Re: Dembski on the backlash against ID

From: Loren Haarsma <>
Date: Thu Apr 22 2004 - 08:48:43 EDT

On Wed, 14 Apr 2004, Paul A. Nelson wrote:

> 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:

  As this is a piece written by an ID-advocate, for ID-advocates, I find a
lot that is commendable. It reminds readers of the distorting effects of
power on discussions. Those who are in power, whether due to position or
popular support or both, who don't like what their opponents are saying
but don't immediately have a reasoned response to their opponents, can
(and often do) use their power to shut down debate. It was good for
Dembski to remind other ID-advocates that ID can be on either side of that

  I'm a little worried about this part:

> The lesson for us here is that when appealing to
> the undecided middle, dont 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.

That language sounds rather snide in places. (Perhaps you could point
this out to Bill.)
   Do not forget that theistic evolutionists frequently have their
theology -- and their faith -- attacked. When a theistic evolutionists
hear their theology and their faith repeatedly attacked, of course they
are going to become "marvelously adept" and EXPLAINING (not
"rationalizing") how their religious faith and their scientific
understanding of evolution work together. And if theistic evolutionists
perceive flaws in some theological arguments put foward against evolution,
then of COURSE they will, and they should, argue against those flawed
theological arguments.

> Let's 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."

  I would be very happy if, in the public arena, the debate were
restricted the scientific validity of evolution and the scientific
validity of arguments put forward against evolution. It's probably
unrealistic to hope that will happen. But I'd like to see us at least
move in that direction. I'm happy to debate evoluion, and arguments put
forward against evolution, purely on their scientific merit.
  However, in the church, in gatherings of Christians and in books and
articles written for Christians, we should also engage in theological
discussion. There are good ways and bad ways to do this. I could name
you a few ID-advocates who are willing and capable of accurately
explaining and engaging the best theological arguments in favor of
theistic evolution; and I could name you a few theistic evolutionists who
are willing and capable of accurately explaining and engaging the best
theological arguments against evolution. This is how theological
discussions ought to happen. Unfortunately, most of the theological
"discussion" going on out there consists of building and destroying
straw-men versions of opponents. Oh, how I wish we could rein that in.

Loren Haarsma
Received on Thu Apr 22 08:50:28 2004

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