Re: Dembski on the backlash against ID

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Apr 22 2004 - 09:14:58 EDT

Loren Haarsma wrote:
> 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
> scenario.
> I'm a little worried about this part:
> > The lesson for us here is that when appealing to
> > the undecided middle, don’t 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 is being far too generous about this post. The tone of the whole thing is
snide & the disclosure considerably less than full. Picturing Johnson as the calm voice
of reason is a joke. & it's not hard to see that slipping in a reference to
_Perspecives on an Evolving Creation_ is a not-too-subtle way of trying to discredit a
resource that IDers no doubt find frustrating because it shows Evangelicals that there
are good scientific and theological reasons for accepting evolution without ID
reservations. (For full disclosure, I'm one of the authors.)

        There are ID supporters who could give a decent theological argument for their
position. But the main voices in the ID movement don't want to engage in serious
theological discussions with Christians who disagree with them. The strategy is
apparently to use their religious language in the company of those who will agree with
it without much reflection, but to pretend that they're just pursuing a scientific
research program in other settings. That strategy has long seemed to be the case &
Dembski's post confirms it. & it is less than honest.


George L. Murphy
Received on Thu Apr 22 09:20:37 2004

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