RE: [asa] ID question?

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 13:49:33 EDT

>>> "Dehler, Bernie" <> 10/15/2009 11:39 AM >>> writes these things, with my comments (clearly indicated) interspersed:

Hi Bill- you apparently see the ID debate as "guided vs. unguided evolution" but I see it as "evolution vs. special creation." ('Special creation' being creation by fiat.)

TED: Bernie, There are definitely some ID advocates, perhaps many or even most, who see ID as a type of old earth creationism. Those who emphasize the "Cambrian explosion," for example, sound to me a great deal like 19th-century natural historians who read the history of life on earth in terms of great discontinuities, connected only by explicit or implicit acts of special creation. And, Bill Demsbki's newest book ("The End of Christianity") explicitly places him squarely in this classic OEC category -- it isn't an ID book (as he says), but an OEC book; I would be surprised if his commitment to an OEC view hasn't influenced his commitment to an ID view. At the same time, Bernie, b/c ID is (as described by IDists) a "big tent" when it comes to biblical issues, there are at least some ID advocates who do not implicitly or explicitly endorse "special creation" -- at least after the universe has been brought into existence by special creation. Denton is certainly in this cat!
 egory; Behe might be (if we grant a second act of special creation, for cells); and Conway Morris is, though he would never identify himself as an ID advocate (for the very understandable reason that he doesn't want anyone to think he denies evolution). For thinkers in this category, Bernie, ID comes down to guided vs unguided evolution. So, it depends on whom you ask.

TED: At this point, one might be tempted to ask, Why isn't this clearer to everyone? Why isn't ID clearly defined as directed evolution, with the details of the guidance left open? I asked almost exactly this question to a large group of ID people several years ago: is ID objecting to common descent, or only to unguided evolution? The answers made it clear to me that the "big tent" was understood to allow both; they also made clear to me that most adherents of ID -- at least most who responded to me -- had major objections to common descent as well as unguided evolution. This experience is one of the reasons (there are others) why I tell people that ID is, for many of its proponents, a veiled form of OEC. (I have suggested this in print, and I still think it's a fair and accurate statement, despite efforts by some to persuade me that ID is simply about opposition to unguided evolution. There's really more to it that than, for a large number of ID adherents.)


This is what I think I'm starting to see in the current origin's debate culture: Because evolution has been proven by pseudogenes, people want to shift the argument from "did evolution happen" to now "is evolution guided." I think this is the current crisis for OEC's. But I think OEC's reject evolution, so if they want to now accept it, even as 'God-guided,' they still have to leave the camp and come over to TE. The OEC camp will always be there, and it is only for those who reject evolution, guided or not.

TED: I agree with you, Bernie: the genetic evidence, esp that coming out of the human genome project, is creating something of a crisis for some in the OEC camp. I also agree with your implicit definition of the OEC/TE division. Referencing my comments above, I add that for many (most?) ID proponents, the genetic evidence is equally capable of producing second thoughts. Their way out of this seems to be to keep pushing the possibility, however remote, that pseudogenes of the kind you have pointed to (vitamin C being a prominent example) really do have functions that will someday be discovered. It is not IMO unscientific to take that strategy, but it does seem more than a bit ad hoc. Copernicus, for example, realized that heliocentrism required the universe to be at least 1000 times bigger in radius than previously thought, since stellar parallax could not be detected in his day. He took the ad hoc response to the observational problem. Most of his contemporaries did t!
 he obvious thing: they continued to deny the motion of the earth, and thus the absence of visible parallax was to be expected. The ID proponents in this case are compared with Copernicus -- except that we now know Copernicus was right, and we certainly do not know that the ID proponents are right. They are betting on future knowledge turning out in their favor. By contrast, in their criticisms of Darwinian evolution, they are betting on future knowledge *not* turning out in favor of Darwinian mechanisms that are presently unknown.


I think some OEC's are attempting to make a switch from "evolution is false" to "evolution is maybe God-guided" and appeal to Intelligent Design to save face (like a ploy to straddle the fence of accepting both modern science and simultaneously rejecting/accepting evolution).

TED: Well, Bernie, I wouldn't be surprised if this were happening, but I can't cite any specific examples of it myself. Can you? (This is meant as a genuine question, not a rhetorical one. I'd like to see the specifics, if you can show them to me.)

Behe is a perfect example of this muddle, by apparently rejecting evolution (in some aspects) and accepting it for human common descent. Therefore, Behe is neither for or against evolution. Creationists generally like to separate evolution into micro and macro. When Behe says he accepts common descent for humans, that is macro evolution. So here we have Behe accepting micro/macro evolution yet still against evolution for other things. I guess he needs to define another category of evolution, so he can accept micro and macro, but reject this third thing/part of evolution.

TED: Cameron has already responded well to this one, IMO. I don't think that Behe is "muddled" about this. In general, Bernie, a lot of this conversation hinges on definitions of "evolution." I've always tried to keep it simple: evolution means common descent, including humans, whether guided or not; TE means that God used evolution (i.e., common descent) to create living things, including us. By these definitions, which IMO are more consistent with the whole conversation about origins since the 19th century than most other definitions I have been shown, there is the possibility of someone being both ID and TE. The fact that a lot more people would be both ID and OEC does not negate this. But, it does mean that ID will often be seen as a type of anti-evolutionism, for good reasons.




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Received on Thu Oct 15 13:49:56 2009

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