Re: Guilt by association

From: Howard J. Van Till (hvantill@chartermi.net)
Date: Mon May 12 2003 - 08:40:44 EDT

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    Re the relationship of YEC (Young-Earth Creationism) and ID (Intelligent
    Design):

    No, they are not identical; nor is one necessarily guilty by association
    with the other. Neither do I do see anyone on this list arguing for either
    of these propositions.

    What can be seen at times, however, is the ID movement's desire to present
    itself in such a way as to encourage the YEC community to support its
    efforts to influence the way in which evolution is taught in the public
    school system. Something like, "Your enemy is my enemy, so let's be allies."

    But that approach has a cost. For instance, it appears to lead many IDers to
    minimize references to the empirical evidence for many things that the YEC
    position rejects: the antiquity of the universe and the Earth, the failure
    of a global flood as an explanation for Earth's geological features, the
    temporal succession of life forms, to name just a few examples. I believe
    this was one of Michael's valid points.

    As I see it, the ID position as presented by its most visible leaders
    (Johnson, Behe, Dembski) is an OEC (Old-Earth Creationism) perspective, but
    with some different choices in their strategies of presentation.

    1) One representative difference: Traditional OEC has been open and candid
    in stating its connection to the biblical creation narratives -- the
    episodic nature of form-conferring divine action is taken to be normative,
    but the duration of the episode groups ("days") is open to scientific input.
    ID, on the other hand, tends to suppress explicit reference to the biblical
    text, apparently to strengthen its claim as science-driven and not
    religiously-motivated.

    2) One representative similarity: ID, OEC, and YEC place a similar
    emphasis on the claim that there is a need for occasional episodes of
    form-conferring divine intervention in order to compensate for the
    universe's lack of formational capabilities. (On the difference side again:
    ID chooses to focus on biological forms and their molecular configurations;
    OEC and YEC have traditionally been more comprehensive in the range of forms
    they consider to have been actualized by divine intervention.)

    Some time ago (I don't have the reference handy) Bill Dembski posted an
    essay on Metanexus to respond to a number of criticisms. One section was
    titled "Cards on the table" and dealt with the matter of the relationship of
    ID and episodic creationism. Here is what I wrote in response:

    > 1. Cards on the Table
    >
    > Bill, I'm glad to see this heading for a portion of your concerns (I have
    > requested something like this many times), but I am somewhat puzzled at its
    > contents. Your response to the question, "Am I a creationist?" seems to be,
    > "No, I am not a young-earth creationist."
    >
    > You are, of course, justified in denying any necessary connection between
    > the ID movement and the young-earth version of creationism, but my concern
    > has always been the larger question, "Is your vision of ID rooted in an
    > 'episodic creationist' concept of divine creative action?" Here 'episodic
    > creationism' is any portrait of the Creation's formational history
    > (regardless of its timeframe) that includes, as essential elements,
    > occasional episodes of form-imposing divine intervention as the only
    > adequate means of actualizing at least some species or biotic subsystems.
    > Denying your acceptance of the young-earth version alone does little to
    > answer the full question.

    Bill had an ideal opportunity here either to dissociate himself from
    episodic creationism generally or to be candid about his position as very
    similar to OEC. He chose, however, to be very ambiguous. As I noted above,
    in answer to the question, "Are you a creationist?" he responded with the
    equivalent of, "No, I am not an Young-Earth Creationist."

    Howard Van Till



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