on taking PJ and ID seriously

From: Ted Davis (tdavis@messiah.edu)
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 14:49:06 EDT

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    Do people on the ASA listserve take PJ and ID seriously? I think any
    reasonable person would conclude that we do, otherwise why would we spend so
    much time talking about his ideas?

    The more important questions might be, where do we agree with Phil, and
    where do we disagree? There is no single answer to either of these
    questions that all on the listserve would endorse--I say that from knowing
    many of the people who make posts; and I should add that some on the list
    might not disagree much (if at all) with Phil. Someone like Larry, who
    finds PJ and ID quite persuasive, might then ask someone who doesn't (such
    as Keith or Howard and sometimes myself), why do we not find PJ and ID
    persuasive? We've seen lots of answers to this one also.

    I am quite sure that, because the ASA as a whole has not endorsed ID in
    some official capacity--though there are those who see the booklet,
    "Teaching Science..." as an endorsement--some ID people have been frustrated
    with the organization. While I can understand why the failure to persuade
    can be frustrating, it should be recognized that the ASA has provided PJ and
    ID people with significant space, not only in the journal but also on the
    program at several annual meetings, going back to Phil's talk at the 1990
    meeting (I think it was that one) and going up at least as far as the major
    ID symposium at John Brown two years ago. As program co-chair for 2002, I
    have already been in conversation with some members about further
    programming related to ID. (And I have myself proposed a session related to
    ID at another, secular professional meeting, b/c I believe there is much to
    talk about that merits our time.)

    What frustrates me most about the ID controversy is the nature of the
    rhetoric. Rhetoric certainly plays a legitimate role in helping to clarify
    one's position relative to others--Howard Van Till's comments about language
    in Three Views on Creation and Evolution are wonderfully appplicable here.
    But for some rhetoric is used to belittle the sincerity and/or integrity
    and/or intelligence and/or motives of those on one "side" or the other. And
    rhetoric appeals to the general public far more than substantive arguments,
    as we all know from watching political "debates". I think we aren't
    helping matters any when many people get their "take" on origins issues from
    the folks Howard calls "preachers of naturalism" (you can all fill in some
    names, I'm sure) or from the folks who think all that theistic evolutionists
    are "mushy" or weak-minded "accommodationists" (ditto).

    This past spring we featured, at Messiah, public lectures by Ken Miller and
    Mike Behe, slated less than one week apart. Though there were a few verbal
    jabs both ways, generally I think the public got an excellent sense of why
    those two scientists differ on how to interpret the evidence for/against
    evolution and intelligent design. Their books aren't always on quite that
    level, I will admit, but the talks were very well received by students and
    the general public (hundreds turned out for each talk) and very definitely
    raised the level of conversation about this very important and completely
    legitimate subject.

    Ted Davis


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