Re: A case for Christianity that does use ID or YEC arguments

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2004 - 14:19:01 EST

Let me offer a "second opinion," relative to your friend using ID
arguments.

I think that the ID movement is making some valid points about modern
science, as follows.

(1) for many years now, scientists have been working hard at trying to
understand how biological complexity arises, and how life itself has
originated. they have made rather little progress on the latter (so i judge
from reading some sources that i regard as unbiased), and are also still
mainly in the dark about the former. it's fair IMO for ID advocates to
"call the question," that is, to claim that doubts about the ability of
Darwinism to explain this can fairly be articulated.

ID of course wants to go a lot further than this, to base faith
significantly on this point. I regard that as potentially dangerous and
certainly as questionable as their own questions about evolution.
Neverthless, I stand by the paragraph above.

(2) it's common for leading scientists to interpret science to the general
public in terms of atheism, that is, science supports a materialistic
interpretation of the universe in ultimate terms. Giberson & Yerxa call
this group the "Council of Despair," Howard Van Till calls them "preachers
of naturalism." I regard ID as a fair response to this group, esp on
cosmology but also (see above) to a lesser extent on overzealous claims
about the explanatory success of evolution. And, we should not forget that
the ID movement as such arose in just this polemical context: Phil Johnson
was directly responding to Richard Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker, which he read
while on sabbatical in the UK.

While I have serious reservations about Phil's equally overzealous claims
about living in the last generation of evolution, etc, I also think that an
apologetic response along the lines developed by Dembski and Meyer, etc, is
legimate as a response. In my opinion, all Christians *should* believe in a
God who created the universe purposefully. We don't all have to agree about
whether *science itself requires design inferences* (that's what the ID
movement claims at its core, and I am hesitant about that), but we shouldn't
be so quick to dismiss the effort to use what we actually do know about
nature and the science of nature we presently have, in order to respond to
overzealous claims based on "science" and used against Christian theism.

Having said these things, of course others on this list will offer their
own views, I suspect will mainly dissent from mine on this subject. I agree
with those who don't care too much for natural theology, but I would not
entirely dismiss its value in this context; certainly it has some biblical
basis (we disagree on that one, George, I'm sure you'll let us know that)
and it has not been entirely without value in helping Christians understand
that theism can be given a rational defense. Anyone famililar with John
Polkinghorne's little book, "Belief in God in an Age of Science," which I do
recommend to Doug's friend, will see my point, even if they don't accept
it.

So, Doug, I would perhaps help your friend (a) select the best of ID
writing (I think there is some) and (b) read more widely than this, such as
the Polkinghorne book and the really wonderful essay by Eugene Wigner on
"The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics," available on the web though
published 40 years ago. Wigner's elegant essay cries out for a theistic
interpretation.

Some sort of rational defense of the faith--some sort of natural theology
(forgive me, George, but I don't know another term for it, I'm open to
suggestions) -- is called for. ID can be part of this, if carefully
approached. But be sure to avoid the kind of "dancing on gravestones"
(triumphal expressions about the immanent demise of modern science) that
does mar a lot of that literature.

ted
Received on Fri Jan 30 14:19:58 2004

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