[asa] RE: Public questions for Denyse O'Leary

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Thu Dec 21 2006 - 16:35:41 EST

>>> "Denyse O'Leary" <oleary@sympatico.ca> 12/21/06 3:23 PM >>>writes:
So, Denyse, let me ask you directly to respond to two questions. (1)
exactly would you regard as an appropriate response to Dawkins and
a response sufficient to have you admit that we do not ignore the claims
scientific materialism?

[From Denyse: How about making it a front and centre issue for 2007 to
the point where you are louder than Dembski on the subject?


From Ted:
Francis Collins on the cover of Time magazine, debating Richard Dawkins:
This is not "front and centre" enough for you? I don't recall seeing Bill
Dembski's name on the cover of Time, but I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm
mistaken. Try again, Denyse. Oh--sorry--you did spell out 2007, didn't
you? Two stories about Collins in 2006 don't count, do they?

What about Owen Gingerich's new book, "God's Universe?" His defense of
teleology/purpose *and* his explicit statement of an Incarnational theology
of creation, in lectures given to perhaps the most religiously hostile
faculty (Harvard) one could identify--this isn't "front and centre" enough
for you? Oh, yes, it's that 2007 thing again, isn't it? Why do I have the
strong impression that if something like this comes out next June, then
you'll be saying the same unsupportable things about the ASA again next

You know, Denyse, perhaps these aren't "front and centre" enough for you,
only b/c you don't choose to make them "front and centre" yourself. Let me
quote what I (an ASA member) wrote in a very "front and centre" publication:
the magazine I regard as the finest science magazine in the world, "American
Scientist." I concluded my article on science & religion the 1920s
(May-June 2005, once again not 2007) by calling attention to a stark
contrast between then and now. "The spectrum of religious responses to
evolution is broader today than in the 1920s," I wrote, thinking (frankly)
of ID as part of the mix--alongside Collins and Dawkins. I also alluded
implictly (explicitly in the longer version that had to be cut to fit the
space) to Polkinghorne and others holding "more complex positions that are
consequently more difficult to explain to the general public." Then, as
part of the solution to the contemporary situation of opposition between
science and faith, I called upon "scientists to articulate their views to
non-specialists" and for "science journalists to write about the subtle
intermediate positions as well as the vociferous positions on either end."
Well, Denyse, when Collins does the former, you do precisely what you blame
us in the ASA for doing to Dembski (see below). As you know, I urged you to
be more discerning in your book about the subtle intermediate positions, and
you failed to take my advice. So, I am not suprised that you continue to
exhibit a similar lack of discernment now.

Let me be as clear as I can about this, Denyse. You know full well that
many science journalists accept the "warfare" thesis in its most virulent
form. You don't, obviously, and I commend you for that. But you *do*
accept the softer form of the "warfare" thesis that was originally promoted
by White and Draper in the late 19th century. So do the genuine religious
liberals--the ones like Peacocke, Haught, and Barbour who believe with
White, Draper, and O'Leary that modern science (ie, evolution) and orthodox
Christian theism (ie, the Apostles and Nicene creeds and a God who is both
transcendent and immanent) are genuinely incompatible, that one of them must
be rejected if the other one is to be affirmed. This is precisely what I am
referring to, as a lack of discernment on your part. If you can't tell a
Peacocke from a Polkinghorne, if you can't recognize the ASA's obvious
opposition to Dawkins and company, then you are only part of the problem,
not part of the solution.


[From Denyse: ASA - as an organization - interests me because it
functions like an Iron Curtain political church. It is - apparently
intentionally, at some level - not where the action is. The youtube and
godless movie thing is being used by Darwinists to promote atheism. Most
ASA members are very fond of Darwinism and do not think Darwinism
requires atheism. Shucks, I would expect to see ASA rush into something
like this with both feet ...

But I don't, do I? Dembski and his myrmidons, they do it. And ASA
members, of course, criticize him and them.


Ted responds:
Yes, ASA members criticize each other's ideas all the time. (I remind
Denyse that Bill Dembski is an ASA member himself, and that he routinely
criticizes ideas held by other ASA members.) That's why we exist: we are a
Forum to talk about such issues, and to help people think Christianly about

An Iron Curtain political church? I'll just leave that out one out there
and let people draw their own conclusions about your discernment and

As for your claim, "Most ASA members are very fond of Darwinism and do not
think Darwinism requires atheism," I very much doubt this is true. But I
can't evaulate it until I first know what "Darwinism" is, in your mind. If
you are using the term as Charles Hodge used it in 1874 ("What is
Darwinism?"), then I can't name any ASA members who believe in "Darwinism."
Hodge excluded from his definition (for example) Asa Gray, and he'd
undoubtedly exclude Francis Collins as well--not to mention Ken Miller (who
is not an ASA member, but was a keynote speaker along with Mike Behe a dozen
years ago).


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Received on Thu, 21 Dec 2006 16:35:41 -0500

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