Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Tue Nov 10 2009 - 14:00:46 EST


We seem (as we often do) to be mostly on the same page--now that you've seen my point more clearly and also clarified yours (esp where you agree that "proof" is somewhat elusive in this context). I agree with you, incidentally, that the kind of arguments that Polkinghorne offers qualify as intelligent design arguments. Gingerich, in "God's Universe," calls them id with lower case letters, as vs ID with capitals; and Gingerich endorses them. (Remember, Gingerich is perhaps best known on many campuses as that Harvard astronomer who answers YES to the question, "Dare A Scientist Believe in Design?")

You know Denton better than I do, and if (as you say) Denton shows how "the character of organic life itself" may relate more closely to "the character of the physical world," I take your word for it. It makes sense. As you've said often, however, the "front loading" that (I assume) provides the connection between these two worlds, for Denton, is not exactly the first shoe to drop when ID is being explained and advocated. It is rather the gross inadequacy of "Darwinian" evolution that is so often stressed. In the context of the larger picture, I probably understand that point better than most who would hear it. However, as I have very often said, when I asked a large group of ID advocates and supporters whether ID was really about just objections to a purely stochastic view of origins, or whether it was also about common descent, I got a tempest instead of a teapot. For so many, it seems, "Darwinian" evolution also means descent with modification, pure and simple. Tha!
 t's what Phil Johnson fights against implicitly in "Darwin on Trial," that's what Jon Wells is dead set against in "Icons of Evolution," and that's what Steve Meyer opposes as well. (I leave out the highly negative comments that Dembski and others have made about "theistic evolution," where the noun is as problematic as the verb. A big problem with modern theology, ID advocates will say, is that it's all based on an uncritical acceptance of evolution.)

All of the writings I just referred to, Cameron, seem to me intended to create in readers--especially in readers who are not themselves experts in the relevant aspects of science--the overwhelming impression that the age-old creationist distinction between "microevolution" and "marcoevolution" has real validity, and that the evidence for the latter is entirely lacking while evidence against it is powerful. Am I wrong about this, Cameron, or have I fairly interpreted these authors?

When these ideas get popularized even further, it gets even worse. For example, take the very popular apologist Lee Strobel. If you google "lee strobel evolution," looking for videos, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Evangelicals are getting from multiple sources precisely the same old message that they've always wanted to hear: the scientific evidence simply doesn't support macroevolution. As I say, they get this not just from Strobel but from ID leaders as well.

Strobel and Demsbki and Meyer and Wells and Johnson: they are ID with capital letters. Those mentioned earlier in this post are id with small letters. It's a bigger difference than just the size of the type.


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Received on Tue Nov 10 14:01:48 2009

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