NTSE Report #1 (fwd)

Joel Cannon (cannon@alpha.centenary.edu)
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 17:28:24 -0600 (CST)

I attended the conference also, and though I am digging out will give
a few of my impressions.

The conference was extremely well run, interesting, and remarkably
civil. The distribution was pretty good--at least there were quite a
few alternatives to the Intelligent Design (ID) people, although not as
many visible, active non-Christians as I would have liked to have had
there to keep people honest.

Given the strong ground-swell of Christians and particularly ID folks,
it took people who had considerable self-confidence to

On the positive side, the dialogue was good, listening to the ID
people was positive, if not convincing. They intelligent people,
they are raising questions with regard to biological data that seem
reasonable (as far as this non-specialist) to ask, whether one would
call it science or not (and I do not take science to mean if its not
science its not true).

However, as someone who cares about the gospel and cares about truth
(I know people who disagree with me care about this also) I have to
confess coming away from this with an extremely uneasy
feeling. At the moment, I see Phillip Johnson and crew leading to
Christian community to serious problems, and they are all too eager to
follow. He's telling them what they want to hear.

Something is truly wrong with the picture that one comes away with
after listening to Johnson. I felt a little like I had just left an an
Amway meeting for ID. He is so charismatic, the dominant impression
non-scientists (about half the attendees) had after listening to him
was that Darwinism was about to collapse, and they were ready to go
out and fight the battle. What is remarkable is that few seem at all
concerned what "experts" might think. As has been documented
occasionally here, he seems to be completely impervious to any
assistance from people who really know something about the field. One
other ASA member with expertise in what Johnson was talking about told
me that he had given up on talking to Philip Johnson.

What is especially distressing is that Johnson announced that
Christianity Today is going to devote a full issue to this in April. I
would not be proposed in principle to such an issue, but it would seem
only proper for CT to provide some context to this which would show
how little support Johnson has among practicing scientists (they, of
course, in Johnson's mind are not credible because they have sold
out--i.e. they didn't agree with him). It seems proper for the public
to know that there are a large group of Christians who are
accomplished scientists who disavow Johnson's science.

Joel Cannon