millions of people who were of the wrong class or race in the past century.

    7 –> The amorality of Darwinian “science”: Much of that explanation — historically — lies in the amorality of Darwinian science, which gave “scientific” credentials to the notion that might makes right and then to policies that exploited that principle. This is of course precisely what men like Nietzsche pointed out and foreshadowed. Power has now been substituted for morality, in a context where the value of human life and personhood have been relativised through the effective principle that power decides morality. [Thus, the 40 - 50 mns of slaughtered unborns since 1973 in the US as it moved ever farther away from its Judaeo-Christian foundations is utterly unsurprising.]

    8 –> Weikart’s first point: In this context, we can see that there is a clear HISTORICAL chain of influence and ideas from Darwin to Hitler, as Weikart has massively and correctly substantiated. [If you doubt me on this, just read Ch XI of Mein Kampf in light of Chs 5 - 6 in Darwin's Descent of Man.] So, if Christendom needs to account for its historic sins, which are many, so does Darwinism and associated evolutionary materialist science. Also, if evolutionary materialists wish to highlight the contributions of science to progress in the past 200 or so years, then they should be willing to acknowledge the contributions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition as well; including the massive contribution to the founding of modern science and major subfields in it.

    9 –> Weikart’s second point: Further, given the historic tendency of evolutionary materialist thought to devalue moral considerations, we must recognise that this can lead to — and in fact has historically led to — tyrannical consequences, in institutions and in the community as a whole. Not as mechanical necessity, but through undermining the worldview level basis for moral restraint and for respect of persons with whom one differs; thus, for restraint in the handling of conflicts with them, especially where one holds power. The cases in Expelled and many others should give us pause on this problem — whether or not they may at first make some of us feel angry or want to blame the victim. Nor should we be intimidated by “how dare you raise that” rhetoric or attempts at immoral equivalency. Yes, all cultures, worldviews and ideologies have sins to address, but that means: THERE MUST BE NO EXCEPTIONS; including the currently dominant worldview in institutions of science, education and policy.

    11 –> But Hitler did not “need” Darwin: If he had not drawn deeply from Darwin’s well as it was dug in Germany and Austria, he would not have had the actual historic ideology of Nazism as we know it. In other words, Darwinism, Social Darwinism and associated ideas and ideological claims were as a matter of historical fact, key components of Nazism as an ideology. If Nazism had been differently rationalised and rooted, it would have been a different ideology from what we know from history. [And, we should contrast the the Kaiser [for all his sins] was a very powerful Monarch, from the Protestant, Franconian branch of the Hohenzollerns. Did he or his Chancellors rationalise mass-murder of Jews based on Lutheran teachings, for all the sins of Luther? Similarly, I am unaware that the monarchs of Austria-Hungary had a policy of Concentration Camps for Jews etc [for all their sins]. Something made a difference to that culture in early-mid C20, and that is what needs to be explained. The rise of Darwinism and Social Darwinism in late C19 – early C20 leading to the rise of Nazism as a political messianic movement which then defeated the looming red threat in Germany and put into effect its “scientific” “racial hygiene” programme once it seized absolute power makes a far better explanation than 400-year-old half-mad rantings by Luther that that worthy should have known cut clean across the ethical principles of the Gospel he preached. (I am sure that the Son of David, the Lion of Judah, has long since had a word or two with Luther on that!)]

    12 –> Communism: Communism is inherently rooted in evolutionary materialist, atheistic views, through the concept of Dialectic Materialism. And, though the most direct intellectual progenitors of Marx lie in Fuerbach and Hegel etc, this simply shows how Darwinist thought from 1859 on fitted into and was rapidly integrated with the emerging post-Christian “enlightened” and “scientific” revolutionary era Europe of the mid C19. Indeed, there is serious basis for dating Modernity as the era from 1789 to 1989, from fall of the Bastille to the fall of the Berlin wall.

    12 –> Fit vs Unfit Jews: Hitler viewed the Jews as a menacing and inferior race that would corrupt the Aryan race. So it had to be segregated socially and reproductively [recall, you had to prove your racial credentials by ancestry to get married . . .], and when it could not be simply expelled, it had to be wiped out.

    _________

    GEM of TKI

  86. Larry

    Darwinism introduced the idea that death of the unfit is essential for progress.

    No, Darwin didn’t introduce the idea. He pointed it out as a self-evident truth and he didn’t phrase it the way you did. He called it “natural selection” and he supported it by comparison with “artificial selection” which was a well understood concept from animal husbandry predating Darwin by centuries if not millenia. The death of the unfit isn’t essential. What is essential to his theory is differential reproduction and this he presents as a self-evident truth. Later Darwin reluctantly adopted the term “survival of the fittest” which was suggested by British economist Herbert Spencer.

    The only new idea that Darwin proposed was that “survival of the fittest”, often described as a tautology, operating over the course of millions of years resulted in the origin of new species. The major ramification of his new idea is that it overturned the biblical narrative describing created kinds. It allowed, as Dawkins famously put it, the intellectual fulfillment of atheists.

    The Nazis did no more than apply well known principles of animal breeding to the human population. Darwin didn’t introduce any principles of animal husbandry.

  87. I just got caught up with this exchange, and I’m going to jump in–several times, to keep the individual posts better focused. I’ll begin with jj cassidy’s comment above:

    “If we need to end this, then we can end it unresolved. However, I doubt that two biologists (Schloss and you) win by default over a historian (Weikart) citing current historical study. Since when is the default resolution that the dilettantes win?”

    I’m an historian of science, and thus not exactly a dilettante on this question; however, I’m no expert on Hitler or German science in any period, and on such matters I would in most cases (perhaps all, though not necessarily all) be willing to submit to Weikart’s conclusions. (The most that any honest historian can do, in such cases, is to examine methodology in detail–we’re all experts on historical methods, more or less–and to read reviews by other experts from the same subspecialty. I’ve not examined Weikart’s methods scrupulously, though I’ve read several reviews by experts without forming a verdict of my own; those reviews diverge widely on the validity of his conclusions.)

    I have myself defended Weikart’s larger claim (at least this is what it seems to be to me) that Hitler was influenced in some important ways–whether directly or indirectly (and the difference is very important to anyone who wants to make an ideological argument out of this) — by Darwinian ideas. There were also large influences of Darwinian ideas on earlier generations of German thinkers, and I’m a bit more familiar with some of those myself. Specifically, I defended this basic point of his a couple of years ago on the ASA list, in response to one or two very critical reviews that were copied to the list by someone. I’ve never met Weikart (I would like to), but I like to quote one of his articles in a certain course I teach, and I regard him as a very competent (or better) historian. MORE coming.

  88. However, I also agree strongly with DaveScot’s cautions. Your instincts are right on, DaveScot, IMO. It’s one thing for an historian to point out the flow of ideas (or practices, or technological tools, or whatever) from one person/culture to another, and so on. It’s another thing entirely to draw “lessons” from this. Before reading DaveScot’s posts, I was already thinking of some of the very examples he offered (despite his use of grossly exaggerated data about witches). Two of the best such examples in this context, IMO, would be these: (1) without Christianity, there’d have been no crusades (and I don’t believe that the crusades were something to be proud of); and (2) creationism (in the general sense, not necessarily the YEC view) was a central plank in the racist views of a lot of white people in the US and South Africa for many years.

    So, anyone who wants to make the “Darwin = Hitler” argument for ideological purposes (e.g., to draw the conclusion that we’d better not endorse Darwinian evolution) had better be very careful. This is not to say that one should ever make such connections, simply that one had better be very careful. Them chickens can come home to roost, in ways you might not like.

  89. I do think that one can find some hard and fast “causes” in history that stand up. For example, I do think that slavery caused the American Civil War–no slavery, no civil war, and probably also that such a war was almost inevitable (though I can conceive of a scenario of further compromise, had Lincoln been defeated in 1860, that would have led to an independent slave-holding state in the South).

    As I say, these things are very tricky. One I have written on myself, is the claim that Christianity caused modern science. (I don’t buy that one, though I do believe that Christianity was very important in shaping modern science. I’ll spare the details here.)

    I get very suspicious, especially, of the grand, far-reaching theories that (ironically) seem to reduce a lot of bad things to one or two clear causes. For example, though I was attracted to the scholarly life partly by reading the late Francis Schaeffer, I was soon rather disappointed by the great over-simplifications in his analyses of the history of Western thought and culture, which might in turn be over-simplified (by me) into the claim that Aquinas takes the blame.

    Coming back to Weikart, however, the statement he wrote for the ASA, resonding to Jeff Schloss, is IMO an excellent example of an historian explaining and defending his ideas. On the one occasion when I’ve heard Weikart speak (on a podcast), he came off very well, and I would say the same in this case.

  90. However, in defense of Jeff Schloss, it needs to be pointed out that Jeff was reviewing Stein’s film, not Weikart’s book. That’s an absolutely vital distinction to make. Ironically, I am not able to say myself whether Stein’s film overstates and thereby distorts Weikart’s book. I was in Europe for several weeks when the film was released, and it disappeared from the one local theater that was showing it within just a couple days of my returning–too quickly for me to set aside an evening to watch it. I still have not seen it.

    However, the film did apparently make an historically unjustified claim about Darwinism and Hitler — namely, that there are these two dots and you just connect them. DaveScot put it like this above:

    “Expelled’s argument wasn’t “WATCH OUT!! The Darwinists are NAZIs!!”

    It sure seemed that way to many viewers including me. If the Holocaust connection wasn’t made to smear modern Darwinists what then what the hell was it included for?”

    On the reasonable assumption that DaveScot is not exactly a hostile viewer of a pro-ID film, I’ll take this as confirming what Schloss and many others have said on this point. This suggests that Schloss’ scholarship was a lot better than has been suggested above.

    MORE coming.

  91. Now I want to provide some information about the ASA having Schloss’s review on their web site. This information is first hand: I am the ASA V-P at the moment, and I was directly involved in all of this. Whatever rumors may be flying, and whatever inflammatory statements about the ASA may be made, the following information is entirely factual.

    First, go take a look at the site and see what’s there regarding “Expelled.” In addition to a link to the discussion (by various parties, some of them ASA members and some not) on the ASA list, there are 8 further links, to comments by a range of organizations and individuals. Including TDI. This is hardly a case of “one man’s opinion,” or even one single person speaking on behalf of the ASA.

    In fact, I was asked to write the review that Jeff wrote. I was (as stated above) in Europe at the time, and given the difficulty of writing a review of a film you haven’t seen (though frankly I think I’ve read some reviews in that category, we probably all have), I recommended that Jeff be invited to write a review–along with another ASA member who happens to be a fellow of TDI. The latter person, a good friend of mine who won’t be identified further, also had local circumstances that precluded him from doing this in the time we wanted (we wanted to post both reviews pretty quickly), and so another ASA member who also happens to be a fellow of TDI was then invited to write. Once again, local circumstances made this difficult, but that person forwarded to us Richard Weikart’s response. I would have preferred to have a second review by one of our own members (Weikart is not a member), since we wanted to feature our own people, but given the situation (in which neither me nor two other members were able to do this in a timely manner), I recommended that Weikart’s reply be added to our site since his work had received such extensive discussion in Jeff’s review. And, as I’ve already said, I think it’s a first-rate reply. (What would interest me even more would be to see a 3-way conversation, in which both Weikart and Schloss could talk to Stein about how he presented Weikart’s ideas.)

    MORE coming

  92. Let me say now that I think Schloss made every effort to document his claims, and even more effort to use a respectful and even helpful tone, however he may have felt about some of things in the film. It is IMO a model of both clarity and charity. Would that we could all do that, all of the time (who does?).

    This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything Jeff wrote. For the record, I do not share his conclusions about what happened to Guillermo Gonzalez; if I had seen the film and written the review, I’d have restated my intense objections to how his case was handled at OSU, esp how the faculty advisor to the campus atheist organization poisoned the atmosphere for him and probably (IMO) pretty much killed his chances for tenure. This is old news, but perhaps some here are not aware of the fact that I made this point at length in two letters I wrote (one last year and one a few years earlier) to the ISU president. Jeff obviously sees this one differently. Jeff also is a bit more hesitant than I would be to defend Sternberg, but he’s very fair IMO in stating what is actually known to have happened and what is contested. I have also defended Sternberg (on PT, where I go only when people’s reputations are being smeared), but I would say that his case seems a bit less clear to me than that of Gonzalez. As for Crocker, I don’t think that a situation involving an adjunct faculty member compares with the other two cases, regardless of the merits of her situation, and if I were Stein I’d have left that one out.

  93. Hi Ted Davis,
    Good replies.
    I get your larger point and am gratified by your remarks on Weikart, Gonzalez and Sternberg.

    With that said I feel rather foolish questioning an historian such as yourself but your use of the Crusades strikes me as odd.
    To say that without Christianity we wouldn’t have had the nastiness of the Crusades sounds a little like saying that without the Allies we wouldn’t have had the nastiness of Passchendaele and Normandy.

    You say that those of us arguing for the historical connection between Darwin and Hitler won’t like where the chickens return to roost but I think that most people making these arguments have a good idea where they will settle and feel prepared to deal with them. The attempt to smear Christianity with the tu quoque brush just doesn’t work well as the many references to glass house dwellers have shown. As we’ve seen above, Christianity has admitted and apologized for its part in Hitler’s program, as it has for the Crusades, as has the Luterhan Church for Luther’s remarks. Perhaps many of us (myself for certain – being less than a dilettante ) are still ignorant of important points, but its not as though Christianity has turned a blind eye to its errors, missteps and atrocities. Many of us are quite aware of them, having been raised in schools and an era which are not exactly shy about pointing out the failings of Christendom. It’s not as though even an army of internet infidels is going to open our eyes to something we haven’t wrestled with for years, vis, witch hunts, the Crusades, the Inquisition, Calvin’s Geneva, residential schools, Galileo, missions, etc..

    ==
    As for Expelled, the point was made several times ( definitely by Berlinksi and Weikart) that the Darwin to Hitler connection is not one of logical necessity, nor does a two-dot line segment join them. At the same time, of course the point was to present the perspective that, as we’ve heard here many times (re. for example: Church Burnin’ Ebola Boys), “ideas have consequences”.

    ===
    Stein himself does make the connection more explicitly, if not in the movie (which he didn’t write or produce) at least in subsequent promotional interviews. In such careless instances, (The Dennis Prager show comes to mind) he did step back and restate the thesis properly (I think Prager actually did it for him, if I recall).

    In his interview on CBC’s The Hour he more accurately (on this point – though he’s quite weak on the scientific challenges) calls Darwinism one of the wellsprings of Nazi thought and says that some Nazis invoked Darwinism while also stating that Darwinists are not Nazis.

    By the way, I’ve not read Schloss’ review and have only commented on Weikart’s response and his case.
    I called it “Perfect.
    Logical, historical, factual, measured, comprehensive ….”

  94. CORRECTION:

    One of the two ASA members I mentioned above in post 92 is not in fact a fellow of TDI. I think he might have been at one time, but I am not sure about that. I am sure that he is not listed presently as a fellow, and I apologize for the error. A fellow of TDI recommended this particular person, whom I also had thought of in this connection; perhaps that is the source of my faulty impression. No one however would doubt his commitment to ID.

  95. If you want to see some support for ideas related Weikart’s (about WW1 and German militarism, not about WW2 and Nazi anti-Semitism), from a rather surprising source, look up Gould’s article, “William Jennings Bryan’s Last Campaign.” I agree with his discussion there, including his view that Bryan had identified a genuine problem, but offered the wrong solution.

  96. Ted Davis said:

    However, the film did apparently make an historically unjustified claim about Darwinism and Hitler — namely, that there are these two dots and you just connect them. DaveScot put it like this above:

    “Expelled’s argument wasn’t “WATCH OUT!! The Darwinists are NAZIs!!”

    Now that I’m reading Schloss’ review I see even he didn’t draw this conclusion.

    So another option is that Darwinism did not “lead” to Hitler – the road to the Holocaust is
    paved with something else – but perhaps it provided some of the necessary gas to get
    there. Movie producer Ben Stein appears to endorse this option, saying “Darwinism does
    not lead inevitably to Hitler” but it may have “inspired” such ideas. In his film interview
    David Berlinski makes this same distinction with the very emphatic claim that for the
    atrocities of the Reich “Darwin was not a sufficient idea but a necessary one.”

  97. For some seventy years now the role that Christianity played in the Holocaust has been discussed. I’ve read a number of books on the subject myself. Wikipedia, I know, is quite biased on socio-cultural issues, but I suspect that few would disagree when it says, “Christian anti-Semitism ultimately played a dramatic role in the Nazi Third Reich, World War II and the Holocaust. The dissident Catholic priest Hans Küng has written that ‘Nazi anti-Judaism was the work of godless, anti-Christian criminals. But it would not have been possible without the almost two thousand years’ pre-history of ‘Christian’ anti-Judaism…’”

    The Holocaust has led to, for better or worse, much introspection within Christendom. Of such was the Catholic declaration Nostra Aetate, also it has influenced at least in part the growth of Christian Zionism. So why is it that at any suggestion that Darwinism also may have played a role there is such a loud cry of foul? Is it that materialism is incapable of introspection?

    Anyway while we’re on the subject, let me deviate a little and suggest that some might be interested in an article by David Berlinski’s daughter Claire.

  98. Ted

    re; witch executions

    I said millions in the highest estimates. This is the true number of the highest estimates and I made no comment on the quality of those estimates. The widely excepted range of witch executions is somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000.

    However, there’s another way of looking at these numbers. In the witch hunt centuries the worldwide human population is estimated to be about 350 million and in the Nazi years that number was about 2,500 million. Thus as a percentage of the living population the fraction killed in the holocaust is in the same ballpark as the fraction killed in the witch hunts.

    One also needs to keep in mind that the executioners in both cases where Christians and the victims non-Christians.

    So there.

    I don’t desire apologies from anyone for what their dead ancestors did. I desire the juvenile finger pointing from their living descendents to stop.

  99. —–Ted Davis: For my part, I am less interested in Shloss’s commentary on the Darwin/Hitler connection and more interested is his lack of objectivity about intelligent design in general. To be more precise, I am concerned about his clichéd approach to describing it and his irrelevant criteria for assessing it.

    For one thing, it shouldn’t be necessary to remind Schloss that a man’ beliefs or his associations, past or present, should not disqualify him from being a scientist. Translation– Philip Johnson’s impatience with cultural atheism has nothing at all to do with the validity of Dembski’s explanatory filter. Whatever Schloss thinks of the ID movement, he ought not to confuse it with ID science. Frankly, this kind of motive mongering calls into question the sincerity of anyone who resorts to it. It is time for ID critics to learn the difference between a religious presupposition and an empirical observation.

    It is also a little late for Schloss to be learning the meaning of the word “context.” As anyone who cares knows, William Dembski is a theologian. His comment about the “Logos” theory of the gospel was an attempt to explain a scientific phenomenon (design) in the context of a theological paradigm. Ironic isn’t it. When Dembski explains that a design inference cannot uncover the designer’s identity of the designer, his critics say he is hiding something. On the other hand, when he says that he personally believes the designer to be God, his critics ignore the theological context and accuse him of bootlegging religion into his science. Apparently, Schloss is just this kind of critic.

  100. Hi Rude:

    Re, @ 98: “why is it that at any suggestion that Darwinism also may have played a role there is such a loud cry of foul? Is it that materialism is incapable of introspection?”

    1 –> Who is there — per materialistic premises and implications for credibility of mind and conscience [Cf here] — to “introspect”? [This is part of the reductionism to the image of the ape and its implications.]

    2 –> This leads us to the point that materialism-linked Darwinism is part of the post-enlightenment devaluation of man — “ascended ape, not fallen angel” etc [cf Ch 6, Darwin's Descent of Man on predicted consequences and implications as excerpted at 86 above, point 5] . . . — and thus of basic morality. The events in Europe of the 1930′s and 40′s when seriously addressed in the context of underlying worldviews and absolutising of “science” issues, would give a lot of people serious pause. [Mr Davis is right to point out that that certain features of the German buildup to and actions in WW I (Cf W. J. Bryan here) already foreshadowed what would happen in the 1920's - 40's. Indeed, it is not improbable that some of the German propaganda during the war would have influenced Hitler, a soldier on the Western Front. Not to mention, many of those who would become his key supporters.]

    3 –> Rage, denial and angry dismissal on being confronted on moral faults, potentially dangerous tendencies and the defects of favourite ideas, are not unexpected. The challenge our culture faces is to rise above emotive reactions to think soberly and objectively; then to change its mind [attitudes and thought], make amends and undertake appropriate reforms. (Some public apology and restitution to victims of being “expelled” may also be in order.)

    4 –> Given the observed balance of power in institutions and the sad track record of the fate of dissidents in the halls of science that Expelled documents, one may be tempted to think that silence is a better answer than trying to speak truth to power in potentially angry and ruthless hands. But, one of the major lessons of the 1920′s – 40′s, is that silence is in fact almost the worst thing one can do under such circumstances. For, silence in the face of rising evil becomes enabling behaviour, and the trend is for ruthless abuse to get worse, not better if it is unchallenged and unchecked. (Similarly, we should be VERY suspicious of any movement or trend of thought that undermines the foundations of morality, especially if it entails or suggests that in effect “might [or success] makes right.”)

    5 –> So, unless we want to repeat some chapters of history that are plainly best not relived, we have to stand up and fight now, before it truly becomes too late.

    GEM of TKI

  101. Check my math …
    Estimated world populations:
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/worldhis.html

    Even taking the population statistics offered by DaveScot with the difference as (very roughly) an order of magnitude in population between the early modern era and the early 20th Century, the Nazis killed over 10 million people as compared to the upper end estimate of 100,000 witches killed. Note as well that they did so in at most 10% of the time (closer to about 2-3%). The Nazis killed roughly a million a year compared to a maximum of one thousand a year (bunching all witches killed into the single century peak rather than the four centuries over which the killings were actually spread) so the Nazi death rate, per capita, is still two orders of magnitude greater than that of the witch hunts.
    This is, of course, very conservative, estimating populations and deaths in the favour of the Nazis in all cases.
    Rough:
    10 million deaths / 10 years /2,500 million population
    vs
    100,000 deaths / 100 years / 350 million population

    In fact, in about the year and a half from 1940-1941 Hitler gassed nearly as many “patients”, 70,000 (only 5,000 Jewish), as the high end estimate for all witches killed in 400 years.
    In six years they killed more than twice as many (and as high as 8 times as many) handicapped people as all the witches who died during all the 4 centuries of witch hunts.
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrar.....abled.html

  102. In neither the witch hunts nor the Holocaust is either case so simple as “Christians killing non-Christians”:

    -The secular authorities killed the greatest number of witches while the Church usually ordered penance.

    -Atheists were among those adamant that witches ought to be killed.

    Even atheists and skeptics such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin advocated the killing of witches, the latter of whom wanted it done in the slowest possible fire. Rodney Stark argues that it was one of several “collateral results” of conflict between Europe and Arabia.

    David Marshall, The Truth Behind The New Atheism page 161.

    -The Church was a mediating factor. Where the Church and government were strong witch hunts were the least prevalent.

    -The witches were no more non-Christian than was general population – they were not, contra myth, Pagans.

    -Witches were not killed for beliefs but for (alleged) deeds – especially murder and other violent crimes tried in civil courts.
    http://departments.kings.edu/w.....error.html

    http://www.tangledmoon.org/witchhunt.htm

    Witch hunts were a collaboration between lower-level authorities and commonfolk succumbing to garden-variety pettiness, vindictiveness, superstition and hysteria. Seen that way, it’s a pattern that recurs over and over again in various forms throughout human history, whether or not an evil international church or a ruthless patriarchy is involved, in places as different as Seattle and Rwanda.

    In fact, while the justification for condemning witches was religious, and some religious figures joined in witch hunting campaigns, the trials were not run by churches of any denomination. They were largely held in civil courts and prosecuted by local authorities (some of whom were also religious leaders) as criminal cases.

    The evil eye is not a particularly Christian idea, and early on the church actually discouraged members from clinging to old folk beliefs in magic and evil sorcerers because they were inconsistent with church doctrine.

    Current popular history holds that the witch hunts were concerted campaigns by a male-dominated church that felt its sway diminished by stubborn pagan and folk traditions that gave too much respect to wise old women. The persecution, the story goes, was designed to stamp out those beliefs. However, when you look at actual cases, the picture is quite the opposite. “In 1627,” writes Roper, “in the town of Ochsenfurt, rumors about witchcraft had involved the allegation that a child had been eaten … Later that same year, 150 citizens gathered in force to complain about ‘the enemies of their livelihood, and vermin and witchcraft,’” and to demand action. Against the bishop’s express orders, the mayor and council arrested and tortured several suspects, causing the death of one.

    And if the victims of witch hunts were disproportionately older women, their chief accusers, and the initiating force behind many of the trials Roper details, were often women, too. Young mothers, overwhelmed by the demands of newborn infants and raised in a world where everyone believed that angry or negative thoughts could cause serious physical harm, cast about for someone to blame when something went wrong. In an old woman they saw someone with cause to resent their good fortune as well as a reminder that their youth and fecundity, too, would someday be gone. In some cases, a midwife was simply the old woman most likely to have had contact with a new mother and her child, and therefore a prime target.

    None of this excuses the Catholic and Protestant churches for the many atrocities they’ve perpetrated over the centuries, against “witches” or anyone else who earned their disfavor.

    http://www.powells.com/review/2005_02_18.html

    http://www.davidmacd.com/catho.....itches.htm

  103. -The Nazis were not Christian.

    Indeed, the leading Nazis – Hitler, Himmler, Rosenberg, Goebbels, and Bormann – were all fanatically anti-Christian, though this was partly hidden from the German public.

    Robert Wistrich, professor of Jewish history in Hitler And The Holocaust, as quoted in Vox Day’s The Irrational Atheist.

    - A significant number among the first euthanizing doctors were not Christians but Jews. Jews were not considered among the inferior at first as they had become successful in German society.
    http://www.history.vt.edu/Jone.....Nazis.html

    http://lib.bioinfo.pl/auth:Mildenberger,F

    The German eugenic leadership was originally less anti-semitic than the British. Most German eugenists had originally believed that German Jews were Aryan, and consequently the movement was supported by many Jewish professors and doctors. The Jews were only slowly incorporated into the German eugenic laws which, up to this time, were supported by a large number of persons, both in Germany and abroad.

    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1.....rgman.html

    See the above ASA posting also for more on Nazis and Christianity.

    -Almost half of the Nazi victims were Christian.

    -Thousands upon thousands of clergymen and nuns were killed for their opposition to Hitler.

    http://groups.google.com/group.....2c90d73cec

  104. Mr Scott:

    Re: the executioners in both cases where Christians and the victims non-Christians. So there.

    I think it is necessary to make a few balancing remarks.

    First, it is hardly correct to assert that Hitler and co were “Christians.”

    Cf, e.g. Wiki, on Nazism:

    . . . Although Adolf Hitler had joined the Nazi Party in September 1919, and published Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) in 1925 and 1926, the seminal ideas of National Socialism had their roots in groups and individuals of decades past.[20] These include the Völkisch movement and its religious-occult counterpart, Ariosophy. Among the various Ariosophic lodge-like groups, only the Thule Society is related to the origins of the Nazi party.

    Similarly, on the Thule Society, we may read:

    . . . A primary focus of Thule-Gesellschaft was a claim concerning the origins of the Aryan race. “Thule” ((Greek): ?????) was a land located by Greco-Roman geographers in the furthest north.[7] The term “Ultima Thule” ((Latin): most distant Thule) is also mentioned by the Roman poet Virgil in his epic poem Aeneid. This was supposed to be the far northern segment of Thule and is now generally understood to mean Scandinavia.

    Said by Nazi mystics to be the capital of ancient Hyperborea, they identified Ultima Thule as a lost ancient landmass in the extreme north: near Greenland or Iceland. These ideas derived from earlier speculation by Ignatius L. Donnelly that a lost landmass had once existed in the Atlantic, and that it was the home of the Aryan race, a theory he supported by reference to the distribution of swastika motifs. He identified this with Plato’s Atlantis, a theory further developed by Helena Blavatsky, the famous occultist during the second part of the 19th century. The Thule-Gesellschaft maintained close contacts with Theosophists, the followers of Blavatsky.

    In short, it is far more credible to say that the major religious roots of Nazi ideology [a part of the matrix from which it sprang . . . I am in no wise saying that Nazism is solely a consequence of Darwinism] were in the neopagan-occultic circles that gave rise to the Aryan Man myth and the swastika — note, in effect, a broken cross [pregnant with meanings in a post-Christian, occultic context . . .] — symbol. The Aryan man idea of course was integrated with the Darwinist notion of races as quasi-species struggling to survive in a context where the cost of A’s survival is B’s extinction, and the will to power amorality of the Nietzschean superman to make a potently intoxicating and highly destructive ideological brew.

    And, while indeed many witch hunters — an acknowledged and repented of sin of Christendom — were clergy etc, they can hardly be said to have been acting under the relevant ethical principles of the gospel. Indeed, in part, that is why the witch hunts stopped: they were recognised as injustice and carried out through dubious investigatory procedures that sadly led to many a serious ands destructive miscarriage of justice, in a climate of mass hysteria. [And, BTW, some of those who led in the protests against and stopping of the witch hunts, were Christian clergy and laymen who came to see what was happening. As I recall as well, in the Salem case, one of the leading judges involved made public confession of his sins in the church.)

    As to the idea that one can equate the errors and sins of an era where sound judicial procedures were not even fully emergent and it was honestly believed by a lot of people that Witches were a threat to the basic survival of a largely subsistence level society, with one that turned away from centuries of [largely Christian influenced] progress to return to savagery and genocide on an unprecedented scale, it is its own refutation.

    Even, before one gets into addressing debates over numbers of victims. On that, we note that it is generally acknowledged that the estimates vary wildly, so the sort of comparison made just above has but little merit, apart from emotive rhetoric. It is, however, worth noting that the rate of such executions was such that perhaps one in 25,000 deaths in the 250-year period was as a result of such a witch hunt; which simply bears no resemblance to the close-on wiping out of Jews in Europe, and the [overlapping] 1/4 – 1/5 of the population of Poland and perhaps up to 10% of that of the USSR that perished in the six years of WW 2.

    A far better response, would be to observe that Nazism [among other things] has some sobering lessons to teach us about where Darwinist thought and the use of “Science” as an absolute can go, and that we — finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill-willed — had better not let such things happen again.

    So, when we come to select worldviews, we need to make the attitude to and implications for moral restraint on the beast within a key criterion.

    GEM of TKI

  105. Pardon: Scot

  106. StephenB wrote,

    “It is also a little late for Schloss to be learning the meaning of the word “context.” As anyone who cares knows, William Dembski is a theologian. His comment about the “Logos” theory of the gospel was an attempt to explain a scientific phenomenon (design) in the context of a theological paradigm.”

    Stephen, this is a peripheral issue IMO, but I’ll comment on it anyway. I am not aware of any evidence that Bill Dembski is a theologian, any more than my pastor (who has a doctorate from a seminary in Old Testament) is a theologian. Or, for that matter, that I am a theologian (I don’t even have a seminary degree, as Bill does, but I do read more theology than most lay people read) either.

    Please don’t interpret this as an ad hominem, for it is not intended as one and it is not one. Bill is one of the brightest and most original thinkers I know. But he’s a mathematician and philosopher by training and professional practice, not a theologian. He does not have a doctorate in theology (which most theologians have), although he does have an MDiv in theology; he does not publish tomes on theology that are intended mainly for theologians to read, advancing new arguments/interpretations on (say) the doctrine of God or the atonement. He does write on theodicy, but many philosophers do that (and Bill is a philosopher).

    Yes, Bill has written some articles in theological journals, such as the Scottish Journal of Theology (where I also have published, and I’m not a theologian either), the Princeton Theological Review, and Theology & Science (which is in the process of reprinting an essay of mine, but I’m not a theologian). The fact that I have written for American Scientist (three times) doesn’t make me a scientist, any more than my editing a book for the Cambridge Studies in History of Philosophy makes me a philosopher. Bill is not a member of any professional society to which theologians typically belong (and neither am I), and he is not a professor of theology at his seminary (rather, he’s “Research Professor in Philosophy”).

    George Murphy is a theologian; Robert Russell is a theologian; N.T. Wright is a theologian. All of those guys are bright (like Bill); two of them write about science (like Bill), and one of them (Murphy) actually publishes original work in technical scientific journals. Russell (PhD in astrophysics) has a case to make that he’s also a scientist, but he isn’t active as a scientific researcher whereas he’s very active as a theologian. Murphy has a track record of doing both–a very rare example. Bill’s c.v. does not look like theirs. (Neither does mine.) His c.v. doesn’t even look like John Polkinghorne’s, and some would say that John isn’t really a theologian either (I would say that he is, at this point in his life).

    Does Bill know quite a bit of theology? Undoubtedly. But he’s not a theologian.

    Incidentally, if there is a theologian in the ID movement, I can’t presently think of who that would be. Jack Collins might come to mind, but he’s really a biblical scholar rather than a theologian. Help me out here–who am I missing?

  107. Incidentally, if there is a theologian in the ID movement, I can’t presently think of who that would be.

    OTOH, the movement is loaded with scientist, mathematicians and engineers. Hmmmmm. Wonder why? Golly, could it be that ID is science-based? No!!! That’s impossible!!! ID is just closet creationism!!!!! Everybody at the Smithsonian knows that!!! LOLOLOL

  108. 107 above
    Hmm … it seems that the point was not so much that WmAD is a credentialed “theologian” (whatever that means) but that we are free to hold theological positions even as ID in general does not. In other words we should hope that one can be a biologist be he an atheist, Democrat, or even something worse—that he can hold personal opinions and speak on any subject he wishes and still join in some discipline with others who hold to different philosophical persuasions.

    Surely the contention is not that we must all agree to be materialists in order to “do science” on tax dollars.

    This also brings up the subject of “expertism”. We’re so accustomed these days to deferring to experts and trusting in professionals that sometimes I wonder whether we’re being seduced into some kind of Dictatorship of Experts (which is what fascism was). The idea behind a government “of” the people is that there should be wisdom out there among ordinary folks. And even as rotten a job as our public schools have done (not asking our children to think but rather, “How does that make you feel?”), there is still distrust out there among the unwashed as to the wisdom or our credentialed scientists and experts.

    Long live that distrust!

  109. Ted Davis: To use a theological formulation, I think you are “straining at gnats and swallowing camels.” Are you saying that William Dembski is not a “real” theologian because his M.Div is not sufficient to qualify him as an expert? By way of contrast, you say that Robert Russell is a true “theologian.” As far as I know, he has not achieved a PhD in theology nor can he claim the status of Doctor of Divinity. By your standard, we could also say that he is not a true theologian, which means, I gather, that we should discount his comments on God and evolution.

    Why labor over these irrelevancies while ignoring the main point: William Dembski’s personal beliefs are irrelevant to the integrity of his science, and his theological comments ought to be considered in a theological context. Given your reputation for being fair, I had hoped that you would appreciate the importance of making these kinds of distinctions. To imply, as Schloss does, that Dembski’s faith may leak into his scientific method is an insult that should not be endured. Let Schloss comment on the method itself, if he dares, and we will soon discover that there is no substance to his critique.

    Under the circumstances, I must reiterate that which should have already been understood. A design inference does not begin with a religious presupposition; it begins with an empirical observation. As basic as this point is, ID critics continue to miss it. Whether this confusion reflects an inability to reason in the abstract or whether it represents a cynical strategy to misrepresent the issue, I cannot say. One thing sure, Schloss’s motive mongering is the preferred method for discrediting ID. Inasmuch as you are defending him, I gather that you are on board with that dubious strategy.

    With regard to UD and its inventory of theologians, I don’t have a clue. Many of our best commentators do not wield their credentials, so I have no way of knowing how many or how few of them do theology for a living. I often comment on theology myself, when the topic calls for it, and I feel no need to define my ethos by elaborating on my advanced degrees. What good are arguments if they are not strong enough to do all the talking? I can tell you this, I often interact with professional theologians, and here is what I have found: The quality of their education depends less on the number of years spent in academia and more on where they were trained and who trained them.

  110. … William Dembski’s personal beliefs are irrelevant to the integrity of his science, and his theological comments ought to be considered in a theological context. … To imply, as Schloss does, that Dembski’s faith may leak into his scientific method is an insult that should not be endured. Let Schloss comment on the method itself, if he dares, and we will soon discover that there is no substance to his critique.

    Well said!

    The quality of their education depends less on the number of years spent in academia and more on where they were trained and who trained them.

    Amen to that too. This is true in just about every field. It is also true that every department in the most prestigious schools is not necessarily superior to its equivalent in some lesser school. It all depends on the professors.

    And again it’s not just quantity of publications and recognition. Great discoveries in science are not necessarily recognized in the lifetime of the scientist—Gregor Mendel, for example.

    Therefore it’s important we engage with ideas and the reasoning behind them and not just look to who is speaking.

  111. Stehpen writes:

    “Whatever Schloss thinks of the ID movement, he ought not to confuse it with ID science. Frankly, this kind of motive mongering calls into question the sincerity of anyone who resorts to it. It is time for ID critics to learn the difference between a religious presupposition and an empirical observation.”

    Just as frankly, Stephen, there are some very good reasons why fair-minded people (and IMO, Schloss is such a person) often find it very difficult to separate ID ideas from the ID movement. If there is confusion, in other words, it can arise easily and honestly and not from any absence of sincerity.

    Consider for example the statement on the masthead of this very blog:
    “Uncommon Descent holds that Materialistic ideology has subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins so that the actual content of these sciences has become corrupted. The problem, therefore, is not merely that science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview, but that this worldview is actively undermining scientific inquiry, leading to incorrect and unsupported conclusions about biological and cosmological origins. At the same time, intelligent design (ID) offers a promising scientific alternative to materialistic theories of biological and cosmological evolution — an alternative that is finding increasing theoretical and empirical support. Hence, ID needs to be vigorously developed as a scientific, intellectual, and cultural project.”

    Most of this statement promotes the view the ID is about science–I’ll grant you that–but the final sentence expressly links ID with cultural reform.

    More to the point, Bill Dembski has said (in his foreword to Ben Wiker’s book, Moral Darwinism) that ID’s challenge to evolution and naturalism is “ground zero of the culture war.” And, in his preface to Darwin’s Nemesis, Bill says that “Because of Kitzmiller v. Dover, school boards and state legislators may tread more cautiously, but tread on evolution they will — the culture war demands it!”

    Plainly, Stephen, Bill himself links ID with a much larger agenda. Just as the cultural agenda of eugenics (taken for genuine science 80 years ago) was linked with the idea of evolution at one point–for which scientists have been justly criticized–so the “culture wars” appears to be linked with the idea of ID. By its adherents, quite a few of them (remember the “Wedge” document, the authenticity of which has not to my knowledge been denied by TDI).

    Now, Bill and others have every right to associate themselves with this particular cultural and religious movement; they have the same right to make those decisions as you or me. But then, Schloss has every right to be confused, as you put it. It doesn’t take an act of bad faith to connect dots that leading advocates of ID have already connected, in clear and unambiguous ways.

    Speaking now for myself, and not for Schloss, I do very clearly distinguish in my own speaking and writing between ID as a set of ideas and ID as a cultural movement. I see that distinction and uphold its validity, at least for purposes of analysis. At the same time, I point out that it can be very hard to tell that ID is not a political movement under the guise of science. Do you see why I say this? Is this not a fair point?

  112. KF

    Germany was one of the most predominantly Christian nations in the world preceding Hitler’s rise to power. Surely you’re not prepared to argue that Hitler’s rise to power happened in a vacuum absent the active participation and support of the Christian populus.

    You’re beginning to seriously bore me.

  113. Say whatever you want about “experts,” and you won’t change the fact that we live in a society–the modern West–in which academic experts (those acknowledged to be such) carry great cache on some very important matters. On another thread, Frank Beckwith wisely pointed out that there is nothing to be gained from attacking someone like Francis Collins–he’s done the hard work of establishing a very substantial scientific reputation, and unless/until a number of ID advocates do likewise (by showing that ID is the genuine alternative to evolution that its advocates hope it will be), then ID does not have much of a future.

    Even if you abhor “experts,” in other words, you’re going to have to become them if you want to change the way in which evolution is seen and taught. This matters, IMO, more than you may realize.

  114. Ted Davis,

    No need to get hostile. Or impute things that were not said: “Even if you abhor ‘experts’…”—who said abhor? Nobody’s saying that we don’t need experts. Vive les experts d’ID!

    But we do need to be wary.

    Too often the experts pontificate outside their area of expertise and so often betray less wisdom than the man in the street. Albert Einstein, for one, denied the existence of free will and leaned toward Marxism. Those of us at the middle of the political spectrum should not ignore the fact that a huge portion of academia sits at the absolute extreme left in their politics and religion.

    Another problem is the urge to believe that the experts have it all figured out, from the Big Bang to Darwinism and all the important stuff in between including “bioethics”. Here I think David Berlinski sets a good example of doubt, as reported by Ron Rosenbaum.

    The world lost a great one a week ago Sunday and many recalled the following quote:

    …. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.
    …. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
    ????????? ??????? ??????????

    That is not to say some political parties—the Nazi and Communist most notably—do not promote an evil ideology. What’s hard for many to see is that not all who have fallen for evil ideologies are necessarily more evil than others. All of us are ignorant and/or deceived in various ways. Most human beings are not incorrigible. That is why, let me suggest, that it is so vital we have an open discussion in all controversial areas—that efforts to silence those who disagree is a great evil, as are efforts to keep the discussion from the general public.

    Nobody should be “attacking” Francis Collins—but it is good that we disagree with him and express it publically. In no way should we be intimidated by his credentials or his sincerity.

  115. As for Bob Russell, Stephen, you are quite right that he lacks the doctorate in theology, which (as I stated) *most* theologians have. He is an exception–and, if Polkinghorne is also a theologian (as I would say), then he’s another exception. My criterion explicitly allows for this.

    In Russell’s case, he’s the founding director of the “Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences,” and the word order here is significant. If you look at even just the condensed form of his c.v. (http://www.ctns.org/about_founder.html), it’s very clear that most of his work focuses on (not deals tangentially or incidentally or in passing with) theological topics, such as resurrection, eschatology, divine action (in prayer as well as in natural history and the ongoing operation of the world), etc. He edits a theological journal, teaches on the theological faculty at the GTU, and supervises dissertations dealing with “theology and science.”

    I don’t see a similar emphasis in Bill’s work–and (again), keep in mind that this isn’t a criticism of any kind, it’s simply a statement about the nature of his work. Bill, no differently from me, may write or speak sometimes about such topics, but they aren’t his consuming passion in the way that they are for Russell, Murphy, or Polkinghorne (referring to his more recent work). Those guys are theologians; Bill isn’t. Nor am I.

    I’ve nothing more to say on this peripheral topic.

  116. Rude: I apologize for seeming hostile–a consequence of the brevity and abruptness of that post. I’m sure you’ll agree that this thread (and many others here) offers multiple examples of much more obviously hostile language. Nevertheless, I’m not trying to raise the ante.

    We share an admiration for the great Russian writer (despite in my case some regret for his support near the end for Putin), and (apparently) similar political views. But I don’t want to get into either of those topics here.

  117. Hi Ted Davis,
    I’m still appreciating your thoughts here.
    I agree that you are far less hostile and threatening than others on this thread.

    Have you considered that Schloss admits that (like Weikart’s book) the film does not make the connect-the-two-dots from Darwin to HItler – event though that was the message you got from the film?

    Making a similar case is the ASA essay on Hitler, Darwinism and Christianity, that I linked earlier:
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1.....rgman.html

    I thought to look into the author, Jerry Bergman just a little:
    http://www.asa3.org/asa/topics.....MAR84.html

    The history of Jerry’s situation is too complex to repeat here, but there seems to be plenty of evidence that the university violated its own rules to get rid of an excellent teacher and prolific scholar-with no substantive charges brought against him. One apparent irony is that in his teaching and professional writing about education Jerry never endorsed “creationism ” -even though that’s how his case is now being described in print.

    The ”trouble” seems to have been caused by their dislike for Jerry and ‘ ironically, by the fact-that he worked harder at scholarship than they did. He published more papers in professional journals than the rest of his department put together. At the same time he managed to write an impressive textbook, Understanding Educational Measurement and Evaluation (Houghton Mifflin, 1981), plus several other books and monographs.

    That sounds familiar.

    Do you know what has become of Jerry?

  118. Charlie

    Jerry takes an occasional long break from blogging.

  119. Ted Davis: The definition of a theologian is not in question here, so I don’t understand why you spend so much time discussing it. The issue is motive mongering, and if you choose to disengage without addressing it, that is your privilege.

    The ID movement is cultural and ID methodology is scientific. In that same sense, Secular Humanism is cultural and Darwinist methodology is scientific. In both cases, the cultural movement may spill over into the motivations of scientists. Many, not all, ID scientists are unabashedly Christian just as many, not all, Darwinists are unabashedly atheist. But if we are going to obsess over the one link, then we ought to obsess over the other. So, let us ask the relevant questions in parallel fashion. Does William Dembski’s religion inform his science? Does Eugenie Scott’s atheism inform her science? Did Barbara Forrest’s atheism affect her testimony at Dover? Did your colleagues ask all three questions, or did they stop after the first one? Motives are not methods, but some of us seem to apply that principle only to atheists. Why is it that only they are to be given the benefit of the doubt?

    And what can we say about the relevant social initiatives? Is not the Humanist Manifesto even more of a defining document for a cultural movement than the Wedge Document? Which one do you think came first, and, therefore constitutes the opening gambit; which one do you think came later and constitutes a defensive response? Which one is almost a century old— and has been signed by hundreds of nation’s leaders—and is gaining strength every day? Which one modestly begun with one heroic attorney and has begun to fade? Which one gets to remain almost anonymous, while shaping the ideology of every major institution? Which one has been outed time and time again, and is held up for public ridicule. I am sure that you know the answer: Materialist Darwinists struck first and they continue to call the shots in all of our major institutions.
    Yes, I can understand why those uniformed on the matter might get confused about the difference between creation science and intelligent design—at least in the beginning. What I don’t understand is why the uninformed remain uniformed? Why would educated men and women with PhDs, who teach, blog, and speak on the subject of evolution and intelligent design, consistently fail to understand basic terms and definitions. I can understand why the uninitiated could, at first, confuse a religious presupposition with an empirical observation. What I don’t understand is why the confusion persists after, say, ten years and hundreds of explanations. After a time, one begins to suspect that confusion has given way to willful ignorance or even duplicity.

  120. —–Rude: “In other words we should hope that one can be a biologist be he an atheist, Democrat, or even something worse—”

    LOL. I wish I had said that.

  121. Stephen,

    We agree that the “theologians” issue is peripheral and not worth talking about further.

    I like the way in which you put things here, b/c it’s clear and gives us some basis for more conversation. I’ve inserted numbers into your paragraph to identify the points on which I will comment below.

    “(1) The ID movement is cultural and ID methodology is scientific. In that same sense, Secular Humanism is cultural and Darwinist methodology is scientific. (2) In both cases, the cultural movement may spill over into the motivations of scientists. Many, not all, ID scientists are unabashedly Christian just as many, not all, Darwinists are unabashedly atheist. But if we are going to obsess over the one link, then we ought to obsess over the other. So, let us ask the relevant questions in parallel fashion. Does William Dembski’s religion inform his science? Does Eugenie Scott’s atheism inform her science? (3) Did Barbara Forrest’s atheism affect her testimony at Dover? Did your colleagues ask all three questions, or did they stop after the first one? (4) Motives are not methods, but some of us seem to apply that principle only to atheists. Why is it that only they are to be given the benefit of the doubt?”

    OK, Stephen, I won’t argue with you, in the sense of trying to convince you that you are wrong on some of this. I think it’s more productive to explain my own views on these points, that is to explain why I differ with you. If we try to argue this out, I fear this will become protracted, and I’ll just have to move on to other things (off this blog) that need to be done, leaving you hanging in an unsatisfactory manner. No one is well served by that–not you, not me, not the truth (whatever it happens to be). So, let me respond as I have explained.

    (1) We agree in principle that ideas and cultural movements can be understood separately. I am less convinced than you, that ID is scientific, even though its central component is a critique of Darwinian evolution. To clarify: I do not see ID as offering a genuine alternative to evolution, insofar as ID makes no effort (that I can see) to provide an alternative narrative about the history of the universe and the life within it. Scientific creationism does do that–it offers a false alternative, obviously, but at least it does that much. Creationists have specific beliefs about when and how the universe, the solar system, plants, animals, and people came into existence. Mainstream science offers the same type of narrative, simply one that is consistent with a much larger amount of evidence.

    If ID were to put forth such a narrative, I’d be more inclined to see it as an actual alternative to the standard narrative. At the moment, however, ID is IMO an interesting philosophical critique of the explanatory efficacy of Darwinian evolution. The refereed literature promoting ID is, almost without exception, in the field of philosophy of science rather than science itself. ID offers no suggestions on how a chemist or biologist might do laboratory science differently, or how a paleontologist might interpret the fossil record differently–except to say that, when all else fails (and remember, ID is IMO a deeply sceptical critique that looks for explanatory problems), enlarge the tool box and invoke design. What this means, in terms of how the design gets there and when it happens, ID is apparently unable to say. At least Darwinian evolution has specific ideas about that, in many (most?) cases. (The origin of life, I will grant, is a great sea of ignorance, and likely to remain so for a long time.)

    However–and here comes once again the tight link with the culture wars–if ID were officially to embrace a specific narrative of the history of the universe, it would probably accept a lot of the mainstream narrative, enough of it at least to move the YECs decisively away from ID. Failure to be specific about something this fundamental and well established, it seems to me, is not in favor of its status as a scientific view.

    (2) As an historian who looks for ways in which scientists’ basic beliefs influence their theory formation and selection, I need no convincing of this, and I have no doubt that it’s involved to some extent in the examples you offered. In nearly all cases I am aware of historically, however, it’s deucedly difficult to translate those background beliefs into specific scientific claims, and especially so since the early 19th century. (One rather interesting example that holds up IMO is Cantor’s mathematics of infinity, which probably did reflect in powerful ways his theism. Another would be Hoyle’s efforts to advance the steady state universe.)

    It may well be less difficult to see such beliefs at work in shaping the larger assumptions of scientists, and this is probably more of what you are intending: thus, the view that an atheist *must* keep away from miracles and design (which are obviously not the same thing, but they might be connected in some cases), whereas a theist needn’t do so. Is that what you mean?

    Suppose this is what you are driving at. It’s still quite problemmatic for me to endorse the delineation/identification of miracles in the history of the universe as fully “scientific.” This is not a modern bias; it goes back to the Greeks, and even deeply Christian believers in design such as Robert Boyle insisted that an appeal to miracles was inherently not scientific (I won’t cite chapter and verse here, but I’ll send them to you if you contact me privately).

    Now I’ve been talking about miracles, you might say, rather than design. But one does have the sense that, for many and perhaps most ID thinkers, the objects that can be shown to be designed (by whatever criteria) were probably assembled miraculously. That’s at least a very reasonable inference.

    Now, I’m actually quite happy with the idea of miracles myself. I believe in a number of genuine miracles, the supreme examples being the creation of the universe and the resurrection of Jesus. But, I fail to see how science can draw the conclusion that Jesus was raised; and I fail to see how science can conclude that the universe was actually created. Both of those things can be given strong rational support, IMO, but neither can be shown by science.

    Furthermore, I do not agree that meth naturalism (MN) is inherently atheistic. You didn’t say that, but some ID thinkers have said as much and I sense that it is implied by your comments under this point. One can appropriately, IMO, distinguish a specific method that has historically proved to be enormously powerful at producing coherent, testable explanations of so many things, from a larger philosophy that simply denies that anything invisible to this method actually exists in reality. That is IMO a philosophical leap, not a scientific conclusion, just as theism is a philosophical leap and not a scientific conclusion. IMO, theism makes better overall sense of the universe, e.g. by explaining *why* MN is so fruitful in the first place, and why mathematics (both simple and very complex) is so amazingly powerful a tool for understanding the universe. But science itself can’t go there–it can’t make that leap without going beyond itself. And, in order to make the God inference (if you will), a lot of other things need to be talked about, esp theodicy, which can’t just be left for later IMO.

    So, we agree that worldview assumptions have something to do with science, but we probably disagree on just what that something is. I believe that they have a lot more to do with forming the larger framework into which science fits–the larger framework that makes sense of science itself–than with the actual practice of science.

    To put this another, much more direct way: an atheist, IMO, can be just as good a scientist or physician as can a theist. But an atheist, IMO, can’t give as good and satisfying (in the sense of getting a deeper explanation, which is what science is ultimately looking for) an explanation of “the whole shebbang” than the theist can. But, if the atheist can do science equally well–he/she can calculate orbits and measure fundamental constants and determine the ages of rocks and show how natural selection alters populations, just as well as the theist can–if this is so (as I believe it is), then I fail to see how belief in design fits into the doing of science. It certainly fits into the bigger picture, but (as I’ve stated) IMO that’s another story.

    (3) I wouldn’t be surprised if Forrest’s atheism–specifically her secular humanist faith–affected her interest in testifying at Dover. It might also have led her to select certain things for emphasis. But not perhaps in the way you may mean here. I am convinced (perhaps you are also) that the received interpretation of the First Amendment unfairly favors one specific faith (namely secular humanism) over other faiths (esp traditional monotheism). What I mean by this is, that secular humanists are probably pretty happy about an arrangement that keeps a lot of religious questions (not all) out of bounds in publicly funded schools; whereas many religious people are understandably upset that those same schools can teach things that go against their religious beliefs. That fundamental assymmetry, IMO, ought to be questioned and eventually overturned. I don’t expect that in my lifetime, but I would applaud it. Insofar as Ms Forrest’s testimony was clearly aimed at showing how ID is not religiously neutral (namely, she showed how the textbook in question had “morphed” from a creationist text into an ID text, in order thereby to encourage the court to apply existing precedents about creationism to ID), it was obviously in line with her own, legally favored secular humanist beliefs. But, insofar as she presented actual facts about the history of that book, her testimony was religiosly neutral. A fact is a fact, regardless of one’s religion. If those facts had been known to me, I too would have been able to offer the same testimony.

    (4) Of course motives are not methods. But, as already stated, I do not believe that theists can or should do science any differently from non-theists: in other words, their methods ought to be the same. I hear ID suggesting or implying that those methods ought to be different, but I fail to see how or why. The issue of motive, in the sense of working for cultural transformation (as I also do, though not through science), is relevant here simply b/c (a) it’s stated explicitly to be a big part of what ID is about (I’ve already shown that above); and (b) a religious motive drives ID advocates to claim that MN is inherently atheistic, since it keeps design questions out of science as a matter of the limits of science. I’ve so often seen here and elsewhere, the point made to me that a science that refuses to go into the design question is unacceptable to the Christian, since (it is said) it contradicts Romans 1. Therefore, the motive leads to the claim that the methods must be different, in order for the science to be legitimate.

    Or, so it seems to me, Stephen. I don’t expect you to agree with most or all of this, but I hope at least that you understand my position better. I’ll hang up now, as it were, and read what you write probably without further comment.

  122. Ted Davis said,

    “I do not see ID as offering a genuine alternative to evolution, insofar as ID makes no effort”

    Yes, that is the essence of ID and that is why it is the only honest approach to evolutionary biology. The science of the 21st century as we now see it, offers no legitimate narrative of evolution. ID could make up a million scenarios just as current evolutionary theory does but then ID would be just as guilty as those who profess Darwinian evolution or whatever modern version of it is in fashion today.

    From my view point Darwinists, those of the atheistic or agnostic kind or theistic evolutionist of whatever kind there are who support some form of gradualism or the creationists are all driven by ideology and as a consequence their science is flawed. Because ID is honest and does not provide a narrative it is disdained.

    ID does not say there is any particular narrative of the history of the biological universe that one should embrace. It says there is no basis grounded in scientific evidence for accepting any specific narrative and anyone who does is just speculating. And if one imposes a view of evolution in the curriculum then one is imposing an ideology and not science on the curriculum.

    There is no theology involved even though many who support ID hold very definite theological beliefs. But these beliefs are not ID and will vary dramatically from person to person who supports ID. This is the basic flaw in George Murphy’s understanding of ID and why his attempt to engage us here on theology failed 16 months ago. Ted Davis and StephenB can discuss theology till the cows come home and it means nothing for ID. They can enlighten each other and the rest of us but they are not talking ID. I think Ted Davis understands this.

    I do not share Bill Dembski’s theology and I doubt that Michael Behe shares his theology either so why debate it or bring it into the discussion when analyzing ID. Maybe if one probed deeply there may be some kind of theological commonality but I doubt it since we have agnostics, non Christians and all forms of Christians who would agree on little theologically outside of some basics.

    Bringing up theology may be an interesting topic for many but it has little to do with ID. It is a diversion from the real issue which is the science of evolution or rather the lack of science in certain key areas of evolutionary biology.

    And I am one who thinks that evolutionary biology can explain most of the life forms on the planet but I also believe it fails miserably not just in OOL but also in any meaningful example of macro evolution. I believe that those who claim that science supports any form of gradualism for macro evolution are being dishonest intellectually as well as in other ways. That is the essence of the debate and why ID is disliked so much. We are looking for an honest person and finding very few. ID is honest enough to say there is no evidence. If there were nearly all of us would support it.

  123. Ted

    “I do not see ID as offering a genuine alternative to evolution, insofar as ID makes no effort at an alternative narrative”

    You think Behe’s Edge of Evolution took no effort? We have all the data we need to make our case. I’ve never understood how using the accumlated knowledge of all of math, physics, biology, paleontology, geology, cosomology, and any other releventologies in referenced citations is somehow not good enough. Please explain why you think it isn’t. Thanks in advance for explaining this to me.

    By the way, narratives are stories. We aren’t interested in stories. We are interested in describing what the data supports and stopping our description where the data stops. Necessarily that stopping point is before the point where we start making up historical narratives.

    We can make up stories as well as anyone. When pressed for a possible mechanism a designer could have used to influence the course of evolution I’ve suggested a sufficient mechanism that can be observed in the present – a highly infectious retrovirus that targets reproductive cells in one or more species and inserts a custom genetic payload. We use that mechanism ourselves for the same purpose. But I can’t go on to say this is how it happened a million or a billion years ago any more than anyone else can say that random mutations are how everything was accomplished in the past. The data stops for both hypotheses before that point. You guys seem to want us to give you the brand of sequencing equipment the designer used as well as the address of his lab. We could make one up but since we have no empirical data to support it we don’t. The use of only verifiable data from observation and experiment in support of an argument seems a reasonable way to bound things from my point of view. Don’t you agree?

  124. Mr Scot:

    Re: 113.

    I first note the track-record based implications of your last statement. So, while I had intended to remark on Mr Davis’ remarks, I leave that to Stephen B [Steve, please email me . . .] and instead compose a farewell.

    On the substantial point, in leaving I have a few remarks that I believe are relevant, whether or no you may find them boring.

    Pardon such boredom, please — you will never have to deal with my boring or troubling you again, ever. For, I am now taking the “semi-” out of the “retiring,” as at the close of this post. On points:

    1 –> Germany indeed is part of historic Christendom. And, for instance Luther’s antisemitism — as I noted above — was wrong and without gospel ethics foundation, as say Rom 13:8 – 10 makes plain. As was other antisemitism in Germany and broader Christendom.

    2 –> At the same time, at the time of Hitler’s rise to power, Germany had been subjected to over a century of major apostasising and hyperskeptical destructive criticism of its Christian heritage, to the point where on responding to Fuerbach in the 1840′s, Marx observed that the criticism of religion is the premise of all criticism, and in Germany that criticism was finished. (This you may recall from earlier threads.)

    3 –> By late C19, it is evident that there were many trends of academic and popular thought, several of which gave influence to the rise of Nazism. Nazism, in particular, drew on several threads of what we would now call neo-paganism; in Himmler’s case, perhaps classical German/Nordic paganism too. It also drew on lines of influence from Nietzsche and from the German versions of Darwinism tracing especially to Haeckel etc. This comes out in many ways, in writings, speech, actions and symbols. That is what I pointed out above. (Reflect for a moment on the implications of the Swastika as being visually, a twisted, broken-armed cross, in a nation that used the equal-armed cross as a national symbol; including in some of its highest national decorations for bravery. One of which Hitler had himself earned. (Cf here the Victoria CROSS and the cross-based flag of that cluster of anglo-saxon-celtic island nations.))

    4 –> Now, too, on a very different question: while rising to power, post-Munich 1923, Nazism had to present itself in a way that was sufficiently persuasive to the Christian-influenced sentiments of many, that it was a more or less lesser evil than the Red Threat. Sufficiently so, that it could form the required political coalitions. [But note that even at the end, President Hindenberg refused to see Hitler on his own and had to be persuaded by Papen et al to accept Hitler as part of a coalition, the Nazis by then being the single largest faction in the much divided Reichstag; perils of proportional representation, some would observe. Note, too: until he had locked down power, after the Reichstag fire and the death of Hindenberg, Hitler NEVER won a majority of the German electorate. He came in by coalition, as more or less the lesser of evils. (There is a lesson in that, methinks . . .)]

    5 –> Many Christians and Christian-influenced people were indeed gulled, or were even sympathetic to the nationalist goals he espoused. Many were appreciative of the role the semi-autonomous SA — its brutality notwithstanding — had long played as heir to the Freikorps as an effective reserve for the Versailles-limited German Armed Forces, and for their being a counterweight to the street armies of the leftist radicals. Others — probably most — were simply and plainly intimidated by the apparatus of a totalitarian state. Others, as I have shown by citing the Barmen Declaration and the White Rose movement, were dissidents and/or even resisters; some at the cost of their lives. Thus, in the context of significant exceptions and alternative movements of costly Gospel-based dissent, there is undoubted Christian involvement in the process of the Nazi rise to power, and there is thus indubitable — and acknowledged — guilt that attached to the Christian movements in Germany; but that is a matter of failing to live up to “the Faith once for all delivered . . .” (You will note that I have repeatedly alluded to the sins of Christendom. After all, as my fellow Caribbean, Atom, pointed out above: we here in the Caribbean are victims of some of those sins, after all is said and done on the debates over specific points; but of course I am also a beneficiary and spiritual heir of the brave dissenters who stood up to slavery etc, in the name of the gospel; starting with men like Wilberforce. That I am a convinced Christian is no thanks to the sins of Christendom, but instead to the grace of God. [Onlookers, kindly observe that above I have pointed out that we are all individually finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill-willed; also that all movements of consequence therefore have their sins to acknowledge and turn from. The point is to repent and to seek reformation; indeed that is a major underlying point in my allusion to Ac 17:24 in my handle: Kairosfocus.)

    6 --> In this regard, we must see that the 1934 Barmen statements of the Confessing Church on the so-called German Christians, are telling: APOSTASY. Apostasy that over the next decade or so had bitter, bloody consequences. Apostasy in a context where it seemed that there was only the alternative of the Reds or the Brownshirts. I therefore cite the first Barmen thesis:

    The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.

    7 --> So, plainly [and as previously noted], there was a split, tracing to apostasy: some were involved in the apostasy, others — often at bitter cost — were not. For that apostasy, and for its associated anti- Judaic and antisemitic behaviour, the church in Germany has had to confess its involvement and its failures to stand by the gospel. This, others have noted on above, linking statements of penitence. But, equally, it was in fact objective failure to live up tot he gospel and its ethics that was implicated, not the gospel, proper. That others formed a remnant of fidelity unto death in protest and opposition is also a vital balancing point if “a true and fair view” is to be found.

    8 –> And, in context: I had spoken to a rather specific point, showing where Nazism drew its particular religious roots (i.e. mostly from neo-pagan and occultic sources). Thus, it is in my opinion — and Mr Scot pardon my directness here — simplistic and unfair on the evidence to dismiss the holocaust as Christians killing non-Christians. As, another commenter also briefly pointed out before focusing on the witch hunts.

    9 –> But, on Hitler’s seizing the opportunity of the Reichstag Fire (on evidence, set by a Dutch, half-mad communist, but with the blame being conveniently transferred to the Reds as a whole), in effect dissent was treated increasingly as treason, as enabling acts were passed and dictatorship emerged. Including, ruthless manipulation of public media.

    10 –> That also means that, once power was seized, most of the Christians and Christianity-influenced in Germany did not have the accurate information to understand (e.g. the “Final Solution” was largely secret — guess why . . . ), nor the means of effective organised protest, in a world that was in massive crisis, and one in which the Nazis did deliver significant economic improvements. (I just hope and pray that we in our day don’t ever have to face that sort of situation.)

    And, so, now:

    FINIS

    Grace be with us all,

    GEM of TKI

  125. DaveScot–Excellent question, that IMO may advance things.

    I think that Mike’s book does offer what I ask for; it does give an alternative narrative–and I think it’s appropriate to use that term, whether or not you’re interested in stories. It’s actually an alternative interpretation of the same narrative that mainstream science asks for: an alternative interpretation of the story in which humans and other creatures are linked historically by common descent, and in which God (if I may use that word here, since I think it’s a good word that adequately identifies the source of the novelty that Mike believes “chance” can’t provide by itself) guides the process of evolution by controlling in some unknown way the raw materials on which selection operates. Have I misunderstood Mike? You undoubtedly know his work even better than I do.

    I’ve felt for a long time, DaveScot, that it’s hard to slip more than a razor blade between Mike’s view of this and that of Asa Gray, the first defender of Darwin’s theory in America. As Gray famously put it, “variation is led along certain beneficial lines.” Bob Russell has a virtually identical view, incidentally, updated by the twist of identifying the locus of divine action as quantum uncertainty–a view he takes from William Pollard. So does Owen Gingerich, judging from what he says in “God’s Universe.” And, so do I.

    I’ve always argued for this reason that Mike is a classical TE. This does not rule out IMO him being identified as an ID advocate, but I can recall being told by Nick Matzke that Gray wasn’t really a TE after all (Matzke is wrong), and I can recall being told by some ID folks that TEs are the bad guys (you don’t have to look very hard here for lots of verification on that one), so I guess Nick was right after all, wasn’t he?

    You might say that it’s only just a matter of definitions, might ye? And who cares about them? Apparently, a lot of people do, so let me offer mine. IMO as an historian of these things–and please keep in mind that the term TE appeared a long time ago, at least as far back as ca. 1900 if not earlier–a TE is someone who believes in common ancestry (including humans), and that the process was directed toward certain ends by the creator. Now, here’s where it can get very sticky for me, where I probably won’t find a lot of friends in the room. But I chose to enter this room, so I’ll continue. IMO, directed evolution or TE includes those who believe that science can demonstrate pretty well the need for such guidance (Conway Morris might be a modern example; Behe is another one) along with those who believe simply that blind chance isn’t the whole story, when all is said and done. I’m comfortable with either view myself, and I’m not certain which one is better. I probably identify more closely with the latter, however, since I really like the openness that comes with QM; and the whole world is ultimately governed by physics, not biology, and my views on evolution and divine purpose are based on more than just biology (indeed, more than just science of any kind). If we can believe what he says in Debating Darwin, and I do, then even Ken Miller holds the latter view, and in the same book Mike says that he’s fine with that. (Yes, I realize that Miller is the worst guy to bring in here, but my interactions with him haven’t been nearly as negative as yours apparently have been. I really liked “Finding Darwin’s God.”)

    Are you with me, so far? Do you disagree with part of all of this analysis? Also, do you consider me an ID, a TE, neither, or both? Is it even possible to be both, in your view?

    OK, DaveScot, I answered your question directly, with no ducking or weaving. Now I have one for you to answer in the same way:

    If I were to ask for a show of hands, starting from the top down, how many folks here and elsewhere in the ID camp would agree with Behe’s view that common descent is a virtual slam dunk? In other words, using my definition above, how many would say that evolution (TE would be the likely form) is almost certainly true? How many would agree that the standard narrative of natural history (insofar as it involves the big bang, an ancient universe and earth, and common descent including humans) is accurate?

    Will there be a lot of hands going up, or only one or two? What do you think, DaveScot? And, please don’t avoid my question by saying that ID doesn’t deal with that. I didn’t ask you whether ID dealt with it, I asked only how many hands would go up (as far as you can guess).

  126. KF

    re; farewell

    Again? Tell Show me you really mean it this time.

  127. Ted

    re; Mike Behe is separated by fewer than two degrees from Theistic Evolutionists.

    I agree. I’ve always argued that Theistic Evolutionists are IDists who just won’t admit it because of the abuse they’d suffer at the hands of Atheist Evolutionists who dominate the academy. If I may mangle a line from Einstein, I view the TE position as essentially God doesn’t play at dice with the course of evolution.

    I understand the basis for the fear all too well. I know scores of scientists from many disciplines, many of them biologists, who only dare voice their support for ID in secret amongst trusted colleagues. God help the young and untenured if they’re found out. Even those far removed from biology like astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez aren’t safe from the evolution storm troopers.

    Oops. Made a Nazi reference and I just promised myself a few hours ago I was going to drop out of that particular internecine squabble catfight disagreement. Shame on me.

  128. Hi Ted Davis,
    Something about your last comment bothers me.
    You admit that Theistic Evolutionists can admit that SCIENCE demonstrates the necessity of guidance in the history of the universe.

    William Dembski:

    Design theory—also called design or the design argument—is the view that nature shows tangible signs of having been designed by a preexisting intelligence

    I have always thought this was exactly where TEs drew the line and separated themselves from ID – the claim that science itself demonstrates this purpose.
    When I first started discussing evolution I presumed everybody arguing against ID was an atheist as it didn’t even occur to me that a theistic evolutionist would argue against the claim that nature actually exhibits signs of the design that he says is there.

    Ken Miller has offered that he and Behe share the exact same view of the history of the earth, common descent, human ancestry, the fossil record, etc.
    So what is it that allows Barb Forrest et al to testify that theistic evolutionist Michael Behe is a creationist and that theistic evolutionist Ken Miller is not? Only Behe’s claim that science provides the evidence of the necessary design.
    This blog has often said (as I think has CSC) that, according to his stated position, IDists would consider Ken Miller an IDist as far as cosmological evidence goes.

    With your asking for a show of hands you demonstrate something else, however. Although you seem to be comfortable with the criterion by which an IDist would deem you a proponent, insofar as you see that science warrants the inference to design, you do not draw your line there. Regardless of whether the science of ID demonstrates the evidence of purpose in nature to the satisfaction of both common descent old agers and special creation young earthers you hint that your problem with ID is not with the science after all. If we all see the design, if the scientific arguments can bear their own weight, why ought it matter how many people raise their hands?
    Would you dispute your dentist’s ability to extract your impacted wisdom tooth just because he was also a young earth creationist and didn’t believe it was a vestige of our evolution? Then you ought not reject the design inference just because young earthers like it as do TEs like Michael Behe.

    If you get your show of hands I believe you’ll be surprised, by the way.

  129. Ted (cont’d)

    To clarify my perspective a bit more for you. I sit outside this debate from a theistic perspective. As far as I’m concerned the trail of evidence for Biological ID ends abruptly, at best, about half a billion years after the earth cooled down from a molten glob of stone & metal. As far as I’m concerned the narrative past that point might be a series of one intelligence begetting another where none of said intelligences needs to rise anywhere near the level of a creator of universes. From the earth’s formation backward to the formation of the universe itself is a black hole making a giant sucking sound as it pulls empirical data out of view (pardon me, Ross Perot). Then along comes Cosmological ID after the huge gap. There I need either a creator of universes or force myself to swallow the absurd business of an infinite multiverse. I’m going with what’s behind door #1 but the power to create a whole universe is like so beyond my understanding there’s little to nothing in the way of further characterization I can make or even imagine about the nature of that intelligent agency. I sure don’t want to piss it off though so I’m inclined to take up Pascal’s Wager just to hedge my bets and even if it turns out to be a bust I like living in a western democracy amongst mostly moderate descendants of the Protestant Reformists. That’s a winning formula in my opinion and I say if it ain’t broke there’s no need to fix it.

    So anyhow, from my detached point of view your camp and Bill’s camp have far more in common than you have differences. You guys should embrace what you have in common and put aside the differences. It works for me. I even learned to get along with the YEC group and I’m here to tell you that wasn’t easy for me but it was doable by focusing on commonalities instead of differences.

  130. Kairofocus,
    Sorry (again) to see you go.

    DaveScot,
    While I’ve always expressed my gratitude for your hard work here I am sorry to have to lodge my dissatisfaction with your raising challenges against UD’s friends and then chasing them off for offering and supporting their rebuttals.

    Keeping the playground clear for ID proponents to discuss issues in a relatively congenial environment is one thing – purging it is another.

    I know my opinion couldn’t be less significant, but here you have it.

  131. Chalie

    I don’t see it as chasing KF off. I see it as encouraging him to follow through on the promise he made some time ago. The last I want to be seen as, you understand, is an enabler of broken promises.

  132. I, too, am sorry to see kairosfocus go, but I think he can keep his promise to Dave without holding himself to that same promise with other administrators. That is what I recommend. That way, everyone will be happy.

  133. I will miss KF. Dittos to StephenB.

  134. Ted Davis,

    you said

    “If I were to ask for a show of hands, starting from the top down, how many folks here and elsewhere in the ID camp would agree with Behe’s view that common descent is a virtual slam dunk?”

    I for one will not raise my hand mainly because I have never seen evidence for it. I believe very strongly in what I call limited common descent and all the evidence I have seen to support common descent such as pseudogenes, SINE’s and LINE’s retroviruses etc. only connect limited lines or organisms.

    Thus to take this very limited but convincing information and extrapolate backwards is to do what Darwin did which was also logically wrong. He saw a descent of a few species (not an upward trend of a tree) and then argued the other way. He said that this descent or devolution somehow translated into a pathway back to the simplest organism. In my opinion that is what is being done by those who conclude universal common descent. It is a faith based conclusion and not supported by empirical data. If anyone wants to argue otherwise, most of us would be willing to hear it.

    Behe has provided no evidence to support common descent and he is one of massive amounts of evidence. Behe too has made a faith based conclusion and as much as I admire him, I have to part company here.

    Now I am a lowly commoner but even a commoner can say “Show me the money.” So far I haven’t seen any money, only promises.

  135. Let me make a comment on what I consider the absurdity of saying that God operated through quantum mechanics to produce the changes necessary in the genome for natural selection to operate on. If God did it gradually through quantum uncertainty then He left no evidence. That is the basic contention by ID that there is no evidence. There is no evidence of gradualism in the fossil record leading to macro evolution or in any other area of current world. So God left no evidence of gradualism which is what I understand the appeal of quantum uncertainty is about. Sure God could have used quantum uncertainty to create massive amounts of change in a genome to then be acted on by natural selection. This is consistent with the evidence.

    But why do it this way. Do we have any evidence from anything else that this is how God operates. Certainly miracles of healing or intervention into one’s life could be accomplished this way but do we have any evidence that this is how God operates/d rather than some direct intervention to change a specific condition. And why is one way more satisfying of our view of God than the other? Is quantum intervention anymore appealing of God than a more direct intervention? Maybe this would make a separate thread in which Ted Davis and other TE’s could participate so we can understand their reasoning.

    By the way does this classify as theology?

  136. Kairosfocus,

    You are paying us a disservice. You are one of the most learned persons on this site so you have an obligation not to go. You are letting us down. I don’t agree with every point of view you take but I have learned a lot pouring through your posts.

    Stay around. Dave may be bored but the most of us are not.

  137. Charlie–

    You asked me, “So what is it that allows Barb Forrest et al to testify that theistic evolutionist Michael Behe is a creationist and that theistic evolutionist Ken Miller is not?”

    If I may speak bluntly: b/c the defense attorneys didn’t ask someone like me, who knows a lot more than Forrest about the history of the origins controversy, to show them how to blow her out of the water in cross examination (on that particular point). Just as they didn’t take my advice *NOT* to argue that ID is science, but instead to argue that aspects of ID could be discussed by public school science teachers as part of a unit on the philosophy of science. IMO that was their only *potentially* winning hand, in terms of preventing the judge from making a larger ruling against ID generally, rather than just a narrower ruling against the quite illegal activities of the Dover school board.

    But, to be equally honest, Charlie, even if the folks at TDI had decided to play ball with the defense (and most decidedly they did not decide to do that), I very much doubt that my opinions would have ended up in the witness stand. You can probably see why from the paragraph above.

    Nice question, Charlie. My best to you.

  138. DaveScot–

    Your replies are very interesting, esp the personal details. I’m with you on the infinite universe, whether called a multiverse or something else.

    You also said, however, something that I heard at least weekly from ID folks when I was on list with them, something that’s absolutely ubiquitous here: “I’ve always argued that Theistic Evolutionists are IDists who just won’t admit it because of the abuse they’d suffer at the hands of Atheist Evolutionists who dominate the academy.”

    If I had a thousand bucks for every time I responded at length to that one, DaveScot, I’d be retired by now. If you want me to rehash it all here, I’ll do that–and you won’t need to pay me a thousand bucks–but first, we have some unfinished business to get to.

    Forgive me for pointing this out, but you ducked my question. I hit your fastball, now you hit mine. How many hands will go up, esp among the leading lights of the ID movement? A lot? some? almost none? Is Mike in a lonely little corner all by himself? You’re up now, and the ball is coming in belt high. It’s time to swing. Can you hit it?

  139. I second Jerry in 137.

  140. And yes, jerry, you’re talking theology.

    As for the design/TE thing, a lot of TE’s (probably most of the ones I know) are happy to talk about “purpose,” which is really design by another name; a number of them will also use the word “design,” but others will shy away from that word b/c they have been led to think (partly by other TEs but also partly by IDs and esp by YECs) that if something is “designed” then it couldn’t have “evolved.” Since they are convinced that humans and other living things evolved (remember, I’m talking about TEs here), they shy away from speaking about “design.” I hope I’m clear enough; please ask something specific if I’m not.

    I also hope I made it clear that the term TE, as I use it, includes both those who believe that biology gives evidence of purpose or design (Behe and probably Conway Morris) AND those who do not believe that biology clearly evinces purpose or design.

    Russell, Polkinghorne, Miller, Collins, and Gingerich would be examples of the second view. They all use arguments for cosmological design, while at the biological level they do not think that design is clearly demonstrable from the science. If you want to call them IDs, that’s up to you (as I say, this is a matter of definition). They all affirm common descent as excellent science; they all (as far as I can tell) think that ID is reluctant clearly to embrace that piece of (in their view) excellent science, and thus they decline to put themselves in that category. Furthermore, at least some of these people (Polkinghorne and Gingerich, probably also Russell and Collins) would point out right away, that they believe the inference to design, while based partly on some science, goes well beyond science. That is, science alone doesn’t allow one simply to conclude that design/purpose is true. Rather, they would say, the inference is ultimately metaphysical and/or theological in nature, b/c it can’t be made (in their view) in the absence of beliefs about theodicy and the character/nature of God. In other words, for them the inference is not a slam dunk, but it’s still the best overall explanation. As Polkinghorne puts it, “the universe is not full of objects stamped ‘made by God’; the creator is more subtle than that.” (Quoting from memory, I hope this is accurate.) As in this quotation, the word “God” is almost always used by these folks, and theology is not avoided. I hope this helps. If I understand ID correctly, the latter part of this paragraph means that this particular group of TEs are not properly seen as IDs. This is where I see myself fitting most naturally, and thus I’m probably not an ID by your own definition.

  141. Ted -If I were to ask for a show of hands, starting from the top down, how many folks here and elsewhere in the ID camp would agree with Behe’s view that common descent is a virtual slam dunk?

    I would not raise my hand that it’s a virtual “slam dunk”. OTOH, I would not claim it impossible, demean those who believe in common descent, nor deny the reasonableness of their reasonable evidence.

    I suspect that most of those involved in ID would raise their hands to the position.

    Note that I will reject their unreasonable evidence, such as the fossil record indicating evolutionary gradualism.

  142. Jerry: Congratulations on an excellent description of what I believe to be the mainstream ID position. I am pretty much on board with everything that you said.

  143. Ted: I am impressed. You are really cranking out a lot of information. This is quite a good dialogue.

    Is ID science? Sure. It is a systematic approach to an inference to the best explanation based on empirical observation. You have heard it before, but the point bears repeating: Methodological naturalism, which is the academy’s tool for excluding ID from the scientific community, is a totally arbitrary formulation. In science, the method to be used always depends on the problem to be solved. There is no such thing as a method appropriate for all problems at all times.

    A new problem calls for a new method, or rather, an extension of the old method. Science will probably always be “primarily” about natural causes, but it can no longer be “exclusively” about natural causes. There is a new game in town and it goes by the name of “information.” Since methodological naturalism cannot accommodate it, it must be amended. None of this changes the capacity to study natural causes, nor does it inhibit us from searching for them.

    To me, a design is not synonymous with a “miracle.” It seems to me that a miracle requires a suspension or alteration of the laws of nature. I don’t think ID implies that, so I can only leave it at that. I wouldn’t call the design on a cave wall or in an ancient hunter’s spear a miracle, nor would I call the design in a DNA molecule a miracle. I think ID critics confuse this point by setting up a dichotomy between “supernatural” and “natural.” The relevant distinction is between intelligent causes (animal, human, superhuman, or Divine) and natural causes (defined as law or chance or a combination of the two).

  144. Ted

    re; Behe by himself

    Sorry, I didn’t think your question was addressed to me and everyone knows my position on common descent and an old earth – I find overwhelming support for it.

    Mike’s the only senior CSC fellow I know who accepts common descent at face value. But I can only name a few others I know who definitely don’t accept it. I’d argue that as far as science goes Mike has the highest public impact factor. If a scientist comes out for young earth creationism I’d agree he’s not only going to lose the respect of most of his peers he’s going to get run out on a rail if possible. On the other Mike told me personally that it doesn’t matter whether you accept common descent or not, they’ll shoot you down regardless if you don’t tow the line for Darwin.

  145. Hi Ted Davis,

    Nice question, Charlie. My best to you.

    Thanks, and to you as well.
    But my question was actually not “why did she get away with it?” but “by what reasoning does one determine that TE Behe is a creationist and TE Miller is not?”
    Like you, they both believe the universe is 15 BYO (or whatever it’s at today), all of life shares common ancestry, observation of nature gives evidence of purpose, and the designer could have influenced its development through quantum manipulation.
    You imply that whatever criteria Forrest uses to make this distinction is illegitimate. That’s certainly my opinion as well.

    The other part of my question you didn’t answer, and that is tied directly to the above.
    By what criteria do you determine that acceptance of an old earth and common descent is necessary in order to legitimize a design inference? If we all accept that there is evidence of design why does ID’s limited scientific claim that it has been detected hinge upon whether or not the IDs take that extra-curricular step of expelling YECs or descent-agnostics?

    It seems to me you would be making the same error Forrest made except that you’ve decided to make it one step later.

  146. Ted Davis,
    By the way, I should add that I don’t begrudge you choosing which questions to answer or how to use your time here. You certainly are not obligated to pick up every challenge thrown your way and I respect any decision to focus one’s discussions as they see fit.
    I appreciate your participation, your opinions and your tone and don’t intend to be badgering.

  147. Charlie–

    Thank you very much for the kind words. I did in fact jump on the wrong topic when I failed to answer your question, but it was my eagerness to say what I said that got ahead of me.

    I don’t think that it’s at all reasonable to claim that Miller is a TE and Behe is a “creationist.” Frankly I’d have to study the testimony again, very closely, to see just how this stunt was pulled. I heard Ken Miller say, at the start of the trial (I attended four days, including his first day and Behe’s first day), that ID is a form of *special* creationism, which he did (if memory serves well) rather carefully distinguish from garden variety “creationism.” Insofar as most ID leaders (as far as I can tell) do reject common descent, Miller’s analysis was accurate. I said as much 10 years ago when I reviewed some ID books for a popular religious magazine. Clearly there was a reason for this: the plaintiffs were trying as hard as they could, to link ID with “creationism,” b/c then if the court bought their argument (which is the case) there would be an obligation to make a larger ruling against ID–which is exactly what happened. (And, as I’ve said here and elsewhere, I don’t blame the judge in the slightest for buying their argument, b/c the defense did little or nothing to refute it and judges shouldn’t be in the business of giving briefs to the defense.)

    As for your other question, Charlie:
    “By what criteria do you determine that acceptance of an old earth and common descent is necessary in order to legitimize a design inference?”
    That’s also a good one. The answer in this case is very simple. I don’t believe for a minute that one needs to accept and old earth and common descent in order to make a design inference. However, I do think rather strongly that a viewpoint claming to be scientific in nature, rather than religious in nature, ought not to have any ambiguity at all concerning the age of the earth, and that it ought also to avoid making detailed arguments against common descent. If proponents of that viewpoint can’t even agree that the earth’s great age is established beyond reasonable doubt, then IMO it’s not a valid scientific viewpoint: if the evidence related to that is not fully acceptable, then what is?

    I realize that not everyone will agree with the point I just made, but its importance to the ID/TE conversation that we are having seems crucial to me. DaveScot and many others like to claim that TEs are worried about their reputations, if they embrace ID. That’s true. But the motive for this is very often said or implied to be a lack of guts–they don’t want to take the heat, presumably for something they actually believe but are afraid to voice. (That does apply to lots of IDs, but if I were in their shoes I might keep quiet about it until after I had tenure, too. That’s not lack of courage, it’s just prudence. The IDs I know have lots of guts.)

    In fact, the people I am thinking of don’t want their colleagues to think that they have any doubts about the earth’s great age, and (at least for most of them) neither to they want anyone to think that they doubt common descent either. Not b/c they lack guts, but they just see no reason whatsoever to take heat for implicitly endorsing (in the minds of their colleagues) ideas that they don’t actually believe. They *accept* the evidence and chain of reasoning that goes into the grand narrative of evolution (if I can put it that way), and they aren’t about to sign up for ID unless it were unequivocally and absolutely committed to the legitimacy of such inferences as the earth’s great age. If those inference aren’t valid, then pretty much nothing in the historical sciences is valid–and that position just collapses into scientific creationism (a core principle of creationism is the utter invalidity of the historical sciences). But, as I’m always told, ID takes no position on this: why not, unless ID really isn’t about science as much as it is about the politics of religion and science education?

    And, if common descent weren’t objectionable mostly for *religious* or *moral* reasons, then why not also accept that idea, given the weight of the evidence from DNA alone? Why go to such lengths as to claim that the genuine *appearance* of common descent (as outlined by Collins and Behe, e.g.) is only that–just an appearance? Why so much energy spent on the claim that, in reality, the “junk DNA” will someday turn out to show that there’s a much better explanation than common descent? Ideas with far less evidence, it seems to me, are rarely or never challenged outside of a small circle of scientists who have a personal stake in advancing their own pet hypotheses. If ID is really scientific rather than cultural, then why all the fuss?

    As I said, I hardly expect a lot of folks here to agree with this type of argument. But, I do expect folks to see that, for someone who does buy this type of argument, guts has nothing to do with this. Beliefs do–beliefs about the validity of the evidence, the validity of the forensic reasoning that the arguments employ, and beliefs about whether or not MN is tantamount to atheism. So, for the most part, TEs hold a different set of beliefs on these points.

    On the other hand, the TEs I know are for the most part (I could name a few exceptions, but I won’t) more than willing to be known as strongly committed Christians (or in a couple of cases, Jews) who do not try at all to hide their religious beliefs and activities, even when they are employed in highly secular or even anti-religious environments. (And, please note, this is not what is often called the “privitization” of religion, not when you’re leading Bible studies at the NIH and writing books that lead you to be featured against Dawkins in Time magazine.)

    True, their colleagues can’t use their views of evolution as excuses to deny them tenure, but it’s just wrong to suggest or claim that they won’t identify as IDs simply or only b/c they lack the stones. Bottom line: it’s unjust to blame people for not supporting a position that they do not actually believe, as far as they can tell from what they know about ID and what they believe about science. More than this, it’s also unjust to blame them from publicly distancing themselves from a viewpoint that they think is even bad for science and science education–see esp my comments above about the historical sciences. Could they be wrong? Of course. But don’t blame people for doing what they can to ensure that no one misunderstands them, in an environment in which misunderstandings are rampant and sometimes even deliberate. I’m sure you can all relate to that, at least.

  148. Finally (I don’t plan to say any more on this thread), I agree with Behe’s statement that “it doesn’t matter whether you accept common descent or not, they’ll shoot you down regardless if you don’t tow the line for Darwin.” This does not contradict what I just wrote above. Let me elaborate.

    Owen Gingerich has taken plenty of heat on plenty of campuses, including his own (where he delivered the lectures that are published now in “God’s Universe”), for giving a talk he likes to call “Dare A Scientist Believe in Design?” His answer, as you may know, is YES. When he gave it a few years ago at Pitt, one particular philosopher essentially read the riot act to him, and I know he’s had similar experiences elsewhere. Owen is nuanced, respectful, and sometimes eloquent. He doesn’t go for the jugular. But, he knows what he believes and is not ashamed to proclaim it. At the same time, he quite understandably senses that his views on what constitutes good science are not the same as those of most ID leaders, and he doesn’t want to be identified as I.D., capital I and capital D, as he puts it. This is about politics, obviously, the politics of science, but Owen didn’t do anything himself to create that environment. He publicly supported Guillermo Gonzalez (take a look at his book, if anyone has doubts), he unabashedly talks favorably about (a certain type of) design, and everyone on his campus knows that he’s a Christian who doesn’t believe that blind chance produced the whole shebbang. If ID had a different content and a different tone (ie, such that no one would easily confuse it with basic antievolutionism, let alone “Creationism”), and if ID didn’t so carefully avoid the theological discourse that Owen includes in his talk, then perhaps he’d be on board; and others like him also. But ID is what it is, and Owen believes what he believes, and (at least presently) he wants to make sure that no one misunderstands him. I can’t say that I blame him.

    Thanks to all who sent interesting questions my way, and apologies to those whose questions I didn’t have the time or perhaps the ability to answer. Let me add a personal note. When I was here several weeks ago, I had to leave abruptly and said nothing more about it. I still won’t be too specific, but two events made it impossible to concentrate on anything unrelated to those events, and I thought it unwise to continue important conversations. My mother died, and a few days later we learned that a family member was facing a very, very serious illness. Things are looking brighter now, for which I am very grateful, but it has been a difficult summer for me. Now that my concentration is coming back, however, I really must devote as much time as I can to the work I had planned to do before the fall term starts. Thus, I’m saying goodbye for now.

  149. Prayers for you Ted Davis

  150. Ted

    they aren’t about to sign up for ID unless it were unequivocally and absolutely committed to the legitimacy of such inferences as the earth’s great age

    They’re already signed up for ID by being theistic evolutionists. Everyone who refuses to say that the universe lacks purpose and direction is an IDer by technical definition whether they sign the enrollment sheet or not. You’re failing distinguish ID by concise definition:

    ID Defined

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.

    In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

    ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.

    Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.

    from ID as a political and cultural movement. You aren’t “signing up” for the latter but you’re a member of the former automatically because of your view that the universe has purpose and direction behind it.

    The age of the earth is not a part of ID by definition. If some IDists believe it’s old and some young that’s their personal opinions not the position of ID either as science or as a movement. Both camps fall under the same tent simply because they agree with the definition I posted above. If you disagree that design and chance can be discriminated from each other then your sole basis in saying that the universe has purpose and direction is faith in scripture. I would then rightly say it’s you who has the irrational belief that doesn’t have any place in scientific inquiry. The YEC people at least try to show that science supports their belief in Genesis. What bit of science supports your belief that the universe has purpose and direction if not the science of design detection?

  151. KF didn’t promise me in particular anything. He bade farewell to all of us. Then he didn’t actually go anywhere. These are the facts. Don’t blame me for being happy to see him and tedious long-winded diatribes and constant self-referencing leave the scene. We’re all entitled to own opinions. If you’re sad to see him leave then encourage him to come back. I’m not stopping him or you. Just don’t expect me to act all happy about it. My personal opinion is his responses were so damn long winded it discouraged critical replies and caused more frustration than anything else. I stopped reading them a long time ago due to time constraints but I still had to deal with the frustration he caused in people with critical opinions I found of value.

  152. Hi Ted Davis,
    Thanks very much for your answers and your example here. I’ve enjoyed reading your responses.

    You have my deepest condolences on the loss of your mother and your sad news.
    May God bless you, give you peace and hear our prayers for this.

  153. Ted,

    Come back when you can. We are all better here for your comments.

  154. Ted:

    Regarding your “common descent challenge”–

    We Greeks are of course predisposed toward design. However, we have no rigid demands regarding how, when, or by what stages design is instantiated. So common descent is fine with us, as long as the Darwinian chance mechanism is rejected as inadequate, and an element of intelligence is introduced, before or during the process.

    Speaking personally, this Greek does not agree that common descent is a “slam dunk” — the fossil evidence is much too spotty for that. However, the circumstantial evidence for it is pretty good, and I regard it as reasonable. The difficulty in estimating its probability comes in the fact that the proposed mechanism for common descent, random mutation plus natural selection, is preposterous. So this means that we are being asked to accept common descent without knowing exactly how it happened, or even if there is any mechanism within the laws of nature by which it COULD have happened. Until a fully persuasive mechanism is provided (i.e., not neo-Darwinism of the Coyne-Dawkins variety), common descent can never therefore be more than a plausible interpretation of the general shape of the fossil record. I accept it only under that understanding.

    Age of the earth? 4.5 billion years, absolutely, unless the laws of physics change over time, or God is fooling with us. And you know that we Greeks don’t picture God as the sort of guy who fools around.

    Junk DNA? Maybe some of it is junk. From a Platonic point of view, or at least, the point of view my namesake presented in the dialogue bearing his name, creation is the imposition of reason upon the irrational impulses of unordered matter. So both the ID people and the Darwinians could be right; much more DNA than Darwinians think may prove to have a purpose, yet some junk DNA might be the evolutionary remainder after reason has done all it can with difficult matter. But then, we Platonists can allow this middle position, because we aren’t restricted by the theological demand for an omnipotent God, but are answerable only to evidence and reason.

    Are Christian scientists who say that they accept an old earth and common descent automatically cowards? Not at all, if they really believe that the evidence points that way. The Christian scientists who are cowards would be those who know about, but are silent about, the weaknesses in the Darwinian mechanism, out of fear of ridicule from their fellow professionals, or who know that many lay Christians want clarification about the religious implications of design versus chance in evolution, but who avoid offering that clarification because they know that denying chance the full powers given to it by Darwinism will render them targets in the academic world.

    T.

  155. Ted David is gone but his words remain, as in 148: “They *accept* the evidence and chain of reasoning that goes into the grand narrative of evolution (if I can put it that way), and they aren’t about to sign up for ID unless it were unequivocally and absolutely committed to the legitimacy of such inferences as the earth’s great age.”

    In spite of all the nuanced chatter one thing is clear. Ted says that many TEs won’t enter the Big Tent because it’s too big, that unless we disavow the YECs and Common Descent deniers (and Global Warming deniers?) they will stand aloof. Well if that’s the case then who wants them? The age of the earth and common descent are empirical questions for which I have no dog in the race, nor should ID because they are irrelevant.

    Should ID be an organization with litmus tests for irrelevant issues just so that sophisticated people can avoid embarrassment?

  156. Should ID be an organization with litmus tests for irrelevant issues just so that sophisticated people can avoid embarrassment?

    Very well said.

  157. 158

    Well said Rude. As I stated myself in an earlier post, for me the appeal of ID (and what makes it “proper science”) is that it deals in inferences made from contemporary observations and has no need to speculate pointlessly (or at least, unscientifically)about what may or may not have happened a very long time ago.

    Put another way, it is unequivocally scientific to investigate whether life and intelligence can come into being (at any point in time) without an intelligent agent being involved.

    In contrast, it is not strictly scientific to attempt to construct a narrative of what may or may not have happened in the past, since that narrative cannot be tested by experiment. I have a view, as do most people, but it is (or should be) as far outside the remit of ID as it is outside that of applied mathematics or analytical chemistry.

  158. “The age of the earth and common descent are empirical questions for which I have no dog in the race, nor should ID because they are irrelevant.”

    I disagree with this. If ID wants to comment on evolution or be a major player in evolution then the age of the earth and common descent are central issues. Otherwise ID is not a player but a minor technological procedure taking pop shots from the periphery and not dealing with the essence of evolutionary issues.

    If ID does not deal with the tens of millions of life forms that exists and how they got here or how did the several hundred thousand fossils of additional life forms that exist come into being than why should anyone pay attention to ID. And especially if it countenances bad science within its community.

    I know this is not a popular sentiment here but Ted Davis has laid out why many scientists are reluctant to espouse ID or even hold discussions on it and I agree.

    Another thing that Ted Davis has said but not directly is that there is a fear in the scientific community of espousing ID. One of the common things we hear from the Darwinists is that there is no censorship and all we can come up with are few cases such as Gonzales and Sternberg and that the underlying premise of Expelled is in general nonsense. Reading between the lines with Ted Davis, he does not seem to be one that agrees with that assessment.

  159. Jerry,

    I say we do our best to explain everything that we can but not more than we can.

  160. 161

    Jerry,

    “If ID wants to comment on evolution or be a major player in evolution then the age of the earth and common descent are central issues.”

    No, I disagree, and that’s the whole point. Once ID has shown that specified complexity requires the intervention of intelligence – something that can be achieved using entirely contemporary observations – then evolution is dead. The questions about the age of the earth and common descent are still there to be argued over by those with an inclination to do so, but evolution (at least in the Darwinian sense of random mutation plus natural selection) is no longer part of the argument.

    If I were a Darwinist I’d be terrified of ID, and prepared to resort to any means to escape its implications. Being reassured that it was still consistent with an old earth and common descent wouldn’t be much comfort and wouldn’t make me any more charitable towards it.

  161. I’m still paying attention. :-)

    But, as I fade into the background, I thank to DaveScot for pointing me to the formal definition of ID on this site. I hadn’t seen that before, and I’m glad to have seen it. A portion of it formally confirms what my instincts have been telling me for quite some time, instincts that were alerted when I read some of the things that John Calvert (as in the “Intelligent Design Network”) put on his web site. Context: changing the requirements for science education in Kansas, including the elimination of the big bang and other ideas that make no sense in a “young” universe. Instincts that were further alerted when I read a couple of Cornelius (George) Hunter’s books, and from discovering in extensive dialogue with George that he might be an agnostic about the earth’s age–which is very, very hard for me to reconcile with good scientific reasoning and practice. My instincts have been telling me that ID is committed to precisely this, quoted from the definition of ID that is operative here:

    “This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.”

    This, IMO, further indicates that ID has been designed by intelligent agents to be too friendly to the unscientific attitudes of genuine “creationists.” See my comments above, in post 148.

    Is it fair to distinguish *in principle* the forensic reasoning common in the historical sciences from that used in experimental sciences? Yes. This distinction needs to be further explored by scientists, historians, and philosophers of science. In a number of private conversations with people in those fields, I’ve suggested that an interdisciplinary academic conference be planned (I think funds could easily be found for this) on this very issue, to clarify things.

    The problem with the way in which this issue enters here is twofold.

    (1) The tone (“thus very subjective”) is meant to imply that it’s fine to question pretty much every conclusion in the historical sciences (vis-a-vis in the experimental sciences). I would say, hold your horses. A very large number of conclusions in the historical sciences, IMO (hardly my opinion alone, obviously), are of the slam dunk nature–the great ages of the earth and the universe are among them, to which I would add the successive appearance in geological time (geological time having already been established beyond reasonable doubt) of the various types of plants an animals. The statement here, as I said, seems (to me) plainly worded in such a way as to imply that such conclusions are open to reasonable scientific debate among adherents of ID. But they aren’t open to reasonable scientific debate, and (once again) ID misses a chance to prove its scientific (as vs political or religious) character. (2) The use of the specific term, “origins science,” is another indicator of trouble here. As many here know, the idea of having a separate “origins science” originates within the modern “creationist” movement. The point of doing that was partly to (a) deny the validity of classically Christian “two books” approach to natural history (on this, see esp. John Whitcomb’s 1964 booklet on “The origin of the solar system: Biblical inerrancy and the double-Revelation theory”); and (b) deny the validity of the historical sciences, per se, such that any and all conclusions about natural history could be declared illegitimate, if they did not conform to the “Creationist” model. In other words, this was done precisely in order to keep Galileo (his views on the principle of accommodation, relative to science and the Bible, and his views on the general validity of studying nature on its own terms, using our God-given reason) out of the garden of Eden (here I borrow the title of a forthcoming paper of mine, which discusses everything in this paragraph).

    To see more support for these things, you may want to read the final pages of Terry Mortenson’s book, “The 19th-Century Scriptural Geologists” http://www.answersingenesis.or.....p#bookinfo

    (I am now wondering whether something like this might have come up in the Dover trial, in some part that I didn’t witness and haven’t read about. If so, it would have made it harder for someone like me to refute the case that ID is a morphed form of creationism. I’ve cautioned ID leaders often that political decisions like this can come back to haunt you, but it was made clear to me that a path had been chosen and wan’t going to be altered at this point. The “big tent” extends further in some directions, apparently, than it does in others: I’m not trying to flatter myself, I simply think that there should have been more willingness to listen to points such as this.)

    ***

    Apparently, as I now see from clicking with my mouse, Calvert or someone close to him wrote this definition, and Bill or someone else decided to use it as the operative definition here. But, I guarantee you, this combination of words was not randomly generated; it was intelligently designed to be very sensitive to the junk science that Whitcomb and others helped created. We are no longer talking now simply about the ID *movement*, DaveScot; if we’re talking about the definition of ID itself, then were talking ID *ideas*. Or else, to use the most favorable possible light I can shine on this, someone was asleep at the wheel when they chose to use this definition in its entirety here, without deliberately intending to endorse or accept the part I have highlighted. It’s even possible that they were unaware of the history I’ve briefly narrated, and the implications of this for ID; as I say, this is the most charitable light that I can shed.

    At least by this definition, ID has obvious links with and roots within “creationism,” extending to the explicit endorsement not only of “design,” which creationists obviously also endorse, but also the explicity endorsement of the crucial methodological principle that really defines what creationism is about (on the “scientific” side, not on the Biblical side). Although I’ve suspected something like this, I’ve always wanted to give ID the benefit of the doubt. I can no longer do that.

    Since this is the definition you pointed me to, DaveScot, in order to say that I’m really an ID advocate, I have to say definitively now that I am not. This is probably, for me, the single most helpful thing that was said here. I now understand ID even more clearly than I had before (though as I say I had some unconfirmed suspicions), and I simply do not share the deep scepticism about the general validity of the historical sciences that is revealed in this definition. Neither does Gingerich, who otherwise, like me, might well be much less anxious about being identified with ID, capital I and capital D. If this aspect of the ID “movement” is truly central to ID “ideas,” then his anxiety should now be beyond any fair criticism.

    This isn’t a matter of guts, it’s a matter of beliefs about what constitutes good science. I’m not an ID advocate, and I hope it’s now clearer to both of us why that is so.

    Fair enough? I’ll go back to lurking, and for reasons given earlier I hope I can hold myself to it better for awhile.

  162. “evolution is dead”

    No, evolution as a science is not dead and is alive and well and flourishing. They have several journals and annual meetings and there are vigorous debates amongst its members. Mainly because it is based on observations and data and there is change in organisms over time which no one denies but there is also uncertainty as to how the change happens.

    There are several evolutionary theories that are part of evolutionary biology that are no threat to ID but because ID limits itself it cannot be a player. One is all the aspects of micro evolution. To deny such is putting one’s head in the sand. The age of the earth is central to any discussion of evolution and if ID does not wish to address it then it can go play in its little cul de sac off on the periphery. However, not everyone in ID is constrained by the big tent approach espoused on this site and legitimate ID science can be done within the framework of evolutionary science.

    ID has a lot to contribute but if it chooses to be associated with bogus science then its message will be limited to a social movement and its science will be difficult to hear. What the bogus science offers ID is foot soldiers and financial resources but there is a price to be paid for this allegiance.

  163. Hi Ted Davis,

    I a disappointed with your last post but you still have my best wishes and prayers. :)

    Context: changing the requirements for science education in Kansas, including the elimination of the big bang and other ideas that make no sense in a “young” universe.

    Where in the Kansas standards did anyone advocate that the Big Bang not be taught? I never followed that controversy, but as per your discussion of Calvert, I checked out IDNet and see no reference in the standards to such an advocacy. I would be very disappointed with any group that suggested we not teach this theory.

    Also, could I prevail upon you, as an historian of science, not to trade on the Galileo mythology in your upcoming paper? As well as exploiting and perpetuating the misunderstandings of the case it also exposes the roots of such science v. religion demonization.

    As for ID, I do hope you’ll rethink your ‘roots argument’ and instead base your rebuttals on the current scholarly work of IDists such as Dembski, Gonzalez and Behe (Johnson, Meyer, etc.) for whom the age of the universe and earth is presumed and common descent is either demonstrated or irrelevant.

  164. “The ‘big tent’ extends further in some directions, apparently, than it does in others …”

    You can believe in the ten incarnations of Vishnu and if you accept that it is OK to look for design you’re in, but if you don’t believe it’s legal to look you’re out.

    So I wonder, are y’all suggesting that if one subscribes to some dumb things he must be banished from “science”? If so then what do you suggest we do with the Darwinists? Darwinism (NOT evolution) is bogus from the get-go, but I dare say some Darwinists are good biologists—you want we should ban them too?

  165. —-Ted Davis: (about the conclusions of evolutionary theorists) “But they aren’t open to reasonable scientific debate, and (once again) ID misses a chance to prove its scientific (as vs political or religious) character.”

    Ted, excuse me, but science is always provisional. With all due respect, your unwarranted reverence for convention is a replay a well-documented historical error. Using your standards, Newton would have been a slam dunk and Einstein would never have been allowed to enter the arena.

    To be sure, few of us agree with the YECs, but we don’t know for sure that they are wrong. While most of us agree that “uniformitarianism” provides a reasonable basis for science, it is not a fact. It is an assumption. For all we know, God once showered the earth with an abundance of cosmic rays and speeded up the aging process. I don’t believe that, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.

    Since you like fastballs so much, here is one you can swing at. Granted, the universe is probably 13.7 billion years old and that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Which extreme is more likely to be true:

    {A} Religious fundamentalism [God created the earth in 7 days] or

    {B} Darwinist fundamentalism [The universe and the world created themselves]

    No ducking. Take your swing.

  166. Ted Davis,

    It feels like you are looking for anything that will confirm a pre determined conclusion rather than seeking an honest analysis of the situation. The misinterpretation of the ID guidelines seems a little excessive for those of us who are aware of them and find that they in no way support a young earth point of view. If you can conjure up such an interpretation then you have a rich imagination.

    I suggest you contact Calvert and ask him about his experiences. He is a Catholic and few Catholics accept a young earth. The Big Bang was the idea of a Catholic priest and was originally derided as the Catholic theory of the universe. From what little I know of Calvert he is not in any way a YEC or supportive of their science. So for you to bring him up seems highly inappropriate.

    There is a lot of criticism here of the YEC’s science and such criticism is not restrained if it is confined to science and not derogatory of the individuals. I disagree very vehemently with the YEC’s on science but respect most of them as people. So if criticism of the YEC’s science is allowed what does that say of ID. You can see it some of my comments on this thread and on many others in the past.

    ID is not creationism in any form or else I would be out of here instantly and so would many others. It does tolerate them and officially remains agnostic on their science which I believe is a major mistake for a lot of the reasons you iterate.

    If you do not want to be known as a ID supporter then so be it but many here are ID supporters and anti YEC also so how does one read that. I personally do not know how one could take a course in geology and still believe in a young earth.

    Maybe an analogy is that several of my acquaintances are very pro Democrat party and still very much against abortion even though abortion rights are one of the linch pins of the Democrat party. It blows my mind when they profess their anti abortion views and still vote for even the most pro abortion candidates you can imagine. And if you justify such a scenario because they find the Democrat party more desirable for other reasons so that they are willing to stomach the abortion part to get other things, then see if that analogy could apply to other things in society including the people here who accept the YEC as part of ID but yet don’t agree with them or find their science baseless.

    I hope you continue to post because while I am finding I don’t agree with you on a lot of things, your input helps us all. Post when you can.

  167. 168

    Jerry, not everyone is a single issue voter. So, people may vote for Democratic Party because they agree with more of their platform than they disagree with. Likewise, I know people who vote for Republican candidates because they agree with most, but not all, of their platform. If you are single-issue voter with regards to abortion, that is your right. But, not everyone chooses in the same manner.

  168. Hi Terry,
    That’s what Jerry just said and what the analogy demonstrated.

  169. 170

    Doh! You are right, Charlie. I guess I should read for comprehension instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to reference to the Democrat Party rather than by it’s correct name. That, and snide permutations of Republican Party, really bother me.

  170. —–Ted: “At least by this definition, ID has obvious links with and roots within “creationism,” extending to the explicit endorsement not only of “design,” which creationists obviously also endorse, but also the explicity endorsement of the crucial methodological principle that really defines what creationism is about (on the “scientific” side, not on the Biblical side). Although I’ve suspected something like this, I’ve always wanted to give ID the benefit of the doubt. I can no longer do that.”

    After having read Ted’s statement, and the paragraphs which preceded it, I can only conclude that his objections to ID are emotional. When his arguments fail, he clings to the creationist strawman and holds on for dear life. Perhaps he and his colleagues will examine their collective consciences someday and find out what it is that is really driving their ideology.

    Is it their assumption that God is too subtle to leave clues about his existence? Is it a fear of being snickered at by elitists? Is it their lack of familiarity with ID definitions and terms? Is it their dedication to a quasi-naturalism posing as science? Who can know?

    To them, it doesn’t matter that history’s greatest thinkers accepted the design principle, or that most people believe it, or even that the current evidence confirms it. What matters is that they prefer that it not be true. Maybe one day we fill find out why.

  171. Jerry–

    It would be wrong to step away from this thread without correcting my error about Kansas, which you quite properly noted above. I remember talking to you about this a few years ago, but I couldn’t recall all of the details or find the relevant place here.

    Now I’ve found it. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ve-in-god/
    The important stuff is near the end.

    I knew that Calvert isn’t a YEC, but I’d forgotten just what the nature of involvement was with his IDN in the 1999 situation–the one that cleary had a strong YEC component. (Big Bang did come out at that point, unless I’m forgetting something else. Check me if possible.) But, my point about YEC influence on the ID definition from IDN is still correct. (I realize that some here won’t see Jack Krebs as a credible source, but I do. Pass on the rest of this if you don’t.)

    The 2005 arguments were definitely an improvement on the 1999 standards (the inclusion of history of science in 1999 is something I would nevertheless applaud), and if Calvert was behind that I would credit him for it.

    As for the passage in the ID definition that concerns me, because he’s smart and well-informed, I would have to assume that he knew he was tossing a bone to the many YECs associated with his group, the board he worked with, and active supporters (according to Krebs, and also according to other people in Kansas whom I have talked to), when he used the language I’ve found so problemmatic. I can’t speak for him by saying that he believes that point himself, but it’s clearly endorsed by his organization.

    Also, it’s apparently endorsed here as well.

    My concern about this relates to a big goal of ID proponents–to have the scientific community recognize the geniunely scientific character of their arguments, and thereby to change how evolution is understood and taught. You just can’t do that, IMO, if the legitimacy of the historical sciences, per se, is being seriously questioned. (See above) And, I’m convinced (perhaps you aren’t), that’s what that specific language is really about. I don’t think it’s irrelevant or trivial of me to note this. It tells me that the “origins science” looks stronly like it might be central to ID. It wasn’t a preconception on my part that it actually is–I suspected it, but still had my doubts.

    Definitions matter, I think we all agree about that. ID proponents and friends were absolutely right to force changes in the ABT definition of evolution, and right to force Ken Miller to disown a similar statement apparently written by his co-author in their text. In the same way, I think it’s fair for me to point to this part of the ID definition in use here, and say, hey, this pretty much commits you to a certain view of science that isn’t really scientific. It lets in too much junk science, and as a result, it’s really hard for even otherwise sympathtic people (Gingerich, me, many others) to be too sympathetic. Is there any possibility that this passage could likewise be excised or meaningfully changed?

    This is not a “creationist strawman” argument, Stephen. If ID isn’t creationism, this suggestion should be taken with great seriousness. If it really doesn’t matter whether ID is creationism, or not, then no one here should complain when people look at things like this and write that equation.

    Charlie–

    Not to worry, I am not in the business of promoting the Galileo vs the church mythology. I must have confused you.

    Stephen–

    Your pitch wasn’t a fastball down the middle, but a curveball way outside. I can’t reach it. Add (c) neither of these, or ask a more open-ended question, and maybe I can hit it.

    But, maybe it’s just time for me to hit the showers and go home for awhile. I can’t pitch every day. :-)

    Best wishes

  172. —–Ted: “Your pitch wasn’t a fastball down the middle, but a curveball way outside. I can’t reach it. Add (c) neither of these, or ask a more open-ended question, and maybe I can hit it.”

    No. It was a very simple question that anyone could answer. The mainstream argument is that the earth is 4.5 million years old.

    At the one extreme, we have the religious fundamentalist, who believes that God created the earth in 7 days.

    In the middle we have theistic evolutionists and ID scientists who acknowledge that God played some role in the process.

    At the other extreme, we have atheist/Darwinists who reject God and any form of creation. That means that they believe the universe created itself.

    Apparently, you can’t admit that the last extreme is more unreasonable than the first extreme. That suggests that ideology is guiding your thinking because any unbiased person would have no trouble making that choice.

  173. @173 Obviously, I meant 4.5 BILLION years old.

  174. Ted Davis,

    I have emailed John Calvert and hopefully he will reply to clear up just what happened in 1999 and 2005.

  175. I am sorry to see it but by my reading the 1999 suggested revisions do betray a YEC leaning.

    As for the Big Bang, I think I misunderstood Ted Davis’ point. The revisions don’t say that the Big Bang should not be taught, but they do suggest its teaching not be mandatory. (This is not the evidence I refer to above about YEC).

  176. Have you read Hector Avalos’s response to Weikart?

  177. Ted

    First of all it was ME who put that definition of ID on this website. Bill Dembski wasn’t even consulted in the decision. I simply googled the web and copied what I thought was the best definition. As it turns out that definition was worked out and adopted by a large group of ID proponents. No wonder I liked it, a lot of work went into it from a diverse group.

    You’re reading your own bias, and quite frankly, your ignorance of science into that definition to see demons where they don’t exist.

    For example, when I see “origins science” the first thing that comes to mind is the Harvard Origins of Life project which sure as hell isn’t associated with creation science. I can only guess that’s because I’ve been following the scientific quest to discover a mechanism of chemical evolution for decades. I’d never even heard the name “scientific creationism” until a few years ago as I simply never read anything but mainstream science journals, science books, and took science courses in college. Secular “origins science” is quite well established and broad in scope. If you weren’t aware of that then it’s simple ignorance on your part.

    Another example is where you think “impacts religion” has some nefarious undertone. More nonsense. Design detection is used in many areas of inquiry and when it doesn’t involve the potential design of life no one, neither secular scientist nor non-secular bats an eye. But let a non-secular scientist apply it to detecting design in living things and all hell breaks loose among the secular scientists. And it isn’t because all the other applications involve human designers. I’ve been following the ongoing Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Exactly the same principles of ID that are applied to detecting design in living things form the basis of detecting extraterrestrial intelligence. No can knows if an extraterrestrial intelligence even exists to say nothing of what form physical it takes. Yet SETI researchers are very confident they can discriminate a signal of intelligent origin from non-intelligent sources. They are confident because design detection works. Except when it’s applied to patterns found in living things. Then the same principles no longer apply. The reason they don’t apply is because it would give people who believe in a creator/God some scientific support for their belief. Thus the definition of ID is quite correct that ID is treated differently in origins science than any other science not because of the weight of the evidence but because of the religious implications.

    I happen to not give a tinker’s damn about religious implications one way or the other. I objectively follow the evidence wherever it leads. If it leads to life being the result of atoms dancing to the tune of law and chance then so be it and if it leads to some kind of creator that’s fine with me too. Truth be told I’d rather discover that life ends in eternal oblivion. I don’t believe it because if I somehow found myself alive and conscious in this form it’s a proven possibility it can happen. What can happen once can and probably will happen again. My fear is that the next time I wake into being self-conscious I won’t have such a pleasant life as this one I’ve got now. I’d rather quit the game a winner than chance coming back in some wretched circumstance. But regardless of my personal preference I’ll believe what the data tells me. What the data tells me is that design can be distinguished from non-design in many cases and the same principles that are applied to potentially designed objects and patterns outside the life sciences can be applied to patterns and structures in living things with similar results.

  178. DaveScot–

    I’m ignorant of many things, including many parts of science. We all are ignorant of many things.

    I do know quite a bit about the history of the origins controversy in the US, and my antennae are probably much better tuned than yours are for certain things. That doesn’t invaldiate your perspective on this, DaveScot, but it is to say that there were specific reasons why I said what I did. I won’t repeat my points again.

    My main concern on entering this thread was to refute the false claim that many TEs, including some members of the ASA (which is not a TE organization per se, any more than it is an ID organization, per se), simply lack the courage to support ID. That just doesn’t fit the facts for most of the people I know, and I was concerned to get that straight. Disagreement over matters of opinion and/or strategy is always fair game; the imputation of false motives is not, as folks here will surely appreciate (I’m fully aware that this type of thing goes both ways).

    Stephen–

    Of course, Stephen, if the only actual options were “creationism” vs athiesm, I’m with the creationists. No doubt about that.

    But it isn’t helpful to restrict one’s options in that artificial manner. Even ID represents an alternative perspective, albeit one that could be a good deal clearer about setting itself apart from the “creationist” option you offered.

    John Loftus–

    Thank you for the link to the very interesting commentary by Avalos. I am as impressed by that, as I was by Weikart’s response to Jeff Schloss. His points about Luther, eugenical practices before they carried that name, and other things were all on target, as far as I can tell from my quite limited knowledge of those parts of history. It helps folks see more fully just why I get nervous about connecting historical dots in too simple a manner: it’s usually not very clear and simple at all, any more than human beings and human behavior are clear and simple. Weikart’s conclusions have something to them, as I stated before, but it’s easy to overstate them for ideological purposes.

    If social Darwinism of any variety obviously needs Darwinism for its “scientific” and cultural cache, just as obviously the abuses themselves have very often been around a lot longer than Darwinism. The creationists like to blame “evolution” for racism, pornography, abortion, euthenasia, Marxism, and sexual promiscuity (did I forget something?), as is none of those things were around in 1500 or even 1500 BC. The fact that this is patently absurd does not prevent a lot of Americans from believing it. ID leaders wisely avoid these specific claims, and IMO care should be taken not to make a similar claim (ie, a claim that goes without warrant beyond local historical circumstances into a global historical claim) in the instance of Nazi Germany–or in the instance of eugenics anywhere else. The connections that stand scrutiny should be noted, and those that go too far should be explicity distinguished from them and avoided. Some of the controversy about “Expelled,” apparently, involves whether or not Stein clearly made that distinction in the film and in his marketing of it.

    As for Avalos’ points about the history of the word “creationist,” the only new point (to me at least) is the one about the earliest known use being the one involving traducionism. As I told a fairly hostile crowed at Indiana University last fall, I am myself a “Creationist” if the word is defined broadly enough. However, it’s impossible IMO to note the great signficance of the narrower definition (ie, “creationist” = YEC), relative to discussing ID. That’s b/c American court cases have been about a very specific form of creationism, the type that ID opponents are so quick to equate with ID–to suit their own ideological purposes. Anyone here already knows this. Avalos, no doubt, likes that fact that he can now “defend” his use of the term “intelligent design creationism,” but I’d be happy to face off against him on that one anytime he likes. In the meantime, however, help me make that case more forcefully by taking that creationist language out of the definition of ID linked on this site.

    Going back to lurking now.

  179. Hi Ted Davis,
    It sounds like you might be in camp with “creationist” Phillip Johnson on that point:

    In the most important sense a creationist is a person who believes in creation, and that includes people who believe that Genesis is a myth and that creation involved a process called evolution and consumed billions of years.

    This latter is, of course, why at first ID could be called “creationism”; that is, because a wider use of the word was being applied – one that I presume applies to TE evolutionists as well.

    This does not make it accurate to call ID “creationism” now, as the term specifically separates ID from the narrower use of the term “creationism” which is intended.

  180. oops…
    And this is, as you allude to above, the use of the term as ruled against in court and as pejoratively hung on ID.

    As you are an IDist, and a creationist, and a theistic evolutionist, you just might see why it’s a big tent, afterall.

  181. As for this

    Not to worry, I am not in the business of promoting the Galileo vs the church mythology. I must have confused you.

    I was going to let my tu quoque rest, but I’m in a different mood today …

    Yes, you did confuse me. By using the Galileo/science/religion theme you enter the big tent of those who promote the mythology. By not explicitly distancing yourself from it, and by making use of its rhetorical impact yourself, you are, in effect, endorsing it.
    Right?

  182. Throughout the course of this thread, the notion is presented that one of the biggest obstacles of TE accepting ID principles are the creationists, or “creationism.” At least, that’s what I gleaned from Ted Davis’ comments above. I’d like to make a couple of observations.

    It appears to me that TE’s problem with ID is not “creationism” (ID has nothing to do with it) it’s the creationist (ID doesn’t ostracize them). This is politics. The fact that ID definitions, wherever they happen to come from, do not include language intended specifically to separate it from creationists seems to be an objection to ID’s politics, not its science. To some it seems unconscionable that ID would not first exclude this group of fanatics, then get down to the business of science.

    That said what’s more important are the differences between ID and TE on issues unrelated to association: the scientific claims of ID. The issues that separate TE/Darwinism from ID have to do with Irreducible Complexity, the Edge of Evolution, the Explanatory Filter and CSI, and the Privileged Planet Hypothesis. How does TE deal with these? Does the DNA molecule and the information processing machinery of the cell exhibit the hallmark of design (and is this design objectively detectable by the application of scientific principles) or are Darwinian processes of Random Variation and Natural Selection enough to account for it?

    That TE won’t deal with these very serious and paradigm-changing observations of ID because it doesn’t politically affiliate properly doesn’t hold up. Either TE is compatible with ID based on its scientific claims, or it remains firmly aligned with materialist claims of the power of Darwinism’s undirected processes to produce the complexity of biological life. I think it’s really that simple.

    Unless ID and TE can achieve some sort of harmony on IC, EoE, EF/CSI, and PPH, there will be no need to argue the playground politics of exclusion by association.

  183. Ted: The point of the exercise was to put all this guilt by association in to perspective:

    If we are hanging out with juvenile delinquents (YEC’s), then you are hanging out with three-time losers; (Atheist Darwinists)?

    If our friends are to be graded down for believing the improbable (God created the earth in seven days), then your friends should be flunked for believing the impossible (the universe created itself).

    So inviting you into our big tent is a greater exercise in magnanimity than allowing the YECs to stay. If you choose to stay out, it is your sensibilities that are on trial, not ours.

  184. oops, I mean “into” perspective.

  185. jerry–

    you wrote, “I have emailed John Calvert and hopefully he will reply to clear up just what happened in 1999 and 2005.”

    Did Mr Calvert reply? If so, are you able to summarize or forward his comments? I for one would like to know what he says about this.

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