[asa] Francis Beckwith on Dembski and Baylor

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Sep 10 2008 - 13:23:22 EDT

The current issue of the Journal of Law & Religion (the preeminent specialty
legal journal in this field) contains a book review of Ronald Numbers' "The
Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design." The book
is a new edition of Numbers' classic "The Creationists," which now includes
chapters on the ID movement. The book review is particularly interesting
because it is written by Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University,
who was President of the Evangelical Theological Society before converting
to Roman Catholicism.

Beckwith gently criticizes Numbers' account of William Dembski's "Polanyi
Center" at Baylor as being too soft on Dembski. According to Beckwith,
Baylor was prepared to keep the center open but to remove Polanyi from the
name. Beckwith says Dembski then issued a press release stating that
"Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met
their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong
in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression."
Beckwith concludes that

"[i]nstead of offering an olive branch and conciliatory tone at the moment
of vicotry, Dembski angered many faculty members and embarrassed his
benefactors and supporters at Baylor. Nevertheless, the administration gave
Dembski a chance to extricate himself from his imprudent epistle. He was
asked to offer a public apology. He refused. It was a that point that the
university dismissed Demski as MPC director. In short, Dembski snatched
defeat out of the jaws of victory." (JLR Vol. XXIII, p. 738).

This is quite interesting coming from a figure such as Beckwith, and is
particularly interesting to me as further context for how the movement has
developed. Is there more of a history between Beckwith and Dembski than is
evident here?

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Wed Sep 10 13:23:38 2008

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