Re: [asa] Conversation with Timaeus, part one

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Mon Sep 22 2008 - 16:01:57 EDT

Timaeus will be replying to comments and questions periodically and in bunches, not individually as they come up. Let me open the discussion myself, by replying to one of Timaeus' statements, as follows:

"I want to make it clear from the outset that ID is not opposed to evolution as such. It is in fact, in pure form, neutral on the question whether species are created by the direct action of an intelligent maker, or through a process of evolution. The science of ID, insofar as it can be accepted as science, can establish only the fact of design, not the causal history by which design was instantiated in nature. Thus ID has no reason for being dogmatically opposed to evolution as the “historical” means by which design found its way into living things."

Ted replies:

For several years, Timaeus, I was involved in a private conversation with perhaps 2000 supporters of or sympathizers with ID. I had gone into that conversation with the sense that ID is in fact neutral on the question of common descent--that ID simply opposes unjustified claims of the omnipotence of RM + NS to produce all of the diversity of living things. (NOTE: I will use RM = random mutations and NS = natural selection henceforth in this thread.)

However, several things I heard from many others in that conversation led me to wonder about the accuracy of this perception. At some point, I bluntly asked whether ID was as described above, and I also asked the related question of whether the common descent (CD) of humans and other organisms was considered to be good science by ID proponents. The resulting exchange was very interesting. Nearly everyone who spoke up--and many did not--expressed considerable doubt about common descent. My overall impression was that I seemed to be sitting (as it were) in the middle of Phillip Johnson's book, "Darwin on Trial." Someone who knows a lot of the science that supports CD tried to make the case for it, but mostly this seemed only to produce denials, and the lone defender of CD shortly dropped out of sight.

Now, this was some time before Mike Behe's most recent book was published, and also (I think) before Francis Collins' book. Both Behe and Collins believe that the evidence for CD is very strong. From where you sit, Timaeus, would I be likely to find a similar amount of scepticism about CD among ID proponents today? Is CD still a very hard sell? It certainly seems that way on UcD, but that is Bill Dembski's blog, and he has always been known for opposing CD. I do think that ID is widely seen as being a type of progressive creationism, despite its official stance of avoiding claims about both the Bible and CD, and I think the evidence for this is conclusion is more than just anecdotal.

If the level of opposition to CD is still quite high, then what specifically do ID proponents say to Mike Behe about this? How do they respond to the evidence that he and Collins accept, concerning the evidence for CD from genetics?

If on the other hand there has been a sea change, then can we expect more ID books like Behe's, in which CD is strongly supported?


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Received on Mon Sep 22 16:03:02 2008

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