Re: [asa] ID/TE rapprochement (was: Re: What my tiny little brain was thinking... )

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sat Nov 14 2009 - 09:52:49 EST

Regarding your last paragraph, Ted, let me respond (not to you in
particular, but to the group at large) that I've never asked anyone here to
join the "cultural space" of ID. I've never said that being open to ID
requires regularly reading the postings at UD (I don't do that myself),
endorsing all stands taken on all issues by the Discovery Institute (I don't
do that, either), donating money to the Discovery Institute (I never have),
listening to broadcasts by Ken Ham (I never would), reading books by Henry
Morris and Duane Gish (I haven't looked at them in years, and never liked
them when I did), or agreeing with all the particular religious or
scientific views uttered by various ID proponents (who could, when they
often disagree with each other?). I've asked only that people remain open
to arguments for design in living nature.

It's also important to recognize ID arguments as potential counterblasts to
the argument (from Dawkins and Co.) that it has been "proved" that there is
no design in nature. Even if ID can never establish design in nature with
certainty, the very fact that a credible argument can be mounted for design
and against Dawkins's anti-design leaves the truth of anti-design in doubt.
That then frees up the public mind from an unnecessary burden. Those who
are contemplating the adoption of a revealed religion may be hesitant
because they think that "science" has proved that there is no design, and
the prestige that science has in our culture is considerable. If it becomes
clear to them that some scientists think that nature does display design,
then, regarding the scientific question as unresolved, they are free to
consider revealed religion on its own merits, unhampered by false "proofs".
So even if we take ID's value at a minimum, as raising serious doubts about
claims of non-design, it's still a positive thing. And if we take ID as
more successful than that, if we take ID as having come up with a strong
positive case for design, that's an even more positive thing from a
religious point of view (except for those who insist that true religion must
rest entirely on faith). So there is no reason that TE people should find
ID as such (lower case id if you will) something to be opposed. In itself,
stripped of all cultural baggage, ID/id can do no harm to TE, and might
provide a useful set of ancillary arguments. No TE has to avail himself or
herself of those arguments, but there is nothing in the minimalist
definition of TE that rules them out.

I believe that George Murphy once said here that he counts Behe as a TE. In
a sense, George is right. If we take TE in a minimalist sense, Behe is a
TE. But Behe's not a TE if TE requires a whole load of theological and
methodological baggage (God would never create evil, God's designs are in
principle undetectable, God would never have intervened in the laws of
nature to produce life or species, etc.). And in practice being a TE often
does seem to require such theological and methodological baggage, which is
why Behe refuses the label. He is quite willing to assert both
macroevolution and God, but does not want to live in the "cultural space"
that TE insists upon. The difficulty of cultural space works both ways.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 8:12 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/TE rapprochement (was: Re: What my tiny little brain
was thinking... )

I like Cameron's effort to define intellectual spaces with sufficient
precision that the area of overlap between ID and TE becomes easier to
identify. It's crucial in this context that the area include
"macroevolution" or common descent, and he has that in there. I have often
attached the term "antievolutionism" to ID, though I've always insisted that
it isn't "creationism" pure and simple and I still insist on that. I
believe the term "antievolutionism" is fair to attach to most forms of ID
that dot the landscape; most ID advocates do deny "macroevolution," and
that's the sense in which it's fair to call it "antievolutionism."

As for those who do accept "macroevolution," but who also insist that one
can draw design inferences from nature (whether they are considered
"scientific" or "philosophical"), sometimes this has been called "id" rather
than "ID," if not always in a consistent and clear manner. Cameron's
descriptions/definitions might help with this.

At UD, apparently, one draws considerable flack for endorsing
"macroevolution" and one gets booted (as I did) if one believes that design
inferences are philosophical rather than scientific in character. But, I
fit into the ID box as Cameron defines it. And, I think he fits into the TE
box as he defines it, though obviously I could be assuming too much.

The cultural spaces, however, are largely non-intersecting, and problems
might still remain here--esp problems with getting folks to self-identify
with the ID box, given that it also includes very large numbers of people
who think that large parts of mainstream science are illegitimate. At the
same time, the relatively few ID supporters who embrace macroevolution may
be very reluctant to self-identify with TE, given the presence of large
numbers of folks with non-Christian/non-Jewish views in that box. As I say,
this is the cultural aspect, and it's quite real and influential. "Culture
wars" rhetoric, which I try very hard not to engage in, colors this issue
substantially. Politics (in the ordinary partisan sense) is also a big
piece of this, since it's a big piece of culture wars. This is the
minefield, and it's enormous.


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Received on Sat Nov 14 09:54:05 2009

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