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Remarkable exchange between Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett

As Michael Ruse remarked when he gave me permission to quote the following exchange between him and Daniel Dennett: “feel free to quote — after all, I am in deep sh** already!!!”

HIGHLIGHT OF THE EXCHANGE: “I think that you and Richard [Dawkins] are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms – what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.”

=-=-=-=-=-
From: Dennett, Daniel C.
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 9:57 PM
To: Michael Ruse
Subject: RE: your letter

Dear Michael,

I’ll wait before replying to you. I doubt that you mean all the things you say here. Think it over.

Dan

=-=-=-=-=-
From: Michael Ruse
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 5:29 PM
To: Dennett, Daniel C.
Subject: RE: your letter

Now don’t be grumpy – “You may want to try to extricate yourself, since you are certainly losing ground fast in the evolutionary community that I am in touch with.” — I am a full professor with tenure at a university known chiefly for its prowess on the football field, living out my retirement years in the sunshine – I have no reputation to preserve, and frankly can say and do whatever the f**k I want to without sinking further.

Now, for the record.

I am a hard-line Darwinian and always have been very publicly when it did cost me status and respect – in fact, I am more hard-line than you are, because I don’t buy into this meme bullsh** but put everything – especially including ethics – in the language of genes. I stick to this and my next book – which incidentally starts by quoting you approvingly on the world importance of selection – goes after the lot – Marxists, constructivists, feminists, creationists, philosophers, you name it.

Look it up — http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/052182947X/qid=1140387259/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-1428663-3883125?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

It is true that I condemn or at least want to point to evolutionism, which I do think functions as a secular religion – but never have I said that Darwinian evolutionary theory is anything but a genuine theory – I am the guy who stood up in Arkansas and said this when all of the fancy philosophers would not have any part in the fight, and who got slammed afterwards by Larry Laudan, Ernan McMullin, Philip Kitcher, and others, because of my stand.

Second, I have no more belief than either you or Dawkins – I call myself a sceptic because I think that atheism is unprovable, but I don’t believe in the trinity or whatever – and have never concealed this, especially not to the Templeton people, to whom one might think I would suck up.

Third, I would defend to the death the right of you and Richard Dawkins to say what you like – I would print those bloody cartoons, believe me – if Richard gets caught on that sh*t Tony Blair’s laws to placate Muslims, the first thousand dollars to his defence fund will come from me.

Fourth, I thought your new book is really bad and not worthy of you – I agree that the Times review was loaded (although funny) – I tried in my review in Nature to express my disapproval but in a way that left us both with respect.

Fifth, I think that you and Richard are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms – what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.

Ok, enough preaching for a Sunday – I really like you and Richard, but my liking for you and respect for what you two have done matters not a bit with respect to what I think that I, Michael Ruse, should do – I would be ashamed of myself if I thought and acted otherwise.

Michael

=-=-=-=-=-
From: Dennett, Daniel C.
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:34 PM
To: Michael Ruse
Subject: RE: your letter

Dear Michael,

Funny you should ask. They didn’t publish my/our letter, and today you can see why. The ugly review from Wieseltier [[Mentioned on this blog here -- WmAD]]. I attach my response, which they WILL publish (but not till March). I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think the NYTBR is under the spell of the Darwin dreaders. I’m afraid you are being enlisted on the side of the forces of darkness. You may want to try to extricate yourself, since you are certainly losing ground fast in the evolutionary community that I am in touch with. As you will see, I do lump your coinage in with ‘reductionism” and “scientism” etc. and think you are doing a disservice to the cause of taking science seriously. Are you among the Wieseltiers? I’d like to think not, but you are certainly being pulled in by them.

Best wishes,

Dan

=-=-=-=-=-
From: Michael Ruse
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:03 PM
To: Dennett, Daniel C.
Cc: ‘Michael Fisher’
Subject: your letter

Dear Dan:

Each Sunday I turn with fear and trembling to the letters page of the New York Times Book Review, searching for the scathing letter that you and Pinker penned about my inadequacies. Each Sunday, with my name unmentioned, I then turn with relief to the Week in Review to read instead about the inadequacies of others. Are you flying under the radar of the editors of that particular organ?

Ever yours in Charles Darwin,

Michael

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46 Responses to Remarkable exchange between Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett

  1. I am curious – did Ruse have permission to release Dennett’s part of the exchange?

    There’s an old admonition dating back to Arpanet days that goes something like this

    Never send an email that you wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper the next day.

  2. It pains me to say this but Ruse seems like a good egg… for a Darwinian girly man! :-)

  3. clearly their use of language shows the kind of morals Darwinian evolution leads to. Only the strongest words survive :)

    In my ever so meager and humble opinion, I think evolution theory’s biggest hurdle is how it can fit with some certain religious beliefs. We all know this is what the issue is about. I don’t mean to downplay I.D. at all but the majority of its support and success hasn’t been driven by the science aspect of it, but the religious aspect of it. When the Dover decision came down, W.D. didn’t say “we have some papers coming out soon that will counter this decision”. He said the Christian community will be galvanized by this decision.

    Statements like these from Dawkins, Dennett, and Dembski make me feel it’s some big theological discussion and I suppose they’re probably right. I’d rather see both sides discuss endogenous retroviruses and leave the religious issues out of it for now.

    I’d rather see both sides discuss endogenous retroviruses and leave the religious issues out of it for now.

    Amen. -ds

  4. Ruse knows what’s going on; at least he knows why ID is winning, it’s because of hardline atheists like Dennett and Dawkins. But he will be listened to by few and the imminent collapse of Darwinism will surprise many of them.

  5. This post provides wonderful insight into the dialogs that usually remain hidden from us unwashed masses. Ruse’s honesty is encouraging – even if you disagree with his position you must appreciate that this isn’t a game to him and he seems to want truth.

  6. Hi Dave. I understand the bit about one’s emails perhaps showing up on the front page of the New York Times. However, my curiousity was about about whether Ruse had Dennett’s permission to pass Dennett’s emails on, not whether Dennett should be surprised that it happened. Do you know? did Ruse’s statement of permission to post his [Ruse's] emails also include permission from Dennett to include his?

    I’m sure I have no idea and I’m also sure that’s a matter between Ruse and Dennett that is none of our business. Emails by default include previous emails and one must always assume there are blind copies going to interested 3rd parties. -ds

  7. Michael Ruse at least respects his opponents, whereby he himself commands respect. And he cares enough about ordinary people to preach against what he sees as falsehood, which also commands respect.

  8. I had the opportunity to mingle around Mr. Ruse and observe his demeanor at a recent conference at a Baptist Church. Up to this point, I had always dismissed him as a “jovial buffoon” (to use a Davisonism), but he went up a small notch on my respect-o-meter as I saw him interact with sincere people of faith with a humble, respectful and friendly attitude.

    I still think he is so entrenched in his deep-seated philosophical bias that he won’t let himself be honest about the evidence which chips away at the foundation of his Darwinian faith.

  9. do you think Michael Ruse means that Darwinism is losing the battle in the scientific arena? I think not. It sounds to me like he has the academician’s standard contempt for the uneducated and unwashed masses who care more about religion than science. I think he means that Darwinism is losing the PR battle, since said masses are being skillfully manipulated by the ID architects. Not that I agree, mind you. I was following a chain of links and posts the other day and came upon a wonderful DaveScot passage which was on some other person’s blog wherein ds basically scoffs at the consistently levelled charge on the part of Darwinians that there is no ID research program. Way to tell ‘em ds. I never hear this defense when I listen to debates, etc. The evidence from all past inquiries really belongs to everyone, as is the nature of science. Incidentally, I have always wondered why this blog avoids in principle the discussion of the philosophical aspect/implications of ID theory. I understand perfectly the need to hone the scientific argument, but given the very nature of humans, who are driven by philosophy/worldview considerations, it feels a little artificial to avoid it so rigidly.

  10. Two thoughts: first of all, Ruse protests a bit too much, methinks, about Dennett and Dawkins’ demonizing of Christianity. Hasn’t he done the same, seeing that his main strategy has been to instigate the fear of — in his words, mind you — Christians coming to throw sinner into concentration camps. That was his argument against Dembski on Nightline: if we don’t fight against ID, they’ll throw us into concentration camps. Ruse does seem like a good egg, and I love the fact that he obviously speaks from genuine conviction, but he’s just as guilty of fear-mongering and exaggeration as Dawkins.

    Second, when OH WHEN is the Discovery Institute going to respond in kind to the attack on ID, that it would constitute a “state-established religion”? What is dogmatic Darwinism and the Dover decision, if not state-established religious materialism? Johnson stated this outright in his review of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: “Daniel Dennett’s fertile imagination is captivated by the very dangerous idea that the neo-Darwinian theory of biological evolution should become the basis for what amounts to an established state religion of scientific materialism.”

    This should be the talking point for ever DI member and ID sympathizer in the world. We should be hammering this point home until it sinks into the public consciousness, because it’s true. Darwinism is underwritten by the unexamined assumption of religious materialism. This is an idea that the public can understand, and which will animate our allies. But it hasn’t sunk in. Meanwhile the PT and NCSE crowd make hay with all the religious talk. In my opinion they’re getting away with a colossal philosophical ruse.

    I know this is a basic argument that every DI member agrees with. Why haven’t they focussed all their efforts in drilling this into the public consciousness? The political fate of ID is NOT going to turn on the nuance of Irreducible Complexity. The public needs a simple idea that confirms their intuition about the magesterial fiat that Darwinism has enjoyed for too long. Let’s out it as religion and not let up until the public gets it.

  11. evolution is losing ground in the political arena for sure.

    Look at what happened in Turkey. It’s a case of evolution losing the political battle.

    I.D. still has a long way to go before it can compete scientifically, which is exactly what Phillip Johnson said the other day.

    “The hypothesis of intelligent design, while being developed, is not complete enough to be taught in the classroom, Phillip Johnson, professor emeritus of law at the University of California at Berkeley, said during a lecture at Knox College Friday.”

    Is taught defined as teachers shall cannot even mention the existence of an intelligent design hypothesis? If it is then I think Phillip Johnson is wrong. Is taught further defined as teachers shall not criticize neoDarwinian theory? If it is then Phil is wrong there too. Criticisms of neoDarwinian theory are certainly well enough developed to teach even if the specific criticism entailed in design inference is not. -ds

  12. A Curtain Lifts a Little

    An e-mail exchange between two ardent and public defenders of evolution (Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett) reveals their views of the public relations war surrounding evolution/intellegent design.  Kinda "inside baseball", but there is also the h

  13. If Dennett never said anything else, this alone:

    “I think the NYTBR is under the spell of the Darwin dreaders.”

    would be enough to show he’s disconnected from reality

  14. Jasonng: “Ruse knows what’s going on; at least he knows why ID is winning, it’s because of hardline atheists like Dennett and Dawkins. But he will be listened to by few and the imminent collapse of Darwinism will surprise many of them.”

    The hard-line atheists certainly don’t help the Darwinist cause. In a previous post I pointed out that many Darwinians have become adamant about avoiding words like unplanned, unguided and purposeless, even though, by definition, the process of random mutation and natural selection is unplanned, unguided and purposeless. They know that the theory just drips with philosophical nihilism, and they don’t want to be exposed as peddling anti-religious, nihilistic metaphysics to other people’s children. Dennett and Dawkins keep waving red flags, drawing attention to this very thing.

    But ID will primarily win because of evidence and reason. Blind-watchmaker gradualism simple doesn’t fit the evidence, and is in principle incapable of producing what is claimed for it. Most people (~85%) have enough sense to realize that random tinkering can’t produce a computer program as complicated as Mozart, no matter how much time is allowed.

    So, Darwinism will lose for two reasons: It is bad metaphysics and it is bad science.

  15. “Most people (~85%) have enough sense to realize that random tinkering can’t produce a computer program as complicated as Mozart, no matter how much time is allowed.”

    What has always bothered me is this:

    Why is it that normal people understand this intuitively, but highly educated people don’t? What is it, specifically, that they do to people in higher education to destroy such obvious intuitions? It isn’t the evidence — the evidence is clearly on our side.

    What is it that academics are telling their PhD students that is so convincing?

    Highly educated too often translates to brainwashed by academy dogma. Autodidacts are just as knowledgable but aren’t brainwashed. Highly educated doesn’t automatically translate to having much common sense either. Also highly educated engineers whose profession is intelligent design are much more likely to recognize intelligent design in nature i.e. it takes one to know one. Who is better qualified to make a design inferences than professional designers? -ds

  16. johnnyb: yours is an interesting query which has been discussed at great length on other threads, but I will restate quickly the main feeling I personally have on this subject: people do not accept Darwinism on scientific grounds. They have a pre-existing INNER INCLINATION towards viewpoints which are materialistic or non-materialistic. I believe this is the single great basic divide among humans, which can be seen over and over again in countless fields and which underlies nearly every major current debate. Worldview is a development from out of the spiritual core of the human being, and is only secondarily informed by the educational institutions and professors. this is the reason why so many highly educated people accept Darwinism and defend it with such fervor. They do so because it appears to provide an objective and scientific rationale for their materialism. It is the same urge which motivates many orthodox religious people to defend indefensible religious views: they just KNOW from deep down inside that there is some core truth about religion, and so they dig in their heels and from a defensive posture, shoot down every criticism, no matter how valid. From this perspective, the defensive perspective, truth becomes far less important than the maintainance of the worldview status quo, from which existential security is derived. The basic intuition that life is too complex to be the result of chance will win because it is true, and TRUTH always prevails in the end because it alone can command the forces of the universe which were all born from out of truth.

  17. Johnnyb,

    “What is it that academics are telling their PhD students that is so convincing? “

    Here is the answer to your question.

    It is: Don’t trust intuition. Trust data.

    What data supports the mechanism of random mutation plus natural selection being the creative force behind the emergence of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans? Feel free to expound with actual observations from nature or results of laboratory experiments. If all you’ve got is “well, if rm+ns isn’t the mechanism then what else could it be” then put a sock in it as that’s a logical fallacy called an argument from ignorance. -ds

  18. senatorchunk,

    Not quite. Here is an amusing account:

    Science against Evolution

    ALL my friends with Ph.D. degrees who are college professors believe in evolution. NONE of my friends with Ph.D. degrees who work in the defense industry believe in evolution.

  19. tina

    I think that you are correct in many cases. I do however feel that history and data are powerful tools in swaying those of a religious persuassion. I say this from my one personal experience and the experiences of many who recieved a religious upbringing with me and then went to college. The change in worldview was very painful for me and did not represent any prior inclination. I am not a strict materialist but definitely a skeptic. My intuition does not tell me that life is too complex to evolve in nature. I do not think that ET has the answers yet and probably will not for some time if ever. I cannot dismiss the possiblility of intelligent agency but I also do not view it as necessary or even likely. I do however think there should be a metaphysical alternative in science, and that is my primary reason for likeing ID.

  20. Around the web – Week of February 20. 2006

    Random things of interest from around the web:E-mail debate: Militant atheist Daniel Dennett and not-so-militant agnostic Michael Ruse square off on how vehemently one ought to oppose Intelligent Design.So it’s not just me: Here’s an article on the…

  21. ftrp11; I think I understand what you are saying. correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like you are saying that you underwent a genuine change of worldview as a result of your exposure to wider/differing ideas in college(?) If this is what you are saying then I would completely agree that such a thing is possible. I was just referring to the specific group of people johnnyb was asking about, namely extremely bright, well-educated people who don’t share the intuition of the masses that life is too complex to be the result of chance. This group seems to be composed mainly of pre-committed materialists, as opposed to disinterested students of truth. But keep in mind that materialism is far more pervasive than might seem at first glance: many religious views are steeped in an almost unbelievable degree of narrow materialism, and as such are as likely to produce/cultivate materialistic individuals as is the scientism of people like Dennett.

  22. DS-

    All I was saying is that the only evolutionary force we have data for in the lab is RM+NS (excluding human interference). So that’s the only evolutionary force scientists trust. I was trying to explain why scientists are so skeptical about what many feel is intuitive. I think that’s a reasonable explanation for this observation by johnnyb.

    chunk

    What’s intuitive about independently given patterns, complexity, and probabalistic resources? Intuitive is pointing to a biological machine and saying machines don’t materialize out of thin air by random forces. Quantifying it through identifying independently given patterns, calculating complexity, and then analyzing the known probabilistic resources that could cause the pattern to exist by chance is hardly intuitive. -ds

  23. Hi Tina,

    In comment #9, you wrote: “Incidentally, I have always wondered why this blog avoids in principle the discussion of the philosophical aspect/implications of ID theory. I understand perfectly the need to hone the scientific argument, but given the very nature of humans, who are driven by philosophy/worldview considerations, it feels a little artificial to avoid it so rigidly.”

    We don’t avoid or discourage talking about the philosophical side of ID. In fact, as a college philosophy student, that’s my expertise (if I can be said to have an expertise :) ). What we do discourage here is preaching–proselytizing for a particular faith or attacking one.

    Nicely put. I’m adding that to the moderation policy. -ds

  24. crandaddy: thank you for the clarification of the policy on philosophical aspects of ID.

  25. DS-

    I agree that the framework for design detection outlined by Dembski is not intuitive in it’s nature. But johnnyb was asking about the intuitive nature of the design inference made by most people out in the world, not the inference procedure provided by Dembski.

    In fact, I think most people do in fact do exactly what you say, “pointing to a biological machine and saying machines don’t materialize out of thin air by random forces.”

    In the end, I was just trying to explain why scientists don’t follow the “intuitive” justification for design.

    Run of the mill scientists seem to be poverty stricken when it comes to intuition. They’re strict proceduralists resistant to change or innovation. Plodding. If it weren’t for the few great ones that ventured outside the box they’d get no respect at all. There’s nothing wrong with intuition unless you don’t have it. Aren’t so many things in life like that though… -ds

  26. Tina

    Thanks for clarifying. I would agree that believers of scientism do have an inate inclination towards materialism.

  27. scordova: so… which side is it winds up with all of the heavy weaponry? (-:

  28. I have a comment on blind faith which I’d like y’all to consider, especially since it touches upon an area of science which doesn’t seem to directly relate to the design debate.

    Comets are dirty snowballs, a fact that we all know.

    Only they aren’t. Every single comet we’ve ever visited has been pretty close to bone dry. When Shoemaker-Levy split up, astronomers pointed instruments and eagerly awaited the burst of water from the newly exposed icy surfaces. None came. When Linear blew up and disintegrated, scopes were again pointed, and again no water (well, no more than you’d expect from ionisation effects). Halley was observed, and instead of evapouration and sublimation in a gentle, fuzzy cloud the observers saw a few bright, intense jets. Deep Impact smacked into Tempel, and the water levels went DOWN as the plume of dry dust ABSORBED WATER. There are several other interesting features I’d like to digress into, but I’m working hard to stay carefully focussed here.

    Canonical science is pretty clearly wrong on this one. It should have been obvious that they were wrong a long time before Deep Impact went up, so it would be reasonable to argue that a lot of money and/or opportunity was wasted in not designing the mission around the very high probability that Tempel was going to be dry.

    Scientists continue to speak of comets as dirty snowballs despite the above observations: every comet that we’ve investigated has been dry.

    At this point we kind-of exit science and venture into sociology and back to the science-vs-scientism debate. One of the maxims of software development (more my forte) is the avoidance of “premature optimisation”, which in this case is letting one’s research be guided by conclusions rather than observations.

    Why were comets theories to be dirty snowballs, and why do so many scientists devoutly require it to be so despite the complete absence of any advantage to IDers or Creationists of it not being so?

    AFAICT, it is due to a form of scientism, the chain of logic being: in order to have life arise other than by supernatural intervention, we have to have water (even though a growing number of scientists are pointing out that water is actually an incredibly hostile environment for life to arise in up to the point where you have a fully functional cell wall). Since most of the moons, asteroids etc appear to be dust-dry, the role of Aquarius falls to the comets.

    Now we have clear evidence that they’re dry and dusty as well, but I don’t see anyone hurrying to do a volte-face. It seems that Joseph Ratzinger, who was the cardinal in charge of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (AKA “The Inquisition”), is a much safer man to commit heresy before than Charles Darwin.

    Which brings us to Mr Dembski’s point about Scientism vs Science.

    A more rational response from a True Believer would be to either seek another water source or seek another mechanism for abiogenesis, yet this hasn’t happened — at least, not to any noticeable extent.

    The obvious conclusion is that Scientism has a blinding effect on scientists, and my guess about a mechanism for this centres around fear. Fear is reknowned for causing exactly the same ‘roo-in-the-headlights (North Americans and Europeans are urged to use deer in place of kangaroos, Africans have a much broader spectrum of substitutes) irrationality that we see here.

    Now I’m hoping that someone else can pick up the traces: presuming that my chain of logic is reasonable, what exactly are the devotees of Scientism afraid of?

  29. Jack Krebs: there’s an even simpler and much older saying:

    Never do anything you wouldn’t be caught dead doing

  30. I find it odd that materialists use so much energy for any cause and use so much moral language. They aren’t very consistent.

  31. Ruse and Dennett go at it

    Uncommon Descent has a very interesting exchange between two philosophers I’m currently reading: Michael…

  32. tinabrewer wrote:
    “Incidentally, I have always wondered why this blog avoids in principle the discussion of the philosophical aspect/implications of ID theory.”

    Hello tinab,
    It’s almost 24hrs since your post, so I don’t know if you’ll see this:

    And crandaddy responded about the proselytizing…

    My guess (as to the why the blog avoids….) is that the avoidance is not deliberate. It may be that discussions of the philosophical/implications are not necessary, or perhaps are redundant.

    Darwinism cannot escape the philosophical because the philosophical materialism of Darwinism is really the CORE of the theory! For some time, I’ve seen more and more and more attempts by Darwinians to REWRITE EVERYTHING: history, psychology, art, *religion*, paleontology, LAW, education….everything. The reason is DARWINISM, to be “valid” MUST explain not only biology, but *everything*. Six thousand years of theology, history, art, literature, philosophy, government, etc. etc. MUST be turned inside out because almost ALL of human history and science and art and so on was written by THESISTS of one persuasion or another.

    ID *does* *not* have to do this. ID is WAY MORE efficient. ID simply reports its findings: all of the the theology, philosopy, history, art, literature, etc. etc. HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE by loads of others, some of whom had almost no knowledge of the modern Darwinian “story” whatsoever.

    Another way to say this is virtually EVERY FIELD OF STUDY (see lists already referenced) IS ALREADY *CONSISTENT* with the findings of ID!!!! For example, in the field of theology, Christianity, yes, but also Judaism, Islam, Buddism, Hinduism, you-name-it is already consistent. Archology is already consistent with the findings of ID. History of Western Civilization…..

    Time for a blanket statement: The ONLY fields that are not already consistent with ID are almost all fields that have arisen from the seeds of Darwinism: Freudian psychology for example, Marxism for example, neism for example.

    So, in my opinion, the reason the philosophical and implications are not discussed is not so much that people want to and don’t, but that there’s no need to.

  33. From scordova

    “ALL my friends with Ph.D. degrees who are college professors believe in evolution. NONE of my friends with Ph.D. degrees who work in the defense industry believe in evolution. ”

    I’ve noticed this pattern too. I think you need to be religious to work in the defense industry so you can believe someone will help us if we actually do use all that technology. Thinking you need to figure it out for yourself may make you more likely to be an academic.

  34. I’m an ID-Critic who is only recently trying hard to understand the actual arguments. Thanks for posting this exchange between Ruse & Dennett. It has been enlightening for me to discover that there are many on “our side” who are making things much worse than they need to be.

  35. Michael Ruse is one of the few Darwinists whose opinion I respect. He’s WRONG, of course, as all Darwinists must be (as Dr. Bill puts it in his text _ID: the Bridge Between Science and Theology_ “As Christians we know naturalism is false”), but he’s also the only front-line Darwinist who can at least remain cordial in debating us supernaturalists. And he’s dead on about Dawkins; when Dawkins publicly avers that anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution is either stupid, ignorant, or wicked, he risks alienating 90% of his audience.

    But as I often argue, since naturalism has neither a philosophical leg to stand on nor the empirical support required to make it rationally compelling, the only real tool in the arsenal of the Darwinist is therefore mere bluster, which invariably leads him to a discourse rife with sneering and invective. He can’t use logic or evidence to win the argument, so he has to resort to simple name-calling to try to intimidate his opposition into silence.

    Ruse’s point, which Dennett of course fails to understand, is that such a strategy in inevitably a losing one.

  36. 36

    I just finished reading Dennett’s book. I think I understand this now. There seem to be 3 issues.

    1) the reason why phd students prefer not to use common sense is because its been wrong… dangerously wrong… in the past. Slavery, the extermination of jews, burning witches, etc… were all seen as common sense in our history. People in academia are desperately concerned about supporting the slavery, extermination of jews, or burning of witches, of our time… evil things that we just don’t realize yet. Even though common sense is so often right… the only way to avoid the infrequent, disasterous results of common sense, is to be skeptical, and not rely on common sense in our deeper thinking.
    Is this a good strategy? I don’t know, but I really, really, don’t want to support something like slavery, and logical/critical thinking is the most consistent strategy for avoiding those pitfalls.

    2) Scientists see the equation: 1+1=2 and believe that the most important feature is the “+” because it describes the process… the pure logic that will be true in every case.
    Normal people see the equation: 1+1=2 and believe that the most important features are the “1″s and “2″, because they are the objects… the pure logic that will be true in every case.
    To scientists… the process is the important thing: whenever you see a “+” it will function in a certain way. Normal people are more concerned about the objects… two “1″s is the same as a “2″.
    This is the main controversy in the ID / evolution debate. Scientists see evolution as a “process”… whenever anything replicates, randomly mutates, and is weeded in some way or another… you will always have evolution/adaptation. That’s what the scientist sees and believes.
    The normal person sees the living world as an “object”… lots of “2″s that have been created in some way. To them, only evidence of lots of “1″s will be compelling evidence… in this case… the “1″s are transitional species, the creation of complex cells from simple chemicals, etc.
    This explains why evolution is so OBVIOUS to scientists… it’s as obvious as “1+1=2″.
    This also explains why ID is so OBVIOUS to normal people… it’s as obvious as “1+1=2″.

    This doesn’t tell us which is right… but maybe it will help us understand each other a little better.

    3) Also… I think we each define religion and science differently. Scientists loosely define religion, as believing in god and the body of organized “common sense” beliefs that explain our world. Scientists loosely define science as the “process” for finding out confirmable information about our world.
    Religionists loosely define science as “blind materialism”, science won’t even consider any explanation that doesn’t begin with materialist foundations…. so how can the conclusions possibly be unbiased if its biased to begin with? Religionists loosely define religion as the body of knowledge of our world. There’s a story that in the garden or eden, there were two trees… the tree of life,and the tree of knowledge. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, but not the tree of life. In this sense, religion is the embodiment of the “tree of knowledge”… and is the nutrition for us… human beings / souls.. who are a part of the continuing tree of life.

    4) For what its worth… I’m a scientist. I have a strong religious identity. I’ve become convinced that Dennett is correct. This ongoing conversation has enriched my access to our “Tree of knowledge”… and maybe brings us a little closer to understanding our roots in Eden.

  37. An Exchange Between Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse

    Here. Ruse to Dennett: “I thought your new book is really bad and not worthy of you . . . .” Via Keith Burgess-Jack…

  38. A Darwinian tiff

    This had me in stitches. Apparently Darwinian philosopher Daniel Dennett (who’s out and about promoting his new book) has fallen out with fellow Darwinian, British-Born philosopher Michael Ruse. Ruse warns against taking evolutionary theory too far, s…

  39. 39
    AnalPhilosopher

    I’m trying to keep it clean here. Change your name to something unoffensive if you want to participate. -ds

  40. Philosophy Versus Ideology

    Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett are philosophers. Both are Darwinists and both are atheists. But there 

  41. Leftist Hostility to Religion

    Michael Ruse, like me, is (1) a philosopher, (2) a Darwinist, (3) an atheist, and (4) a respecter of religion. Militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel D…

  42. [...] Darwinian Meltdown Over Intelligent Design An e-mail exchange between some of the Darwinist elites is delightful reading. The way they are talking to themselves, it sounds like they are becoming ill at ease with their own dogmatic approach to Darwinism as a faith-based initiative. Said one Darwinist to the other: I think that you and Richard [Dawkins] are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle… what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will. [...]

  43. [...] Dr Ruse was kind enough to let William Dembski reproduce an exchange that Ruse had with Daniel Dennett about the same issues. It’s more than worth the time to read it. Ruse is spot on at every level. Here’s a few Gem: I think that you and Richard [Dawkins] are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design – we are losing this battle, not the least of which is the two new supreme court justices who are certainly going to vote to let it into classrooms – what we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues – neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas – it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims – more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will. [...]

  44. [...] Evolve This! I am pretty fired up right now.  I just read an article on The Evangelical Outpost website that was fantastic!  It was a three part post entitled 10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design.  I was particularly amused by a letter between two hard-core Darwinists that the author provided a link to.  This link was on William Dembski’s (well known Intelligent Design thinker and Darwinist critic) weblog, “Uncommon Descent” — yet another great site to visit. [...]

  45. [...] in this article of ScienceMag and gives his opinion on the issue when he says the following in this email exchange with Daniel Dennett. It is true that I condemn or at least want to point to evolutionism, which I [...]

  46. [...] Uncommon Descent | Remarkable exchange between Michael Ruse and Daniel Dennett Look it up — http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ.....63-3883125? [...]

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