Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Finally “the Vise of Intelligent Design” gets some play

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My optimism that the “Vise Strategy” would eventually supersede the notorious “Wedge Strategy” is finally finding some justification (for the Vise Strategy, go here). It appears that the Vise Strategy is now beginning to get its proper due:

It’s possible for Christians to render unto God and unto Darwin
By David Hawpe

Sunday, January 22, 2006
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky

My guess is that the recent forum on intelligent design at Broadway Baptist Church did not satisfy William Dembski’s preference for a “vise strategy,” in which the apostates who believe in evolution are hauled before tribunals to answer.

Darwin in a Vise

He said last year, “I’m waiting for the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas in which evolutionists are deposed at length on their views. On that happy day, I can assure you they won’t come off looking well.”

Or even looking good, as I assume he meant.

Having been spurned by colleagues at Baylor, who worried about the potential erosion of that university’s hard-earned reputation in scientific research, the demoted and disparaged Dembski is now ensconced at what’s left of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, after the darkness fell. He’s there to teach and to head up a new Center for Science and Theology.

As a recent Courier-Journal story noted, a number of conservative Christians agree with seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. that Dembski is “one of the most skilled philosophers of science in this generation.” And, along with U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., some applaud “his groundbreaking effort to show just how unscientific many modern scientists tend to be.”

Former pastor Ernie Fletcher must agree, since he interrupted the progress of his recent State of the Commonwealth address for a non-sequiturial detour into the merits of teaching intelligent design in public schools

Rev. Chris Caldwell of Broadway Baptist Church set a different example. He sponsored some serious discussion, not in science class but at a public forum including professors of ethics, history, biology and anthropology from the University of Louisville.

OK, OK, Dembski wasn’t there to defend himself, but isn’t it fair to assume that, if invited, he would have shown up with a vise?

What bothers me about intelligent design is that it makes God sound like some kind of celestial cobbler. If that were the case, let’s face it, His work would leave a lot to be desired. That doesn’t square with a God who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, and beyond our ken.

What bothers me most is that the national conversation about intelligent design gets twisted into a conflict between Christians and non-believers — between “people of faith” (the formulation with which George Bush strokes followers, while neatly slandering opponents) and those who have no faith.

It’s nothing of the sort.

Plenty of Christians embrace evolution as a way that God might have created the heavens and the earth. Others just don’t know. Most people figure only He knows. You can’t tease out a mathematical proof. We’re talking about faith, here, not multiple regression analysis.

The good news (allusion intended) is that those who concede no conflict between evolution and their religious faith are speaking up. On Feb. 12, hundreds of congregations around the country — representing many faith traditions, from Roman Catholic to all manner of Protestant churches — will celebrate “Evolution Sunday.”

If Christian conservatives can wade into the judicial nomination process on their “Justice Sunday,” there’s no reason others, from elsewhere on the Christian spectrum, shouldn’t rally for the compatibility of religion and science.

St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Louisville and New Hope United Church of Christ in Owensboro are listed as congregations participating.

More than 10,000 Christian leaders from around the country have signed a “Clergy Letter,” calling the separation of religious faith and modern science a false dichotomy.

The Vatican has weighed in, in the form of a newspaper piece saying that intelligent design is not science, and that American creationists are causing “confusion between the scientific and philosophical and religious planes.”

So all of you who want to celebrate Darwin’s birthday at church, I give you a blessing, which is also the motto of the Harvard band: illegitimum non carborundum.

David Hawpe’s columns appear Sundays and Wednesdays on the editorial page. His e-mail is dhawpe@courier-journal.com.

13 Replies to “Finally “the Vise of Intelligent Design” gets some play

  1. 1
    Red Reader says:

    Whew! Rough.

    It appears that Hawpe is an ES Darwinist (a Eugenie Scott Darwinist). “The ES Darwinist wants to appear open minded and generous, assuring religious believers that Darwinism is compatible with their religious beliefs….[ES Darwinists] are condescending elitists who don’t have a religious bone in their bodies but who nonetheless presume to tell religious believers how they should make their peace with evolution.” ( Vise_Strategy.pdf, page 3 )

    Hawpe himself pretends to have an infantile concept of God so he can undercut ID with it: if biological systems exhibit “intelligent design”, he says, then God is nothing more than a shoe maker and a faulty one at that. Huh? Hawpe DOESN’T say how God was involved in creation, but only that since God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, He wouldn’t have done it THAT way.

    Like E.O. Wilson’s recent article on the culture wars, Hawpe’s column is aimed directly at people who apparently don’t know what they believe and are willing to let Darwin defenders like Wilson and Hawpe TELL them what to believe in order to be “respectable”.

    Dembski, Mohler, Santorum and Fletcher (all respected leaders in education and politics) are worthy of ridicule in Hawpe’s view. But Rev. Chris Caldwell of Broadway Baptist in Louisville “sponsored some *serious* discussion…including professors of ethics, history, biology and anthropology from the University of Louisville.” No disrespect to Rev. Caldwell, but it doesn’t get more serious than the Kansas School Board hearings, the recent trial in Dover and the threats by the ACLU on a rural school board in California. Freedom, not respectability, is at stake.

    Like Wilson’s article, Hawpe’s column is a mean spirited political attack on people who threaten his worldview and standing. His aim is to sway people to a particular *political* point of view by FEAR of ridicule.

    There are a host of political issues on which people with differing views of origins seem to take different views upon: readers of this blog probably guess what they are. Hawpe hopes, I guess, that people who can be intimidated by fear of ridicule will vote in certain ways when certain political issues and/or political candidates are up for a vote.

    It’s pretty cynical, I think.

    But the neat thing about it, from an historian’s point of view, is that in the history of man, rule by FEAR and terror never wins hearts and minds.

    Love and freedom, fair play and tolerance do.

  2. 2
    Mats says:

    “It’s possible for Christians to render unto God and unto Darwin”

    Yes it is. You only have to butcher the Bible wherever it disagrees with Darwinism.

    (Very interesting post, Red Reader.)

    One of the things I trully did not foresee is the anti-ID mood by many “Theistic Darwinists”. If, as they say, God “used evolution” (whatever that means), why can’t there be scientifical evidence that biological machines are best explained as the result of inteligence as opposed to random activity?

    Who would have known that people who (suposedly) believe in God are some of the most vocal enemies of Intelligent Design Science?

    Like the Brazilians says, “there are rabbits in this forest!” (Translation of the meaning: “Something fishy is going on!”).

  3. 3
    jacktone says:

    The article has this line close to the end:

    The Vatican has weighed in, in the form of a newspaper piece saying that intelligent design is not science, and that American creationists are causing “confusion between the scientific and philosophical and religious planes.”

    This brings up an issue that as puzzled me for some time. What sort of “Christianity” is it that divorces the Creator from His creation? Or is “Creator” a misnomer? Perhaps it is just a metaphor? I suppose since the “scientists” (ES Darwinists – thanks red) are allowed to tell us so authoritatively that there is no conflict between science and religion, they can also define God for us and set the boundaries for where He can act and where he’d better keep His nose out.

  4. 4
    Bombadill says:

    What sort of “Christianity” is it that divorces the Creator from His creation?

    I believe it’s “Deism” that you are describing. Which is does not fit within the Christian paradigm.

  5. 5
    jacktone says:

    Yes, Bombadil, that’s it! If we will all just drop this “Christianity” business and adopt “Deism” it would fit so much more nicely with “science”!
    I guess that’s the goal of this “Evolution Sunday” thing – let’s just dump this idea of a God who is involved in His creation.
    Is “Deism” a more highly evolved religion?
    Oh – I see it all now – Mr. Hawpe wants us to Evolve!!!

  6. 6
    jaredl says:

    Since, as I have established elsewhere, Darwinism entails radical skepticism (which itself entails hard agnosticism), I fail to understand how it is that anyone does not see a conflict between revelatory religion (the type Christianity was back in the first two centuries AD) and evolutionism.

  7. 7
    Bombadill says:

    Agreed, jared. It is beyond me how people like Miller can reconcile the two.

  8. 8
    Mats says:

    Bombadill, he doesn’t “reconcile” in the true meaning of the word. He just reinterprets the bits and parts that contradict with Darwinism but never the other way around.

    If we try hard enough, we can “reconcile” atheism with theism.

  9. 9
    Bombadill says:

    Good point, Mats.

  10. 10
    Red Reader says:

    jacktone wrote:
    The article has this line close to the end:
    The Vatican has weighed in, in the form of a newspaper piece saying that intelligent design is not science, and that American creationists are causing “confusion between the scientific and philosophical and religious planes.”
    ….
    The Vatican did NOT weigh in. That was media spin from the NYT that’s (as usual) been picked by other writers like Hawpe and repeated as “gospel”.

    See Robert Crowther’s posts on this at
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2....._diff.html
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....media.html
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....temen.html
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....icism.html

  11. 11
    ZachStearns says:

    I first read this article earlier today when a biology teacher of mine showed it to me. (We are in Louisville as well so we occasionally take a look at what the Courier-Journal has to say about ID and Darwinism.) I read it and enjoyed the fact that the Vise strategy became a topic rather than the Wedge strategy that is now over-cited in the news, not to mention some of the neo-Darwinist polemic. Well, my initial response to the article was that it was much too deceptive, but there isn’t much more to expect from anyone writing for any newspaper.

    Hawpe writes, “What bothers me about intelligent design is that it makes God sound like some kind of celestial cobbler. If that were the case, let’s face it, His work would leave a lot to be desired. That doesn’t square with a God who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, and beyond our ken.”

    My response: Intelligent Design, at its core scientific arguments and observations, says absolutely nothing about the designer’s identity; ID says no more about the designer than the message “Welcome” says about the designer(s) who mapped it out in flowers on the Indiana border visible to those who drive over the bridge from downtown Louisville. The message “Welcome” arguably says one or two things (s/he can spell, s/he speaks English, s/he knows how to plan flowers), but it says relatively little (if anything at all) about the personality, motives, or powers of the designer. So my preference is to leave out this nonsense about ID saying God is just a really smart guy who is not omnipotent or omniscient or omnibenevolent; such “points” merely look like ways of appealing to emotions of the uninformed masses.

    Hawpe then writes, “What bothers me most is that the national conversation about intelligent design gets twisted into a conflict between Christians and non-believers — between “people of faith” (the formulation with which George Bush strokes followers, while neatly slandering opponents) and those who have no faith.

    It’s nothing of the sort.

    Plenty of Christians embrace evolution as a way that God might have created the heavens and the earth. Others just don’t know. Most people figure only He knows. You can’t tease out a mathematical proof. We’re talking about faith, here, not multiple regression analysis.”

    My response: I got excited when I saw “It’s nothing of the sort,” since I thought that perhaps Hawpe would point out that people without a particular religious faith (e.g., David Berlinski, Antony Flew), as well as people of varying religious convictions, have agreed with at least some aspects of ID. But my hopes were dashed and I continued to suffer from my far too familiar ennui with the mainstream press’ “insight” on the ID movement. Hawpe echoes writers of every other newspaper by “countering” the ID movement with the indubitable note that many Christians are fine with evolution, implying that ID is NOT fine with evolution — which is nearly tantamount to saying ID is not fine with gravity or heliocentric theory or plate tectonics. (It also gives the impression to the author that ID doesn’t allow non-Christians to believe in it.) Of course, if interpreted in a certain way, IDists do not believe in evolution (i.e., random, purposeless neo-Darwinism of the Dawkins flavor), but every IDist believes in microevolution (as far as I know and hope), and some IDists (e.g., Michael Behe) believe in common ancestry, albeit nonrandom and purposeful.

    So here’s my honest question: Am I wrong in thinking that Hawpe should have noted that it’s not Intelligent Design vs. Evolution, but rather Intelligent Design vs. Unintelligent (or Random) Evolution? Maybe at this late hour I’m missing an otherwise conspicuous fact that swiftly and conclusively dominates my opinions presented above. Or maybe not.

  12. 12
    DaveScot says:

    Zach

    You are not wrong. This

    Intelligent Design vs. Unintelligent (or Random) Evolution

    is exactly right.

    Indeed, ID doesn’t even preclude some evolution being driven by random mutation. It’s really an addition to standard evolution rather than a replacement but it does destroy the notion that evolution is a completely unguided, unplanned process devoid of intelligent agency.

  13. 13
    Bullet says:

    “It’s possible for Christians to render unto God and unto Darwin”

    So what? Does that make Darwin right? Maybe the real problem is that you can’t be an IDist and an ‘intellectual atheist’ at the same time. Shouldn’t we consider it as a possibility, too?

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