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American Scientific Affiliation — Whatever happened to its mission?

The ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) is an organization of scientists who are Christians. It has traditionally been strongly pro theistic evolution. Its most prominent member is Francis Collins. I’m also a member.

About three years ago I received the following mass mailing from the ASA’s Jack Haas (I’ve known Jack since 1990 and our exchanges have always been cordial). In this letter he describes how the ASA had, in times past, been concerned to address “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism,” but had recently decided to change its emphasis to combat young-earth creationism.

If the problem with young-earth creationism is that it is off by a few orders of magnitude about the age of the earth and universe, the problem with scientific materialism is that is off by infinite orders of magnitude about what is ultimately the nature of nature. When I received this letter, I was so upset that I decided to let my membership (which I had maintained since the 1980s) lapse. Only at the instance of some fellow ID proponents in the organization did I decide to stay.

I write this post to put into perspective Denyse O’Leary’s recent remarks about the “gutting of a spiritual tradition from within” (see here — the relevance of her remarks to the ASA cannot be missed) and to highlight that with the efforts by Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris to ramp up their propaganda for atheism since this letter by Jack Haas was written suggests that the ASA was mistaken in shifting its emphasis away from “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism.”

Lay Education Committee of the
American Scientific Affiliation
PO Box 668 ~ 55 Market Street
Ipswich, MA 01938

November 2003

Greetings,

I am writing to report the progress of the Lay Education Committee (LEC) on the “educational package for the person in the pew designed to promote a better understanding of the place of science within a Christian worldview.”

ASA’s original concern “for the waning faith of modern youth subjected to the sweeping tide of scientific materialism” was set aside for other interests as the times changed and the organization grew larger. As a result, our direct impact on the local church has been minimal.

At the 2000 Annual Meeting at Gordon College, some members discussed the difficulties that evangelicals have with questions deemed to have both scientific and biblical input. Later, the ASA office received a letter and a substantial gift from one participant challenging us to reach out to the church laity. He noted:

[BEGIN BLOCKQUOTE]The young-earth message has bitten deeply into the evangelical culture, and people trust this message. What will it take to show people believably that the young-earth view is not the only possible one, without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that position?[END BLOCKQUOTE]

The ASA Council directed the formation of a committee to respond to the challenge. The LEC first met at the 2001 Annual Meeting. It was decided to develop an educational package that could be adapted for church adults and high school students, Christian schools and home schools. The package will consist of a 300-page book, 60-minute DVD and teaching/study guide. At this point, much of the book has been completed and we are starting work on the DVD and teaching/study guide. Publication is expected by mid-2005 unless we run into a financial roadblock.

Much of the project is expected to be funded by foundation grants. We have already received encouraging responses. The total budget will exceed $250,000 which includes production and marketing costs. Many of us have given large blocks of time in planning, writing and management of this project. Now we need your financial help! We need your gifts both to accomplish the project and to indicate to foundations our commitment to it. At the same time, I want to express my concern that you not forget the need to support the general budget of the ASA. Executive Director Don Munro reports that member contributions are significantly down this year. Any gifts to the LEC project should be in addition to your usual ASA contribution.

I would be pleased to respond to any questions via [email protected] Thank you for hearing me out — and for your support. Please make out your check to the ASA marked as LEC project.

Jack Haas
For the LEC Committee

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93 Responses to American Scientific Affiliation — Whatever happened to its mission?

  1. While I have been working to follow as closely as possible the ID vs. Darwin debate, I don’t really yet understand where the TE crowd fits in. I hate to waste people’s time, but can someone offer a good Reader’s Digest synopsis? From this post it seems the big problem is that they are Christian, yet uncritically adhere to the alleged mechanisms of Darwinism. Is this a gross overgeneralization? If not, it seems a tad schizophrenic to me (or, at the very least, seriously compartmentalized).

    Thanks for the help.

  2. I think TEs are as diverse (or moreso) as those who fall under the ID banner. But what I’ve noticed is that they place heavy emphasis on combating YEC and even ID, while not really engaging the Dawkins/Harris crowd. There’s some notable exceptions (Alister McGrath would qualify, I think), but that’s been my experience.

    Honestly, even if TEs disagree with ID, I can’t understand why the two camps don’t try to put aside their admittedly big differences and unite against atheistic materialism. It’s one of the reasons that I find myself more sympathetic to ID on a day to day basis – at least ID proponents engage and argue against those philosophies. For TEs, they just don’t seem to make the radar.

  3. Can anyone shed some light on the interface between what’s on their website, and their decision to go after “The Fundies”? What I read there only added to my confusion. If, as stated there, they are explicit about their desire to remain neutral where “honest disagreement between Christians” may occur, why open this new front against the YECs? One could almost make the argument that this house is in danger of being divided against itself.

    From their website:

    What does the ASA believe?
    As an organization, the ASA does not take a position when there is honest disagreement between Christians on an issue. We are committed to providing an open forum where controversies can be discussed without fear of unjust condemnation. Legitimate differences of opinion among Christians who have studied both the Bible and science are freely expressed within the Affiliation in a context of Christian love and concern for truth.
    Our platform of faith has four important planks:
    1. We accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct.
    2. We confess the Triune God affirmed in the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds which we accept as brief, faithful statements of Christian doctrine based upon Scripture.
    3. We believe that in creating and preserving the universe God has endowed it with contingent order and intelligibility, the basis of scientific investigation.
    4. We recognize our responsibility, as stewards of God’s creation, to use science and technology for the good of humanity and the whole world.
    These four statements of faith spell out the distinctive character of the ASA, and we uphold them in every activity and publication of the Affiliation.

  4. Sajones97, I have been a layman in this discussion for a number of years now. I would agree with your assessment of the majority of the TE crowd. The most noteable exception I see is Michael Denton. His latest book, “Nature’s Destiny” is clearly a TE work, yet he sees himself as a dissenter, an IDer. I really believe that Denton provides a good model, a good bridge, to move the TE community away from the Dawkins crowd and into the ID fold. Id is big enough to hold the “by law” (God created laws and conditions — strong anthropic principle — which, when played out, produce life as we know it.) We recognize the strong anthropic principle in Physics as an ID position, yet the TEers reject the idea that the same applies to their field. I personally don’t care, if God designed first, then arranged for his design to be played out, or if God intervened along the way, either way we are intelligently designed.

    I, however, have rejected Denton’s version of ID/TE without philosophical bias because I do not find that it is supported by the evidence. To me, the evidence indicates frequent acts of agency.

  5. Thanks, sajones for raising this. I, too, am having difficulty separating TE from Non-YEC ID in my mind. At some points there appears to be a clear difference (i.e., Francis Collins being definately not-ID), but some points where they appear the same (i.e., acceptance of “Common Descent” by Dembski and Behe, etc.).

    I noticed a copy of “Mere Creation” in my church library recently, and started to read it. Got as far as about half-way through Dr. Dembski’s introduction and haven’t had a chance to get back to it. Perhaps that volume will clear things up for me.

  6. My impression is that the ASA holds to Gould’s “Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA)”.

    They seem to want to depict christians as viable scientists that don’t bring their religion into their research. I think it is to prevent the “Galieo depiction” f christians hating science.

    However, I think it was done to prevent the camps of christians and seculars from fighting. I think it is time for the ASA to wake up. From my agnostic stance point, it seems like seculars are doing a good job as positing their interpretation of evidence and philosophy of materialism and reductionism as the only way.

    Theists need a “smart group” to help them keep their faith. I was raised with the notion that all smart men are atheists. It is only a few years ago that I started to seriously question this viewpoint. Unfortunately, science is imbued with anti-theism. I can’t read a book on evolution by Dawkin’s without a pot-shot to religion.

    Oh well, I could be wrong though.

  7. My understanding of the difference between TE and IDers who believe in common descent: TE are OK with winding up the machine and letting it play out. IDers understand that a simple unfolding of naturalistic causes and effects won’t get you from point A to point B in biological systems without intelligent intervention (of whatever sort-using known or unknown methods). Whether that is the start of life or the flagellum.

  8. Bill,

    Who knows or cares about the “American Scientific Affiliation”? Why have you been wasting your time chasing down the opinions of picayune advocacy groups and reacting to every little news article on social controversies related to ID?

    You are better than this. Please, please get back to writing books, papers and articles on the mathematical and scientific underpinnings of Intelligent Design.

  9. I have an idea Dr. Dembski.

    Why don’t you publish a book only on information theory.

    Have it be accurate in totality without any objective information. The book could then be used for course instruction. Ok, maybe a few pot-shots to Dawkins, just as he does in his evolution books.

    In doing so, you can get your foot in the door and heard a bit more.

    Also, it satisfies my desire to learn more about information theory. It seems quite amazing!

  10. TE’s have thrown themselves in with the materialists on science, to the point that they mislead what some of the data actually says.

    Many of the ID supporters ostensibly do not adhering to the YEC viewpoint which is by far more devoid of science than the materialist’s science. But many ID proponents are careful not to be very aggressive in disputing YEC claims and often support ID together.

    Both have picked different scientific charades with which to associate. My guess is that the TE’s at ASA would be more supportive of ID if the ID argument wasn’t so heavily associated with YEC.

    The TE’s are probably good people, The YEC’s are probably good people. However, both are driven by bogus science in places.

  11. bork,

    You’re saying Dembski should write a textbook on information theory. What a good idea. I hope he gives it some thought.

    His summaries of info theory are well done and a full text treatmant by him would be probably be excellent.

    Note that the book that “got his foot in the door”, The Design Inference, was a work in information theory that didn’t address evolution at all.

  12. Jerry:

    Many of the ID supporters ostensibly do not adhering to the YEC viewpoint which is by far more devoid of science than the materialist’s science.

    I beg to disagree with you on this point (NOTE – I am a YEC myself). While there are in fact many YECs whose science is worthless, there are also many who are fantastic scientists. John Sanford co-invented the Gene Gun for producing transgenic crops. Raymond Damadian developed the technology behind the MRI. Todd Wood was part of the team that sequenced the Rice genome, has published many papers on transposable elements, and has written chapters in standard genetics textbooks on genome sequencing and statistical genetics. Art Chadwick is not only digging up a gigantic collection of dinosaur fossils, he is using 3D high-precision GPS technology to map their positions in the original findings. Leonard Brand and other YEC researchers made the front cover of the journal “Geology” for their work in the rapid burial of whales. John Baumgardner developed a program to model the Earth’s mantle dynamics (which he also uses for modeling the Genesis flood) that has been used by NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In fact, LANL desired access to his work so much that they let him spend a lot of work and computer time for his genesis flood models. Also, most people on this blog appreciate the work of Walter Remine (i.e. Haldane’s Dilemma). E. Norbert Smith pioneered animal telemetry. Remine is also, as far as I’m aware, a YEC. Steven Austin has published in International Geology Review, and is doing some very interesting work with Nautiloids in the grand canyon. And these are only the people that I know of (a very small percentage) and people who are public about their ideas on origins (many YEC scientists do not share their opinions publicly for fear of professional retribution).

  13. The ASA is crazy to be spending so much effort on YEC (which I am also).

    It would be like Calvinist spending their resources reaching evangelizing to Arminians (or vice versa) instead of people who don’t know the Gospel!

    As Dr. Dembski pointed out, why fight w/ ppl that have way more in common w/ you than your most bitter enemy and archrival.

    Besides YEC has no intentions of underming Christianity and the Gospel, while atheits out to get Christ.

  14. johnnyb,

    I understand all the things you have presented and appreciate that these good people are doing great work. I have no problem believing that YEC’s make excellent scientists in many areas and and also make good medical doctors. There are many areas of science where there is no problem.

    However, YEC have to pick and choose what they support based on an ideology. I just read Darrel Falk’s book and his obvious target is YEC’s. He points out quite rightly that many sciences would have to change most of their basic findings and assumptions to accommodate the YEC position.

    There is so much in the world that is so consistent with an old earth position that it is hard to begin to enumerate them all. So much that an average person when presented with the evidence can only just nod their head.

    As long as ID remains strongly associated with YEC, it will have a hard time getting people to sign up for the more important fight with the philosophical naturalists. It is hard to criticize the nuances of the science of the philosophical naturalists when you are associated with what most considers really bad science despite the great work of some of its advocates.

  15. Jerry writes: “As long as ID remains strongly associated with YEC, it will have a hard time getting people to sign up for the more important fight with the philosophical naturalists. It is hard to criticize the nuances of the science of the philosophical naturalists when you are associated with what most considers really bad science despite the great work of some of its advocates.”

    Two points in reply: (1) ID has no ties or formal association with YEC — ID simply does not exclude proponents of YEC from contributing to its discussion of DESIGN (not the AGE OF THE EARTH). (2) YEC proponents have in recent years distanced themselves from ID and even, in some cases, become hostile to it (have you read Answers in Genesis lately?).

  16. “YEC have to pick and choose what they support based on an ideology.”

    That is true of everyone. You should read the book “The Myth of Religious Neutrality”. YECs are just hated in the scientific community because of the specific ideology that they support, not because they have one and others don’t. It seems that the ASA has found out that they are hated, too, when they go against certain ideologies, and that’s why they have chosen to pick on the YECs instead of the materialists.

    The YECs aren’t more ideological than anyone else, they are simply (a) more explicit on their ideology (which should actually _help_ in their science, as it is more clear assumptions from conclusions), and (b) their ideology is not one of the favored ones by the scientific elite.

  17. 17

    “the problem with scientific materialism is that is off by infinite orders of magnitude about what is ultimately the nature of nature”

    By scientific materialism do you mean the limitation of scientific enquiry to natural causes or general philosophical materialism?

  18. Dr. Dembski,

    I understand both your points and have been a reader of most of what happens on this site for a couple years and have seen this stated clearly before. But in my observations in the world outside this website, ID is closely associated in most people’s eyes with some group that has eccentric religious and scientific views despite the official opinion of this site, your efforts and those of others.

    Now if someone has YEC views, they obviously don’t think they are eccentric. However, most of the people I come in contact with do not even know who YECs are and my only personal association is reading what is published on this site. I have often made the comment that I have never met a YEC though I am sure many live around me. The perception people have who I associate with is that there is some group out there who have strange religious and science beliefs who are trying to change the curriculum of the science in schools.

    And when they are told what some of these views are, they are very ready to strongly oppose this attempt to introduce these views into the schools. I realize the distortions that are made about ID but right now it is a fact of life. So all I am saying is that is what ID is up against. D. Opderbeck said here a few weeks ago how ID and YEC have been boxed in together by the press and the scientific establishment.

    On this site I would personally estimate that half or more of the contributions are from YEC’s. Just watch how many comments get made when the topic implies something about an old earth. A discussion of the science of the Cambrian explosion rarely gets more than a few comments despite Marcus Ross having authored a paper on the topic.

    I do not have a high regard for some of the TE’s who have come here. None of them will readily admit just what ID is even if it is openly stated. I would think a person sincerely seeking the truth would want to have a dialog but they do not seem to want to have such a discussion.

  19. jerry,

    “But in my observations in the world outside this website, ID is closely associated in most people’s eyes with some group that has eccentric religious and scientific views despite the official opinion of this site, your efforts and those of others.”

    That’s not entirely the fault of Dr. Dembski or ID proponents in general. ID is actively cast as YEC-in-disguise, certainly by grassroots opponents.

    I say this as someone who is personally neutral, maybe even skeptical, of ID claims: There are many who will insist the ID is YEC, and that any members who assert not to be YECers are either deluded or lying. I’m also convinced that some realize this is not the case, but use the label anyway as a means to an end.

    Maybe it’s a wedge strategy of their own – wanting ID to aggressively turn against YECers, to create further divisions among the non-materialist set.

  20. While I don’t agree with their views on the age of the Earth, their negative critiques were instrumental to me.

    We should also note that materialists aren’t going to like us any better because we may be Old Earthers. Any deviation is heresy. Let Young Earthers, Old Earthers, or those who believe in common descent make arguments based on evidence instead of just-so stories. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

  21. “However, YEC have to pick and choose what they support based on an ideology. I just read Darrel Falk’s book and his obvious target is YEC’s. He points out quite rightly that many sciences would have to change most of their basic findings and assumptions to accommodate the YEC position.”

    The problem with this mindset is that scientific paradigms can change drastically with the discovery of a single piece of new data.

    What was yesterday’s unquestionable, infallible, undeniable orthodoxy can become tomorrows outdated dark-age idiocy.

    In one of Dembski’s works (editor), Uncommon Dissent, he recounts how Geosynchrinal Theory was considered an absolute FACT by geologists. It was even considered as much a fact as Darwinism. In a few months, that theory was overturned, and the new theory, Plate-tectonics took its place as the new paradigm.

    Because of science’s nature to be in constant flux, science can never *logically* serve as the foundation of one’s epistemology.

    All those evidences could one day be reinterpreted in another way, and the paradigm would shift toward YECism. The only thing that could prevent that is the bias of scientists toward the current fad paradigm theory (which unfortunately, is all too common).

  22. geoffrobinson,

    The materialists are not the objective. You are not going to convince them. It is those who haven’t a clue what the debate is about and would be interested in a honest discussion of the science but never get there because of how the arguments are framed or who is framing them. I can tell you that I know lots of them but they would not care to listen to any science if it is associated with a religious point of view. Their antenna will say it is bogus immediately.

    When I say interested in an honest discussion, most people are not very interested but curious a bit about the debate and will spend little if any time reading about it. And when they do, guess what they find.

    As long as ID is associated with YEC, rightly or wrongly, it will be hard to get a fair debate despite the accuracy of their critiques on Darwinism. By the way I haven’t seen a good argument against the geographic division of species by anyone and this is one of the Darwinist’s strongest arguments for a long term naturalistic progression. Hey, why is Australia so different?

  23. Sajones, It seem that the majority of intellectuals today, including the pope and many Catholics, are TE believers.

    (Re: While I have been working to follow as closely as possible the ID vs. Darwin debate, I don’t really yet understand where the TE crowd fits in. I hate to waste people’s time, but can someone offer a good Reader’s Digest synopsis?)

    Nullasalus is right, TE is very diverse, but what unites them is their belief or philosophy — they believe that God somehow used natural evolution to accomplish His creation. This is a safe intellectual position, because it is most likely true in one sense or another. The problem lies with the name. The word T (theistic) is attacked by atheists, since they claim Science cannot be “theistic”. The word E (evolution) is about how it actually happened, about science, and this is where E is just a label. Since E is so confusing, it would be best to use a brand new untainted word. Whatever happened, it happened by some process , be it “development” or “unfolding” or “genesis” or whatever we call it. The E word is satisfactory to many, because it is vague enough to cover the differences. (For example, that is why Cardinal Schönborn dismissed John Paul II’s views on E as “vague and unimportant”.) I don’t want to call it intellectual laziness, but most people don’t feel comfortable when they have to go against the established norm, especially the pros whose reputation is at stake. It is the norm that has to be attacked and changed first.

    About YEC, read my previous comment:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

  24. “Hey, why is Australia so different?”

    I think it was ReMine who addressed this in his book and brought up the point that marsupial mammals exist/existed on all the continents, not just Australia. They just died out in greater numbers elsewhere, making it look like they were an Australian oddity.

    But I’m not well versed in paleontology or biogeography, so I’ll defer to those who may know more info.

  25. rockyr,

    I just finished Darrel Falk’s book this weekend and he is a TE and I believe an evangelical. Others here could clarify that because I do not know exactly what his specific religious affiliation is. He comes to a gradualist approach by a process of elimination of the various possibilities.

    However, I found no evidence for a gradualist approach from his arguments, only a naturalistic one. Anytime, he concludes a gradualist solution, a sudden naturalistic solution would work just as well. Most assume that the only logical naturalistic approach is a gradualistic one because Darwin postulated one and there is no accepted alternative mechanism for abrupt changes. But we have had others here (materialists) who say that the abrupt change is more in sync with the evidence than a gradualist approach.

    I recommend Falk’s book. It is a quick read and the only problem I had was his frequent push of his personal theology which I had to wade through to make sure I was not missing the science. I also fault a couple places where his science seems to get vague when it doesn’t support his overall position but it is a good account of what the science says. But after reading it, I am no way convinced of a solely naturalistic approach. There are still too many holes.

    As I said above his audience is the YEC’s.

    As an addendum, I get the feeling that most theistic evolutionists would rather have a God who didn’t have to tinker every now and then with the nucleotides to create life as we know it. A omniscient God would figure out to do it without the constant intervention that ID seems to indicate. Such a God is more in tune with traditional theology.

  26. Atom,

    Maybe we can have a discussion about marsupials on the site. I mentioned Falk’s book above and he said they are in South American and Australia only. The one exception is the possum which is thought to have headed north when the land bridge in Central America formed about 2.5 million years ago. Australia was once thought part of South America so there are some other commonalities as well.

    Australia has no placenta mammals except for bats according to Falk and they can fly which is why they could get there. I am just reporting what he says, and certainly not an expert so maybe this could be a topic in the future. Salvador is interested in marsupials.

    I would love to hear from anybody with contray information.

  27. Hey Jerry,

    I grabbed my copy of “The Biotic Message” and this is from page 439 of the book, in the chapter entitled “Biogeography”:

    Fossils show that marsupials lived on all other continents. Possible the marsupials survived predominantly in Australia precisely because the eutherian mammals did not find their way there. In this way, the solution to biogeographic problems can have more to do with ecology and extinction than evolution.

    Presently, these matters must go unresolved while awaiting further developments.

    So I guess there is a difference of opinion between ReMine and Falk, and I don’t have the relevant background to judge either claim.

    As I said, I’ll defer to anyone with a bit more info on the topic.

  28. I found this on wikipedia under “Marsupials”:

    Fossil evidence, first announced by researcher M.J. Spechtt in 1982, does not support the once-common belief that marsupials were a primitive forerunner of the placental mammals: both main branches of the mammal tree appear to have evolved at around the same time, toward the end of the Mesozoic era, and have been competitors since that time. In most continents, placentals were much more successful and no marsupials survived (emphasis mine); in South America the opossums retained a strong presence, and in the Tertiary marsupials produced predators such as the borhyaenids and the saber-toothed Thylacosmilus. In Australia placental mammals were not present throughout much of the Tertiary and marsupials and monotremes dominated completely. Native Australian placental mammals are more recent immigrants (e.g., the hopping mice).

  29. @ Jerry,

    Do you have a link of the paper Marcus Ross wrote on the Cambrian explosion?

    I’m guessing from the context that it is an anti-YEC paper…? Even if not I’d like to see it. M

    ost Christian Cambrian explosion apologetics focuses mostly on anti-materialist explanation s instead of anti-YEC evidence.

    I’d like to see it, though i am a YEC myself.

  30. 30

    There is a great deal of misunderstanding in some of the posts here, beginning with Mr. Dembski’s. To suggest that YEC is just “off by a few orders of magnitude about the age of the earth” is quite misleading. Militant & vocal YECs sometimes come very close to making a young earth a fundamental doctrine of their religion. This is a serious perversion of Christianity.
    (I do not suggest, of course, that all Christians who believe in a young earth make that error.) By giving such a central role to a claim that is manifestly false on scientific grounds they set up many believers (and especially young people) for a crisis of faith when they are finally convincing of the falsity of YEC. This makes them easier prey for the likes of Dawkins.

    & that in fact is one reason why there needs to be some focus on the YEC error. One of the best ways of defending Christianity against atheism is to present a mature and intelligent version of the faith, and it’s hard to do that if YEC views are taken seriously.

    Then several posters here express puzzlement about what TE is. It isn’t hard to find out some of the views of Christians who accept evolution if one wants to read a bit. I posted several titles in an earlier comment. To reprise & expand a bit:

    Ted Peters & Martinez Hewlett, _Evolution from Creation to New Creation_.

    Kenneth Miller, _Finding Darwin’s God_.

    Keith Miller (ed.), _Perspectives on an Evolving Creation_

    David Wilcox, _God and Evolution_.
    Francis Collins, _The Language of God_

    Denis Edwards, _The God of Evolution_

    Philip Hefner, _The Human Factor_

    Not all of these deal exclusively with evolution & some are more specialized than others. I’ll also add my own _The Trademark of God_ which is out of print but, I believe, available from Amazon.

  31. jerry: As an addendum, I get the feeling that most theistic evolutionists would rather have a God who didn’t have to tinker every now and then with the nucleotides to create life as we know it. A omniscient God would figure out to do it without the constant intervention that ID seems to indicate. Such a God is more in tune with traditional theology.

    I would agree with your first point that TE prefers a more deistic, God-wound-a-clock theology whereever science and theology touch. In general, a TE would like to assure their materialist fellow scientists that they need never fear that the TE’s scientific conclusions would ever require questioning, let alone violating, the working assumption of scientific materialism that they share.

    Unless someone thinks it makes sense to reason from a false premise, this virtually requires a deistic theology whereever science is concerned.

    About your other points, I would think differently. Traditional theology is theistic, not deistic. Traditional theology views God as not only transcendent (beyond space-time) but also imminent (able to participate within space-time with real consequences). The TE truce with scientific materialism needs to suppose that God is not imminent with regard to anything that science deals with.

    When you say “A omniscient God would figure out to do it without the constant intervention that ID seems to indicate.” I would say that has matters a bit turned around backwards.

    ID doesn’t reach its conclusion for theological reasons. It infers the need for intelligent intervention only in those cases where the evidence indicates that unguided processes cannot accomplish the task. That is what supports the inference.

    It would be a fundamental mistake to try to answer the scientific question “Can unguided processes do this?” as though it were a theological question.

    This is why the TE position seems a failed one to me. I really don’t care whether someone’s theology is OK with the idea that God might have endowed nature with the ability, for example, to create language-based life without intelligent intervention. The plain facts are that we have no scientific (or theological) basis for concluding that He has done so. The evidence says He has not done so.

  32. George Murphy,

    I am sure there is a great deal of misunderstanding about theistic evolution. There seems to be many different varieties of it and that may be leading to problems. It seems that many Evangelicals, Lutherans and popes all hold it and this is not a group that agrees on a lot of things. If it is not so varied, then maybe you could explain it better to us. We would be interested.

    I personally ordered several of the books you recommended and also the one by Darrell Falk which someone else recommended.

    So far I have read Falk’s book because it came first and started reading chapters in Keith Miller’s book since it is set up as separate readings but it looks to be heavily into theology so I have started on the science section of the book.

    I am only interested in the science and not the theology and find the theology just gets in the way of understanding the science. So to read the books for science one has to either plow through pages of irrelevant material or try to skip and see what may be relevant.

    I am not saying the material is irrelevant to one’s religion and how one looks at the world, just irrelevant to the science of evolution.

    Now back to your comment on misunderstanding. If you have read this thread, then you should understand that ID is about science and not theology and any portrayal of it as such should be corrected. And while you may not agree with the science that ID espouses, you should defend it to be represented fairly in discussions. We hope you will help in that.

  33. Bill,

    I find it utterly ironic that the thread Denyse misquoted was started by a young geologist who found the ASA after almost losing her faith reading Lee Strobel’s the Case for Creation and finding his utterly weak arguments slaughtered by infidels.org. This is at the core of many of our concerns.

    My opposition to YEC (I cannot speak for all of the ASA because some are YEC as some are also ID like yourself) is not because of what separates us but rather is because of what we have in common, viz. a desire for the spiritual welfare of those who are in the scientific disciplines and the propagation of the Gospel. We aren’t enemies as we are the loyal opposition. This is no different than the relationship between YEC and ID. Just because you disagree doesn’t make you enemies. More on this later.

    I am currently attending a Sunday School class in an evangelical church. We are having YEC, ID, and TE proponents presenting. We have no problem ministering side by side with our brothers where our only disagreement is HOW God created. My question is if we can do this at the grass roots why cannot the same be done at the leadership level?

    ASA’s Executive Director found out about the class, also hearing that an ASA member was presenting on TE. He asked me to see if I could collect some materials in order that we might accomplish the goals above. He also noted that a number of our members are doing precisely that kind of ministry for the Body of Christ. That’s what motivates us and gets us out of bed in the morning.

    Now look at what upset you for a second:

    The young-earth message has bitten deeply into the evangelical culture, and people trust this message. What will it take to show people believably that the young-earth view is ***not the only possible one***, without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that position?

    The reason why we desire that is because we want to avoid the as that young geologist put it a “spiritual meltdown” that weak arguments inevitably cause. If YEC is the only option then if it goes down, the whole faith goes down as was almost the case with the young geologist. That’s why we want people to know there are other viable options, including ID.

    We fight the same fight against materialism. Just because we chose a more irenic path does not mean we are not engaged. In fact, I have found it to be quite fruitful as being quick to accuse rarely is a good witness. I’m sure you share that same sentiment.

    Your Brother in Christ,
    Rich

  34. ericB,

    you said:

    “ID doesn’t reach its conclusion for theological reasons. It infers the need for intelligent intervention only in those cases where the evidence indicates that unguided processes cannot accomplish the task. That is what supports the inference.”

    and

    “The plain facts are that we have no scientific (or theological) basis for concluding that He has done so.”

    I agree and I am probably a poor one to explain theistic evolution other than it is what I believed only a few years ago based on what I thought was settled science. However, my theology is not affected in any way whether God did it in steps or set a master plan in motion. The world and life is so obviously designed.

  35. rockyr: Sajones, It seem that the majority of intellectuals today, including the pope and many Catholics, are TE believers.

    It does seem that Catholics have had favorable leanings in the direction of TE, and Behe himself started from that position (until the scientific evidence knocked it out of him).

    But I think it would be only fair to recognize that even John Paul II’s “acceptance” of evolution was qualified. He firmly and clearly rejected the idea that the human mind/soul could be the product of natural processes as being incompatible with the truth about man.

    This is also the point at which Francis Collins, in his book The Language of God, waffles in his TE position. At times he writes as though it is only a matter of time before science unravels how humanity came to be what it is. At other times he argues that there is something fundamentally different about humans that science cannot explain and that it is evidence for God’s involvment. But turn some more pages and he is warning on other topics against God-of-the-gaps arguments and that we should not suppose that science won’t figure out the nasty gaps.

    Without pushing a side on this one, I would point out that his fence sitting does not work. Either human nature/behavior is or is not within the reach of science to understand. If it is, using human behavior, etc. as evidence for God falls apart as the very kind of God-of-the-gaps argument he accuses ID of using.

    On the other hand, if human nature has a nonphysical aspect that places humans beyond reduction to something scientific materialism can explain, then all his fine sounding ideas about peace in our time and truce with the scientific materialists crashes on the rocks of hard reality.

  36. jerry:… However, my theology is not affected in any way whether God did it in steps or set a master plan in motion. The world and life is so obviously designed.

    Well said. And it’s good that you don’t feel your theology is at stake or threatened either way.

    That frees you on the scientific questions to follow the evidence whereever it leads, and that is what I believe is the best way to approach science.

  37. 37

    Jerry:

    1) You’re right, there are different varieties of TE (an unfortunate term BTW but we see to be stuck with it). This shouldn’t be surprising since there are different theologies.

    2) If you want to know my own approach to TE you can start with chapter 16 in Keith Miller’s book. I’d be happy to give you some other online references – as well as to some which sketch problems that I see with ID. But don’t waste your time if you have no interest in theology because that’s what I’m doing. You get a quite distorted view of the position of any TE writer if you mutilate it by ignoring the T & paying attention only to the E.

    3) You say, “ID is about science and not theology.” Nonsense! While there may be some ID proponents who are interested only in scientific issues, the ID movement as a whoole is motivated by essentially religious concerns.
    Good grief – read the paragraph at the top of this page which talks about the UD position in terms of worldviews. Or what about Dembski’s statement in Touchstone a few years ago that that “intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory”?

    The claim that ID is just about science is useful when proponents are trying to get their ideas into public school curricula or but it’s highly disingenuous. To be clear – my objection is not that it’s theologically motivated but that it’s bad theology which its proponents shy away from discussing.

  38. “Australia has no placenta mammals except for bats according to Falk and they can fly which is why they could get there.” –Jerry

    There’s also the Australian dingo (wild dog), but they are thought to have come over with humans several thousand years ago (prehistorically). The time frame leads to a conundrum for conservationists when trying to determine its protection status. How long does a species have to reside in a geographic location to be considered indigenous?

  39. Shouldn’t critiques of ID be based on science and philosophy, not whether or not you like the theology, esp. since ID isn’t a theology?

    If the main critique of ID is that people don’t like the idea of a Designer or a Designer which interacts, isn’t that just tough luck?

  40. All: Young Earth Science
    Jerry: Biogeography

    I am open-minded and I read all points of views. YEC have good scientific reasons to espouse Young Earth view, and good philosophical reasons to reject radiometric datings. There is a very technical book by Professor Robert V. Gentry, _Creation’s Tiny Mystery_ which offers evidence for instant creation. It has been ignored by mainstream scientists because of its unorthodox view.

    *** From Amazon.com Book Review: “Gentry was published in such prestigeous publications as Science and Nature – until the inescapable conclusions of his facts were discovered by the establishment.

    He also goes into how he was suppressed from further research and his part in the infamous Scopes trial. ” ***

    I refer you all also to Marvin Lubenow’s book, _Bones of Contention: Creationists’ Assessment of Human Fossils_. This book is primarily about (negative) evidence for human evolution. There is a chapter titled “The Dating Game”. There was a piece of human fossil that underwent radiometric date revisions about 14 times over 10 over years (if I remember correctly), and some of these dated the human fossil to the dinosaur’s era. In the end, the date was settled, not by independent radiometric dating, but by reference to another fossil – a pig fossil. Geologists use fossils to date the rocks, and use rocks to date the fossils. Circular reasoning.

    Why the need to re-date the fossil so many times? Because the fossil does not fit into the human evolution time-table.

    After reading this book, I no longer have faith in radiometric datings. Because of this, I am open to YEC. (But I reject their thesis that there was no physical death before Adam’s sin. And I am not convinced that there was a Global Flood).

    Next, about biogeography (present and past), the marsupials and placentals, etc. in Australia, etc.

    Read this article, Prediction 9: Present Biogeography, and Prediction 10: Past Biogeography.

    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1c.asp#pred9

  41. George Murphy:… You say, “ID is about science and not theology.” Nonsense! While there may be some ID proponents who are interested only in scientific issues, the ID movement as a whoole is motivated by essentially religious concerns. …

    Sorry George, but you are confusing two different issues.

    If every person with religious concerns were to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth tomorrow, intelligence would still be required to create language and symbolically encoded information. The problem of language-based, information-rich life was recognized completely apart from religious concerns, and it it will take something other than an unguided process to solve it.

    The fact that many scientists involved with ID (or many people in general) have religious thoughts and concerns is true, but that is beside the scientific issue.

    There is nothing wrong, for example, with Dembski having an opinion about the origin of life that goes beyond what the science of ID can indicate. He and others have been repeatedly clear that they are incorporating considerations beyond science to reach those additional conclusions.

    There is nothing disingenuous about the fact that one’s views are (hopefully) larger than what science alone can tell us.

  42. Matthew Tan,

    Radiometric dating is just one of several things that argue against a young earth. There are some 40 isotopes that can be used and they are consistent.

    My favorite for showing the earth is not young is the mid Atlantic ridge and the alternating magnetic strips. They can actually measure each year’s change and estimate when South American and Africa were together, about 100 million years ago. The almost perfect fit is still there today for all to see.

    Also the forming of volcano islands such as in Hawaii and French Polynesia where the older islands are always to the northwest and the younger islands near the hot spot. Go to the big Island and then to Kauai and see if 6000 years can make that difference since they have been observing both islands for a few hundred years and have seen no difference in each of them take place in that time.

    They have archaeological evidence from Sumer as early as 5000 BC and there were writings of flood myths before the time of the bible was written.

    The list goes on and on and it is not a conspiracy. It would be a big deal if some scientist showed the estimates were off by 500,000 years let alone 4 billion years but none have appeared. The argument over the universe was between 10 and 20 billion years and they then settled on 14 billion years. OK so they may be off a couple billion years, no big deal.

    You would have to dismantle nearly every science to come to a 6000 year old earth.

  43. George Murphy,

    from your comments

    ‘You say, “ID is about science and not theology.” Nonsense! While there may be some ID proponents who are interested only in scientific issues, the ID movement as a whole is motivated by essentially religious concerns.’

    Maybe you can explain to us here what these religious concerns are. I certainly cannot tell you and I read this blog most days.

    Yes there is a concern that science today is promoting atheism. That is a common concern amongst a lot of the people here. If that is what this site is accused of, then most here would plead guilty. Go and tell the world that the ID people believe in God and are concerned that a bogus science is undermining that belief. That would be the fairest assessment I can think of.

    There is a common agreement that ID does not necessarily point to Christianity or any other religious view point, but how it that theological? It just says those who believe in ID say that the evidence supports that some aspects of the world were designed?

    Those who say that the laws of physics such as relativity does not necessarily point to Christianity are not making a theological statement. They are just saying that under certain conditions classical mechanics does not work. How are the two different?

    If you want to say ID is not science, then fine but be fair in how you assess each one who supports it on a scientific basis. The quickest way to see if you are sincere is to assess Behe’s IC concept and how it was supposedly refuted. We believe there has never been an honest refutation of his concepts, only rhetoric.

    Are you or someone you know willing to have a debate with people here on that issue? The only stipulation should be that it is wholly on science and that theology never enters the discussion.

  44. rblinne,

    Your condescending tone leads me to believe Mr. Dembski has hit a nerve.

    Cherry-picking one obscure case of an alleged scientist who almost lost her faith via scientific arguments does not address the core of his, and my, point. You say you are “loyal” opponents. Setting yourselves up, formally, against the YEC crowd can only serve to divide. No-one has a problem with sincere disagreements. However, according to the correspondence quoted above, the ASA has decided to make a public display of the disagreement, rather than focusing on the data and letting the results speak for themselves (as I perceive the ID camp to be doing). In this way ID communicates fundamental distinction without alienation.

    If the geologist you mention had a faith weak enough to be shaken to its very foundations by the rantings of a few athiests and the materialistic reasoning of men, then the real question is where she has placed her faith, isn’t it? Where do you suggest? The ASA?

    Any Christian who has pitched his/her tent upon the wisdom of men, anywhere but Christ, will eventually encounter a crisis. Be assured of that. Concerning the young geologist you pulled back from the very jaws of hell: what does she believe of the Christ? Is he the Son of God? What of the Cross? What would infidels.org say to those claims? How would their irresistable logic concerning the above affect her? Your response here demonstrates a fundamental naivete (or conceit), as you seem to believe the ASA can set itself up as a bulwark against weak faith.

    There was much left unsaid in the introductory paragraph that Mr. Dembski gave to the mail he received above. And there is more if you will take the time to ponder what he wrote. Far from being quick to accuse, you simply didn’t take the time to unpack it.

    Yours in Christ,
    Scott

  45. Jerry:

    There is no conspiracy. The issue about YE is similar to evolution. You have a reigning scientific paradigm – evolution theory. And every observation is “selected” to confirm this theory, ignoring or “de-selecting” all disconfirming observations.

    The same can happen in OE theory. I treat OE and Old Universe as separate issue. In that sense, and also because reasons given earlier (Flood, death before sin), I am NOT a YEC. But I am open to any age for the Earth.

    The philosophical assumption behind all dating technologies are the same – uniformitarianism.

    Remember the Y2K dates in computers? The problem arose because of the same principle used in old computers and old software. If one clock is wrong, all the clocks using the same principle are wrong for the same reason, and all the clocks have to be fixed.

  46. rblinne @ 31 wrote:

    I find it utterly ironic that the thread Denyse misquoted was started by a young geologist who found the ASA after almost losing her faith reading Lee Strobel’s the Case for Creation and finding his utterly weak arguments slaughtered by infidels.org. This is at the core of many of our concerns.

    This is part of what the young geologist wrote:

    one of the books I started reading was Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator. Only into Chap. 3, [Doubts about Darwinism - An Interview with Jonathan Wells] I started to get the sense that it didn’t feel as rigorous as it should, so I went on-line to find a critique of the book. I ended up at infidel.org … and from there, I started looking at atheists’ arguments more broadly. I had something of a “crisis of faith” (read: complete meltdown) if you will, and since then, I’ve been obsessively gobbling down every (intelligent) book/website out there discussing Christianity and Atheism. I’ve essentially been living in the verses “I believe, help my unbelief!” and “for we walk by faith, not by sight” for the past 2 months as I’ve tried to come to a new understanding of my faith in light of some of the atheists’ arguments

    It seems to me that this person’s “crisis of faith” was caused by, “looking at atheists’ arguments more broadly,” when she was unprepared to counter those arguments, not specifically by Lee Strobel’s book.

    It’s heartwarming to see that some people are concerned that she had to struggle so hard to retain her faith. However, I do find it strange that Christian people who accept the evolutionary scenario for the origin and diversification of life will express such concern for the struggles of a highly educated, mature person but express no concern for mere children who lose their faith because they’ve been taught to believe that evolution can account for the existence of life in all its diversity and that, therefore, God is a superfluous idea. How many of those are there? Millions, I’d think. Probably hundreds, or thousands, of millions over the last 50 – 100 years.

    I was one of them. At 15, trusting that my biology teacher knew what she was talking about and was not lying, and without the benefit of having grown up within a family of Christians, I decided atheism was the only rational theological position to take. And now, considering how that decision changed my life and how its consequences still reverberate more than 40 years later, I think of millstones and depths of seas. I’d be angry at you if I didn’t now understand that all things work together for good … to them who are the called.

    Interested persons can find the infidels.org article on Lee Strobel’s book here.

  47. 47

    Sajones,

    “Your condescending tone leads me to believe Mr. Dembski has hit a nerve.”

    Call him “bloke”, call him “William” or even “Billy”, but don’t call him “mister” :D.

  48. Designed Jacob,

    Welllll. . . ok. But I’ve seen what happens when he takes issue with someone on this blog–and I don’t want to be on the receiving end! :D

  49. 49

    ericB & jerry:

    It’s a nice rhetorical trick to imagine that I’m confusing 2 different issues but I’m not. I’ve never said that ID makes no scientific claims (almost entirely negative) or that science is irrelevant to the discussions of it.
    There are scientists more competent than I, a physicist, to show its weaknesses on that score & they have done so. (Again I mention Ken Miller.)

    What I am focusing on is the religious aspect of ID. There is no question that it has that dimension: I’ve already cited a couple of things that show that.
    The “designer” has to be God: ETs or other natural agencies would just push the supposed problems of the origins of CSI & irreucible complexity back a step & would solve nothing, & I don’t think anyone is really interested in the creation of life by angels.

    If IDers don’t want to talk about the theological issues, that’s their prerogative. But it won’t keep people like myself who do care from continuing to point out IDs theological shortcomings.

  50. I’m not sure anyone around here has been impressed with Ken Miller’s critique. Most arguments against irreducible complexity boil down to “Darwin of the Gaps” reasoning. Assuming naturalistic processes thereby we have proof that there must have been a naturalistic process that made something.

    That is a philosophical and theological shortcoming in my book.

  51. George Murphy,

    People have been debating religion and theology for several thousand years and this is what you want to discuss her? Look at the world around you today and the history of discussing religion. What are the chances that something meaningful will get done?

    Your request is not practical on that basis. One of the ways we can have fruitful discussions here is keeping religion to a minimum. The religious spectrum of beliefs is quite varied here though a large percentage are YEC’s. You should find another forum for that than here.

    I have made the statement before that we want to discuss science and all TE’s want to do is discuss religion. Your persistence just confirms this observation.

    You say you are a physicist, and that is also my educational background in college though I never used it in any way in a career. But I am able to follow most arguments in biology and understand the scientific method. You should have no problem either.

    It is not that difficult to follow Behe’s arguments and Ken Miller’s replies. Anyone with a sense of logic can do so. It is also possible to follow Ken Miller’s testimony in the Dover trial. Supposedly the judge was doing that.

    We would be interested in why you believe in the gradualist approach to evolution if you cannot follow the science? The reasons we do not accept a gradualist approach is that we can follow the science and see major flaws in it. That is what drove us to that conclusion, not some perverse desire to flaunt the scientific community. There are many, many of us who have no religious reasons to doubt the prevailing science. Why do we do so? Are we stupid? I doubt it. We also read a fair amount so we are aware of the arguments.

    If you feel uncomfortable debating science, then find a colleague who is and have them come here and observe the dialog that takes place. Most here are interested in learning. I would think those who defend TE would have a similar interest.

  52. George Murphy @ 47

    The “designer” has to be God: ETs or other natural agencies would just push the supposed problems of the origins of CSI & irreucible complexity back a step & would solve nothing

    Francis Crick would disagree with you, and he’s nowhere near religious.

  53. Rockyr:

    Nullasalus is right, TE is very diverse, but what unites them is their belief or philosophy — they believe that God somehow used natural evolution to accomplish His creation.

    The key here is “natural evolution”—TE’s maintain that the science is all on the side of Richard Dawkins but that theist’s are capable of noble feelings. Here, let’s let in some clarity via Jay Richards:

    This issue is just not that complicated, despite the sociological pressures to keep the fog machines going at all times. Either (some or all) of the history and complexity of life are the product of design or they’re not. Either that design is discernible or it’s not. Evolution is either purely random or it’s not. Not even God can direct an undirected process. Complicated discussions about the definition of ‘philosophy,’ ‘reason,’ and ‘science’ are dull blades. The reader is thus left to vaguely believe something that I’m sure is not true: that the Pope endorses a two-truths view, according to which Darwinism works as ‘science’ (narrowly defined) but theological types get to talk about God as long as they call it philosophy and promise not to make trouble for the Darwinists.

  54. George Murphy: There are scientists more competent than I, a physicist, to show its weaknesses on that score & they have done so. (Again I mention Ken Miller.)

    I would have to agree with geoffrobinson about Miller. When I looked at Finding Darwin’s God, I found that I could not think of any other book I had read on any topic that had done a worse job of misrepresenting the positions it was supposedly debunking.

    Ken Miller has accumulated a track record of getting it wrong, and in persisting in repeating the misrepresentations even after having been corrected.
    Here is a list of examples. I would advise against trusting Ken Miller’s portrayal of ID.

    George : To be clear – my objection is not that it’s theologically motivated but that it’s bad theology which its proponents shy away from discussing.

    Since you believe the ID inference leads to “bad theology” I have a couple questions for you.

    Dr. Behe originally held the TE position (what you appear to consider “good” theology), and had no theological need to change. But the scientific evidence persuaded him otherwise.

    What do you expect a Christian scientist to do when the scientific evidence runs against TE and the idea that unguided nature has been endowed to manage on its own? Should they suppress their discoveries or alter their science as needed to sustain “good” theology? Should theological concerns trump what the evidence says?

    Or should scientists such as Behe follow the scientific evidence where it takes them (and let theology take care of itself, cf. geoffrobinson )?

    By faulting ID for its theological implications, I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that you believe theology should have veto control over how science is done.

  55. George Murphy @ 47

    The “designer” has to be God: ETs or other natural agencies would just push the supposed problems of the origins of CSI & irreucible complexity back a step & would solve nothing

    AngryOldFatMan @ 50

    Francis Crick would disagree with you, and he’s nowhere near religious.

    Right—for the PanSpermists life is a Skyhook a la Dennett. So in the end I think the argument will boil down to philosophical and scientific arguments for the soul. Otherwise where does it end? Did mechanism create mechanism create mechanism? Is it mechanism all the way down—an infinite regress of chance and necessity mechanism?

  56. EircB–great post!!

  57. Ted Davis asked me to post this:

    I respond to this comment by nullasalus:

    “Honestly, even if TEs disagree with ID, I can’t understand why the two
    camps don’t try to put aside their admittedly big differences and unite
    against atheistic materialism. It’s one of the reasons that I find myself
    more sympathetic to ID on a day to day basis – at least ID proponents engage
    and argue against those philosophies. For TEs, they just don’t seem to make
    the radar. ”

    ***

    Ted replies.

    For a couple of years, I tried to persuade my friends in the ID camp to take a friendlier posture toward the kinds of TE positions found within the ASA (and there are various ones). Mike Behe is IMO a TE–he accepts UCD and has no theological objections to the type of position held by Ken Miller, Bob Russell, and John Polkinghorne–that God can work subtly through quantum processes to bring about specific results in the history of life. See, e.g., Mike’s comments on pp. 357-8 of “Debating Design,” ed Dembski & Ruse.

    But this, apparently, is not good enough for Bill and for many other IDs. Let me quote from Bill’s essay, “What every theologian should know about creation, evolution, and design,” as follows:

    The whole essay is here http://www.origins.org/article.....ologn.html

    I like the fact that Bill tells people what he thinks, as clearly as he can–I try to do the same myself. If Bill disagrees with TE for the reasons stated, I have no quarrel with him for speaking his mind. Given his unquestioned status as a leader of the ID movement, however, and given the tone and content of the passage above (which I think fairly represents his views, and those of some other ID leaders), it shouldn’t surprise anyone on his blog why it’s been so hard for well intentioned people from both camps (TE and ID) to come together. Bill just doesn’t think that TE has any cash value: it’s an irrelevant embarrassment at best and a spineless jellyfish at worst. This view is widely shared among “camp followers” of ID, though it is not universally shared even among fellows of TDI.

    Thus, when some TEs articulate their view that inferences to purpose/design involve more than science alone–that metaphysics and theology are part of the inferential nexus–they are often seen as attacking ID and/or abetting scientific materialism, even in cases when they are simply stating honestly and fairly what they believe, and why. We are very often seen as part of the problem, not part of the answer, to scientific materialism. It is all well and good to raise objections to various forms of TE–I do this often myself–but it is another thing entirely to define TE in such a way that TEs are outside the “Big Tent” of ID, and then complain about an inability to unite against what genuinely is a common enemy. I spent I don’t know how many hours, trying to get many of my friends in the ID camp to see the cavern that separates a Polkinghorne from a Peacocke (it’s called a high view of divine transcendence and of Christology, and it is a cavern), but (judging from the posts they sent me) many had a very hard time seeing this, I believe b/c they did not have much familiarity with either Polkinghorne or Peacocke, to say nothing of many other thinkers who write about science and theology rather than simply ID vs “Darwinism.” ID does its best to keep theology to one side, so this is not all that surprising–though it is still quite frustrating.

    I keep coming back to this, with which I close. TE is not a “slam dunk” against Dawkins and company. It’s too much a faith-based position for Bill and many other IDs. Their cultural agenda, clearly indicated in the private “wedge” document and numerous public writings (such as the promotional puff that Bill wrote for “Darwin’s Nemesis,” which made direct reference to the culture wars and the Dover trial), seems to require a “slam dunk,” and that is what ID represents to many Christians. The subtler responses of Polkinghorne, McGrath, Barr, and several other theologically orthodox TEs are just not tough enough, in Bill’s opinion. Indeed, he seems almost to loathe them, unless I am badly misreading him.

  58. Janice said:

    “It’s heartwarming to see that some people are concerned that she had to struggle so hard to retain her faith. However, I do find it strange that Christian people who accept the evolutionary scenario for the origin and diversification of life will express such concern for the struggles of a highly educated, mature person but express no concern for mere children who lose their faith because they’ve been taught to believe that evolution can account for the existence of life in all its diversity and that, therefore, God is a superfluous idea. How many of those are there? Millions, I’d think. Probably hundreds, or thousands, of millions over the last 50 – 100 years.”

    What you do with that thinking is to cut off the argument at the knees by denying if evolution as defined as descent with modification is true then God is superfluous. Because if it really is true that there is descent with modification then millions of people are merely one modus ponens away from atheism. That’s my beef with ID is by it’s not denying that diabolical false inference it is in essence agreeing with Richard Dawkins.

  59. I find the following analogy apropos to the TE position and the real world.

    In 1902 the volcano Mount Pelée was rumbling on the island of Martinique and the people wanted to leave the area but the local council prevented them from leaving until they had a meeting about what to do. Everyone died except one person when the volcano erupted including the entire council.

    We see our children and our friends being led astray by a false ideology based on bogus science and the TE’s ask us to sit and discuss theology while they support the bogus science and discuss some convoluted belief system that are friends and children cannot comprehend.

    Look at all of Europe if you want to see what lays ahead for the US. While TE’s fiddle, the city is burning. I am sorry but the ID people think they have the water to put out the fire. And they are being prevented from using the water by TE’s as well as many others.

    If the TE solution worked we would be completely supportive but we are witnessing an ineffectual response to a major problem. It is a bogus science that is leading our children astray not improper religious understanding.

  60. rblinne

    If Blindwatchmaker Darwinism is true, then we are here because of a series of lucky accidents, culled by our own struggle to reproduce. We finally got here and then a god would pull along side us and say “BTW, I am your creator and you should honor me as such.” Well, excuse me, but I would think in that case we did all the hard work…

    It would boil down to this, for me at least: if I wasn’t created the way G-d claims to have created me (with direct intention, not as the result of a series of genetic coin tosses) then he is untrustworthy. And if he can’t intervene in Nature (it is “off limits”), then how can I rely on him to protect or prosper me? How can I rely on him to resurrect me, as that would cause him to get his “hands dirty”?

    Yes, he could resurrect me through secondary agents (Angels, for example), but in that case we would still have to allow him to physically intervene in history using things other than the laws of Physics and chance.

    If I open the door for miracles (which as a Messianic believer I emphatically do) then I can’t limit what intervention is off-limits. And if all signs point to the origin of bio-information as a product of intelligence, above and beyond chance and necessity, then I have no reason to blindly assume “There MUST be a chance/law explanation.” If all signs point to intelligence, then that is the best inference.

  61. rblinne, also:

    As a high schooler who was a TE (aren’t all brainwashed public school kids?) I used to rely on evolutionary explanations to justify my own wicked behavior. I am not saying this is some “slippery slope” where it all leads; I am saying this is what happened to me. I would think that my behavior was ok because it helped my ancestors survive better, which is what the system was made to do, right? I was only fulfilling my evolutionary purpose.

    Sadly, some have never grown out of that stage of moral reasoning.

  62. I apparently messed up posting for Ted. He wants to focus on these four paragraphs which are quotes of Bill Demski. I would like to note in passing that why would good Christians accept the slander of atheists that we just want the “respectability” of full-blooded Darwinism? What we want is the “respectability” of integrity in science, following the evidence wherever it lies, even if it makes our rhetorical case more difficult. That integrity is at the core of what the ASA is all about.

    Now Bill Dembski:

    As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is American evangelicalism’s ill-conceived accommodation to Darwinism. What theistic evolution does is take the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptize it, identifying this picture with the way God created life. When boiled down to its scientific content, theistic evolution is no different from atheistic evolution, accepting as it does only purposeless, naturalistic, material processes for the origin and development of life.

    As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is an oxymoron, something like “purposeful purposelessness.” If God purposely created life through the means proposed by Darwin, then God’s purpose was to make it seem as though life was created without any purpose. According to the Darwinian picture, the natural world provides no clue that a purposeful God created life. For all we can tell, our appearance on planet earth is an
    accident. If it were all to happen again, we wouldn’t be here. No, the heavens do not declare the glory of God, and no, God’s invisible attributes are not clearly seen from God’s creation. This is the upshot of theistic evolution as the design theorists construe it.

    Design theorists find the “theism” in theistic evolution superfluous. Theistic evolution at best includes God as an unnecessary rider in an otherwise purely naturalistic account of life. As such, theistic evolution violates Occam’s razor. Occam’s razor is a regulative principle for how scientists are supposed to do their science. According to this principle, superfluous entities are to be rigorously excised from science. Thus, since God is an unnecessary rider in our understanding of the natural world, theistic evolution ought to dispense with all talk of God outright and get rid of the useless adjective “theistic.”

    It’s for failing to take Occam’s razor seriously that the Darwinist
    establishment despises (yes I say despises) theistic evolution. They view theistic evolution as a weak-kneed sycophant, who desperately wants the respectability that comes with being a full-blooded Darwinist, but refuses to follow the logic of Darwinism through to the end. It takes courage to give up the comforting belief that life on earth has a purpose. It takes courage to live without the consolation of an afterlife. Theistic evolutionists lack the stomach to face the ultimate meaninglessness of life,
    and it is this failure of courage that makes them contemptible in the eyes of full-blooded Darwinists (Richard Dawkins is a case in point).

  63. Atom said:

    “As a high schooler who was a TE (aren’t all brainwashed public school kids?) I used to rely on evolutionary explanations to justify my own wicked behavior. I am not saying this is some “slippery slope” where it all leads; I am saying this is what happened to me. I would think that my behavior was ok because it helped my ancestors survive better, which is what the system was made to do, right? I was only fulfilling my evolutionary purpose.”

    Yes, the heart is desperately wicked and who can understand it? I also understand and fully appreciate your concern. To help allay your appropriate fears I will end with the conclusion of ASA member Terry Gray’s critique of irreducible complexity, showing our common ground. Note: this was written a while ago about the time that Darwin’s Black Box came out. Terry’s prediction of short-lived gains appear to be on target.

    http://www.asa3.org/evolution/irred_compl.html

    “The resurgence of the intelligent design argument may give a temporary respite to the eroding influence of theism in the sciences, but the gains will be short-lived. Although many in the design crowd are already cheering the demise of evolutionary theory, I think that there have been spectacular gains in nearly every area of biology and key new developments in the areas of complexity theory, developmental biology, and paleontology. These design arguments will give the general Christian public much ammunition to fight their misguided battles against evolutionary biology. Real gains in the fight against an atheistic naturalistic worldview will come only when we see that the battle is not concerning the details of some theory in biology, but is concerning the deeply rooted anti-Christian religious convictions that take the glorious truths of God’s creation and twist them into an anti-Christian apologetic.

    Christians need to see the revelation of our Creator Lord in every square inch of reality; we must counter unbelievers’ denial of that revelation with the Biblical response that their denial is rooted in their suppression of deeply-rooted enmity with God. This is the basis for a truly theistic science; a science that sees the glory of God’s creative and providential activity in every detail.”

  64. rbline,

    you said

    “What we want is the “respectability” of integrity in science, following the evidence wherever it lies, even if it makes our rhetorical case more difficult. That integrity is at the core of what the ASA is all about.”

    If this is an accurate statement of your beliefs, then have a dialog based on science. Many here have asked for it. It would seem so simple a thing to do and then when the dialog is well under way maybe some others might want to discuss theology some place else. That would be a simple thing to do too.

    I personally think some here are so cock-sured that gradualism has nothing going for it when there is obviously a lot that can be discussed that supports a naturalistic mechanism for evolution. So there is a lot for us to learn. Given that, I also personally have seen too many shortcomings for gradualism to even consider it a viable option for the more complex changes that arose in life. But if all of us here are essentially wrong on this, then most will admit it. But all should be on the table and each should state their cases. And you will learn why we believe certain things.

    We have Darwinists who post here who also would probably like to contribute to the discussion. It should be enlightening.

    Maybe we could have a home and home. One topic here, while another takes place on your site. As long as it’s polite. The moderators should be able to arrange this.

    Why not. What has ASA got to lose if your postion is based on evidence and logic?

  65. “If Blindwatchmaker Darwinism is true, then we are here because of a series of lucky accidents, culled by our own struggle to reproduce. We finally got here and then a god would pull along side us and say “BTW, I am your creator and you should honor me as such.” Well, excuse me, but I would think in that case we did all the hard work…”

    Well, it’s not true. We are not saying that it is by chance. Nor are we saying that it is not designed. We are saying that the current scientific “proof” may be overreaching. We are also saying that evolutionary processes and design are not mutually exclusive categories. Just as the “random” arrow that killed Ahab was under God’s providential care so is the rest of Creation. Merely because some puny scientist can describe the process does in no way negate that fact.

  66. Ok, now I’m beginning to get the picture…

  67. jerry, thanks for recommending Falk’s book, I’ll try to get it. Nevertheless, whether God did it gradually, or suddenly, is a matter of perspective and theology. (Relates to God being “outside time,” and to how we understand time, and perceive things, etc.) In other words, I am not too worried about such “details,” and I am willing to listen to what the experts say. What worries me, and I suppose most people in this forum, is that in modern science God is completely wiped out of the picture, from all nature and all natural processes. I am not sure why you say that ID seems to indicate God’s constant intervention. Can you elaborate?

  68. George Murphy, you are partially right about your item 3, (Re: You say, “ID is about science and not theology.” Nonsense!) To a theist it matters that God is excluded or prohibited from science, as if He didn’t exist at all, and that a believer in God is forced to think and rationalize like an atheist! Why would it matter to any open-minded and fair atheist that a theist wants to consider God acting in natural processes? ID has managed to take the Designer out of the equation. However, if Design in things can be proved, then it is up to each individual to fill in the blanks. In other words, it’s the atheist’s problem to correctly interpret the result, and if he cannot rationally do, it’s his problem, not God’s or mine!

  69. “Maybe we could have a home and home. One topic here, while another takes place on your site. As long as it’s polite. The moderators should be able to arrange this.

    Why not. What has ASA got to lose if your postion is based on evidence and logic?”

    We don’t and that’s why our journal, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith regularly have proponents of all three perspectives debate the science (and the theology which appears to be mostly verboten here). IIRC, our president-elect is ID.

    Dr. Dembski has a valid point in that our e-mail list can tend to be like the Wild West. We have people who as far as I know are not ASA members who are *ahem* less than polite.

    Let me be more precise. I have little problem with ID qua science but I do with ID qua ideology. I also have little interest in changing your mind with respect to gradualism. In fact, I earnestly hope your right and I’m wrong. This is your place and I’m a guest and I want to be respectful here. My point is communicating what drives us and to give you all assurance that we are indeed on the same team. Also, I want to warn you when I believe you are shooting yourself in the foot when fighting atheism and materialism. You all have done the same for us and — believe it or not — we appreciate the warning because the stakes are so high.

  70. 70

    Jerry:

    1) If you imagine that religion isn’t a major part of the ID movement, what is the point of posts here about Darwinism “gutting the SPIRITUAL tradition” (O’Leary) & criticizing ASA for not giving more attention to current “propaganda for ATHEISM” (Dembski)? [Emphases added.]

    2) OF course I haven’t suggested that theological discussions here will settle all the religious disputes in the world. But since the great majority of people who are involved in ID-TE debates are in the Judaeo-Christian tradition & thus share some common ground, it ought to be possible at least to get our differences in this area clarified.

    3) & of course I have not said that I am unable to discuss the science involved in ID claims. I don’t choose to spend my time here doing so, though I have in other venues. What I chose to focus on here is the theological issues – about which discussion here is under-represented, in part because folks like you flee from it.

    angryoldfatman:

    My statement that directed panspermia would “solve nothing” was in the context of the ID discussion. I.e., if CSI &/or irreducible complexity can’t be explained by natural mechanisms then they can’t be explained by natural ETs. I.e., we can ask “Who designed the ETs.” This doesn’t rule out directed panspermia a la Crick in itself but it does mean that it doesn’t solve the problem that ID has set.

    ericB:

    1) Why Behe believes what he does is hard for me to say, not being able to get inside his head. I’m sure he believes that there is scientific evidence for his claims
    - as does Ken Miller for his. Having read both & having heard them debate, I think Miller gets the better of it. In particular, I think that Behe pointed out some features of biological systems that current work hadn’t yet explained, but erred in going on to argue that current paradigms _couldn’t_ explain them.

    2) Your notion that TEs generally believe in “unguided nature” vitiates the questions you pose.

    3) I don’t think that theology should dictate to science. I do wish that IDers would be willing to discuss their theological agendas in a more straightforward way.

  71. Too many TEs want to lose us in obscure theological esoterica and the kind of nuanced disputation that pleases the pompous yet is such a joke to the hard core atheist who, by the way, finds the TE as convenient a foil as he does the YEC. The one he openly ridicules and the other he laughs at privately, the one is a strawman to shoot down and the other is to be used to promote the two-tiered demarcationism that created the culture war.

    Can’t find it on the internet but—does anyone remember where Feynman once remarked how much he detested the liberal theologians (“they can’t even be wrong!”)? At least the fundamentalists said things that could be challenged.

    So Amen to Demski’s,

    If the problem with young-earth creationism is that it is off by a few orders of magnitude about the age of the earth and universe, the problem with scientific materialism is that is off by infinite orders of magnitude about what is ultimately the nature of nature.

    Reminds me of hearing Gerald Schroeder note how we ridicule the YECs for being off by a few billion years and yet if the Big Bang is right then until recently the YECs were closer to the truth by the order of billions of years over against infinity. I’m neither a YEC nor a Day-Ager, by the way, and I’m skeptical of the Big Bang—but Schroeder’s point was well taken.

  72. rockyr,

    Several naturalistic evolutionists have rejected Darwinism because the science does not support it. We agree with them and it is nice to have support on this point.

    But they do not support ID at all because they think there must be some naturalistic mechanism to explain the large changes that took place in life’s progress.

    ID would probably accept any naturalistic mechanism if it could be shown to be likely but all that exists now is complete speculation. As a consequence ID indicates a designer is more likely over some of the mechanisms speculated on.

    Which changes require a non gradualist approach? There are many, many log jams where life seemed to make miraculous jumps. The most obvious one is the origin of life itself. But there are many others and as they add up it would point to some intelligence making the necessary changes when required.

    There are other theories to explain life’s changes such as front loading which essentially says an intelligence did it once and the rest played out based on the environment and the instructions in the genome. But there are others who say the most likely explanation is that changes were made on the way such as the formation of the eukaryote cell, multi-celled organism, complex systems and capabilities such as the eye, nervous system, flying, advanced circulatory functions such as 4 chambered heart and the obvious differences with humans versus other animals in terms of intelligence and consciousness.

    It sort of looks like an intelligence tinkered along the way to get the results you see in the world today and in the past. So who did the intervention if in fact there was intervention.

    ID says the changes defy probability, so what caused the changes? ID says an intelligence. And how often were they necessary? Maybe a lot.

  73. Rude, thanks for trying to de-fog (Re: The key here is “natural evolution”—TE’s maintain that the science is all on the side of Richard Dawkins but that theist’s are capable of noble feelings.) But, as even the name implies, TE is about “theistic” evo, and thus those who profess it, ought to consider God acting in evo somehow! If they foolishly don’t, or if they are caught in a blatant contradiction, such as endorsing Darwinism, let us point it out!

    Jay Richards is right. Good quote. JPII may have been vague about evolution and his vague comments were mistranslated and twisted into his supposed endorsement of evo, (and I doubt he ever really believed Darwinism), but this pope is no friend of Darwinism. I haven’t read Benedict’s new & just published book, but he was quoted saying that the “Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory.” (Popes always talk politely and carefully, and this should be seen as a rather severe criticism.) Besides, pope’s close friend, and the main editor & author of the now standard Catholic Catechism, Cardinal Schönborn, seems to be a friend of ID. Whether the Catholic Church officially endorses ID as science, is another issue. I don’t think the Church has a mandate to do that. Church can fight bad philosophy (or bad logic) and bad theology, but it’s up to ID to fight science with science.

  74. “Rude, thanks for trying to de-fog (Re: The key here is “natural evolution”—TE’s maintain that the science is all on the side of Richard Dawkins but that theist’s are capable of noble feelings.) But, as even the name implies, TE is about “theistic” evo, and thus those who profess it, ought to consider God acting in evo somehow! If they foolishly don’t, or if they are caught in a blatant contradiction, such as endorsing Darwinism, let us point it out!”

    That’s why many of us prefer the term evolutionary creationists. Theistic evolution implies the core commitment is to evolution and the contingent commitment is to theism. That does not accurately describe what we believe where our core commitment is to creation and the contingent commitment is to evolution. Our contingent commitment could change on a dime tomorrow if you would prove your hypothesis.

    I find it somewhat strange how you see us as obsessed with scientific “orthodoxy”. We are the ones that keep stressing how limited science is and how we should not be building structures on sinking sand. The reason I keep hitting on theology is that’s what matters to me. Maybe it takes actually doing science to see how limited it really is.

  75. Another post from Ted:

    jerry asks, “What has ASA got to lose if your postion is based on evidence
    and logic?”

    Ted answers: I understand why jerry frames the question this way, but it’s
    important to keep something in mind. The ASA is not a think tank or
    advocacy organization that defends/upholds a specific understanding of the
    details concerning evolution/design. Every ASA member who posts here, on
    the ASA list, or elsewhere, including me, is speaking as an individual.
    Quite a few ASA members, for example, would not agree with me or with George
    Murphy or with Rich Blinne at some points. Just as I do not agree with Bill
    Dembski, Steve Meyer, or David Snokes (all of them ASA members, and all of
    them ID advocates) at some points. The ASA publishes in our journal lots of
    articles on various sides of this complex issue–a fact that is easily
    checked. Our members agree completely (at least I think we should assume
    this unless evidence about a given member suggests otherwise) with the
    following statement:

    “As an organization, the ASA does not take a position when there is honest
    disagreement between Christians on an issue. We are committed to providing
    an open forum where controversies can be discussed without fear of unjust
    condemnation. Legitimate differences of opinion among Christians who have
    studied both the Bible and science are freely expressed within the
    Affiliation in a context of Christian love and concern for truth.

    Our platform of faith has four important planks:

    1. We accept the divine inspiration, trustworthiness and authority of
    the Bible in matters of faith and conduct.
    2. We confess the Triune God affirmed in the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds
    which we accept as brief, faithful statements of Christian doctrine based
    upon Scripture.
    3. We believe that in creating and preserving the universe God has
    endowed it with contingent order and intelligibility, the basis of
    scientific investigation.
    4. We recognize our responsibility, as stewards of God’s creation, to
    use science and technology for the good of humanity and the whole world.

    These four statements of faith spell out the distinctive character of the
    ASA, and we uphold them in every activity and publication of the
    Affiliation.”

    This is who we are, and have been. Thus, it is not really appropriate to
    ask, “what has ASA got to lose,” in this particular context. If it were our
    position (for example) that TE is true and ID is false, or vice versa, then
    our journal would not contain a lot of what it contains. Nor would our
    annual meetings have some of the papers and symposia that they have, and
    some of the speakers we have featured–including Phil Johnson and Mike
    Behe.

    If people want to take issue with our platform of faith, then of course
    they are free to do so–though I am not trying to invite that type of
    conversation here, and it probably doesn’t suit the nature of this blog
    either. If the opening paragraph of our statement is understood, however,
    it should be clear that ASA is here to promote fellowship, respect,
    understanding, and faith among Christians in the scientific community.

    The fact that, as I often say, the ASA is not TDI is not meant as a slam
    against TDI. Several of my friends are closely linked with TDI, including
    some who are fellow ASA members, and I am not criticizing them for promoting
    ideas they believe in. The same should operate in reverse. The ASA is not
    TDI, and that should not be a reason for anyone to slam the ASA. You
    weren’t doing that in your post, jerry, and I am not implying that you were.
    But some people do exactly that, accusing the ASA as an organization or its
    members as individuals of lacking backbone, convictions, or integrity.

    In fact, we would lack integrity if we took a specific side on this issue,
    given our platform above. Lots of our members agree with ID, and lots of
    them don’t. Our own integrity as an organization requires us not to go
    beyond the four planks above.

    I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

  76. rblinne,

    I think most of here believe science is very limited which is the basis for this site and our conclusions. Science has not shown very much in terms of evolution and that is our point but that is not the impression you get in the classroom.

    In the classroom, the opposite is the orthodoxy. Evolution is proven by overwhelming evidence., George Murphy says our main findings are negative. I will grant him that many of them are. But these negative findings are excluded from the curriculum and instead speculation masks as findings and conclusions. This is what students learn.

    How hard is this to understand. Our problem is with the false findings and conclusions of the science presented in the classroom and in the popular press.

    I find it ironic that others can stand by and acquiesce in this who claim they are truth seekers.

  77. I agree jerry.

  78. Regarding rblinne/Ted Davis, I respect your concerns but I believe there is a key perspective you are missing.

    To illustrate, consider Big Bang cosmology. The fact that the universe had a beginning has secondary implications, including potentially theological implications, and many are intrested in those implications. But that is not why Big Bang cosmology exists. It wasn’t created for the sake of those secondary implications. It became established because it is the best inference from the data we have.

    The same is true for ID, including ID in biology. It was not created to have a “slam-dunk”. It exists because the best available inference we have from the evidence is that language, information, irreducible complexity, etc. are caused by intelligent agency. We have literally no other observed explanation that accounts for these.

    So, whatever one might say about strategic response to materialism and the subtle positions of Polkinghorne, et al, that tells me nothing about how an unguided natural process could possibly invent language or construct an irreducibly complex molecular machine.

    What I want to know from TE defenders is whether you support or reject the methodological rule that says that “scientific” explanations may only appeal to unguided natural processes (i.e. never to telic/intelligent agency). This is by a definition, regardless of any evidence.

    That artificial rule is harmful to science as a pursuit of truth about nature. If TE accepts that rule, then TE is part of the problem.

  79. To George Murphy, I am glad to hear that you “don’t think that theology should dictate to science”. But then I am completely unclear about how you can fault the ID inference for “bad theology”.

    Really, what should a scientist such as Dr. Behe do about the fact that the evidence is against the TE idea that unguided nature is endowed with the ability to invent language or construct irreducibly complex molecular machines?

    Neither Miller nor anyone else can yet explain clearly how unguided processes can construct a flagellum, even if you generously supposed that every protein needed were in use elsewhere in the cell.

    If you don’t hold that theology should trump an ID inference based on scientific considerations, what are you proposing ID scientists should do?

  80. 80

    ericB:

    The reason I fault IDers for bad theology is sketched in a short article of mine, “ID as a Theological Problem,” which you can find at http://puffin.creighton.edu/NRCSE/IDTHG.html . I gave a somewhat more detailed treatment in a paper at the 2005 ASA meeting, a revised version of which was published last year in _Seminary Ridge Review_ as “Is the True Creator an Intelligent Designer?” It isn’t online but I can sent it to anyone who wants to gives me an email address.

    What I think scientists should do when they don’t understand something in terms of natural processes is to say “We don’t understand it – maybe next year we will.” They should not claim that it can never be understood scientifically. For Christians that attitude is grounded in the theology of the cross, as I discuss in the articles I mentioned.

    Again you make the mistake of thinking that TEs believe in “unguided nature.” You will never get anywhere in trying to understand my position, & that of most other TEs, if you continue to think that.

    The lack of comprehension of TE that I see here is appalling. E.g., geoffrobinson (Post #7) wrote,
    “My understanding of the difference between TE and IDers who believe in common descent: TE are OK with winding up the machine and letting it play out.” The best I can say about this is that he should have begun with “My misunderstanding …” Few TEs are deists.

    There is no point in trying to carry on a debate with people who refuse even to try to understand what you’re saying: “Wer den Dichter will verstehen, Muss in Dichters Lande gehen.”

  81. I do not understand why one group of Christians cannot emphasize one endeavor and another take a different direction. Why is it necessary for one to judge to other? Is this not arrogance? Why can’t ASA take on the error of the young earth belief? Why can’t ID take on scientific materialsim? Both are needed and my take is that things work about better when organizations with limited funding take on one task and do it well.

    As an agnostic, I have a number or reasons for not being a Christian, but I do value the religion. I find it sad and also reinforcing of my beliefs when I find a religion which promises unity and peace of heart to be so full of division and ill-will.

  82. bj.

    Have you ever heard of the Reformation? Want to see some vitriol. See what both sides said during the 150 years after the start of the Reformation.

    Want to know why Islam had such an easy time conquering Christian lands. It is mainly due to the fact that the Christians in the areas near Saudi Arabia and North Africa believed in Monophysitism and were under the rule of Constantinople so in order to gain freedom from Constantinople who restricted their religious beliefs they laid down and let Islam take over. In other words they did not fight the Arabs to be free from the Orthodox Christianity of the Byzantine Empire.

    When Constantinople fell in 1453 they refused help from the West and Rome and said they would rather live under Islam than seek help from Rome. By then Eastern Christianity had some minor theological differences with Rome but not much.

    Are we seeing something similar now? Is it really theological differences that drive these emotions? I don’t think so.

    Just see what Yankees and Red Sox fans think of each other. There is another example of vitriol over nothing.

  83. jerry, if some NE (naturalistic evolutionists) who have rejected Darwinism don’t want to embrace ID, it most likely has to do with their atheistic bias or prejudice. That at least has been my experience with a few NE’s I debate the issue. One atheist blatantly told me that evo must presuppose that God does not exist. None of them are, in fact, religious, one is a lapsed Catholic who is basically an atheist now, he is quite bitter about religion, and he became an evolutionist when the priests who used to teach him, could not satisfactorily explain evo. They will come up with all sorts ridiculous accusations, saying that ID isn’t science, that ID is creationism, repeatedly implying literal or YEC despite being corrected each time, that experimental science since Bacon has worked just fine, that allowing supernatural in any form to enter science will make it ridiculous and false, etc. In other words, they know that God and supernatural must be kept out of science and rationality, even by ridiculing it and comparing Christianity to a belief in fairies, unicorns or spaghetti monsters. When I point out that ID also wants to keep the Designer out of science, they nevertheless fall back and repeat the same accusations again.

    I think the word “gradualist” is somewhat confusing in this context of God intervening or tinkering with design, but again, as with other scientific details and theories, I am open to any suggestions of how this may actually happen, just as I am open to any “front loading” arguments. To me all this is fair debate and science. I was just asking whether ID has actually discovered any facts implying how design may have been tinkered with at different stages by whatever agency.

    (George Murphy, re your essay: notice that I didn’t ask how God may have tinkered with his creation, since ID makes no claims about the origin of the detected design. To me personaally it would be God intervening, but to a believer in a spaghetti monster it would be the designer or agency of his own belief.)

  84. rockyr,

    you said

    “I was just asking whether ID has actually discovered any facts implying how design may have been tinkered with at different stages by whatever agency.”

    As far as I know, there is nothing. It is generally a big mystery. The only conclusion is that the differences between several species require substantial re-mappings of the genomes, something that defies probability by a non intelligent process.

    Science is just getting started on the differences in genomes and know little about how body parts are formed or controlled during gestation and development. So the analysis of the specific differences that must have occurred to the genomes when new species were formed is in the future. Others here may have some other thoughts.

    Essentially ID has found some huge holes in Evolutionary theory. It does not mean that NDE has nothing going for it. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing to a naturalistic approach of which gradualism is the one nearly universally accepted. But is also the one with all the holes which is why I worded like I did.

    On one of your other points, my experience is that most people do not want to discuss evolution. They realize I know a fair amount about it and don’t want to be told something different from what they believe. There is also this feeling that “Jerry is a nice guy but he has this strange belief on this one thing”. So to keep discussions polite it rarely gets discussed.

  85. George Murphy, Thank you, thank you! Although you accused me of not understanding TE, your own words have provided as fine a confirmation and illustration of exactly what I have been saying as one could hope for.

    I am and have been asking you what a scientist should do when “the evidence is against” the sufficiency of natural process explanations. The term “unguided” in the context of a scientific explanation is shorthand for the absence of detectable, direct, personal intervention. Your response (with emphasis added) changed the premise of my question.

    “What I think scientists should do when they don’t understand something in terms of natural processes is to say “We don’t understand it – maybe next year we will.” They should not claim that it can never be understood scientifically.”

    So, by your own words, the only options you allow to the scientist are

    1. Understanding in terms of natural processes, or
    2. An admission of ignorance.

    You did not allow that an inference to guidance/intelligent design was even a possible option. To “be understood scientifically” means “understand something in terms of natural processes.”

    And if inference to direct, intelligent intervention is not even an option, then it is plain why it could never be that “the evidence is against” the sufficiency of natural process explanations. It has been excluded in principle, by definition of science, regardless of the evidence.

    This is exactly what I have been saying about the embrace of the materialist’s rule with regard to scientific explanations. BTW, I have never claimed that TE fails to give God credit as an indirect and/or undetectable cause, but this is irrelevant to the scientific explanation, which (as you show) is strictly in terms of natural processes.

    If you want to show that I have misunderstood the TE position regarding scientific explanations, then please indicate when an inference to an intelligent intervention beyond natural processes would be warranted by the evidence. If never, my description is fully vindicated and your answer is an excellent illustration.

  86. 86

    ericB:

    I said: “What I think scientists should do when they don’t understand something [not "when they've shown that something can't be understood"]in terms of natural processes is to say “We don’t understand it – maybe next year we will.” I’m prepared to grant (as a non-specialist) that at the time of writing _Darwin’s Black Box_ Behe had identified some phenomena which had not been explained in terms of natural processes. I did not then – even less do today – agree with the idea that in any sense he had shown that they are incapable of such explanation, or even that evidence pointed in that direction.

    A scientist qua scientist should be very hesitant to make such a claim about any phenomenon. If he/she does so it’s a statement that that phenomenon is outside the bounds of scientific explanation & is a miracle in the strictest sense. & if that’s the case, the scientist should not pretend that it’s going to be part of a scientific research program. We can’t do experiments on God.

    I am saying here – & I think this will be the point on which we disagree, as it’s a basic point at which ID challenges the science of the past 400+ years – that science is the attempt to understand the world in terms of natural processes.
    I.e., methodological naturalism is a basic principle of science. That doesn’t mean that all knowledge of reality can be gained in that way. It is simply a definition of what constitutes science.

    I think that there are good theological reasons for believing that the natural world can be understood quite well by a science which operates in accord with that definition. I.e., the world can be understood, to use the phrase Bonhoeffer popularized, etsi deus non daretur, though God were not given.

    OTOH I think that there are good reasons to believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ is involved in everything that goes on in the world. But you are quite right – that statement is not part of science, & science can be done properly without any reference to such a belief.

    Please understand though that what I said in the previous 2 paragraphs is my own position, not that of all Christians who accept evolution. TE is not, as I’ve noted before, a monolithic position.

    But yes, as far as I’m concerned, scientific arguments in themselves cannot in any strict sense tell us that there is “intelligent intervention beyond natural processes” In other words, I reject the possibility of a legitimate independent natural theology – & that on theological grounds.

    (But please, no one should say that by that I’m allowing theology to dictate to science. What I’m saying is that science shouldn’t dictate to theology.)

  87. George you wrote

    But yes, as far as I’m concerned, scientific arguments in themselves cannot in any strict sense tell us that there is “intelligent intervention beyond natural processes”

    Science is a word used by people to describe a process of understanding something. If that process or science is based upon a priori restraints on what we can understand through that process, then that does not change what science can actually uncover. Science which is based upon rejecting that which is not directly seen as being of any relevance is hampered by the factual reality of our universe. In fact here have been many things which we could not see and still do not see but which became accepted as plausible truth and made much ado about by “scientists” e.g gravity, consciousness and mind, dark matter, dark energy, black holes, etc. To categorically reject our ability to make a plausible case for detecting purposefull design in nature is nothing more then a personal bias which has nothing to do with science other then rejecting the very concept of science as being led by the evidence rather then by bias..

  88. Jerry:

    About the Monophysites surrendering to Islam rather than Byzantium Emperor, and Eastern Orthodox Christians preferring Islamic(Ottoman?) rule than receiving help from Rome.

    Any reference?

  89. George Murphy,

    If we see a watch on Planet Mars, does it mean that science cannot determine that the watch is designed?

  90. Matthew Tan,

    It is obviously much more complicated than my quick one liners but where I heard both was

    Monophysites – On the video, Christianity, the first 2000 years and similar things in Bat Yeor’s two books

    “The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam : From Jihad to Dhimmitude : Seventh-Twentieth Century ”

    and

    “Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide ”

    Also involved were believers in Nestorianism who were Christians mostly located in present day Iraq and Persia. I always wondered how these areas collapsed so fast and this is apparently one of the reasons. The people in the East did not like the Byzantines very much. I believe some of these Christians also helped the Parthians fight Byzantium just before the Arab invasions. They also did not realize that the invasion was based on religion and initially thought it was just Arab raiders seeking booty.

    The comment about Constantinople came from a Teaching Company course on Byzantium. At the end the only thing that still existed was the city itself, nearly all the empire had been lost mostly to the Ottomans. It has been a couple years since I looked at this course so I would have to go back and find where the quote was made.

    There was a lot of animosity between Constantinople and the West as they fought with each other and competed in trade. Most of the animosity I believe stems from the sack of Constantinople in 1204.

    One of the shortcomings of the New Testament was that it primarily covered the western expansion of Christianity in the first century based on Peter and Paul while having little or nothing to say about the movement to the East. And since the East was essentially swallowed up by Islam, we know little today but there were bishops and dioceses in the East and Africa and one of the biggest was in Alexandria. All fell quickly and all were at odds with Byzantium over religious beliefs.

  91. rblinne,
    and all evolutionary creationists,
    and all ID creationists,
    and all ID evolutionists:

    many of you TEs prefer to call yourself “evolutionary creationists”. I think that is good, and whoever is comfortable with it should call themselves “evolutionary creationists” when the situation warrants it.

    And I salute you, evolutionary creationists! You are not ashamed or embarassed to identify yourself with creationists!

    Similarly, I suggest that ID advocates should not hesitate to call ourselves “ID creationists” or “ID evolutionists” when the situation warrants it.

    I am ID advocate – 30% leaning to evolution, 70% leaning to creation.

    Making clear who we are and what we believe – not science, but belief – is the best answer to those who laid charges against us calling us Creationist Trojan Horse.

    And it also prepares us for future court battle, saying loudly that ID can be creationists or evolutionists!

    Calling yourself ID creationist does not reduce the status of ID as a scientific enquiry, just like calling oneself evolutionary creationist does not reduce the status of evolution as a scientific enquiry.

    But I wonder, how is it possible for evolutionary creationists not to accept Intelligent Design? Do you evolutionary creationists understand Intelligent Design? How is it possible for God to initiate evolution leading to the creation of man without intelligent design?

  92. George Murphy: A scientist qua scientist should be very hesitant to make such a claim about any phenomenon. If he/she does so it’s a statement that that phenomenon is outside the bounds of scientific explanation & is a miracle in the strictest sense.

    This is simply not true. If we find information written in a language (including within a cell), that is excellent evidence of intelligent agency. Only intelligent agents create language. But language does not require or prove the miraculous.

    … & if that’s the case, the scientist should not pretend that it’s going to be part of a scientific research program. We can’t do experiments on God.

    ID has never proposed or required doing experiments on God. (Nor does the ID inference require that the intelligence is God.) We can, however, make observations about intelligence and intelligent agency in distinction from natural processes. Those are certainly within the reach of scientific research.

    But yes, as far as I’m concerned, scientific arguments in themselves cannot in any strict sense tell us that there is “intelligent intervention beyond natural processes” In other words, I reject the possibility of a legitimate independent natural theology – & that on theological grounds.

    Thank you for your honesty about excluding the possibility that scientific arguments could infer “intelligent intervention beyond natural processes”. My central point about the pivotal distinction between TE and ID has been that TE embraces methodological naturalism (or scientific materialism) and rejects by definition the possibility of an inference to intelligent agency for any natural effect.

    That said, it is clearly not true that we cannot infer intelligent intervention beyond natural processes. As MatthewTan said, “If we see a watch on Planet Mars, does it mean that science cannot determine that the watch is designed?” If we receive a message from outer space, we will also surely infer intelligence and not natural processes.

    When you say “I reject the possibility of a legitimate independent natural theology” I will note in passing that the apostle Paul does not share your view (cf. Romans 1). Aside from that, I hope you will eventually realize that you have been creating a straw man and then rejecting the straw man. ID does not provide an independent natural theology. When you come to understand what ID in biology is actually claiming and why, you will see that it cannot even claim to infer the supernatural, let alone deity. It is infering intelligence.

    Some who acknowledge that intelligence is necessarily do in fact argue for natural intelligence, rather than supernatural, and they were doing so a decade or more before what you have depicted in your paper as the start of the ID movement.

    You were a bit “concerned” earlier about the prospect that someone might not be willing to try to truly understand TE. I hope you will apply that same standard to yourself toward the end of gaining a more accurate understanding of ID.

  93. My Cracks and Serials…

    I can not agree with you in 100% regarding some thoughts, but you got good point of view…

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