Re: [asa] restatement on ID as a "proof" of God (defense of Behe)

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Tue Apr 28 2009 - 12:33:08 EDT


I asked you in my previous post what your beef really is (with the TE/QM
view), and now perhaps it is coming out more clearly. I mean this part of
what you just wrote to John Walley:

7. The politics of the matter makes it clear who the threat is. For 14
years now (at least until this last year, when Coyne started his
the neo-Darwinist atheists have focused entirely on the ID people, more or

less letting the TE people alone. Why have they done that, if Behe
"empowers" Coyne? Why must irreducible complexity, specified complexity,
probabilistic arguments, etc., be angrily shouted down, condemned as
unscientific, challenged in courts, etc.? Because those arguments, if
valid, would destroy Coyne's and Dawkins's and Myers's position, indeed
their life work and their scientific prestige, not to mention their access

to generous state funding. Collins and Miller say *nothing* threatening to

Coyne and Co. on the level of science, and Coyne and Co. (up until
*couldn't have cared less* what Collins and Miller thought about religion,

as long as they kept it out of their professional discussions, which they
were quite willing to do. So the TEs have got a free ride from the
neo-Darwinists, up till recently. Coyne and Orr and Scott and so on have
tolerated TE faith condescendingly, as a personal eccentricity which does
harm, because the TEs have vociferously backed neo-Darwinism. TE has thus

empowered the atheist Darwinists, not regarding their atheism, but
their dogmatic neo-Darwinism. And from my point of view, since I believe
that Darwinism in any form is at best nowhere near proved, and at worst one

of the biggest errors or lies in the history of ideas, TE has empowered
is very likely a falsehood.

8. One thing that is not often noted by TEs is that TE appeals mainly to
people who are already Christian. The benefit of ID arguments is that they

have an appeal for all kinds of agnostics, secular humanists, etc. who are

not Christian, but are still open in principle to the possibility of the
existence of God. Among this audience, I would argue, the ID approach is
far more likely to be an effective way of challenging Coyne, Dawkins, etc.

than the TE approach. After reading Behe etc., many a secular person comes

away thinking: "How could I ever have swallowed the Sagan-Dawkins story
that all this biological complexity came about by chance?" It is no
accident that Behe, Dembski, etc. have attracted a strong following among
unchurched but intelligent bloggers and writers with backgrounds in
science, math, physics, engineering, life sciences, medical sciences, law,

philosophy, etc. who have no religious background. The overt piety of
Collins or Miller or Lamoureux would turn many such people off and cause
them to remain in the atheist neo-Darwinian camp.

9. I actually welcome Coyne's latest writing -- and by the way, the very
brief discussion here of his recent blog post was far from adequate --
because it forces everyone to deal with the underlying metaphysics of
neo-Darwinism. The tacit agreement to stick only to the "science" of
evolution and not to talk about religion, which has been the modus vivendi

between TE and atheist neo-Darwinism, is coming to an end. I urge everyone

to read that blog post much more carefully, and to compare it with the
historically significant expositions of neo-Darwinism -- Gaylord Simpson,
Dawkins, Gould, Sagan, Mayr, etc. Coyne knows what neo-Darwinism is about,

and he knows that it is not nearly so easy to separate the science of
neo-Darwinism from the metaphysics of it as many here would like to


Am I correct, then, Cameron, to think that your real objection to the TE/QM
view (which Behe and Dembski seem not to find objectionable) is the politics
of the ID debate? Are you meaning to suggest implicitly or otherwise, that
TEs flock to the QM view of divine action just to duck unwanted missiles?
Is that why Collins (whom you bring into this) went toe-to-toe with Dawkins
in Time magazine? Is that why Polkinghorne debated Weinberg at the
Smithsonian? Is that why Gingerich has affirmed his belief in design all
over the country, for 30 years? Is that why I have offered -- on Coyne's
own blog (though I have not seen it come through moderation) to debate Coyne
on his own ground, in Chicago? And why I defended teaching about some
aspects of ID before a very hostile crowd of biologists and philosophers at
the U of Washington, shortly after the Dover trial? Is that why Russell
directly challenged Sagan's condescending view of religion at a scientific
board meeting several years ago, and why Russell has spent his whole career
in a non-funded position at a seminary instead of teaching physics at a
major university? Are we all just looking for a free ride?

This is pretty close, Cameron, to what you said earlier about how many ID
proponents classify TEs as invertebrates. It's inaccurate (in most cases,
including those listed above), unfair, and unwarranted. Behe and Dembski
aren't the only Christian scientists with guts, but it does seem that they
are the only ones who get credit for it. I join with you, Cameron, in
praising Mike Behe for his courage, whether or not I agree with all of his
views; I call on you do to likewise with those whose views you do not
entirely accept.


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Received on Tue Apr 28 12:34:01 2009

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