[asa] On ID, TE, and culture wars

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 09:23:50 EDT

I don't share George's low view of ID myself. Despite the politics of the
movement, which I detest (and which definitely prevent me from identifying
too closely with ID), I find several ID ideas interesting and worth talking
about. I lean theologically more toward George than toward most IDs (that
is, what I know about the "unofficial" theology of most IDs), but not
entirely in that direction, and I don't think that God is obliged entirely
to "hide" himself in the creation. At the same time, I share Polkinghorne's
view that "The world is not full of items stamped 'made by God' -- the
creator is more subtle than that -- but there are two locations where
general hints of the divine presence might be expected to be seen most
clearly." One of those is cosmic history, the other our own conciousness.
As P likes to say, when the astronomer peers into her telescope, she needs
to remember that the most complex object in the universe is six inches
behind the eyepiece.

The biggest problem with ID, as I see it, is the inability to separate ID
from the politics of the "culture wars." It isn't hard to find leading ID
advocates linking these inseparably. (I won't back that up here, but it's a
piece of cake to do so.) So, for those who find the ideas themselves
interesting and worth considering, but who reject the cultural warfare that
the ideas are explicitly said to be linked to, what are we to do?

Furthermore, what are we to make of ourselves, those of us who believe that
an inference to purpose/design in the universe is larger than science alone,
that it depends also on metaphysics/theology? I know quite a few Christians
in the sciences who believe that one can in fact make design inferences from
nature, but not independently of theodicy and prior conceptions of who the
designer actually is? Are we ID adocates, or not? I find the general
thrust of ID persuasive myself--the universe and its parts really are too
complex in specified ways to have been the product of "blind chance," as
Christians and others have called it for centuries. But, I also hesitate to
claim "proof" of this from the mere absence of presently known specific
mechanisms that could have produced such complex objects.

So--does this make me an adherent of ID? To the best of my knowledge, no,
b/c of my belief about the importance of metaphysics and theology in drawing
design inferences. On the other hand, what of my sympathies toward the
larger picture and my support for a modest natural theology? Does this make
me an ID or just the kind of TE that IDs seem not to appreciate?

The bottom line, for me, is that I believe what I believe, without regard
to the categories we sometimes quite artificially impose on people and their
ideas/beliefs. IMO, the culture wars seem to require "proofs" to support a
particular agenda and to oppose the equally shrill claims of Dawkins and
company. In culture wars, those who sit in the middle of the road tend to
end up as roadkill. I suggest that drivers are often responsible for what
they hit, particularly if it doesn't just jump in front of you around the
next bend in the road. A little more delicacy in navigation might leave
some more of the truth alive.


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Received on Fri May 4 09:24:19 2007

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