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

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Thu Apr 30 2009 - 15:21:11 EDT

Hi Ted,
As is often the case, we need to clarify our terms otherwise we'll just talk past each other with nothing gained. And I'm sure you agree with me that neither of us intends to talk just for the sake of exhailing fresh or hot air. We'd like to come to understand one another and then move forward.
I used the terms 'Darwinism as ideology.' Specifically, I wrote asking ASAers to "criticise 'Darwinism' as an 'ideology' and *NOT* as a science." This was a clear sentence, with nothing fancy to misinterpret. You replied, however, defending ASA's approach to 'evolutionism.'
Then you linked to three (3) articles, Ted, which supposedly support your view that ASAers do criticise 'Darwinism as ideology' (my language). Yet not one of those articles, in their author's words, contain the term 'Darwinism.' So you're actually not meeting the clear request that I was making. This is just what I suspected and proves the point. Ferngren's article contains the term 'anti-Darwinism,' as said by C.S. Lewis. But this is far from ASA members "criticising Darwinism as an ideology." So I guess I can stand by this claim, at least for now.

It may be sad (even seemingly fatalistic, though it is meant as realistic) to hear it, Ted, but I just don't think that an American thinker *can* pull you out of the hole you've fallen into and become entrenched in wrt evolution, creation and now ID. Darwin has defeated your particularly American-style of science (this is evident in just how many people doubt 'science' because of Darwin's supposed 'ideology') and shown how science is not as 'universal' as was previously assumed. You might need to look outside of America to discover views that are not limited to the particular prism that illuminates you.
You write: "our members have always (for decades) opposed efforts to conflate evolutionary science into 'ideology'."
What I doubt, and it may be just through my participation on this list and thus not representative of ASA's members, is that many natural scientist members in the ASA have much of an idea of what 'ideology' is. That is, they haven't read Comte de Tracy, they haven't read Marx or Engels (e.g. ideology = false consciousness), they haven't read the logical positivists, they haven't read Karl Mannheim, they haven't read Michel Foucault; in other words, they are almost completely unfamiliar with what it could mean that an ideology differs from a science. Likewise, they tend to spurn philosophy and 'scientism' is a curious - don't touch it or talk about it - creature to them!
Personally, after already having studied 'ideology' at university and then several years later participating in a conference on 'Science, Ideology and Religion' in Russia, I can say that there are many things to discover and to understand about the similarities and differences between these three types of knowledges. ('knowledges' - Donna Haraway - you folks know about her, right?)
Thus, when I say 'Darwinism as ideology' I do not by some chance happen to mean 'evolutionism as ideology.' No, I mean the words that I wrote: 'Darwinism as ideology.' It is high time that many on this list buck up and differentiate between Darwin's ideology and his science because there seems to be a stubborn lack of discernment happening here. The IDists in America are facing this head-on (e.g. John West), while TEists and ECists seem to mainly equivocate.
As I said, I think this is due to the close links that TEists and ECists associate with 'evolution' and their theologies. Thus, they erroneously think (even subconsciously) that if they are criticising Darwin, they are also criticising their own theological perspective. I reiterate the view that this need not be the case at all. And some folks on the list have acknowledged it too!
Now, if you feel this is all just a simple matter of equivocation and confusion of terms and that when I write 'Darwinism' I really mean the same thing as you when you write 'evolutionism' then all I can do is shake my head. In other parts of the world where the discussion is not so 'sophisticated' as it is in America it is actually much easier to talk straight and to just say what you mean and find common ground. I've spoken on this topic in Spain, Holland, India and Russia and they are all 'advanced' in understanding this, likely or at least partly because they are not all contorted and convoluted with sophistic jargon.
The inclusion of the term 'intelligent design', which means something different to Michael Behe, Bill Dembski, Mike Gene, Michael Denton and Cameron Wybrow, into 'the discourse of science, philosophy and religion' is sometimes helpful and at other times harmful. What one simply cannot deny is that ID has ignited debate, discussion and energy into an area of the academy that was not nearly as hot before it entered. Neither TE nor EC has generated anywhere near the interest that ID has generated in the last 20plus years. And as Ted well knows, ID is *not* a 'proof of God' in its core formulation in the IDM.
I'm curious, when would you say the heyday of TE or EC was (or is still to come) on your timescale, Ted?
Polkinghorne is wonderful and a superb role model for many, especially for those who would counter the 'warfare' model initiated in the USA. I have him and Peacocke side by side on my bookshelf here in Spb. Just as Kuhn is now being moved beyond in terms of his physics and history into sociology of science, however, I suspect that Polkinghorne's contribution will also be superceded when more than just 'natural science and religion' is involved, that is, by becoming more holistic. Physics (was), biology (is), communication and cognitive studies (will be)... 
That said, I have great respect and admiration for Polkinghorne. Comparing Boyle to Polkinghorne pays the latter a great compliment, Ted. Though it would seem that Boyle's contribution differs considerably from Polkinghorne's in terms of 'applied science' or 'pure science' than 'public understanding of science.' I'd be pleased to hear more from Ted about this, though it isn't time for me to engage this theme much further.  

--- On Wed, 4/29/09, Ted Davis <> wrote:

From: Ted Davis <>
Subject: Re: [asa] restatement on ID as a "proof" of God (defense of Behe)
To:, "Schwarzwald" <>,
Received: Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 7:00 PM

>>> Gregory Arago <> 4/29/2009 10:00 AM
>>> says:
Hi Ted,
Now if only TEists and ECists would pull up their boots (have some courage)
and criticise 'Darwinism' as an 'ideology' and *NOT* as a
science, then we'd have some progress, wouldn't we Ted? I've even been responded to by
people on this list equating 'Darwinism' with 'evolutionary biology.'
They see no difference - this is completely absurd! With such a perspective,
'Darwinism' (as ideology) simply cannot ever be criticised by TEists or ECists.


Ted responds:

To borrow my words from a few days ago, Gregory, in a different
conversation we had: where have you been these past many years? I have no
idea why you could think this.

Obviously you don't know the first thing about the ASA (I am specific here
about who we are historically, b/c we own this site), for example. If there
is anything at all that characterizes ASA thinking on this issue
historically, it is that our members have always (for decades) opposed
efforts to conflate evolutionary science into "ideology." The
evidence for this is ubiquitous in our own journal, which can be search on our web site.
Please spend a few hours there reading or skimming numerous articles and you
will see why I am so puzzled by your claim.

To repeat: ASA members, including many who have held a TE or EC position,
have *always* criticized the ideology of what we have often called
"evolutionism," --long before (incidentally) Michael Ruse used that
word in
a similar way in his book, "The Evolution-Creation Struggle." (I
sense that
Ruse is unaware of previous uses referred to here.) When that term has been
used (a prominent example by former PSCF editor Richard Bube is at, it can refer to a
variety of specific things, but in general it has meant the unwarranted
extrapolation of the science of evolution into a religious or
quasi-religious worldview of naturalism.

Another splendid example is Conrad Hyers' wonderful article, "Dinosaur
Religion," in which he uses that term to label the kind
"ideology" you are
probably thinking of in your statement. Have a look and let me know,
please, whether or not I understand what you are referring to by

Also see for a
very interesting account of C.S. Lewis' response to science as ideology.

If you don't agree, Gregory, that Hyers is talking about
"ideology" with
his term "dinosaur religion," then I have no idea what you mean by
the word
"ideology" and you'll have to spell it out for me by giving some
examples of what it looks like. This is all I plan to say about this, until
you've become more familiar with what ASA members have said about this.


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Received on Thu Apr 30 15:21:41 2009

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