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Persecution of the Other Side

While it’s routine to hear of ID proponents being persecuted–and there are many more stories than the high profile cases mentioned here on UD–sometimes we may forget that the same may happen to Darwinists. I was reading Darwiniana today and this article by MSNBC caught my eye:

Just ask biologist Richard Colling. A professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois and a lifelong member of the evangelical Church of the Nazarene, Colling wrote a 2004 book called “Random Designer” because—as he said in a letter to students and colleagues this year—”I want you to know the truth that God is bigger, far more profound and vastly more creative than you may have known.” Moreover, he said, God “cares enough about creation to harness even the forces of [Darwinian] randomness.”
Anger over his work had been building for two years. When classes resumed in late August, things finally came to a head. Colling is prohibited from teaching the general biology class, a version of which he had taught since 1991, and college president John Bowling has banned professors from assigning his book. At least one local Nazarene church called for Colling to be fired and threatened to withhold financial support from the college.

This seems to me a case of viewpoint discrimination and while many of us would obviously disagree with Colling’s stance as a theistic evolutionist from an intellectual perspective it’s even more obvious that we shouldn’t stand for such persecution no matter whose “side” they are on.

Here is what Colling had to say himself:

There is so much more to this story, but it is not a happy story – at least not yet. Nevertheless to date, I am trying to stay positive and continue to communicate a message of peace and harmony between science and faith/biology and the Bible. This was, and continues to be my heart. But alas, what I have learned is that many fundamentalist Christians do not consider theistic evolution Christians as brothers, but rather as enemies. The real and discouraging message emanating from our university at this time appears to be that a small minority, representing a fundamentalist creationist cohort from the midwestern region are upset that the president allows a biology professor (Colling) to teach evolution (even though there are only 2 lectures for the entire semester directly addressing the topic of evolution) – apparently because he has written a book that acknowledges evolution could be considered as a part of God’s creative plan. They seem convinced that evolution is false teaching and contrary to scripture.

However, the truth is that our denomination and university statements are fully accepting of verifiable scientific discoveries – including evolution. (It really is, (for the most part) an outstanding open-minded Christian denomination!) I teach all my biology courses with accuracy and integrity, and then encourage those students who come from the more conservative homes to keep an open mind. I try to help them explore ways in which these remarkable evolutionary mechanisms might actually be considered compatible (or at least not inconsistent with) with belief in God. This approach to teaching is shared by the other biology and geology faculty here as well. However, I am the only one who has published a highly visible book. Therefore, I have become the lightning rod, and according to the president, this is impacting his church relationships.

I love my students and they love me. These students (the next generation) want and deserve the real stuff. After 26 years of service, devotedly caring for my students and their intellectual and spiritual development, it is most discouraging that a few uninformed and scientifically challenged religious leaders at our school are able to hold such sway. There are precious principles at stake in this situation: principles of truth and integrity, education and scholarship, Christian values, and most of all personal and institutional fidelity to the university mission statement.

The truth is that there is no such thing as Christian Biology. Biology simply is what it is. If the fossil record describing evolution contained any gaps in the historical scientific narrative, more recent data derived from the digital DNA code of the human genome now removes any trace of doubt: Human beings are connected with all other life on the planet. Human chromosome #2 is a clear fusion product of two ape chromosomes; gene sequence and organization comparisons demonstrate connectedness; the shared locations of pseudogenes, endogenous retroviral insertion sequences, transposons, and genetic inversions within the chromosomes and between species (including humans and apes) all convey the same compelling scientific story: We are evolutionary creations! Continued denial of evolution is no longer a viable option for an informed Christian community if there is a desire to be credible voices in the culture.

So what is the most distinctive characteristic that defines a genuine Christian? Jesus said it himself, and in a way, it seems so simple: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength –and your neighbor as yourself.” Thus the legalism of Christian fundamentalism, and the continued emphasis on the non-essentials of religious faith actually erode the primary and most crucial messages of the Christian faith – love, forgiveness, relationship and tolerance. Ironically, yet sadly, these people have been around for a long time: In Jesus’ day, they were called Pharisees, and Jesus called them “Blind Guides”.(Matt. 23:24) My friends, I think that science has so much to teach us about our world and how we should best live in peace and harmony in its increasingly crowded confines. We should wholeheartedly embrace that knowledge and its enormous potential. But I also believe that the Christian faith (and many others as well!) hold immense value for humanity – touching us in ways that elude the knowledge and understanding derived solely from science. Therefore, it seems to me that anyone who turns their back on either of these domains of life automatically misses half of the richness that life has to offer. Will honest good people labor side by side as brothers together to give both domains a chance to work their synergistic magic? I look forward to the day.

The interesting thing is Behe could be said to have much in common with Colling except they are in disagreement over the mechanism for “evolution” (universal or partial common descent).

Colling’s BIO

B.A., 1976, Olivet Nazarene University Ph.D., 1980, University of Kansas

Richard Colling graduated from Olivet in 1976 with a double major in chemistry and zoology. In his Ph.D. program in microbiology and immunology at the University of Kansas, he studied infections like strep throat, contributing to the understanding of how these types of bacterial infections trigger autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. This research earned him several honors, including the Cora Downs Award for excellence in graduate research and the prestigious Kansas university research dissertation fellowship.

He then accepted a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, where he studied unique protein markers found on human and animal cancer cells. These studies pave the way for more effective targeting of cancer cells with fewer side effects. As a consultant, he has developed sensitive analytical tests for Bayer Laboratories and also for identifying genetically engineered crops for Pioneer HiBred Biotechnology. He has also served as a consultant for Rhone-Polenc Rohrer Pharmaceuticals purifying human hemophilia factor to treat humans with hemophilia.

At Olivet, Dr. Colling teaches microbiology, immunology, molecular biology and a general biology course for non-majors. He served as the department chairman for 23 years until relinquishing the position to devote more attention to students and research. He was recognized as faculty member of the year in 2000.

He has also written a book, “Random Designer,” which establishes a permanent place for God in the intellectual discussions regarding science and faith. He is a frequent speaker at pastor conferences, colloquia and educational settings where he speaks to the realities and limitations of science as well as the supreme value of faith. He and his wife Sally served as leaders for an ONU student work and witness trip to the jungle of Guyana, South America in 2004.

Dr. Colling and his wife have four grown sons, and several grandchildren. He enjoys racquetball and the challenge and solitude of golf. He enjoys long walks and talks with Sally along the Kankakee River trails, talking about their children, ONU students, life, love and the goodness of God.

Also, Evolution News has their own take on the situation.

Although I should note that Colling apparently does not know exactly what Intelligent Design is, for he also wrote:

I noted some references to the Intelligent design movement. When the dover trial was ongoing, I wrote an OP Ed for the York Dispatch in which I tried to communicate the idea that a “God of the Gaps” or “Creationism through the Back Door” ploy in Dover would be counterproductive to the cause of Christian faith – making it appear that all Christians support these dead-end ideas.

Whether this is a misunderstanding based upon only having knowledge of a caricature of our position or a willful misrepresentation I don’t know. After all, if you only bother to read the writings of other Darwinists there is going to be much distortion. Of course, some Darwinists refer to any position outside of strict Darwinism as “creationism” even though that particular distortion has been covered ad nauseum. Colling has visited Panda’s Thumb so perhaps he may visit here so we discuss this with him.

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37 Responses to Persecution of the Other Side

  1. I’m not sure I agree. There is a distinction between what Baylor did to Dr. Marks and what Olivet Nazarene (ON) did in this case. ON has a distinctive message that it wants its students to receive. It does not pretend to be open to all points of view, and it has every right to ensure that its professors hew to the message the college was founded to advance. Richard Colling new that when he accepted a position and ON, and if he wants to teach from another point of view, he should not gone somewhere else.

    Baylor, on the other hand, gives lip service to academic freedom and freedom of inquiry. It purports to allow divergent points of view on the origins issue. The prolem is that the Baylor administrators who persecute ID proponents are liars and hypocrites.

  2. “what I have learned is that many fundamentalist Christians do not consider theistic evolution Christians as brothers, but rather as enemies.”

    Well I don’t think this is news, and I sure don’t believe it is wrong for us to see you as an enemy in this regard. What IS wrong here is HOW you’re being treated. We’re not Muslims, we’re not here to wish harm on you, indeed we’re commanded to bless you and love you. And so I and many others around me shall. That does not change any reality though that what you teach is blatant heresy, and I think it is right for you to be fired or given a chance to resign. Loving you and blessing you does not mean we allow you to brainwash our kids just to pander to political correctness or some other pseudo moral philosophy. You sir need to take responsibility for your own actions. Freedom of speech is not the same as freedom to indoctrinate in heretical hogwash.

  3. BarryA,

    I’ll admit I don’t know the specific policies of ON. But whatever they may be, in general I can’t support persecution. Besides, Colling has been teaching this subject for years since 1991 according to the article. Obviously ON didn’t have a problem with Colling’s “distinctive message” until his book sparked complaints. I understand that as a private university they have a right to take such actions…and apparently they’re being upfront about the reasons for their actions. As noted, the problem with Baylor is that they’re attempting to hide their real reasons. But if Colling’s theological musings have not affected his teaching of the science class then I see no justification for this action.

    gods ipod,

    As an example, a cousin of mine used to teach at a private Christian institution a course that covered evolution. He disagreed with much of the content, and so did most of the administration, but my cousin faithfully taught the material as stated. He treated it as if he were teaching a greek myth or any other position he may disagree with. So while he was teaching what he considered “blatant heresy” he didn’t attempt to distort the Darwinist position.

    Now Colling “apparently” was not trying to indoctrinate his students with his own beliefs (but I could be wrong). Darwinism was only covered in a couple sections. It’s true he wrote a book that presented his views in their full form, but that was outside the university. Now I do note that his book was banned from being assigned by other professors. But what I don’t know is if he was attempting to use the book in his own class and disseminating his own theology into the classroom instead of teaching the subject matter strictly within its scope. Nothing I’ve read indicates that is the case.

  4. In regards to Collin’s statement:
    Collin Stated:
    If the fossil record describing evolution contained any gaps in the historical scientific narrative, more recent data derived from the digital DNA code of the human genome now removes any trace of doubt: Human beings are connected with all other life on the planet. Human chromosome #2 is a clear fusion product of two ape chromosomes; gene sequence and organization comparisons demonstrate connectedness; the shared locations of pseudogenes, endogenous retroviral insertion sequences, transposons, and genetic inversions within the chromosomes and between species (including humans and apes) all convey the same compelling scientific story: We are evolutionary creations!

    Yet these facts he quotes are all materialistic presumptions based on a evolutionary interpretation of the evidence.
    Naturalists always try to establish scientific validity for evolution by pointing to suggestive similarities while ignoring the foundational principle of science (genetic entropy) that contradicts their preconceived philosophical bias. For example, naturalists say that evolution is proven true when we look at the 98.8% similarity between certain segments of the DNA in a Chimpanzee and compare them with the same segments of DNA of a Human. Yet that similarity is not nearly good enough to be considered “conclusive” scientific proof. For starters, preliminary comparisons of the complete genome of chimps and the complete genome of man yield a similarity of only 96%. Dr. Hugh Ross states the similarity may actually be closer to 85% to 90%. Secondarily, at the protein level only 29% of genes code for the exact same amino acid sequences in chimps and humans (Nature, 2005). As well, our DNA is 92% similar to mice as well as 92% similar to zebrafish (Simmons PhD., Billions of Missing Links). So are we 92% mouse or are we 92% zebrafish? Our DNA is 70% similar to a fruit fly; So are we therefore 70% fruit fly? Our DNA is 75% similar to a worm; So are we 75% worm? No, of course not!! This type of reasoning is simple minded in its approach and clearly flawed in establishing a solid scientific foundation on which to draw valid inferences from! Clearly, we must find if the DNA is flexible enough to accommodate any type of mutations happening to it in the first place. This one point of evidence, (The actual flexibility of DNA to any random mutations), must be firmly established, first and foremost, before we can draw any meaningful inferences from the genetic data we gather from organisms!! Fortunately we, through the miracle of science, can now establish this crucial point of DNA flexibility. The primary thing that is crushing to the evolutionary theory is this fact. Of the random mutations that do occur, and have manifested traits in organisms that can be measured, at least 999,999 out of 1,000,000 (99.9999%) of these mutations to the DNA have been found to produce traits in organisms that are harmful and/or to the life-form having the mutation (Gerrish and Lenski, 1998)! Professional evolutionary biologists are hard-pressed to cite even one clear-cut example of evolution through a beneficial mutation to DNA that would violate the principle of genetic entropy. Although evolutionists try to claim the lactase persistence mutation as a lonely example of a beneficial mutation in humans, lactase persistence is actually a loss of a instruction in the genome to turn the lactase enzyme off, so the mutation clearly does not violate genetic entropy. Yet at the same time, the evidence for the detrimental nature of mutations in humans is clearly overwhelming, for doctors have already cited over 3500 mutational disorders (Dr. Gary Parker).

    “It is entirely in line with the al nature of naturally occurring mutations that extensive tests have agreed in showing the vast majority of them to be detrimental to the organisms in its job of surviving and reproducing, just as changes ally introduced into any artificial mechanism are predominantly harmful to its useful operation” H.J. Muller (Received a Nobel Prize for his work on mutations to DNA)
    “But there is no evidence that DNA mutations can provide the sorts of variation needed for evolution… There is no evidence for beneficial mutations at the level of macroevolution, but there is also no evidence at the level of what is commonly regarded as microevolution.” Jonathan Wells (PhD. Molecular Biology)

    Man has over 3 billion base pairs of DNA code. Even if there were just a 1% difference of DNA between monkeys and humans, that would still be 30 million base pairs of DNA difference. It is easily shown, mathematically, for it to be fantastically impossible for evolution to ever occur between monkeys and man, or monkeys and anything else for that matter. Since, it is an established fact that at least 999,999 in 1,000,000 of any mutations to DNA will be harmful and/or , then it is also an established fact that there is at least a 999,999^30,000,000 to one chance that the monkey will fail to reach man by evolutionary processes. The monkey will hit a end of harmful/fatal mutations that will kill him or severely mutilate him before him. The poor monkey barely even gets out of the evolutionary starting gate before he is crushed by blind chance. This would still be true even if the entire universe were populated with nothing but monkeys to begin with! This number (999,999^30,000,000), is fantastically impossible for any hypothetical beneficial mutation to ever overcome! Worse yet for the naturalists, mathematician William Dembski PhD. has worked out the foundational math that shows the mutation/natural selection scenario to be impossible EVEN IF the harmful/fatal rate for mutation to the DNA were only 50%. The naturalist stamps his feet again and says that symbiotic gene transfer, cross-breeding (yes they, desperately, suggested cross-breeding as a solution), gene duplication and multiplication of chromosomes, alternative splicing etc .. etc .. are the reasons for the changes in DNA between humans and apes. They say these things with utmost confidence without even batting an eye. Incredibly, this is done in spite of solid evidences testifying to the contrary. Indeed, even if a hypothetical beneficial mutation to the DNA ever did occur, it would be of absolutely no use for it would be swallowed in a vast ocean of slightly detrimental mutations that would be below the culling power of natural selection!
    “The theory of gene duplication in its present form is unable to account for the origin of new genetic information” Ray Bohlin, (PhD. in molecular and cell biology)

    “Evolution through random duplications”… While it sounds quite sophisticated and respectable, it does not withstand honest and critical assessment” John C. Sanford (PhD Genetics; inventor of the biolistic “gene gun” process! Holds over 25 patents!)

    The human genome, according to Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft, far, far surpasses in complexity any computer program ever written by man. The data compression (multiple meanings) of some stretches of human DNA is estimated to be up to 12 codes thick (Trifonov, 1989)! No line of computer code ever written by man approaches that level of data compression (poly-functional complexity). Further evidence for the inherent complexity of the DNA is found in a another study. In June 2007, a international team of scientists, named ENCODE, published a study that indicates the genome contains very little unused sequences and, in fact, is a complex, interwoven network. This “complex interwoven network” throughout the entire DNA code makes the human genome severely poly-constrained to random mutations (Sanford; Genetic Entropy, 2005). This means the DNA code is now much more severely limited in its chance of ever having a hypothetical beneficial mutation since almost the entire DNA code is now proven to be intimately connected to many other parts of the DNA code. Thus even though a random mutation to DNA may be able to change one part of an organism for the better, it is now proven much more likely to harm many other parts of the organism that depend on that one particular part being as it originally was. This “interwoven network” finding is extremely bad news for naturalists!

    Naturalists truly believe you can get such staggering complexity of information in the DNA from some process based on blind chance. They cannot seem to fathom that any variation to a basic component in a species is going to require precise modifications to the entire range of interconnected components related to that basic component. NO natural law based on blind chance, would have the wisdom to implement the multitude of precise modifications on the molecular level in order to effect a positive change from one species to another. Only a “vastly superior intelligence” would have the wisdom to know exactly which amino acids in which proteins, which letters in the DNA code and exactly which repositioning of the 25 million nucleosomes (DNA spools) etc .. etc .. would need to be precisely modified to effect a positive change in a species. For men to imagine blind chance has the inherently vast wisdom to create such stunning interrelated complexity is even more foolish than some pagan culture worshiping a stone statue as their god and creator. Even if evolution of man were true, then only God could have made man through evolution. For only He would have the vast wisdom to master the complexity that would be required to accomplish such a thing. Anyone who fails to see this fails to appreciate the truly astonishing interwoven complexity of life at the molecular level. Even though God could have created us through “directed evolution”, the fossil record (Lucy fossil proven not ancestral in 2007) and other recent “hard” evidence (Neanderthal mtDNA sequenced and proven “out of human range”) indicates God chose to create man as a completely unique and distinct species. But, alas, our naturalistic friend is as blind and deaf as the blind chance he relies on to produce such changes and cannot bring himself to face this truth. Most naturalists I’ve met, by and large, are undaunted when faced with such overwhelming evidence for Divine Intelligence and are convinced they have conclusive proof for naturalistic evolution somewhere. They will tell us exactly what it is when they find it. The trouble with this line of thinking for naturalists is they will always take small pieces of suggestive evidence and focus on them, to the exclusion of the overriding vast body of conclusive evidence that has already been established. They fail to realize that they are viewing the evidence from the wrong overall perspective to begin with. After listening to their point of view describing (with really big words) some imagined evolutionary pathway on the molecular level, sometimes I think they might just be right. Then when I examine their evidence in detail and find it wanting, I realize they are just good story tellers with small pieces of “suggestive” evidence ignoring the overwhelming weight of “hard” evidence that doesn’t fit their naturalistic worldview. Instead of them thinking,” WOW look how God accomplishes life on the molecular level,” they think” WOW look what , dumb and blind chance accomplished on the molecular level.” Naturalists have an all too human tendency to over-emphasize and sometimes even distort the small pieces of suggestive evidence that are taken out of context from the overwhelming body of “conclusive” evidence. This is done just to support their own preconceived philosophical bias of naturalism. This is clearly the practice of very bad science, since they have already decided what the evidence must say prior to their investigation.

    And if Collin is reading this I would like to point out that your philosophical presumption is faulty!

    Theistic Philosophy Compared to the
    Materialistic Philosophy of Science

    There are two prevailing philosophies vying for the right to be called the truth in man’s perception of reality. These two prevailing philosophies are Theism and Materialism. Materialism is sometimes called philosophical or methodological naturalism. Materialism is the current hypothesis entrenched over science as the nt hypothesis guiding scientists. Materialism asserts that everything that exists arose from chance acting on an material basis which has always existed. Whereas, Theism asserts everything that exists arose from the purposeful will of the spirit of Almighty God who has always existed in a timeless eternity. A hypothesis in science is suppose to give proper guidance to scientists and make, somewhat, accurate predictions. In this primary endeavor, for a hypothesis, Materialism has failed miserably. It will be my goal in this paper to briefly show where Materialism has led scientists down blind alleys in the past and then it will be my goal to show where Materialism may currently be tying science up in an unnecessary problem. First, lets take a look at a few of the predictions where Materialism has missed the mark and Theism has been accurate.

    1. Materialism did not predict the big bang. Yet Theism always said the universe was created.

    2. Materialism did not predict a sub-atomic (quantum) world that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Yet Theism always said the universe is the craftsmanship of God who is not limited by time or space.

    3. Materialism did not predict the fact that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, as revealed by Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Yet Theism always said that God exists in a timeless eternity.
    4. Materialism did not predict the stunning precision for the underlying universal constants for the universe, found in the Anthropic Principle, which allows life as we know it to be possible. Yet Theism always said God laid the foundation of the universe, so the stunning, unchanging, clockwork precision found for the various universal constants is not at all unexpected for Theism.
    5 Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Yet statistical analysis of the many required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. Theism would have expected the earth to be extremely unique in this universe in its ability to support complex life.
    6. Materialism did not predict the fact that the DNA code is, according to Bill Gates, far, far more advanced than any computer code ever written by man. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity in the DNA code.
    7. Materialism presumed a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA, which is not the case at all. Yet Theism would have naturally presumed such a high if not, what most likely is, complete negative mutation rate to an organism’s DNA.
    8. Materialism presumed a very simple first life form. Yet the simplest life ever found on Earth is, according to Geneticist Michael Denton PhD., far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. Yet Theism would have naturally expected this level of complexity for the “simplest” life on earth.
    9. Materialism predicted that it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Yet we find evidence for “complex” photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth (Minik T. Rosing and Robert Frei, “U-Rich Archaean Sea-Floor Sediments from Greenland—Indications of >3700 Ma Oxygenic Photosynthesis”, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 6907 (2003): 1-8) Theism would have naturally expected this sudden appearance of life on earth.
    10. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. The Cambrian Explosion, by itself, destroys this myth. Yet Theism would have naturally expected such sudden appearance of the many different and completely unique fossils in the Cambrian explosion.

    11. Materialism predicted that there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record. Yet fossils are characterized by sudden appearance in the fossil record and overall stability as long as they stay in the fossil record. There is not one clear example of unambiguous transition between major species out of millions of collected fossils. Theism would have naturally expected fossils to suddenly appear in the fossil record with stability afterwards as well as no evidence of transmutation into radically new forms.

    12. Materialism predicts animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Yet man himself is the last scientifically accepted fossil to suddenly appear in the fossil record. Theism would have predicted that man himself was the last fossil to suddenly appear in the fossil record.

    I could probably go a lot further for the evidence is extensive and crushing against the Materialistic philosophy. As stated before, an overriding hypothesis in science, such as Materialism currently is, is suppose to give correct guidance to scientists. Materialism has failed miserably in its predictive power for science. The hypothesis with the strongest predictive power in science is “suppose” to be the prevailing philosophy of science. That philosophy should be Theism. Why this shift in science has not yet occurred is a mystery that needs to be remedied to enable new, and potentially wonderful, breakthroughs in science.

  5. God’s iPod,

    Apart from your lip service to freedom of speech, I found your remarks to be overly harsh and needlessly exclusive of a large group of well-meaning Christians. Calling a fellow Christian an “enemy” and a “heretic” for disagreeing with you over the methods that God may have used to create life strikes me as being very much against the spirit of Christ.

  6. I agree that you should cover evolution, but to side with theistic evolution is no friend of Evangelical Christianity (esp. the Nazarene denomination).

    If you teach at a institution that holds that the Bible is true than its no surprise that you will get in trouble once you teach theistic evolution, which by most Christian standards is pretty bogus. ON should be praised for trying to keep the integrity of the Scripture.

    Now on the other hand. If you go to a secular institution that gives lip service to “freedom of speech,” that’s a different story. There you should be able to use that freedom to side w/ evolution, theistic evolution, or ID and not be fired for it.

  7. To me, Collins takes the same intellectual position as Ken Miller: Give me Darwin, and give me God, even though neo-Darwinism rules out God for all practical purposes. Yes, I know, there’s that so-called conceptual gap between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism. But does the difference ever really matter?

    How convenient it is to have it both ways. On the one hand, you court the intelligensia by calling on the name of Darwin, implying that you are a materialist; on the other hand, you court Christians by calling on the name of God, implying that you are an anti-materialist. That is why people like Miller and Collins love it when their defenders and they go on about how “devout” they are, and how faithful they are to their religion.

    If he is a true theistic evolutionist, he should reject Darwin and posit a God-guided evolution. If Darwinist evolution means unguided and theistic evolution means guided, how is it that a Darwinist can also claim to believe in theistic evolution? And why do we grant him that luxury?

  8. Excuse me, obviously I meant Colling.

  9. I listened to Colling give a talk. It seems to me that his ideas are largely philosophical. They are about the nature of God, not only about what happens in biology.

    His musings remind me of the people who say that “God is no Engineer” or alternatively that “God does not throw dice”. Some cannot cope with a God who doesn’t have enough feelings to satisfy their ideal, Einstein seems not to be able to cope with a God who does not appear to tightly control every outcome.

    The contrast between ID and “random design” and even YEC should rest on evidence, not mere philosophical preference.

    Colling’s interpretations of some aspects of biology seem quite helpful. It is when we say there must be “all random processes” or “all intelligent action” that we leave the evidence behind.

  10. My apologies also to Richard Colling, I did not mean to get your last name wrong.

  11. idnet.com.au
    It is when we say there must be “all random processes” or “all intelligent action” that we leave the evidence behind.

    I firmly believe that existing evidence compels that the truth will be found in a combination of the two different view points.

  12. I have not yet worked my way through the glut of correspondence received on the Colling issue, and I won’t blog on it until I do.

    One distinction I think worth making is between what a prof at a denominational college may express as an opinion and what he may teach as consistent with the beliefs of the founders and sustainers of the college.

    Consider a Catholic university, for example. (I don’t mean a university “in the Catholic tradition”, I mean an actual Catholic university.)

    Let us suppose that, in his ruminations and deliberations, a tenured professor forms the opinion that reincarnation is a plausible idea.

    Now, the Catholic Catechism is quite clear on that point: “There is no reincarnation after death.”

    So, as far as the Catechism is concerned, the prof is wrong. And as far as the Church is concerned, there is no choice to be made between the Catechism and his opinion.

    That said, what do you do? You can’t very well command the prof to stop believing his opinion. You can certainly require, however, that he make clear in his communications with students and others that his view is not that of the Church.

    I wonder whether the Nazarene problem is this: The college (1) did not clarify the point at which a view on evolution would fall outside any reasonable understanding of the church’s teachings, and (2) did not have a clear idea what to do if that happened.

  13. That said, what do you do? You can’t very well command the prof to stop believing his opinion. You can certainly require, however, that he make clear in his communications with students and others that his view is not that of the Church.

    But when you employ a growing number of professors who reject the view of the church/college, eventually the character of the school changes—at least in the Protestant world. I took a course from a liberal Southern California seminary. When the school stopped requiring a “statement of faith” from its faculty members, the character of the institution began to gradually change and it eventually lost most of its Christian orthodoxy.

  14. I just read that Columbia University’s dean has said he would have invited Adolf Hitler to come speak at the school.


    Can we take this to mean that Columbia might allow Dembski, Behe, or other ID theorists to give a talk and be challenged by students and faculty?

  15. Reed.

    I think you over dramatize my words. If you look at my words by definition of them alone without adding your own conviction or emotion, you’ll see I am, I think, quite accurate in my word choice.

    My post was to exemplify that though he may be teaching heresy, I will still love him, as will others.

    I have Jewish friends that feel my beliefs are downright heretical, and yet they still love me, invite me to synagogue and to celebrate Yom Kippur with them.

    It is not just our duty, but it ought to be our heart to love one another, but that does not mean we water down reality. Let’s call a spade a spade. I fear you are pandering to the very political correctness I mentioned.

  16. hmmm, ot?

    Well, it appears Dilbert “comic” writer is “for free speech” in comparitave forms…

    careful… language warning for the faint of heart.


    on topic…

    Christian Universities must be careful if what they’re trying to do is shape young minds for Christ along specific lines. I think the Baylor/Nazarene cases are apples/oranges, and both could’ve been handled better.

    It is one thing to allow differing opinions. It is yet another to allow in forces which undercut authority.

    I am not aware that Yeshua as a teacher allowed it in his day. So, why should modern day Christians? Now, the art of debate is entirely different and he willingly took it on in public places for all to see.
    But he didn’t allow an atheist to teach about Genesis, did he?

    The reason that Baylor, Notre Dame, Harvard, Yale, etc., experience the modern day problems is because they follow the modern day world. The foundation stone is layed, but one must have both feet upon it. Not one in sand, one on rock.

  17. Darwinism the RELIGION

    For those who might have missed my messages in another thread:



  18. Persecuted??? I thought it was natural selection.

  19. Freedom of speech is not absolute and freedom of inquiry is not the same as freedom of speech.

    Dr Dembski wrote, here that

    Baylor President John Lilley … won’t let the Evolutionary Informatics Lab back on campus.

    So it appears that Dr Marks is being denied freedom of inquiry. Evolutionary informatics is not “approved research” at Baylor University so if he wants to continue with that he has to do it on his own time. He is also not allowed to use the university server to report on the results of his research.

    Collings, on the other hand, is being denied freedom to teach something that he thinks is true but that his superiors regard as untrue. Collings says his students, “deserve the real stuff”. His superiors would, I’m sure, agree that students deserve the “real stuff” but obviously think that Collings’ “real stuff” is not real at all. Collings thinks he has good particular evidences to support what he believes. His superiors disagree because his beliefs are inconsistent with the plain (not necessarily literal) meaning of what both he and they are supposed to regard as the Word of God.

    So there is a big difference between the two cases. Marks is not allowed to research in university time or publicise research findings on university servers. Collings is not allowed to teach “the next generation” things that his superiors believe to be lies.

    What Baylor University has done to Dr Marks is, I believe, indefensible. Whether what Olivet Nazarene University has done to Dr Collings is defensible or not depends on whether Collings is right or wrong in his beliefs. That he holds those beliefs sincerely is beside the point. Apparently David Irving sincerely believes there was no holocaust and no one is cutting him any slack. Hate speech laws deny all sorts of people who have sincerely held opinions the right to disseminate them.

    Once upon a time people observed that infectious diseases such as cholera and plague broke out in places where there was a stink of dirty, standing water. That observation, and the observers’ confusion of correlation with causation, led them to the sincere belief that these infectious diseases were caused by miasmas, or bad air. Further investigation proved that they were wrong.

    In the same way Collings confuses correlation, of a sort, with causation. He thinks, among other things, that because human beings and certain higher apes share a certain amount of DNA then, therefore, human beings and apes share a common ancestor. He ignores the fact that human beings share a lot of DNA with creatures that no one suggests are evolutionarily closely related to us. Maybe he is in love with the idea of domains working synergistic magic in something like the way writers can fall in love with words they have written and find it incredibly hard to cut them out even if the cutting will improve the piece. Who knows?

    It boils down to this; Collings wants to teach his disputed opinion as though it is true whereas Marks wants to investigate in order to discover what is the truth. The two cases aren’t comparable.

  20. Suppose someone at the Ayn Rand Institute started writing that God exist and objectivism is hooey and that person was fired. Would there be a controversy?

    Baylor’s problems involve hypocrisy i.e. we are committed to open inquirey (unless we disagree with it.)

    I suspect Olivet Nazarene University does not claim this.

  21. It boils down to this; Collings wants to teach his disputed opinion as though it is true whereas Marks wants to investigate in order to discover what is the truth. The two cases aren’t comparable.

    I’ve seen no indication that Colling was embedding an outline (remember, this is only 2 lectures per semester we’re talking about) of the points he made in his book into the class he was teaching. Could you point out where you read this?

  22. Theistic evolutionists like Colling seem to be either forcing themselves to maintain a huge cognitive dissonance (one system with God and the other with no God), or believe that God being omnipotent has somehow influenced innumerable random events combined with NS to result in the present natural order including Man. The latter belief inherently includes that the influence of God is totally undetectable as differing from purely natural events.

    ID has shown the extreme improbability of the observed natural world of living organisms having arisen through a process driven by truly random changes. But theistic evolutionism is contending that an intelligent Designer, being omnipotent, created the universe in such a way that somehow natural law and random change produced the present living world as an intended result.

    Since omnipotent really means omnipotent, by this reasoning theistic evolutionism could be seen as being compatible with ID.

  23. Patrick,

    I did not assert that Collings “was embedding an outline … of the points he made in his book” into his lectures. However, I’d be surprised if he had never made even a passing supportive reference to the ideas contained in his book during any of his lectures.

    I was referring to this sentence above:

    “They seem convinced that evolution is false teaching …”

    His opinion is that it’s true.

    Hence his opinion is disputed.

  24. (22) One way, it seems to me, of seeing how theistic evolution could get off the ground as a coherent metaphysics, is to think about whether objective knowledge is confined to scientific methods — that is, if only scientific methods can generate objective knowledge.

    If the answer to that question is “no,” then there’s room for objective knowledge — such as knowledge of the existence and nature of God — which does not require validation through scientific methods (e.g. quantification, experiment, etc.).

    Put otherwise, if the answer is “no,” then the absence of a concept of God from a scientific world-picture doesn’t, by itself, show that the concept of God is without objective validity.

    (I’m not happy about putting things in quite this way, because there is something amiss about a concept of God — in some sense, God is the name for what cannot be contained or grasped within concepts or language. But those who don’t share my inclination for apophatic theology probably won’t agree!)

    On the other hand, if one begins with the assumption that only scientific methods can result in objective knowledge, then one must be either an atheist of some sort or an ID proponent of some sort.

    I mention this because the debate is often construed as one between atheists/materialists and design theorists, with theistic evolutionists getting short shrift from both sides. But this construal of the debate blinds us to the fact that both sides are proceeding on the basis of a shared assumption — the assumption that only science can know. Whereas I think it helpful to bear in mind that this assumption is unexamined and could be — and I think it is! — highly contestible.

  25. I don’t think it’s fair to say ID proponents recognize only science as a source for objective knowledge. Many would argue, I suspect, that philosophy or Theology can provide legitimate knowledge of a kind than cannot be aquired through empirical verification.

    Negative (apophatic) knowledge about God can be useful insofar as it encourages humility and liberates one from the delusion that he sufficiently appreciates the unsurpassing beauty of God.

    Positive (kataphatic) knowledge about God can be useful insofar as it provides an analogical (scaled down) conception of Divine attributes which humans can interpret as a guide to moral virtue.

    With regard to theistic evolution, how does one argue on behalf of what one has not defined with precision. I don’t think theistic evolution is nearly as well formulated as intelligent design and materialistic Darwinism. It seems to mean different things to different people.

  26. “I was a young man with uninformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion of them.”
    –Charles Darwin

    Indeed it takes more faith, and years of forced brainwashing, to believe in the religion of Darwinism than it does to believe in Intelligent Design.
    Why should a religious school allow the teaching of another religion on their campus?

  27. (25) You made an interesting and important point about design theory and theology, but I’m still skeptical. If the negative or positive ways are accepted as methods that lead to objective knowledge of God, then why should it matter whether or not God plays a role in our science? I mean, one might just say, if science is atheistic, then so much the worse for science.

    Now, there still might be reasons why one wants to have a theistic science. And one might prefer design theory over neo-Darwinism on strictly scientific grounds, as most design theorists indeed do. But these are separate issues, and there’s no virtue in confusing them.
    (For one thing, confusing these issues makes it harder for ID to be taken seriously on non-religious grounds!)

    As for whether “theistic evolution means different things to different people,” no doubt that’s true. But there is still a family resemblance between de Chardin and Dobzhansky and Miller and Collins. And there’s a fair amount of friendly disagreement among design theorists (e.g. whether ID excludes a common ancestry of humans and chimps) and among atheistic evolutionists (e.g. whether selection operates differently at different level of organization — genes, organisms, species). Though that debate is of interest to theistic evolutionists as well, it still shows that none of these categories are unified or monolithic, so it’s no surprise that theistic evolution isn’t, either.

  28. Janice,

    Then what has Colling done wrong? The “they” referred to is people outside of the ON administration. If the root of the problem is “evolution in general” the college should have responded as such: change the course requirements for their biology classes in general. As Colling stated, evolution is only a minor part of the biology class after all.

    Instead, they are persecuting a single professor for opinions made outside of the college and as far as I know evolution is still being taught the same way by other professors in the general biology classes. Now if Colling had previously been ordered to not make any reference to his book in his class and he disobeyed I could somewhat understand ON’s actions. But that’s speculation; if that’s the case I haven’t read anything like that.


    Since omnipotent really means omnipotent, by this reasoning theistic evolutionism could be seen as being compatible with ID.

    I’ve always seen certain versions of theistic evolution as compatible with ID. If you take the stance that most or all of nature is predetermined then what appears random is in fact intelligently designed. Now Christians/Jews will disagree amongst themselves on this matter since that concept gets into the role of free will, predestination, etc. Islam on the other hand doesn’t have that disagreement since it’s written quite plainly that all events, good and bad, are caused by Allah.

    One stance I don’t see as compatible with ID: God created the natural laws to allow for unguided evolution, waited to see what turned up, and then eventually stepped in to endow man with a spirit. If that’s the case we should be able to point to the mechanism that allows for this, but we cannot.

  29. Patrick

    Theistic evolution always entails ID of some sort. If God is intelligent and if “design” includes to influence an outcome in any way.

    The problem is that ID claims to see the fingerprints of God where TE says God wiped the scene clean.

  30. idnet,

    Not quite. In one version of TE intelligence is only involved in the formation of the rules governing the system but the result of these rules are claimed to not directly involve intelligence. So this version of TE invokes cosmological ID (which sees the “fingerprints of God” within fine-tuning) but not biological ID. That way, God isn’t directly responsible for such things as malaria.

    Since we’re on the subject:


    Behe discusses both science and theology with someone who is apparently a Christian theistic evolutionist. I definitely agree that there isn’t a problem with God being the originator of such plagues as malaria. The point Behe was trying to elaborate on was that organisms can suffer from genetic entropy or “devolve”. As in, malaria at one point may have served a useful purpose at one point but errors eventually led it to going out of control. After all, that’s essentially what happens with cancer…normal “good” cells going bad.

    But even if that’s not how malaria came to be and God directly intended malaria to be harmful then I don’t see how that somehow contradicts Christian theology. Genesis starts with God cursing the Earth, which could have included the creation of viruses, malaria, etc. God sent pestilence against various peoples. Even in the NT God is striking people dead. So why do Christian theistic evolutionists find the idea of God creating malaria so objectionable? Then of course there’s always the potential for Satan to be the originator of such plagues upon mankind.

    As for non-Christian TE’s, with Islam Allah is responsible for everything good and bad. Mormons have people evolving into gods and even “God” is a creating being that can change so why not create malaria? I’m sure other religions are compatible.

  31. Patrick,

    The quote below is from the linked MSNBC article.

    Yet with the new term, [college president John]Bowling banned “Random Designer” from all courses; it had been used in at least one history class, an advanced biology course and the general biology course.

    Emphasis mine.

    If the book was assigned reading, or even just recommended reading, then obviously there’s been some degree of proselytising for Colling’s theology of evolution going on as part of the general biology course and not just teaching of the basics of evolutionary theory.

  32. Carl Sachs: To me, “the family resemblance between de Chardin /Dobzhansky and Miller /Collins” (a nice metephor by the way) exists in name only.

    I submit that de Chardin, for example, proposes an “inside out” evolution in which the seed of evolution unfolds predictably according to a preordained principle designed by God. From this perspective, we can speak of purpose and design without any hesitation.

    That formula differs substantially from the “outside in” evolution proposed by Miller (Darwinism), in which the environment (outside) influences the purposeless process of the evolving species (inside). From that perspective, it makes no sense to refer to purpose or design.

    For my part, only the first example qualifies as theistic evolution. Some may want to make the second way work by inferring that God–how can I put this–set the mechanism of purposeless in motion on purpose. In my judgment, that is an irrational attempt to ingratiate one’s self with both camps.

    Now I know that Miller, for example, claims that you can have your God and your Darwin simultaneously, but I don’t see how you can have a purposeful God using a purposeless process.

    Here is what I think Miller is really doing: On the one hand, he court materialists by calling on the name of Darwin, on the other hand, he courts Christians, by calling on the name of God. How convenient it is to have it both ways.

    I notice, though, that when he enters into debate, he argues for Darwin’s and militates against intelligent design. And yet, he calls himself a “devout Catholic.” Never mind that the Catholic Church has ruled out Darwinism as a morally acceptable world vier. For my part, that is a Darwinist in theistic evolution clothing. There is a rather judgmental word for that, but I won’t use it. Nevertheless, here are the letters in succession. H Y P O C R I T E.

  33. I take back that last comment. I have no right to judge motives in that fashion.

  34. StephenB ,

    Don’t leave out of the equation that Ken Miller makes probably between two to three hundred thousand dollars a year through sales of his textbooks.

    If he questioned Darwin, how long would he still have those textbook sales? It wouldn’t be measured in nano seconds but sales would dwindle quickly.

    If Ken Miller wanted to give the appearance of an honest man, he would remove himself from the debate and just sell textbooks that had no questionable material on evolution but he thrusts himself into the heart of the debate with questionable comments and arguments. Does he believe what he says or does he know it will help with textbook sales?

  35. Jerry, you make an important point that cannot be ignored. How sweet it is to have the best of both worlds.

  36. These students (the next generation) want and deserve the real stuff.

    Then they should be taught that we do not have any data or evidence which can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimpls and humans.

    Heck there isn’t any data or evidence that a population of singl;e-celled organisms can “evolve” into anything but single-celled organisms.

    And I believe that many christians would be upset when one tries to minimalize “God”‘s role.

    Is there any difference between no “God” and a “God” who creates via culled genetic accidents?

  37. Janice,

    I apologize…I don’t know how I missed that in my first reading of the article. Still, while I can understand removing the usage of the textbook (that’s their choice) I don’t see the need to remove Colling as a teacher of the course. Perhaps there’s more to this story than what I’ve read. I don’t like speculating so perhaps ON has elaborated on the reasons for their decision somewhere else.

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