Re: [asa] Darwin's belief (was: Cameron- question of Adam)

From: Austerberry, Charles <>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 12:52:32 EDT

I appreciate Cameron's careful distinctions. I think Cameron correctly
identifies the essential core of ID theory, such that people can have
fruitful conversation about its potential usefulness and potential
problems, without being distracted by the many non-essential positions
that often accompany it. And several on this list have likewise
correctly identified the essential core of TE.

I appreciate Cameron's thoughts in the same way that I appreciate
Michael Behe's. Cameron explains the philosophy better than anyone else
I've read, and Michael explains the science better than anyone else I've
read. I strongly disagree with them both on important points, but I
appreciate and respect their work.

Cameron, what published work(s) of yours on ID might I be able to read
and publicly cite (beyond this list)? I apologize if you've already
provided the references and I missed them. I know you recently
recommended a new book by Meyer, but thus far I've not found his writing
as helpful as yours on this list.

Here's one aspect of the conversation that I'd like to pursue. On some
occasions Cameron has expressed the view that design in living things is
obvious, and that only misguided presuppositions prevent opponents of ID
theory from adopting the ID perspective. (I would disagree.)

But at other times Cameron sounds more like St. Thomas, arguing only
that some teleological arguments are completely viable alternatives to
ateological arguments, but not (in the absence of a theistic faith
perspective) clearly stronger or logically compelling. With that I would

I suspect that St. Thomas's "five ways" of arguing for the existence of
God continue to be viable, perhaps with minor modifications. I think
it's interesting that his fifth way (the design argument) invoked design
in non-living as well as living things, though he certainly emphasized
living things.

Here I see one contemporary distinction between ID and TE. Most ID
proponents seem to argue that recent discoveries in molecular and
cellular biology fundamentally elevate design of living things to a
qualitatively different plane than design of non-living things,
something St. Thomas or even Charles Darwin could not have imagined
given the limited science of their respective times.

TE proponents such as myself, as I see it, do not emphasize the
distinction between life and non-life as much, tend to argue for design
in creation that encompasses both, and are skeptical of ID claims that
design in living things must be qualitatively and fundamentally
different than design in non-living things.

Cameron and others, would you say my perceptions about that difference
between ID and TE are correct?

Another question I'd like to discuss at some point is, what kind of
changes in biology teaching would thoughtful ID proponents such as
Cameron want to see in high school and college classrooms? I've tried
to counter colleagues when I discover them teaching atheistic
metaphysics as if that were an inevitable conclusion of science. But
beyond that, I think Cameron would not be satisfied with my own teaching
since I take the same sort of approach that the Millers (Keith and
Kenneth), Francis Collins, Conway-Morris, etc. take towards teaching
evolution. Cameron seems to feel strongly that something is missing,
and that "Darwinism" must be strongly balanced if not countered. I'm not
asking for a rehash of what's already been posted recently, but I still
have a very fuzzy notion of what it would mean to teach ID theory in a
molecular or cellular biology science class with any kind of integrity.
Mike Gene has some interesting proposals on his The Design Matrix web
site, but for technical reasons that I cannot go into now, I think he is

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


Charles (Chuck) F. Austerberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Hixson-Lied Room 438
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
Phone: 402-280-2154
Fax: 402-280-5595
Nebraska Religious Coalition for Science Education

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Received on Fri Jun 26 12:53:29 2009

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