RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Tue Feb 27 2007 - 10:04:27 EST

I really want to respond to Glenn, whose candor and ardor I have always

Like Keith and Bill, I don't do debates: they aren't helpful to most
people, who listen to them rooting for one side and missing the truth coming
from the other direction. As a Christian scholar, truth is my number one
concern, whether or not it agrees with my preconceived view. God is a lover
of truth, and if we forget that we forget God.

I did make an exception to this follwing the Dover trial, when I told a
local rabble-rousing preacher (whose name I will not provide here, but who
is well known to people in Dover even though he lives somewhere else) that I
would debate Kent Hovind on the big bang theory. (The debate did not take
place; I never heard back from him, although he knows Hovind and brought him
to Dover.) I meant that seriously. I have publicly called Hovind a
"snake-oil" salesman who can't be trusted to tell the truth, and now I can't
be sued b/c the courts have found reason to convict him for dishonesty.
That is one debate that I believe I could "win," at least in the sense that
I could show the audience precisely why it is stupid and inaccurate to see
the big bang as the devil's instrument, and that creationists who compare it
to creating an airliner out of an explosion in a junkyard (I would just sit
there waiting for him to say it, and pounce on it) are either deliberately
distorting the truth or just don't understand what they are talking about.

But Hovind isn't an atheist (even though his antics probably help create
some atheists), and that's what Glenn was talking about.

So, Glenn, let me tell you about my Christian vocation. It may be relevant
to your question--the same question that Denyse O'Leary constantly asks:
where are you ASA people, esp you TEs, when it comes to taking on the
atheists? Glenn, my view is that you and she both either fail to see what
we do, or else fail to acknowledge what you see. In her case, I have
already said on this list that it's the latter. I will let you answer for
yourself, if you wish to. When (TE and former ASA member) Howard Van Till
went after scientific atheism in his book, "Science Held Hostage," did that
count? When Francis Collins (TE and ASA member) debated Richard Dawkins in
Time magazine, did that count? When TE Robin Collins debates atheists (do a
google search for his name and atheism), does that count? When a book by
TEs actually gets some grudging respect on an atheist website that obviously
rejects our views
(, does that
count? When TE Alister McGrath debunks Dawkins, does that count? When TE
Ken Miller attacks his atheistic colleagues (see chap 6 in "Finding Darwin's
God," the chapter that is usually ignored by his ID critics to such a degree
that I wonder whether they even read the whole book), does that count? When
I dismissively review a book by a sophomoric sceptic in American Scientist
(, does that count? What actually
counts, Glenn? Please be specific about what you are not seeing, that you
need to see, before you admit that TEs do engage scientific atheists.

As for myself, Glenn, please understand this: my entire scholarly career
has been devoted to debunking the real lapdog of the atheists--not the TEs
(see above), but the "warfare" thesis of science and religion. The whole
cultural legacy of White, Draper, Huxley, and company, which takes two
modern forms. One form is the aggressive, anti-religious polemics of
Dawkins, Dennett, and the rest; the other is White's original, kindler,
gentler warfare thesis, which claims that science and CHristian theology
have never had and never will have a productive conversation. By showing
just how wrong White was, and is, my work is exactly what you are missing.
Almost everything I have ever written, in one way or another, works either
directly against the warfare view by debunking it, or else indirectly
against it by calling attention to the positive, constructive engagement of
science with Christian theology. But in every case, to the best of my
ability, simply by telling the truth, not by distorting it or inventing it
or denying it. The truth. Not polemics. For examples, see my webpage.

So, Glenn, do I engage in combatting atheism? I certainly hope so, and I
definitely believe so. What do you think, my friend?


concerning evolution. We are seen as part of the problem rather than a
fighter alongside them against the increasing secularization of the

By standing with our YEC brothers against the atheists, we can do several
things. If our arguments against atheism are better than the ones they
we earn their respect and the right to be heard on other issues. We also
will occasionally make the atheist think-not the primary goal of the
but an occasional nice piece of lagniappe (Go look it up. This is a word I
picked up in a foreign country I lived in called Louisiana).

We also can make it intellectually valid for people to resist the
secularization of society which is eroding church attendance, traditional
morality, and marriage. This is a phenomenon, I feel is largely due to the
perceived lack of reality to our world view. All we offer are myths,
poetry, allegory or false science. Hard to see why someone would reject
that offering!

When Burgy visited Houston in January, we had lunch and he told me his
story. (Burgy, you can correct this if it needs correction) One of the
things he said was that he took a class on christianity at a church and at
the end, they had a test. Burgy was the top student.(Burgy is smart) The
pastor asked him if he wanted to join the church. Burgy said "no" The
surprised pastor wanted to know why. Burgy explained that he had mastered
the material, but that it didn't have any 'reality' to it.

I used this as a launching point to try to counter the main criticism of
approach to the scripture. I am often accused of being a literalist. I am
not, but, if the account has no 'reality' to it, I am in the same boat as
Burgy was that day. Indeed, society is currently in that boat. The YECs
tell a bunch of falsehoods about science and expect everyone to become a
Christian. But the rest of us tell them that the Bible is really not real
history, and then we expect everyone to become christians in spite of that

Atheism and secularism are spreading. Fewer go to church because they
that there is nothing there except myths, poetry, allegory and/or false
science. I can't fight the myth issue, but if I can get the YECs to see
as a brother, they might listen to my arguments about the falsity of their

Thus, there are more reasons to argue with atheists than the linear
process would illuminate. We might get the YECs to pay attention to us;
might win an occasional atheist over and we might slow or reverse the
secularization of society. From the responses I have seen, few are willing
to do much against the atheists directly. Kudoes to those who are willing

The question of what do we stand for is one of immense importance. Last
year two Fox News journalists were kidnapped in Gaza. They were told to
convert or die. (unfortunately the video has been removed) They converted
Islam and it was big news in the Islamic world because it was proof that
westerners stood for nothing and were willing to give up their culture so
easily. Now, I don't know what I would do, and don't want to find out, but
if one doesn't stand for something, someone else will.

One thing I have learned in my life is that those who don't fight usually
lose. This is one of the things which began to bother me about the ASA and
why I have said it is a dying organization. We are insular and talking to
ourselves. Usually people who talk to themselves are called mad. I don't
want to spend my time talking to the converted anymore-time is too short;
too short indeed. (No doubt this will tick people off again, but not to

With this, I am off the list again. Thanks for the fish, and thanks for

They're Here: The Pathway Papers
Foundation, Fall, and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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Received on Tue Feb 27 10:05:30 2007

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