Re: [asa] ID question?

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Oct 16 2009 - 07:14:44 EDT

George - There is a valid point in what you say, though I don't think you've hit it quite in the centre. And there are other factors that are involved as well. My main point was that TE and/or EC is just as unsatisfactory in terms of drawing proper limitations around the meaning of 'evolution' as is ID. So for those who would defend TE and attack IDists for their lack of doing so it is somewhat hypocritical. You write: "ID is a social & political movement & TE isn't."   I won't ask you to define what you mean by 'social & political movement' because it is widely accepted that there is a 'movement' involved with 'intelligent design' that is called the intelligent design movement (IDM). As you may recall, I dedicated a large section in my 2004 master's thesis to this 'phenomenon' of the IDM.   What you suggest, however, betrays the fact that TEs themselves are socially and politically active. Or aren't they? The argument is framed this way in sociology of science: 'knowledge and information always come from somewhere. science doesn't exist in a vacuum.' Of course you know this and agree with this, but the implications of it don't seem to be involved in 'the way you speak about science' as it is inevitably a social, cultural, political and economic activity. Moorad is the farthest away from understanding such influences on knowledge (he dwindles it into the term 'subjective') by hyping the term 'pure science.' Pure science of course does have its legitimate place, which I am not knocking, however, it is often blown out of proportion to fields such as communication studies, which contribute far more to bettering humanity than biology, chemistry or physics sometimes do.   Yes, CTNS (one of the few that calls a spade a spade by including the adjective 'natural' before the term 'sciences') and Zygon Centre deal with other matters as well, but then again, so does the Discovery Institute (e.g. Cascadia Project). The fact that the DI includes issues such as governance, transportation and human rights, etc. rather than focussing 'strictly' on 'science' is partly why the IDM is indeed a movement.   For those that complain about the 'movement' aspect of the IDM and note 'the science is lacking' or 'the science is behind the cultural movement,' there is often an implicit uplifting of 'science - meaning 'pure science.' This is when they must be careful in flirting with the same 'scientism' that is on dislpay by New Atheists, e.g. those who are referenced in a parallel thread. It almost seems as if TEs are a bit jealous of the public recognition that ID has received, so they fault it as 'weak science.' Mike Gene has been saying on this list that 'design' (i.e. Made by Mind) has helped him to see new things in biology that are 'real.' Mike has taken an active involvement in discussing teleology among many other things by starting a blog, writing a book, etc.    What are TEs doing other than defending the status quo of 'God uses evolution' here at ASA? This is said to provoke, of course, not to insult. But when I hear Douglas Axe looking in depth at the language of the cell, at the BioLogos (while he employs 'design' language instead), and about other IDists talking about 'information' and 'pattern recognition' - this sounds like 'contemporary' language to me (speaking as a non-natural scientist, involved in the Academy). TE doesn't seem to speak this language as effectively as does ID.   And isn't it precisely a weakness of TE that it's proponents are less active in American society than the IDM? Isn't this part of the reason for IDs successes in the American culture, i.e. both that it fits 'reasonably' with a common sense interpretation of scripture (for the Abrahamic traditions) and that it is being promoted by 'scientists' who were awarded that title from some of the top universities in the USA? Steven Meyer's PhD in HPS is from Cambridge. He is not a 'culture warrior' but is genuinely interested in having an intellectual conversation. Maybe TE could do more to promote themselves by closing the gap with ID, as Cameron Wybrow has so excellently been arguing for here on this list in recent months. But I think to do this someone will have to move forward with a view of 'science, religion and culture' that involves such figures as Teilhard, Dobzhansky, Whitehead, even someone like Lynn Margulis, who is a successful contemporary
 post-Darwinian biologist, in order to get beyond the entrenched views in your country. It is quite obvious that many people there have still not healed from the wounds suffered in the 20th century by pitting 'evolution' against 'creation.'    The IDM offers a way forward by funding decorated scientists who are not, by a vast majority, 'creationists', to promote a view of 'science, religion and culture' that is on the cutting edge of biological thought. Aren't information and 'molecular machines' and taking an engineering approach to biological structures on the cutting edge? I disagree with the triumphalism of Dembski, as do most of you, but this does not take away from the reasonableness of Stephen Meyer to offer a liberating view of 'science and the natural world' that offers hope for those persons who would wish maintain their religious roots amidst a rapidly changing scientific landscape. I don't think that following Lamoureux will help to do this is it means chucking a literal first human that we call 'Adam' because it is too radically against the culture (even if it is biologically sound).    Darwin has indeed been superseded in many ways, even if his 'big idea' remains intact; this is the year both to celebrate him, and then to move past him. What is TE doing to move the conversation forward other than to provide a buffer for biology to become biologism via the concept of 'universal evolutionism'? How does TE limit the meaning of 'evolution'? - This is the main question for me in this thread. Sincerely, Gregory   ________________________________ From: George Murphy <> To: Gregory Arago <>; David Campbell <>; asa <> Sent: Fri, October 16, 2009 12:23:53 AM Subject: Re: [asa] ID question? Gregory -   There's a problem with the way you compare ID & TE.  Of course both can be considered as intellectual positions & compared & contrasted as such.  But there's also the important fact that in the real world (& especially the real USA) ID is a social & political movement & TE isn't.  While there are organizations such as CTNS & the Zygon Center where some version of TE is generally held as the approach to evolution, those organizations deal with other science-religion matters as well.      Shalom George ----- Original Message ----- >From: Gregory Arago >To: David Campbell ; asa >Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 3:31 PM >Subject: Re: [asa] ID question? > > >Hi David C., > >I agree with much of what you say here. Having been more than once in the den of ID headquarters (unlike a mere ID attacker such as Rich Blinne or John Walley, the latter who speaks about ID finances without accurate knowledge), there certainly are unclear and unresolved issues within the 'big tent.' It may seem to 'outsiders' that they (the DI/IDM) should make themselves clearer, but to 'insiders' that they should remain vague and bet on future successes 'in science.' I am re-assured that neither Mike Gene nor Cameron Wybrow are 'ID-big tent' people, yet they sympathise with the broader project of 'design' or 'made by mind' (MbM) and probably see the issue more clearly than most 'in' the IDM! > >The same can be said, however, of the 'muddle' that is known as 'theistic evolution' (TE). Both positions - ID and TE - do *not* make a clear distinction about where, when and how they limit the 'idea/concept/grammar/paradigm' of 'evolution.' If you contend that TE does make clear the limitations of 'evolutionary theories,' David, I would be particularly interested to hear about it from you. There are far too many amateur philosophers of science speaking as if 'evolution' is almost a GUT! > >For example, when asked for examples of 'things that don't evolve (into being or having become),' most TEs/ECs have a tough time answering. Pretty much the only thing they can come up with is 'supernatural' and even then I recall the view that 'God changes' given here as an example of 'evolution.' So, to be fair to the failure of ID advocates, such as Behe or Wells, to distinguish amongst *themselves*, there is equally, if not more of a failure amongst TEs and/or ECs to distinguish amongst *yourselves.* > >Too many of the accommodationist TEs haven't a clue about Teilhard or Dobzhansky or Whitehead or 'process philosophy' to make TE a clearly delineated position. (Of course, for those who would be offended by this, yes, undoubtedly some have read these three authors, but certainly don't speak about them very often at all, here on ASA list) > >As an outsider to the national-science implications, the court cases, local educational issues in America, it doesn't seem to me like either *side* within the greater national Christian or Abrahamic-religious community in America has a clearly defined position. You are all in a muddle!!! : ) Of course, these issues almost always have higher levels of discussion that can be invoked, so simply asking Behe to 'emphasize differences' with Wells or Johnson seems rather unimportant on the larger scale. > >Gregory __________________________________________________________________ The new Internet Explorer® 8 - Faster, safer, easier. Optimized for Yahoo! Get it Now for Free! at

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Received on Fri Oct 16 07:15:09 2009

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