Dembski on the backlash against ID

From: Paul A. Nelson <>
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 17:38:24 EDT

Bill Dembski just posted a commentary raising
issues of relevance to this list. In particular, I
wonder if ASA list members might want to
comment on the following:

"I want to make one last point about attacks against
intelligent design that appeal to pathos. Normally,
when intelligent design is attacked, the attackers are
in positions of power and authority, and proponents
of intelligent design are the underdogs. That’Äôs not
always the case, however. The world of evangelical
Christianity, for instance, seems to prefer intelligent
design over theistic evolution. Theistic evolutionists,
therefore, feel increasingly beleaguered among
evangelical Christians. Thus, at a meeting of evangelical
scientists a few years back (the American Scientific
Affiliation meeting at Westmont, College in the summer
of 1997), an interesting reversal occurred. Phillip
Johnson had been speaking, and Keith Miller, a theistic
evolutionist (who recently edited Perspectives on an
Evolving Creation), challenged him during the
question-and-answer period. For several minutes,
Miller read from notes and, in bullet-point fashion,
listed the faults that he found in Johnson’Äôs program.
There was no way, in the allotted time, for Johnson to
respond adequately to Miller’Äôs many objections.
Thus, after Miller finished, Johnson simply remarked
that he and Miller saw things differently. At this, Miller
burst into tears and ran out of the auditorium."

"To Johnson’Äôs supporters, Miller’Äôs tears amounted to
a histrionic display not worthy of reasoned discourse
in an academic setting. Yet that misses the point -- the
appeal of tears is not to logos but to pathos. Moved by
his tears, several members in the audience rallied around
Miller to console him. Further, they cast Johnson as a
villain. The lesson for us here is that when appealing to
the undecided middle, don’Äôt allow our opponents to cast
themselves as underdogs or intelligent design proponents
as villains. I see a dynamic increasingly at work among
theistic evolutionists, whose science, let us always bear
in mind, is no different from that of a Richard Dawkins
or a Stephen Jay Gould. Accordingly, they cast themselves
as the kind face of religion, and they characterize intelligent
design as theologically naive and misguided. Theistic
evolutionists have now become marvelously adept at
rationalizing not only how their religious faith makes
sense in light of evolution but also how evolution enhances
their religious faith. Let’Äôs not play this game. The issue
for us is not how evolution relates to religious faith but
whether evolution, as currently understood by science,
is true. If, as we argue, it is not true, then exploring its
religious ramifications constitutes a vain exercise."

The complete article is here:

Paul A. Nelson
Discovery Institute
Received on Wed Apr 21 21:09:24 2004

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