Re: [asa] Conversation with Timaeus, part one

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Wed Sep 24 2008 - 02:32:46 EDT

An excellent post Allan. It sums up all the problems in a very gentle way

  ----- Original Message -----
  Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 3:52 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Conversation with Timaeus, part one

  Like George, I hesitate to plunge into a discussion when I likely won't have time available to continue in any depth in the next couple of weeks. Nevertheless, since my comments have been brought up, I will say a few things.

  Timaeus objected to this characterization I made of the ID movement:
  I don't mind if ID people say "this is *possible* and we are looking for evidence" or even if they claim to have found such evidence (although I mind when the claimed evidence is flimsy as is the usual case). What I DO mind very much is the attitude that seems to dominate the ID movement (there are probably exceptions) which makes such scientific detection of God a theological *necessity* on which the truth of theism depends.

  First, note that I did allow for exceptions. Timaeus is apparently an exception, and I think Mike Gene is another. May their tribe increase! But, as other people on this thread have already noted, the thoughtful pursuit of ID concepts that takes place in some corners of the Internet is almost invisible, especially within the church, when compared to the propaganda machine that is the "ID movement", by which I mean the Discovery Institute and its allies. And here are a few thoughts in defense of my characterization of the "ID movement":

  1) We have Phil Johnson's famous statement that "fingerprints all over the evidence" are required in order for God to be meaningfully "real". From about 1990-2005, Johnson was the most influential person in the ID movement, especially with regard to its influence in the church. I think it is pretty clear, and not just from that statement, that my characterization applies to Johnson.

  2) As David O. has already pointed out, "on the ground", in the churches, 99% of the time ID is presented as "Christianity isn't false after all because Phil Johnson and Mike Behe are showing that evolution isn't true after all." [that is approximately what my Senior Pastor said in a sermon about 10 years ago]. The assumption is that biological evolution (common descent) is inimical to Christian faith, and that ID is saving theism from something that could otherwise destroy it. And those in the ID movement do little if anything to correct that assumption.

  3) In years past on this list, we have had leaders from the ID movement visit. On separate occasions, I asked some of them a question approximately corresponding to my characterization above, giving them an opportunity to disavow the implication that the truth of theism depended on them being right about ID. I asked if they could agree to the following statement (where in context "evolution" referred to the science [common descent, etc.] and not to any philosophical extrapolations):
  "While I believe the evidence does not support the theory of evolution, and while it has been abused as a tool by those pushing an atheist agenda, the Christian faith does not suffer if it turns out that evolution is true. God can create however He chooses, and is not diminished if His work in creation was through 'natural' processes."
  Phil Johnson would not agree. Same with Paul Nelson. Bill Dembski said he could not if the natural processes "give no empirical evidence of design", which seems to confirm my characterization of making scientific detection of design a theological necessity.

  4) The characterization by Johnson, O'Leary, and others of we Christians who believe that God created through evolutionary processes with labels like "dupes" and "accomodationists" is at least consistent with my characterization of the movement.

  These observations also get to why many of us seem to have hostility toward "ID". We are reacting to *the ID movement*. We see how it promotes bad theology in our churches. We see how it seeks to harm public education. We see its role in the "culture wars". We see how, by giving the impression that Christianity means rejecting established science like common descent (even the name of the UcD blog implies that!), it harms the witness of the gospel to the scientifically literate. We see ourselves characterized (on places like UcD) as dupes or worse (not that being insulted is a good reason to have hostility, but we are human). We see a movement that is happy to hold hands with the YEC movement, but that treats Christians like Francis Collins as traitors.

  It is that sort of "baggage" that hinders the more reasonable ID voices from getting more of a hearing. I'm not saying that is right, but I think it is true. It might help if the "reasonable" voices would repudiate, or at least distance themselves from, things like Expelled, the Discovery Institute, and the culture-war propagandists.

  Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado |
  "Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
  attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cat"

  Looking for simple solutions to your real-life financial challenges? Check out WalletPop for the latest news and information, tips and calculators.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Sep 24 02:33:26 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Sep 24 2008 - 02:33:26 EDT