The readers at Uncommon Descent are often a good source of feedback for the topics which interest them. To that end, I’d like to address a question asked by one of our readers, David vun Kannon, about the rift between ID and Creationist communities.
Here is the post where David asked his question: Bergman’s List, Post #4
David quoted me as saying:
there is still a bit of a rift between the Creationist communities and the ID communities
David then asked:
I saw a similar reference to a separation between ID and Christian faith groups on another of your recent posts. As a relative newcomer to following ID issues, I have to say IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m surprised to hear this. For the sake of the general publicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s understanding of ID as a scientific enterprise, this should be openly discussed and better understood. Can you make a separate post on this topic?
There are many reasons for the rift, but let me highlight two individuals symbolic of the reasons why there is a rift.
On the Creationist side, here is one of the foremost Creationists arguing how origins should be discussed. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (the world’s leading YEC organization) said:
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let Bible be let out of the conversation
Argue from the authority of the Bible
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let young age of the Earth be conceded as thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll lose the argument
The problem is world views
In contrast, the father of Intelligent Design, Phil Johnson (who is a professing Christian) said:
get the Bible out of the discussion
From this, one can see what the root of the rift is. To be fair there are Creationists like myself, johnnyb, Paul Nelson, Nancy Pearcy, David Coppedge, probably D. James Kennedy and others who are friendly to ID. In fact, I identify more with the ID community than the Creationist community.
However, some YECs actually consider me and those like me as second class Christians for our being so friendly to ID and our willingness to applaud those who accept an Old Earth. So, I would probably be placed in the ID camp more so than the creationist camp even though I accept the special creation of life and am sympathetic to a Young Earth as outlined on purely scientific grounds by Walter Brown, PhD, MIT in Creation Science.
Also, David Snoke a premier physicist and elder in my denomination wrote: A Biblical Case for an Old Earth. Within our denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), there has been a group known as the Westminster Presbytery that feels Snoke and myself are heretics for our friendliness toward Old Earth. I myself have come around to think the Earth could be young, but I’m not dogmatic about it. But my moderate view would be considered too compromising by the Westminster Presbytery who probably, if they had their way with the rest of the denomination, would put Snoke and church officers who share my views on church trial. See the exchange:
I am part of the Potomac Presbytery as well as several members and supporters of IDEA at GMU (IDEA at GMU is a secular organization, and has members of all faiths, but I just thought I’d point it has several members who are in the Potomac Presbytery). The rift between the presbyteries is symbolic of the wider rifts happening elsewhere.
It is this theological and cultural rift that tends to separate some YECs from the rest of the world. There is so much more on this topic, but I thought that would at least set the stage.
Reciprocally, the ID community does not want YEC dogma invading the ID community. The ID community has agnostics and even atheists in their camp (like Frank Tipler). Furthermore the YEC community has such an unsavory reputation that the ID community is pressured to distance itself from it:
ID Coming Clean by Bill Dembski
Theists of all stripes are to be sure welcome. But the boundaries of intelligent design are not limited to theism. I personally have found an enthusiastic reception for my ideas not only among traditional theists like Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but also among pantheists, New-Agers, and agnostics who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hold their agnosticism dogmatically. Indeed, proponents of intelligent design are willing to sit across the table from anyone willing to have us.
That willingness, however, means that some of the people at the table with us will also be young earth creationists. Throughout my brief tenure as director of BaylorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Michael Polanyi Center, adversaries as well as supporters of my work constantly pointed to my unsavory associates. I was treated like a political figure who is unwilling to renounce ties to organized crime. It was often put to me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dembski, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done some respectable work, but look at the disreputable company you keep.Ã¢â‚¬Â Repeatedly IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been asked to distance myself not only from the obstreperous likes of Phillip Johnson but especially from the even more scandalous young earth creationists.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m prepared to do neither. That said, let me stress that loyalty and friendship are not principally whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keeping me from dumping my unsavory associates. Actually, I rather like having unsavory associates
Major ID proponents and sympathizers who accept an Old Earth are:
David Berlinski (ID sympathizer)
Gerald Shroeder (who converted Antony Flew)
Michael Denton (ID sympathizer)
John Barrow (ID sympathizer)
William Lane Craig
Henry “Fritz” Schaeffer
(the list goes on)
Technically, people like Walter Bradley would be called Progressive Creationists, and David Snoke a Day Age Creationist. They are still considered what AiG calls Old-Earth Compromisers (OECs). Thus AiG would not view them as true creationists. Furthermore, they would certainly have heartburn over the large number of non-Evangelicals and non-Christians within the ID community. But I point out, ID as a theory is a theology-free scientific hypothesis like thermodynamics is a theology-free scientific hypothesis. The questions it explores are very narrow.
Hopefully that highlights some of the reasons for the rift between Creationists (really YEC creationists) and the ID community.
Finally, ID is a theology-free theory much like any other scientific hypothesis (like thermodynamics). But ID is special, in that even though it is theology free, it has been called, The Bridge Between Science and Theology.