Re: [asa] Invitation to conversation with Timaeus

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Mon Sep 22 2008 - 14:57:11 EDT

  Thank you very much for laying the groundwork carefully and honestly. This
can be a fruitful dialog. I look forward to it.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 2:24 PM
Subject: [asa] Invitation to conversation with Timaeus

> For several weeks this summer, insofar as time allowed (time is never
> generous enough), I was involved in some serious conversation about ID,
> TE,
> and related matters on UcD. For at least two very good reasons, I believe
> that this list is a better place for those conversations. There are
> numerous contributors here who are satisfied with a TE perspective of one
> type or another, whereas on UcD such individuals are thin on the ground.
> In
> addition, serious discussion of theological issues is not the norm on UcD,
> whereas it is routine here. Indeed, one of the most interesting threads
> on
> UcD was abruptly shut down by an administrator, apparently b/c its content
> was deemed too theological for that venue. One of the main bloggers on
> that
> thread and others was a person using a pseudonym borrowed from Plato:
> Timaeus.
> There are many legitimate reasons why someone might want to wear a mask,
> when advocating an ID perspective on a public board. In the case of
> Timaeus, I believe that the reasons are honorable and quite
> understandable.
> I will not delineate those reasons too clearly; suffice it to say that, if
> you were in Timaeus' shoes, you also might want to hide your face while
> voicing your views. Like it or not, the climate is such that persons who
> advocate too strongly for ID can quickly become pariahs in their own
> professional communities, even to the extent that their academic freedom
> is
> threatened and/or their reputation is unfairly damaged.
> I now know Timaeus' identity, the result of a private and voluntary act of
> self-disclosure. I will say only that Timaeus is a very serious scholar
> who
> has published very impressive work. I had suspected this prior to our
> contact, and this should not surprise anyone familiar with Timaeus' posts
> on
> UcD. I am glad that Timaeus contacted me, b/c I had already invited
> bloggers on UcD to join the ASA list, in order to facilitate serious
> conversations about ID and TE--the kinds of conversations that IMO do not
> ordinarily happen either on UcD or on the ASA list, conversations in which
> advocates of various positions are able to advance their views in an
> atmosphere of mutual respect and honest disagreement.
> Let me explain to my fellow ASA members and our guests here on the ASA
> list, what I am hoping will take place on this thread in coming days.
> First, I hope that Timaeus' arguments and opinions will be taken
> seriously,
> as coming from a responsible person who sincerely wishes to have a
> fruitful
> and lively conversation with other persons of good will. Timaeus enjoys a
> little swordplay, and so do many here. However, neither Timaeus nor I
> will
> engage in personal attacks or mean-spirited belittling of others. I very
> much hope that all of my friends here will hold to a similar standard.
> Let's prove to the internet world that we are indeed capable of engaging
> in
> serious talk about this very contentious issue, without throwing rotten
> eggs
> at those whose views are opposed to our own. Historically, the ASA has
> always been about exactly this: serious conversation about issues related
> to
> science and faith that have been contentious in the larger culture. It is
> we, more than any other American organization, that has made this happen.
> I
> am as aware as anyone else here, of the various charges that have been
> leveled at people on various sides of this debate. I say, let us debate
> the
> issues vigorously, but let us leave aside the spurious charges.
> Second, I hope that we will all learn much from exchanging views with
> Timaeus. IMO, very few people in the ID camp are as qualified as Timaeus
> to
> address the fundamental issues that lie at the heart of the larger
> conversation about science, religion, philosophy, and origins.
> Furthermore,
> Timaeus shares my distaste for the "culture wars," which seem always to
> intrude on this conversation in unhelpful ways. This is a rare
> combination,
> and I urge my friends to take advantage of this opportunity for
> wide-ranging, respectful conversation about very important matters.
> Third, Timaeus has much to learn from us. Prior to our contact, Timaeus
> had not read some of the most important proponents of a TE perspective.
> Such persons don't normally get discussed on UcD, but they are sometimes
> discussed here. As I've tried to explain to people on UcD, TE cannot be
> adequately understood apart from a larger theological framework, within
> which evolution appears as only one of many other aspects of nature that
> need to be understood in relation to God. Some here have many years of
> experience in thinking theologically about the whole of nature, and I
> believe that Timaeus can benefit from interacting with us. And, if
> Timaeus
> benefits in this way, I have reason to hope that some others in the ID
> camp
> will benefit in turn from what Timaeus learns from us.
> Fourth, I hope that anyone who responds to Timaeus--either to agree, to
> disagree, or to look for a third way--will respond substantively and to
> the
> point. Here, as elsewhere, it is common for people simply to toss out a
> clever sentence in response to a deep thought expressed carefully at some
> length. It is also common to go off onto irrelevant tangents. I hope
> that
> my invitation to converse with Timaeus will be seen as exactly that: as an
> invitation for conversation, not a solicitation for trivial or irrelevant
> comments. Perhaps in some cases only a very brief reply is sufficient to
> make a fair point, but in most cases it will probably be best not to say
> anything at all if one is not prepared to argue at some length and in
> detail. The issues, our members, and Timaeus all deserve serious
> conversation. Now that we have an opportunity for it, let's take full
> advantage of it! I am asking folks to meet Timaeus on Timaeus' own level;
> I'm sure that Timaeus will return the favor.
> I could go on, but there's already enough here to justify trying an
> experiment--and that's really what this thread will be. Given Timaeus'
> need
> to remain anonymous, I suggested that I might function as a second,
> passing
> Timaeus' thoughts to the list. Perhaps at some point the mask will come
> off, but I will not be the one who removes it. Later today I will place
> Timaeus' opening statement on the list. It won't be short, and it won't
> be
> shallow. But it will be lively, respectful, and very interesting. Please
> do join the conversation, please try to stay on topic, and--above
> all--please treat Timaeus in our backyard as you would want to be treated
> in
> Timaeus' backyard: in other words, don't forget that we are Christians.
> Too
> often, in my experience, all too many Christians do.
> Ted
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Received on Mon Sep 22 14:57:48 2008

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