Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Apr 24 2009 - 14:51:27 EDT

Hi Ted,

I've all along known that I'm pushing the envelope in terms of ideas; for better or worse this can't be helped, it is who I am. But hopefully you'll always know and feel that I'm treating you in a respectful way in our conversations. My intentions are genuine and I'm glad that you've made it a point to keep me in line with your recommendations.
As you now know, since I've made it clear, I believe the philosophical assumption of MN is greatly damaging to the unity of the Academy. We were discussing this before in another thread and partially here too. You've disagreed with this - you say "we could not disagree more" - but as of yet have offered no rebuttal to it. I've said MN is dehumanising, which I think at some point you'll need to face, if not now, then perhaps in another thread soon.
To reiterate, I am not defending "ID as a scientific alternative to evolution." I am not an advocate of ID as a 'science' though I do think it has some merits and a legitimate place at the dialogue table. However, I am not attached to the politics of the movement at all and find it rather confusing and difficult to understand.
All of the ID leadership I know, have met and/or spoken with have no problem with common descent, with the exception of Paul Nelson. But there are a few who remain neutral or who won't express their opinion about it, which is their perogative. You claim they need to speak about natural history in order to offer a scientific alternative to evolution, while I claim they don't need to because they are not trying to offer an alternative to evolution, at least, not in the way that you imagine it. So here we are now at presenting the facts.
I presented the fact of "Explore Evolution," a book which promotes the teaching of evolution, to which you gave no response. It would seem that promoting the teaching of evolution would fly in the face of offering an alternative to evolution, but then again, some people do speak in two directions at the same time.
You then provided three quotations that make it appear that ID *is* presented as 'an alternative to evolution,' one quote by Luskin even says this directly.
How can I then respond to this by saying that ID is not posed as 'an alternative to evolution'?
1) Casey Luskin and John West both accept evolutionary theory, but not 'neo-Darwinian evolution.' They both think Darwin's ideas are limited and not universal. So, perhaps we can meet each other half way here, hey Ted? There are voices in the IDM who do speak about 'an alternative to evolution' but this is mainly the creationist branch (or camp) that is stuck with the polarizing language of 'creation vs. evolution' from the 20th century. Now they polarize 'ID and evolution.' The leaders of the IDM accept a 'limited' evolutionary theory across the board; Charles Thaxton is certainly not an anti-evolutionist!
2) An 'alternative to Darwin's theory' is not the same as an 'alternative to evolution.' Surely we don't need to discuss the fact that Darwin offers only one of many theories about 'evolution,' and that his theory is not exclusive or authoritive. Darwin simply did make errors (Denton is one who speaks of this and the link I added to American Biology Teacher - most famous for Dobzhansky's quote, ' light of evolution' - is another, there are more as well) and much has been done since Darwin's time; this is widely and openly accepted.
3) I've mentioned here before that I was also, like you Ted, tossed out on my 'ear' from UD, way back near its beginning for asking them to distinguish between human-made things and non-human-made things. So we surely do have some things in common here Ted. I'm not easily stereotyped as an ID-person like you would find in the US. So please let that also disarm you and go to show that there is indeed common ground still, and plenty of it between us.
Please excuse if my words do sharpen up sometimes, especially on e-writings, where things are posed as in the way of a duel or argument. It may be partly due to my distance from 'the action,' though I've been in the main arena myself. I have also seen ID presented as 'fact' in Russia, but it is without exception done through protestant evangelical missionary groups who operate here. I even objected to the showing of Kent Hovind on a Russian acquaintance's website, to which the response was 'if it brings people to Christ, it can't be a bad thing.' So there is an apologetic dimension obviously to ID as well. This disturbs me as much as it does when I see Mormons proselytize on buses by offering 'English lessons' when we all know there is more to it involved that just communication skills. 
In any case, I'm willing to leave it at this also, Ted, and let us get back to other things. Hopefully this has created a sense of shared space rather than antagonistic disagreement. Though of course, differences still remain and can hopefully be celebrated by us both for that.

--- On Fri, 4/24/09, Gregory Arago <> wrote:

From: Gregory Arago <>
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design
To: "Ted Davis" <>, "Cameron Wybrow" <>
Received: Friday, April 24, 2009, 3:03 AM

Hi Ted,
I guess its lucky for me that I'm still under the posting limit for today as it allows me a response to your post.
Let me first repeat what I wrote: "MN causes great damage (which MNists don't like to admit, but which doesn't make it untrue) to the potential unity of the Academy by conveniently forgetting all of humanity 'in the process'."

I stick by this and await any challenge you have to it. Your own post demonstrates that you 'hide humanity in nature' rather than facing the diversity of the Academy for what it is, i.e. failing to include language that is used in areas outside of your own that directly involve human beings. MNists are wrong to pigeon hole humanity and a result (even if unintended) of their philosophical assumption is indeed dehumanisation, pure and simple.
Ted writes: "IMO it is absolutely not a 'shoddy philosophical assumption' that MN does not collapse into metaphysical naturalism."
What is the content of this statement other than that 'methods' are not the same thing as 'metaphysics'? Of course one is not the other and thus the phrase 'does not collapse into' is meaningless. The shoddy philosophical assumption of MN is that it can define 'what science is' in a general sense when it quite obviously can't. There is simply more to 'science' than MN.
"Science as actually practiced is about the natural world" - Ted
Actually, no it isn't. You study the history, Ted, I study the philosophy. You are incorrect, even as you repeat yourself, as is Dick Fisher and many more here at ASA.
Many scientific practitioners are not studying *only* 'natural' things; there are other 'non-natural' things (with positive names) that have simply escaped your perception. Can you accept this?
But if you were right about your claim, then the name of this association should be changed to ANSA - American Natural Scientific Affiliation - because you would be dealing here *only* with natural sciences. Be gone any sciences other than natural ones. This again confirms my point about MN as a philosophical assumption contributing to dehumanisation.
Do you see the argument I'm making, in the light of PoS from the recent decades, Ted? One simply cannot maintain that 'science is about the natural world,' that is, *only about the natural world* any longer! Science can be 'about' and involve more than just the natural world. But what you and Keith and Dick and Dave S. and others need to face is that 'non-natural' does *not* necessarily equate with 'supernatural.' Only by accepting this will you be free and ready to confront what I am saying instead of avoiding it. This is the voice of a new generation of scientists and scholars and it is the same voice that appeals to those many young people who are attracted to the IDM and its challenge to Darwinian evolution; please get us out of your naturalistic-physicalistic mess.
Ted continues:
"yet one more reason why ID will never become an alternative theory to evolution."
ID is *not* 'trying' to become "an alternative theory to evolution." This has been repeated so many times that it is astonishing that you would suggest this again. The IDM is confronting the deficiencies of Darwinian evolution, a particular type of evolution. But you'll find that most IDists accept evolution to one degree or another, just as Pope John Paul II did and as Pope Benedict XVI does. There is no discrepancy here as you suggest; it is your theology wrapped up in evolution that is more at stake than the biological theories of evolution that are now a solid part of the scientific canon.
In fact, Meyer's philosophical appeal to the validity of historical sciences is a proper foil for your argument below.
"ID will not provide an alternative version *of the same thing*" - Ted
When I cut and paste, the phrase above sounds correct. ID is *not* aiming for more of 'the same thing.' This is where people who are defending 'normal science' or 'the status quo' have nothing to argue with but their resistence to change. These people are not among the small number who actually create and construct and build new ideas, theories and paradigms in science.
To be clear, I'm not saying that ID *is* scientific in all ways. But to assume that ID should simply be 'evolution II,' a rerun of outdated ideas, is entirely a misplaced expectation about what the IDM is trying to achieve.
The IDM also, as I have noted several times at ASA, has not successfully faced the differences between human-made things and non-human-made things. This is holding them back from expanding the territory of their argument against neo-Darwinism. Science will indeed someday move beyond Darwin's paradigm (otherwise, it would be something other than science) and when it does there will be an opportunity for those who protected the status quo and such (not even wrong!) ideas as MN to adopt a new point of view. One might hope that possibilities are already in the air that would help old ideas take on the new wineskins that are prepared for them.
MN is a shoddy philosophical assumption that is more divisive than it is unifying. It is a great dehumaniser, which has already been taken up in earnest by those that are opposed to theology and religion, according to their worldviews. In the words of someone with sharper spears than mine against the philosophical assumption, MN is “the most paranoid appeal to a scientific consensus to defend against an impending Dark Age.” (2008)
Design is entirely obvious when the topic of conversation is human-made things. The analogy to 'intelligence' overlaps with 'origins,' 'meaning,' 'purpose' and 'morality' and thus strikes a significant note against the materialism, physicalism and naturalism that has roosted in the henhouse of science for many years. One can believe in miracles and interventions, while at the same time doing 'good science' in the service of humanity. Without remembering humanity, however, just as the MN ideology inherently promotes through its 'natural only' language, everything that the defenders of science are striving for is without meaning.

--- On Thu, 4/23/09, Ted Davis <> wrote:

From: Ted Davis <>
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design
To: "David Clounch" <>, "Cameron Wybrow" <>,
Received: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 8:20 PM

As for this part, Gregory, we could not disagree more -- though it was you
who brought Steve Meyer's name into this, and I have no quarrel here with
The MN-squad opposes Johnson's views about naturalism with its own unsaid
'wedge' strategy, that is, with the argument that "methodological
does not equate with metaphysical naturalism". MN does not = MN. This is a
shoddy philosophical assumption, much more naive than what Stephen Meyer is
offering about how many great historical scientists thought and worked
'doing science' consistently with the idea of 'intelligent
design'. And MN
causes great damage (which MNists don't like to admit, but which
make it untrue) to the potential unity of the Academy by conveniently
forgetting all of humanity 'in the process.'


Gregory, IMO it is absolutely not a "shoddy philosophical assumption"
MN does not collapse into metaphysical naturalism. If anything here is
shoddy, Gregory, it would be the opposite assumption. Science as actually
practiced is about the natural world; if it's really about more than that,
Gregory, then it follows that what Dawkins and Dennett claim about the
meaning of science is a viable candidate for inclusion among the established
conclusions of science. If you believe all that, of course, then the best
response to Dawkins is to deny his *science,* not the unwarranted extensions
of his science into a religious credo. An alternative strategy is to accept
MN in the here and now, for how nature works in our laboratories, but to
assume that the fossils and the galaxies and the solar system itself are
exceptions, since they can't be put into our laboratories and studied in
same was as we can study hydrogen molecules or DNA. That's the strategy
that the YECs use to keep Galileo (with his principle that the Bible is not
an authority on science) out of the garden of Eden: stress the enormous
difference (as they see it) between "operations science" and
science." Cameron Wybrow apparently likes this distinction as well, and I
found implicit endorsements of it over at UD when I spent some time there.
If that distinction is as crucial to ID, as I suspect it may be, then that
would be yet one more reason why ID will never become an alternative theory
to evolution. When mainstream science embraces the historical sciences and
provides a convincing, testable narrative of the history of the universe and
life, and when ID will not provide an alternative version *of the same
thing*, including what came before what, then IMO there is no chance for ID
to be seen as more convincing. At least the YECs do provide an alternative
narrative of the history of the universe and life--it's wrong, but it
recognizes implicitly that you can't just ignore that part of science.

I'm past my four posts now and I will say no more today.


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Received on Fri Apr 24 14:52:00 2009

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