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“Evangelical Atheism”: Are Dawkins and Dennett shooting themselves in the foot?

arroba Email

Here’s a recent exchange between me and a well-known journalist:

Dear Mr. Dembski:

I got your email from [snip]. I’m a science writer who has written for the usual suspects: New York Times (book review, op-ed, magazine, week in review), The Atlantic, Discover, Omni, Wall Street Journal, many others. You can google me, but the NY Times and WSJ block search engines, and that’s where most of my journalistic stuff is. . . .

I am not sympathetic to ID or creationism, but I’m thinking of writing a piece–not yet sure for whom–about how silly the neo-Darwinists have become, Dawkins and Dennett come to mind. It seems to me the evolutionists have fielded the wrong team, and despite the recent Dover court decision, have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I’m referring to the recent neo “victory” of showing that a belief in God and a belief in evolution are diametrically opposed. I’ve been corresponding with [snip] of late, and he, an agnostic, is pretty upset over this. A religion scholar has told me that the neo view qualifies as religion itself. Even the strictest of strict adaptationists, [snip], has told me he just doesn’t go along with this “evangelical atheism.”

There have been noises made that the neos have gone so far that it may be unconstitional to teach their brand of evolution in the schools, because of a separation of church and state, that the Dover decision could cut both ways.

I know you’ve sent your congratulations to Dawkins, but are you or others planning any moves along the above lines? A legal action perhaps? Or just a move to press Dawkins, Dennett et al. on the above issues, that they are inadvertently pushing evolution as religion? I don’t think they mean to do this; they are just very very philosophically unsophisticated.

Anyway, if this interests you, drop me a note.


My reply:

Dear [snip],

Thanks for this note. Are Dennett, Dawkins, Weinberg, et al. pushing neo-Darwinism with religious fervor and using it as a club against traditional religious views? Yes. Can their religious fervor be used to turn the tables on them in the courts? Probably not. [snip], [snip], [snip], and the evolutionary community in general will close up ranks, arguing that Dennett and Dawkins are merely going too far, and that the core scientific claims of neo-Darwinism are religiously neutral. Are they in fact religiously neutral? I would say No. Neo-Darwinism is supposed to render teleology, at least in biology, superfluous. This hardly seems friendly to theism, and many thinkers see it as voiding traditional religion entirely.

As you note, Judge Jones’s decision seems not to be providing the mileage for neo-Darwinists that they might have expected. It seems to me, however, that the issue is not fundamentally legal. Dennett, Dawkins et al. are losing not in the court of law but in the court of public opinion, and that’s where I’m focusing my attentions. For instance, I’m starting a website (www.overwhelmingevidence.com — not yet up and running), modeled on myspace and xanga, to bring high school students together to resist neo-Darwinism and promote intelligent design. They’re the ones who are being disenfranchised by Dover v. Kitzmiller and, insofar as they have religious sensibilities, spat on by Dennett and Dawkins. The contempt of these individuals is quite remarkable, and they seem oblivious to what a turn-off they are to the vast majority of the American public.

All that to say, I think you’re on to something. And you’re not alone: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/index.php/archives/1415. Massimo Pigliucci, one of the signers of this letter and someone I have debated, is as atheistic as Dawkins, but sees that more tact and nuance with religious believers is required. Required for what? To keep the unwashed masses in check. But that means Pigliucci also faces a challenge, namely, to avoid the perception that he is merely throwing a sop to religious believers to keep them off his back. Pigliucci playing nice cop to Dawkins’s bad cop seems to me in the end also a failed strategy — people are not particulary impressed that neo-Darwinism can, with sufficient machinations, be made logically consistent with religion. They’re rather concerned why Johnny no longer goes to church after taking a course in biology.

If you think I’m making this up, consider that when I debated Michael Shermer at the University of Kentucky this year, he remarked that evolution is not antagonistic to religion, to which I replied that he, Michael Shermer, had been an evangelical Christian until being exposed to evolutionary theory. He had no comeback. As a practical sociological phenomenon, religious believers know that evolution is tied to the loss of faith, often having witnessed this first hand. That’s why I’m not convinced that the neo-Darwinists have a better strategy than that of Dawkins and Dennett.

Best wishes,
Bill Dembski

[...] Bill’s recent exchange with an American sci jo who has suddenly discovered (how, I wonder?) that Darwinists’ promotion of evangelical atheism is a poor match for their claims of religious neutrality made me decide to cross-post an item from the Post-Darwinist. [...] This just in from evolutionary psychology: Hardwired to believe in God - part zillion and three | Uncommon Descent
Hi, Tina, did you get blasted by Spam? Sent you an e-mail, no reply...maybe *I'm* classified as Spam. Anyway, got to go do the dishes -- the great questions have to wait. I have a new post, that may be posted later, on the Ten Weird thread here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/index.php/archives/1453 In any event, I hope all is well, and take care. P.S. P. Phillips
P.Phillips: if you would be interested in continuing a dialogue off-line, I would be willing to share my email address with you. Maybe there is some way to ask the moderator to exchange them. I'll just give you mine here because I'm okay with that, then if you want to write me and share yours, you can. Okay? tinambrewer@yahoo.com Talk later! tinabrewer
I have decided I am an incurable, "prescribed" masochist. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
Hello again, Tina. I also don't use a spell checker or type into Word, I just type here. I agree, I'll keep it brief, but your last statement has me intrigued on the problem of human evil. I suppose it's easier, too many take pleasure in causing pain, and perhaps C.S. Lewis' thoughts in his work that discussed sadism are relevant. I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts. My verbose comments are here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/index.php/archives/1367 I do see your comments, but I'm not sure they answer me. I think I'm seeing citations from scripture. May I become like Socrates momentarily and ask you based on your *own* experiences, which may not meet statistical requirements, but they are valid, what do you see, what do you think? In any event, I think too much theology and philosophy and religious thought may not be good for a person; poor Harold Bloom in his The Names Divine is angry at Christians, and has nightmares of "God" in the guise of Sigmund Freud. He does not believe in a "personal God"; yet I who disagree feel sadness for him, for all those thousands of words of Shakespeare and the Bible and Cervantes ultimately brought him neither faith, joy nor peace. Why should not God, then, care as well, if a flawed mortal like me? That I cannot answer. Perhaps the doors are truly locked from inside. Anyway, I am reading again after many years Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave and will minimize my reading on theodicy and I.D. On a personal level, I suppose I adhere to a tragic view of humanity, as did the Ancient Greeks, and can recommend Edith Hamilton's work; before Christ, ideas consonant with the best thoughts existed. While they destroyed themselves in the Pelopenisan wars, that time produced their greatest poetry, drama. And so much was lost when the library at Alexandria was burned, and I don't think the Christians who were involved in that time's "terror" were following the light. You must know what happened to Hypatia? Anyway, perhaps the sins of the past shouldn't be carried into the present. But so much was lost! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Hamilton You can read some of The Echo of Greece here via Amazon and its "Look Inside" from the link below. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393002314/sr=1-8/qid=1155493453/ref=sr_1_8/102-1693200-5375332?ie=UTF8&s=books What I find of note, for example, from her book, is the pagan Menander's words frequently are almost verbatim the same as the Christian Gospel, e.g., [page 149] "Christ said, 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. These are what defile a man.' Four hundred years earlier Menander said, "All that defiles a man comes from within.'...When Saint Paul said, 'Evil communication corrupts good manners,' he was, whether he knew it or not, directly quoting Menander." Even Shakespeare's famous "Conscience doth make cowards of us all" from Hamlet (who is he not Orestes?) echos Menander's "The man who has a load upon his mind -- conscience makes him a coward." Back to C.S. Lewis' idea of The Tao, or the Divine speaking to us, if we but listen. Best wishes, P. Phillips P. Phillips
P.Phillips: I just read the article. Lovely summation of the whole affair, and humorous to boot. I especially like the way in which it was made explicitly clear, through historical examples, that a theistic worldview can just as strongly INFORM science (perhaps more strongly) as weaken it. This has always seemed to me to be one of the weakest in a long chain of lame anti-ID arguments. What a kick the way he quotes numerous people, one after the other, saying "its not science". How subtle our critics have become!! I enjoyed reading over your posting on the other thread. Verbose is right, but I have been roundly chastised in this forum for the same sin myself, so I can relate... I disagree with you, however, that the question of evil is unanswerable... tinabrewer
Tina, sorry, I forgot to ask you -- have you read this American Spectator essay that the Discovery Institute posted? And to Bill, and others who moderate and post to this board, what are your thoughts? http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=627 I posted too many links, "my bad"! P. Phillips
Oops! "your" wise and not "you". I'm getting used to the sharp but tiny font on my new monitor -- the old tube blew, and I have an LCD. Again, thanks for your time, and take care. P. Phillips
Hello, Tina, Thank you very much for you wise and kind reply. I agree, and perhaps echoed, in unfortunately a more verborse fashion, your own words in my post at this thread on What Darwinism has cost American Society. As with facism, Marxism, communism, I think it has cost the *world* a great deal. The unanswerable question is why human beings are attracted to such dark things which give momentary "pleasure". https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/index.php/archives/1442 Thanks again, and perhaps you'd comment on this different thread. Take care, have a great Sunday! P. Phillips
P.Phillips: I don't know if its relevant whether the acceptance of ID would improve the human condition. I don't mean that in a bitchy way, I just mean that ID just tries to do a scientific thing, and succeeds or fails in that narrow arena, and can't really even address anything in the moral arena, except in the tiny sense that it would make science, which can be a juggernaut of materialist power, humbler and more friendly to theism. Would this improve the human condition? All answers are speculation, but my guess would be that it totally depends upon what individuals decide to do with that knowledge. As you correctly point out, we can make a pretty good stack of bodies out of the failures of convinced theists and non-theists of every stripe. Just having an institution be "theism-friendly" doesn't even approach the kind of institutionalized top-down theistic absolutism which exists/existed in other times and places, and those absolutisms certainly did NOT make the world a better place. People make the world better or worse through their decisions about how to live. Having said that, however, I also feel that there is an underlying truth or "way" about nature and life which goes its merry direction whether we recognize it or not, and a part of that "way" is the fact that what is truthful has a living power behind it which falsehood never can, and that is why it ultimately prevails. A lack of this sustaining power is what causes all that is false and static to crumble. Its just a law of nature. So, in my view, the materialist paradigm is a dead husk, which in spite of its seemingly spectacular successes is mostly sounding brass. Its going to die because it cannot but obey this silent, inexorable movement. ID is a nail in its coffin, no more, no less. tinabrewer
Let me comment on the correspondence between [snip] and Dr. Dembski. I think there are many scientists hostile to ID. Look at this regarding Templeton foundation, which has been discussed in the past: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/horgan06/horgan06_index.html Excerpt: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/horgan06/horgan06_index.html # # # # # # # # # # # Some of the Christian speakers' views struck me as inconsistent, to say the least. None of them supported intelligent design, the notion that life is in certain respects irreducibly complex and hence must have a divine origin, and several of them denounced it. Simon Conway Morris, a biologist at Cambridge and an adviser to the Templeton Foundation, ridiculed intelligent design as nonsense that no respectable biologist could accept. That stance echoes the view of the foundation, which over the last year has taken pains to distance itself from the American intelligent-design movement. And yet Morris, a Catholic, revealed in response to questions that he believes Christ was a supernatural figure who performed miracles and was resurrected after his death. Other Templeton speakers also rejected intelligent design while espousing beliefs at least as lacking in scientific substance. The Templeton prize-winners John Polkinghorne and John Barrow argued that the laws of physics seem fine-tuned to allow for the existence of human beings, which is the physics version of intelligent design. The physicist F. Russell Stannard, a member of the Templeton Foundation Board of Trustees, contended that prayers can heal the sick — not through the placebo effect, which is an established fact, but through the intercession of God. In fact the foundation has supported studies of the effectiveness of so-called intercessory prayer, which have been inconclusive. # # # # # # # # # Now, I've also read The Spectator article that was posted on Discovery. What's the Big Deal About Intelligent Design? By: Dan Peterson The American Spectator December 1, 2005 Article PDF http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=627 May I direct a respectful question to the staff? While Neo-Marxism or Liberalism has certainly led to uncivilized behavior and destructive and self-destructive behavior, I think (and I won't comment on current events with killing/war on the part of two sides who *are* Deists), in history, for example, Christians have killed one another and others when Darwinism never existed. Consider Robert Lacey's recent book, and the killing of Tyndale: http://www.robertlacey.com/greattales_2.html The war between Catholics and Protestants is over, yet conducting an oxymoronic "thought experiment", suppose everyone disappeared from earth but evangelical Christians (or Catholics or Jews or what have you). Would not the great ills affect humanity? Is there something "fallen" or wrong about human beings that trouble would still arise, liberalism nothwithstanding? With respect, I have no answer, but I think even if ID became "mainstream", problems would remain. I observe cruelty in both atheists and theists. I believe ID should be pursued on the merit as science, but I have no hope people will cease being human with all their flaws if it is accepted. I just think there is "moral" inertia, and being good, thinking about the consequences of one's actions are problematic. Yet I do agree in the past generation there has been a lot lost. Of course, let me make clear that "evangelical" atheists are more distrubing than theists. Their facts and evidence are assumptions. I would like to hear from advocates of ID if they believe the assumption of ID would improve the human condition, aside from the science? All the best, P. Phillips P. Phillips
Speaking of Dennett and his exaggerations: http://fragments.consc.net/djc/2006/07/dennett_changes.html Qualiatative
I have disposed of Dawkins on other theads here so I will spare everyone by not repeating myself. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
Bill, "But does faith presuppose knowledge of, to say nothing of sophistication in, the history and philosophy of science? And can faith that lacks such knowledge/sophistication be subverted through indoctrination in scientific materialism and Darwinism? I note that you put the word “genuine” in front of faith. But genuine faith, and whether someone has it, is only something God knows." I wrote "genuine faith" to refer to "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence" (from Dictionary.com) and that is furthermore impervious to logical proof or material evidence. I believe that most people who lose their faith and regain it say either that they never really lost their faith or that they really didn't have faith in the first place. I don't have a simple characterization of people who say they once had faith and no longer do. The key problem with my "faith" in high school was that I thought my belief in an inerrant Bible was grounded in logic and material evidence. Of course, Darwinism truly does challenge this sort of belief. An unexpected outcome of my learning more about the nature of science is that I came to understand more about the nature of faith. "You may think you have genuine faith, but how do I know that? And might you be fooling yourself (”let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”)." Past results do not guarantee future performance. Tom English
The issue of Dawkins and Dennett shooting themselves in the foot assumes they even have a leg to stand on (pun intended). I suspect Dawkins and Dennett's works are not even taken seriously by their scientific peers. For example, Allen Orr absolutely slammed Dennett's most famous book: Dennett's strange idea. I continue to get wind from bio-professors that Dawkins scientific ideas are rather suspect. He's a popular science writer, but as a scientist, he's not even in the same league as say, Richard Sternberg or Stanley Salthe. In fact, at the recent Cornell Design class, even the pro-evolution students were very disappointed with Dawkins Blind Watchmaker! This would be like IDers being disappointed with Darwin's Black Box or Unlocking the Mystery of Life! I found the following article's title appropo for Dawkins: Prophet of Pointlessness. That's so true on many levels. :=) scordova
"The curriculum for ages 15-16 also includes a discussion of the evolution controversy (although not in a ‘teach the controvesy’ sense)." Are you sure about that? I would guess this is because you have taken in what other people are telling you about "teach the controversy" rather than what it is actually about. Here is the language from the Santorum amendment, which was written by Philip Johnson himself: "It is the sense of the Senate that- (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject." That's it. It's not some freak conspiracy, it's simply (a) acknowledging that the subject generates controversy, and (b) helping students be informed participants. Nowhere in here does it say that the information needs to come from the discovery institute, or even include anything that is pro-ID or anti-evolution. My guess is that this is precisely what the "discussion of the evolution controversy" curriculum teaches on your side of the pond. What's more, you should see how bent-out-of-shape the AAAS gets (and also here) simply when someone wants to permit (not even require or encourage) teachers to teach a full range of scientific views of the origin of life (see here for the bill he was opposing, also see my comments on it as well as our ARN discussion on it). Perhaps in your country you don't have the same kind of militant dogmatic Darwinism that we do here. johnnyb
Chris Hyland You say in your home you were “certainly made aware that scientific theories, especially when dealing with a historical science, were tentative and may change as our understanding changes.” American students are NOT taught what you were taught about evolution. They are taught just the opposite. Evolution textbooks in this country flatly state that evolution is a “fact” in the same way that the earth orbits the sun is a “fact.” The only thing that is theory is the details that explain the fact of evolution, just as gravity is a theory explaining the fact that the earth orbits the sun. Epistemologic arrogance of this kind is what gives people heartburn. BarryA
Bill, fair enough. I think saying a person is not a Christian who says “I am not a Christian” is not judging their salvation. It is just agreeing with them. That said, I think we should be very careful here. It is all too easy to say, “Joe is sinning. He must not be a Christian.” By that standard none of us is a Christian. BarryA
"So, it seems that we are back to the practical effect that the teaching of Darwinian evolution has on young people’s faith." Does anyone have a link to a site that has specific examples of how evolution is taught in the US, as it seems very different to how it is taught in the UK. A discussion of the fact that scientific theory cannot make claims about morality and spirituality is in our curriculum, as is the fact that scientific knowledge is uncertain. The curriculum for ages 15-16 also includes a discussion of the evolution controversy (although not in a 'teach the controvesy' sense). Obviously it has changed since I was at school but I certainly never heard the word 'unguided' for example, and was certainly made aware that scientific theories, especailly when dealing with a historical science, were tentative and may change as our understanding changes. I have also spoken to people who think that teaching that the Earth is more than 6000 years old is damaging to faith. Although I would agree that a statement like 'evolution removes the need for a creator' is potentialy a problem and does not belong in a science class, something like 'natural selection has no discernable direction or goal' I wouldnt have thought would be damaging to someones faith. Chris Hyland
BarryA: I doubt that Howard Van Till would call himself a Christian any more; and if he does, I wonder what he would mean and include by the term. For instance, he has a hard time even referring to God, preferring instead some sort of ineffable sacred. It seems to me perfectly valid to judge, as a matter of probability based on people\'s actions and professions, whether they are Christians and whether they have genuine faith. That said, we are fallible and might be wrong. Moreover, when someone explicitly distances him/herself from the Christian faith, refusing to accept that label, and disses the creeds and confessions by which Christians have identified themselves and distinguished themselves from heretics, then it seems legitimate to SAY that someone is not a Christian. Of course, God only KNOWS in the end. William Dembski
To deny or even question Intelligent Design is unthinkable. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John a. Davison John A. Davison
William Dembski: I agree with Tom English that a genuine faith cannot begin to be corroded by an obviously weak, materialistic explanation about life. Perhaps it sounds Darwinian (although its not) but I think a law of life is that an organism, in order to be healthy, must be as strong as the prevailing conditions of its environment. This holds both psychically and materially. Genuine faith is one constant in a healthy psychic life, and resists the virus of materialism quite brilliantly. ID cannot make people spiritually healthy. All it can do in this arena, if it is rigorous and successful, is shift the emphasis of science away from the most absolutist claims of materialism and make open the possibility of a science friendly to theism. This is a much more humble goal. tinabrewer
Here we go. This is from By Design (which is an excellent book for anyone interested in ID):
On Thanksgiving afternoon, a bell tower carillon echoed across the snow-dusted campus, the peals breaking out as a long procession of robed scholars reached Rockefeller Chapel... In what became known as his "secular sermon", he said that man no longer needed to "take refuge from his loneliness in the arms of a divinized father-figure" such as God. It was time to recognize that "all aspects of reality are subject to evolution, from atoms and stars to fish and flowers, from fish and flowers to human society and values." The context as much as the content made for arch newspaper headlines, and Huxley, recalling the subsequent mild scandal in his memoirs, agreed that it was not the most appropriate speech to have given in a Church.
Bill, You say here, “But genuine faith, and whether someone has it, is only something God knows.” I agree. But on July 26 you asked: “Leaving aside Calvinism, is Howard Van Till a Christian at all?” I have to admit that I was troubled by your invitation to speculate on the condition of Mr. Van Till’s soul. I thought about writing then and even began a response. But I deleted it and decided to think on it some more. Now that I see that you agree with me, I wonder how you reconcile your statement to Tom English and your question on July 26. BarryA
Tom: I grew up in an environment fully accepting of evolution and was taught in my schools that evolution was a done-deal fact. At the time I wondered why they were teaching them as a done-deal since I even then I saw they weren't. I concluded the motivation of those pushing this stuff was not science but social engineering and became an evo-skeptic which I happily remain. And why isn't the Bible read in our schools anyway? Think about it. tribune7
Tom English: I appreciate your point about the history and philosophy of science being an antidote to the crude evolution-proves-there-is-no-God of Dawkins and Dennett. But does faith presuppose knowledge of, to say nothing of sophistication in, the history and philosophy of science? And can faith that lacks such knowledge/sophistication be subverted through indoctrination in scientific materialism and Darwinism? I note that you put the word "genuine" in front of faith. But genuine faith, and whether someone has it, is only something God knows. You may think you have genuine faith, but how do I know that? And might you be fooling yourself ("let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall"). Note that I'm not questioning your faith; the issue is the nature of knowing that one has faith. So, it seems that we are back to the practical effect that the teaching of Darwinian evolution has on young people's faith. William Dembski
What I don't understand is why this is news. This has been going on for quite some time. It actually culminated in the 50's in the anniversary of Origin of the Species. Has anyone else read portions of Huxley's "talk" given from the university _chapel_? Where he says that, because of Darwin, we no longer need to imagine some great divine father-figure? I'll see if I can look up a reference. Perhaps the difference is that back then it was all in academia and noone else paid it much mind. I suggest your news friend read up on it -- should be quite eye-opening as to how long the whole Darwinism-as-religion has been going on, and perhaps shed some light on the reasons for the ID movement. ID would never have had anything newsworthy to say had evolutionary biology not become so dogmatically devoted to their religion. It would simply be an academic position that was just one of many. johnnyb
I feel there will definitely be an "overnight revolution." Just as the Phlogiston of Chemistry and the Ether of Physics became instantaneus footnotes in the history of scence, so will Selection suffer the same fate. Ether (E) Selection (S) and Phlogiston (P), ESP, extrasensory perception indeed (excuse me for repeating myself). Once natural selection is recognized as the conservative element it has always been, the entire Darwinian myth will collapse in a millisecond and we will then finally be discussing Bergian evolution. Trust me but of course you won't because you can't, for reasons I have already explained. That is what makes internet forums so much fun, at least for me if not for others. I love it so! "The struggle for existence and natural selection are not progressive agencies, but being, on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard." Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 406. If only Berg had used the past tense! "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
re #2 Legal challenges are not appropriate to these issues. I cannot see how questions on the nature of reality and broad sociological issues can be decided in court. It would just muddy the waters IMO. antg
Bill, "... people are not particulary impressed that neo-Darwinism can, with sufficient machinations, be made logically consistent with religion. They’re rather concerned why Johnny no longer goes to church after taking a course in biology." Back in 1971, when I was a sophomore in high school, I asked to give a talk rebutting evolution in my biology class. The superintendent of schools gave me permission, and I indeed gave the talk. Most of the literature I drew upon was published by the Broadman Press. In 1975, when I was a freshman at a Baptist college, I got an introduction to the philosophy of science shortly before studying evolution in a biology course. With a good understanding of the epistemic limitations of science, I was amazed that neo-Darwinism had ever seemed a threat to my faith. (By the way, I was taking a course in the New Testament at the same time.) I am more a follower of Jesus now than I ever was as a Raised Right Baptist Boy. And I am certainly less a materialist than I was before I studied the philosophy of science. "As a practical sociological phenomenon, religious believers know that evolution is tied to the loss of faith, often having witnessed this first hand." How, exactly, does one lose genuine faith? As a practical sociological phenomenon, ignorance of the nature of science leads to overvaluation of scientific beliefs. Historically, we educate to reduce ignorance of a topic, rather than change the topic to obviate ignorance. Whether ID is taught in biology classes or not, we should educate our children in the philosophy of science. I believe that the best context for this would be a course in philosophy and comparative religion. Children should learn that the assumptions of science have changed and may change again. Personally, I am fascinated with the idea that there might be a science that accepts supernatural causes. This does not mean that I believe anyone has made a good case that science would be of greater utility if it accepted supernatural causes. If the scientific community accepts such a radical change, it will be with a great deal of evidence that science will somehow be better for the change. And it will take some time for the scientific community to accept the change, if it is warranted, by consensus. There will be no overnight revolution. Change in scientific beliefs is very much a matter of persuasion, and trumpeting the "revolution" is hardly a way to persuade. Tom English
Nice letter. Interesting. I still think it would be worth putting the evangelical atheists on the back foot with a legal challenge. They might try to close ranks, but it is all but impossible to deny the atelogical claims and implications of standard neo-darwinism. You could even get Shermer as a witness for the prosecution as a textbook example of your point. jwrennie
Keep going Dr. Dembski! I'll keep praying for you to take down NDE and expose it for what it is, in hopes one day that you can bring ppl like Dr. Shermer back to our (that is Christ's) side :) jpark320

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