Re: [asa] Re: On the Barr-West exchange and ID/TE

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Mon Nov 16 2009 - 21:35:21 EST


I understand that you think the "big tent" should shrink. But I stand by my
reply, which demands the shrinking of another "big tent": A statement from
the NCSE and other "pro-science" groups that it is entirely possible that
evolution is guided, purposeful, and that the natural world is rife with
teleology - but that science, properly defined, cannot prove or disprove
these things. This would go a long way towards demonstrating that
evolutionary theory really is compatible with Christianity (certainly this
is a principle concern?), and that the groups which commit so much effort to
getting people to "believe in evolution" are not doing so with the goal of
harming their religious beliefs.

So, Ted, I'd love to know: Do you think the NCSE should make the statement
I've suggested? Should other groups dedicated to "defending science"? If
not, why not?

As for eugenics, my only point was that an unqualified trust in "scientists"
is questionable, and that scientists are entirely capable of abusing their
position (and science) for social and political purposes. Yes, in retrospect
- and in a modern environment which now frowns upon what was done in the
name of "eugenics" - the idea is easy to reject. But at the time, this
"social and political program" was sold in large part based on the authority
of scientists.

On Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 9:14 PM, Ted Davis <> wrote:

> Schwarzwald,
> I have little to add to this thread, and even less time to say it. I'm
> fine with leaving our differences out there, except to reply to these 2
> points of yours:
> <As for your third point, I have two problems. First, this demand that ID
> proponents shrink their big tent: Take a definite stance on the age of the
> earth (Despite, in my memory, never seeing a post at UD (everyone's
> favorite
> ID example) arguing for an old earth. Maybe there's been one, but if so
> it's
> been swamped out by other posts) and endorse common descent. Merely making
> a
> place for people who believe in an old earth, or evolution, or common
> descent is insufficient: A statement must be made. Do this, and Christian
> scientists will be vastly less critical of the ID movement.>
> Yes, I do think that the "big tent" should shrink, and I realize that if ID
> expressly endorsed an ancient earth & universe and common descent that it
> would shrink to perhaps 10% of its present size (perhaps even less).
> Nevertheless, Schwarzwald, I contend that any viewpoint on science lacks
> credibility if it does not grant the general legitimacy of those scientific
> conclusions. If you can't say those things, from what we know about
> geology, cosmology, physics, and genetics, then what can we say? It's one
> thing to have big reservations about the efficacy of unguided NS to do
> everything it is claimed to do; it's another thing entirely to imply that
> those other things might not be well established, legitimate conclusions of
> science.
> <Second, you take issue with ID supposedly "creating doubt about the
> confidence that ordinary people ought to place in the conclusions of
> scientists, including the conclusions that scientists have drawn on matters
> such as these." Well, Ted, I think this question is one hell of a hornet's
> nest. I won't say much on it here, since far too much would need to be
> said.
> But I have to say: I think you clearly believe there is a certain scope to
> a
> scientist's conclusions, and scientists have gone beyond this scope and
> abused their scientific authority. It's the typical example, one of many,
> but I'll reach for it now: Eugenics.>
> Not a good comparison, IMO, Schwarzwald. This is related to what I said
> above: if you don't know what good science looks like, then what's the basis
> for questioning "Darwinism"? Eugenics was from the get-go a social and
> political program in applied science, and one with profound moral
> implications. I fail to see any parallel here to saying that the universe
> is 13.7 BY old, or that our knowledge of the human genome is highly
> consistent with common descent. Those seem to have the status of "facts."
> They are either true or not, based on empirical findings. Eugenics was
> another ball of wax. A lot of scientists liked it, and it used some
> scientific facts as springboards, but it wasn't about those facts in the
> first place.
> Ted

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Received on Mon Nov 16 21:35:28 2009

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