Re: ASA and the History and Philosophy of Science

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Thu Nov 03 2005 - 11:46:35 EST

>>> Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca> 11/03/05 4:13 AM >>>writes a lot;
I cite just this:
So I wonder then whether folks at ASA are (or would be) willing to accept
the contribution ID can make to science and philosophy, especially as it is
often predominantly anti-evolutionary in the conceptualization of IC =
unevolvable? Or is there an alternative approach that can be embraced by
spiritual scientists at the ASA that does not rely on a repatriation of
Paleyan theory allied together with information theory, probability studies
and the specificationalism of one W. Dembski, the interdisciplinarian? These
are questions that make me curious about the scientific, philosophical and
theological climate in the particularly American debate about evolution,
creation and ID, which is being highlighted in this show trial.

***

I'm about to leave to attend the HSS meeting in Minneapolis and I will not
respond further for at least several days. My strong impression is this:

A significant percentage (I do not have a good sense of how large
"significant" actually is, but my sense is that it must be at least 35-50%)
of ASA members are sympathetic to ID. This particular list does not reflect
that. Several prominent IDs are members of the ASA --Dembski, Meyer,
Thaxton, Bradley, Snoke would be some of them. In addition, at the grass
roots level I think a lot of ASAers agree at least partly with some ID
claims. I am one of them myself, if we include the claim that the universe
itself has abundant evidence of having been designed to provide a home for
complex, carbon-based living things; I also think that Dembski's efforts to
spell out how design can be inferred empirically are very interesting and
legitimate, if not necessary fully convincing at this point in time.

Some in the ASA leadership (ie, members of council, for which I find myself
now a candidate) in recent years have been sympathetic to ID, but I think
most council members have not been very sympathetic to ID. Partly there
could be the following dynamic here: if someone like Dembski or Meyer (say)
were to be elected to the council and then in due course to become president
for a year, it might appear to many on the outside who do not know us well
that the ASA has then become an arm of TDI. In the political climate that
drives this issue on most levels, that conclusion would be wrong but
difficult to refute--and thus regrettable, since it is never good to apply
the wrong conclusions to organizations or individuals. Hence there may be a
greater reluctance than otherwise there might be, to have someone elected to
council who is publicly linked with the ID movement. Nevertheless, some
recent council members are very sympathetic to ID, a statement I base on
personal conversation with the people I have in mind.

The journal, of course, quite frequently prints articles by ID advocates,
most of them members.

I have often called for more open conversation between IDs and TEs (I am
assuming wrongly here that those two sets have no intersection), esp on
lists like this one. Cornelius Hunter has tried to engage some issues here,
but he (obviously) represents just one particular view within the ID camp
and can't be expected to spend all of his time responding to all of the
criticisms that are directed at ID. I know he has learned quite a bit from
this activity, esp from contacts he has pursued off board. It would be a
lot more interesting and helpful, IMO, if some of his friends from the IDM
joined him here--and if some on this list went elsewhere to talk to IDs, but
not all forums are open to everyone and that applies here.

Ted
Received on Thu Nov 3 11:49:21 2005

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