Re: Private lists like CRSnet]

Glenn R. Morton (
Sun, 16 May 1999 08:26:54 -0500

James Mahaffy ( wrote on
Sat, 15 May 1999 21:19:33 -0500 :

>Glenn Morton in a recent post said:

>> CRSnet and the ID list are examples of people who are really afraid to
>> come out and fight for their views in the rough and tumble world of
>> ideas. They are afraid of being shown to have only emporer's clothing.

>Welcome back Glenn.

Unfortunately, I am not back yet. I still only have internet access for
one or two days a week. So I probably won't be able to respond.

And Glenn lets not paint everyone with the same
>brush. Yes some YEC's are a bit intimidated but I think it is hardly
>fair to paint ID's with that brush [I am not one - but I communicate
>with both ID's and TE's - no wonder I never get my Carboniferous
>palynology research done].
>As you know on the original evolution list Phil Johnson invited Terry
>Grey, Van Til and some others and for awhile (until the discussion was
>dominated by non IDers), there were some very good exchanges. I know I
>really grew to a greater respect for some thoughtful TE's from Terry's
>posts. Now if I am not mistaken IDers will be engaging ASAers at their
>national meetings and if I am not mistaken have done so in the past.
>That is quite different than Morris pulling out of the original ASA.

I did not say anything in that post that I hadn't already said to Paul
Nelson privately. It is my observation that in general, big name
apologists, won't come and engage in the rough and tumble debate. Hugh
Ross won't, Phil Johnson no longer does, Behe doesn't anymore, Robert
Newman doesn't. Henry Morris doesn't, Steve Austin doesnt, Kurt Wise
doesn't. Duane Gish doesn't. I think it is our of fear that they will
be shown to have difficulties with their ideas and lose readership and
credibility. Like the ICR folks, the present IDers only engage in
controlled debates which occur in front of small audiences (the PBS
debates being a remarkable exception) but never in forums where wide
parts of the laity can watch or where experts of various disciplines can
shoot at the ideas. Frankly, if an hypothesis can't stand the heat of a
forum like the evolution reflector or here on the ASA list, then it
really isn't an idea worth considering. And given the debate Bill
Hamilton and I had with Behe on the evolution list just before they
left, where Behe really couldn't or wouldn't define design, it makes one
wonder why one leaves. Is it to avoid pesky questions like Bill and I
were raising?

And I would reiterate, by isolating oneself to a group of people who
agree with you, you lose an opportunity to learn things. I have learned
much from the debates and from being forced to defend my views under
hostile scrutiny. What they are doing is losing that opportunity. Paul
Nelson says they don't, but I don't believe it. A group of local yes-men
is unlikely to challenge basic assumptions.

>Again this is not to defend the ID position. They do it here and
>elsewhere well enough themselves, but simply to state that an internos
>discussion or a private list is not always bad and it is hardly fair to
>paint ID with the same brush you are painting CRS folks.

Then they shouldn't behave like the ICR folks. I have been after
Phillip Johnson for years to change the stupid paleontological errors in
his books. He used an out of date book as his primary paleontological
source (it was 20 years old when he wrote DOT). He claims that whales
and bats arose from rodents (his source didn't make that claim it seems
to have sprung from the mind of Phil). He refuses to correct that
totally false statement. No evolutionist believes whales and bats arose
form rodents yet there is the claim in DArwin on Trial. He has claimed
through friends that he was joking but it doesn't sound like a joke in
the book. ANd when I discovered the bat from rodents error, my friend
refused to confront Phil on that type of topic again. What sort of
friend is this to Phil? It is an example that people who agree with you
are unlikely to challenge your basic assumptions. But on a forum like
this, everyone gets challenged.

I compare this to the behavior of the ICR gang who also won't change
when confronted with error. Why are christians so reluctant to
acknowledge error? We are, as the Bible points out, only human. And you
know over the years I have had to back track and correct what I have
said numerous times.

Dembski in his paper in Sept 1997 PSCF gets the definition of complex
specified information totally backwards. "It is CSI that within the
Kolmogorov-Chaitin theory of algorithmic information takes the form of
highly compressible, nonrandom strings of digits." p. 186

Highly compressible strings are highly ordered and have very little
informatitonal content. I pointed this out twice to Dembski who never
replied. I pointed it out to Steve Meyers who agreed with me in a phone
conversation that it is bass-akwards. So why is it so difficult for
apologists to acknoweldge error? Partly, it is because by isolating our
selves from criticism, things like rodents giving rise to whales or the
bad definition of CSI are never caught until they are in print. I also
think that there is a tendency for apologists to think that if their
theory dies, so does the Bible which then gives an exaggerated value to
their own theories which then must not be allowed to fail.

Conflict between ideas is a good thing that should be sought after, not



Foundation, Fall and Flood Adam, Apes and Anthropology