Re: Private lists like CRSnet]

James Mahaffy (
Mon, 17 May 1999 00:37:12 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:

> 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.

Maybe it is the type of argumentation and massive posts and many other things
that could cause folks to leave a list. I no longer follow the evolution
list and the reason has nothing to do with being afraid that my view will be
challenged. Even though questions of origin are important to me and as
someone who professionally researchers the fossil record, this list [and
sometimes ASA] simply required too much of my time. Often these lists become
dominated by a few individuals and after a while you have to say and you
really do not have a good forum for learning new things. My time would
probably now be even better spent in writing up some of my ideas on the lay
influence of YEC and trying to get it communicated to something like
Christian Scholars than posting a response here.

Part of the problem is that you can argue totally non sequitor and get away
with it or make generalizations that might be true on a list like this and
perhaps influence folks and win an argument on things other than the merit of
the argument. I reiterate what I said last time that ID to its credit is
engaging the ASA at its national meetings and if I am not mistaken still has
some leaders in this forum and that, in my book, indicates a willingness to
engage this group in dialog. After all Glenn, it would be totally unfair to
say that anyone's ideas here chased you off the ASA list. There is some
truth that some of the leaders you mention should be more engaged with
Christians who disagree with them - but to accuse Duane Gisch, of not wanting
to engage opponents when his professional career is throwing his ideas out in
a hostile University atmosphere may not be completely fair. And I know [as
listowner - and from private communication at the time] that Kurt Wise really
wanted to engage Christian geologists and left ACG list [affiliation of
christian geologists] frustrated. In my opinion he did not try hard enough.
But I am afraid that often the Christian lists do NOT ENGAGE THOSE WE
DISAGREE with in a charitable way. There are different ways of shooting
arguments down and we don't always do it with a spirit of love and with the
hope that we can help our Christian brothers.

> I think it is our of fear that they will
> be shown to have difficulties with their ideas and lose readership and
> credibility.

In some cases yes - but again you can not paint all these groups exactly the

> 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.

Now maybe Phil Johnson or Morris should have just shared their ideas here
rather than with the world in print. These lists have a place and I respect
Glenn's ability to see problems in positions but this list is hardly the only
place [but it may be a good place] you can try out ideas with folks that
don't agree with you.

> 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?

Or just maybe (and I was around for some of it) all arguments had been
raised. Glenn, Mike Behe was a lot like you when he was active on the list -
he was not afraid of an argument and hit it head on. And it was not at all
my recollection that you and Bill usually won the argument [it was a great
dialog for a while]. To imply that he stopped posting because he could not
answer your arguments - I think is not a fair analysis. It takes time to
respond and once you have done it a number of times - how long is it fruitful
to continue?

> 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.

Absolutely right. But this group could let folks defend themselves under a
little less hostile pressure. I suspect some of you don't know how
intimidating we can be. How long would a YEC pastor that doesn't know his
geology or science but really wants some answers last on this group? After
reading posts for a week, would he dare ask us his questions?

> 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?

Even apologists don't like to be shown they are wrong. And everyone who
thinks an apologists wrong, has not clearly proven them wrong or we would
all believe the same thing. Yes and to your credit Glenn, you will admit
when you have something wrong - but it still takes a lot of effort to show it
to you or anyone who has thought out their ideas. I can't just say you are
wrong [lets say about some facts about the camel], but will have to back it
up from some authority other than my memory and that takes a lot of work.

> 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
> avoided.
> --
> glenn

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