Date: Tue Sep 10 2002 - 08:44:13 EDT
I would agree entirely with you if one would be certain that
unadulterated science is being taught in our public school. By that I
mean a minimalist approach where no philosophical assumptions are
made beyond those necessary to do honest science. I find it difficult
to believe that people do not bring in their philosophical baggage
when they decide what science is and what it is not. Moorad
From: Robert Schneider [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 5:53 PM
To: Howard J. Van Till; email@example.com
Subject: Re: The rhetoric of argument
Thank you, Howard, for your commentary on my comments. Your question:
"Is it possible that the ID movement assigns more value to scientific
tracking than to theological tracking? Wouldn't that be an irony?"
prompts some further thoughts about the rhetorical strategy of ID in the
court of public pleading. ID proponents recognize that before the Ohio
State School Board or any other board that makes curriculum decisions, they
must be careful to say, as George Murphy put it, "no one but us scientists
here!" For, if they display the religious/theological agenda behind their
arguments for ID and against "naturalistic evolution," they run up against
court decisions that prohibit religiously based theories in science classes.
Unless I've overlooked something, they want their views presented in natural
science courses and would not be content to see them confined to social
science courses. In a way, they are forced in this respect to "assign more
value to scientific tracking." They have to convince their public audience,
and the courts, that what they offer is scientifically respectible and not
tainted by theological positions like the kind of literalistic Genesis 1
interpretive presuppositions that underlay YEC.
Therefore the Christology which Dembski presents in _Intelligent Design:
The Bridge between Science and Theology_, pp. 205-210 is not likely to be
presented in the public debate, for it suggests, despite the "bridge"
language, that all scientific tracking is subordinate to theological
tracking, in that he argues that "Christ is indispensible to any scientific
theory" and that "the conceptual soundness of the theory can in the end only
be located in Christ." And in the chapter following ("The Act of
Creation"), in which Dembski contrasts a theistic understanding of causation
with "the naturalist's understanding of causation" (by "naturalist" he
surely means Dawkins and not Muir), p. 214, he later states, p. 226,
speaking of idolatry: "Idolatry turns the creation into the ultimate
reality. We've seen this before. It's called naturalism. No doubt
contemporary scientific naturalism is a lot more sophisticated than pagan
fertility cults, but the difference is superficial. Naturalism is idolatry
by another name."
Let me add that I am not unsympathetic to Dembski's Christology. There
are a number of things he says that I agree with; and a cosmic Christology
lies at the heart of my own creation theology. And I recognize his
application of a Pauline (Rom. 1) understanding of idolatry to "naturalism,"
though I reject his inclusive meaning of this key term that lies at the
heart of the debate within our own Christian circles: it muddies the
distinction between a Howard Van Till and a Richard Dawkins. The point I am
making is that if a theology of creation lies at the heart of ID (and I
think it does, despite the "bridge" argument that Dembski makes in this
book), then the latter lays itself open to the rhetorical charge of
deception if it's proponents fail (or refuse) to make this connection clear
and assert in the public arena that ID makes no claim about the nature of
the intelligent designer.
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