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

From: Denyse O'Leary <>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2004 - 15:18:59 EST

  Thanks for some thoughtful suggestions, Ted.

Here's a perspective from my work in the el-hi
textbook publishing industry, where we regularly
provide advice for unpacking our material:

To the extent that there is a controversy about
any issue, you either address it, or you risk
having the student suspect you are out of touch.

So it makes sense to introduce the student to
the range of views.

Also, make the student HELP you figure out the
strengths and weaknesses of each view. Don't act
like you know, even if you are pretty sure you
do. The important thing is that the student does
the mental work.

My experience is that many students learn far
more science from following controversies than
they do from simply learning an accepted view.
Our retention of relevant information spikes
upward when we must advance or defend a proposition.

To get the best value out of this last point,
students should be required to research some
things they think are not relevant and to argue
a case from both sides. Or at any rate, should
not always be given the choice of what topic to
research or which side to argue.

hope this helps,



Ted Davis wrote:
> 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

To see what's new in faith and science issues, 
go to
My next book, By Design or By Chance?: The 
Growing Controversy Over the
Origin of Life in the Universe  (Castle Quay 
Books, Oakville) will be
published Spring 2004.
To order, call Castle Quay, 1-800-265-6397,
fax 519-748-9835, or visit 
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Denyse O'Leary
14 Latimer Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5N 2L8
Tel: 416 485-2392/Fax: 416 485-9665
Received on Fri Jan 30 15:05:50 2004

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