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Did the premier organization of Christians in science really choose to target fellow Christians instead of materialism in science? Apparently so.

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In “American Scientific Affiliation – whatever happened to its mission?”, Bill Dembski alludes to an earlier post of mine:

I write this post to put into perspective Denyse O’Leary’s recent remarks about the “gutting of a spiritual tradition from within” (see here — the relevance of her remarks to the ASA cannot be missed) and to highlight that with the efforts by Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris to ramp up their propaganda for atheism since this letter by Jack Haas was written suggests that the ASA was mistaken in shifting its emphasis away from “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism.”

He addresses something I find truly shocking:

About three years ago I received the following mass mailing from the ASA’s Jack Haas (I’ve known Jack since 1990 and our exchanges have always been cordial). In this letter he describes how the ASA had, in times past, been concerned to address “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism,” but had recently decided to change its emphasis to combat young-earth creationism.

adding,

If the problem with young-earth creationism is that it is off by a few orders of magnitude about the age of the earth and universe, the problem with scientific materialism is that is off by infinite orders of magnitude about what is ultimately the nature of nature.

appending the relevant letter.

Well, that sheds considerable light on why the 2000-member organization of Christians in science has been AWOL from the main battle for so long. In an age when the non-materialist taxpayer has been compelled to fund materialist propaganda in science textbooks, when science textbooks routinely promote long-exploded errors in order to advance Darwinism, and key Darwinists promote a widely publicized anti-God campaign, this premier organization of Christians in science has chosen to largely (or entirely) ignore these problems and instead … conduct a war against the doctrinal position of some fundamentalist denominations. (The belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.)

It beggars belief, but it is apparently true.

Now, I am not saying that no one has done anything about the attempt of materialists to make materialism a publicly funded religion, with Darwinism as its creation story. As a matter of fact, ID guys like Dembski, the “evil” Discovery Institute, the estimable Muslim Mustafa Akyol, and others have jumped into the fray, even though they could all have just crowed, “See! We told you so! That’s where Darwinism leads!” But they didn’t do that because they actually cared about what was happening.

The fact that some publicly funded textbooks have had to clean up their act in recent years has everything to do with their efforts, as several correspondents have pointed out to me, and nothing whatever to do with ASA.

I have been covering controversies for my entire career as a journalist (now three and a half decades) and I recognize ASA’s decision to combat young earth creationism instead of materialism for what it is – a familiar type of copout on the part of a sclerotic organization.

They removed themselves from the scene of engagement just before the serious battle with materialists began, leaving the field to be defended by the Dembski gang and assorted other non-materialists of varying types.

Worse, they turned their fire on fellow Christians.

YECs have virtually no serious social influence. For example, when Canadian prime ministerial hopeful Stockwell Day revealed that he was a YEC, his chances of the highest office were kayoed. Few scientists will rise in their field unless they conceal any sympathies they may have for non-standard time frames, however justified.

Indeed, I have just learned of yet another scientist who was fired most likely because he was insufficiently supportive of Darwinism (but I cannot say anything as yet). Indeed, if I did, I am sure that the egregious “ASA list” (which supposedly does not represent the organization) would seethe with posts purporting to show that the guy had it coming to him, just as it recently did with attacks on Smithsonian scientist Rick Sternberg, who was widely abused for permitting a journal article to question Darwin.

That, by the way, is another familiar dodge of sclerotic organizations: Claim that the hatchet jobs done under the banner of the organization’s name do not really represent it. If the “ASA list” does not really represent ASA, the list should be ordered to change its name, go private, or just shut down.

I suspect that the true reason for ASA’s posture is that the ASA types do not want the humiliation of being told in so many words by their atheist peers that the only reason they are not persecuted by materialists – the way the ID guys are – is that they are useless and irrelevant, except when they aid the atheists’ cause by attacking fellow Christians.

Anyone who really does give the materialists grief will face serious attacks. For example, is Francisco Ayala invited to a confab to tell everyone about the danger presented by ASA? No, of course not. And why not? Because a chap can be royally popular at ASA and have tons of blowhards defending him against an obscure Canadian journalist – her crime was to reveal to a wider audience than the few people who bother to read the ASA public archive that he doubts that there is any “special supernatural component” in the human being. Well, if he doubts THAT, then …* Meanwhile, Ayala wants everyone to know that intelligent design is a big danger because the ID guys mean business.

Look, I wouldn’t care if I were not a Christian science journalist. After all, if I were an atheist science journalist, I would point gleefully to ASA as an example of the level to which Christians in science have sunk – attacking fundamentalist denominations’ beliefs while atheistic materialists ride roughshod over anyone whatever who disagrees with their agenda for the sciences – the Dalai Lama, the Pope, the Southern Baptists, the Muslims, any scientists whose research does not support some materialist agenda – or whoever. But at some point the disgrace must surely come to an end.

And here’s how I hope it will come to an end: The organization should either get real about the key current issues or diminish in proportion to its irrelevance.

*Apparently, that guy was supposed to be counselling a Christian whose faith was endangered. Well, it’s hard to imagine how talking to him would help. The most important thing the troubled person needs to know is that he or she really does have a supernatural component, a light that cannot be extinguished by troubled circumstances. Since I am here anyway, here is some advice for Christians troubled in faith: Stay away from all Darwinists of whatever type, whether they claim to be Christians, “from a Christian background,” or “from a fundamentalist background.” Do not concern yourself at present about the age of the Earth. You are immortal; the Earth is not. Join a serious church and ask for a godly pastoral counsellor. Find a committed fellowship group, and avoid obvious occasions of sin. Pray and read the Bible daily. Study the lives of the saints and follow godly examples. Practice charity with everyone you meet. Repeat daily as long as you live.

Comments
[…] Did the premier organization of Christians in science really choose to target fellow Christians instead of materialism in science? Apparently so. […]So what if Christian science org not ID? | Uncommon Descent
August 23, 2015
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Well … words mean what people think they mean. Often they don't :-) Once upon a time “science” meant knowledge— And it still does , well, depending on the dictionary you use anyway. I think the definition based on methodology, however, has become the commonly understood one, and I think the evolution to it was natural as opposed to guided. Here's the etymology of the word if you're interested. (A neat link, btw). You can see that for the past 300 years "regular or methodical observations or propositions" has been involved in the meaning. The point is the prestige of the word and the battles waged over what gets to be called “science” and what gets excluded. Ahhh, but don't forget that ID can be accurately and fairly described as science even under the most materialist definition. In fact, the only way they can keep ID from being called a science -- under their definitions -- is by lying. That will bite them in the tail in the not-so-distant future.tribune7
April 27, 2007
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Just to throw in my 2 cents: my way of defining science is to consider it a pursuit of knowledge about the natural world, by observations made of the natural world. The sticking point for me would be the definition of "natural," which in my way of reasoning differs from "material." I consider that which is natural to be a superset of that which is material and that which is metaphysical. By metaphysical I don't mean to suggest supernatural. The metaphysical subset of what is natural can be thought of as things that are considered objectively real, but immaterial, such as information, ideas, concepts, and agency. (An idea is arguably immaterial, and the expression of an idea in various forms would qualify as information.) Science does a good job finding "how" answers such as how things work. However "why" answers, such as why are we here? are not directly answerable by observation. Science solves problems, but does nothing to advance knowledge of human purpose, at least in my estimation, and so it can't deny purpose either, which is what materialist methods of science seek to do--it's an inappropriate alchemy of science and a-theology. This constrains not only what can be explored, but what can be discovered, and thus is parasitic to science. The supernatural differs from the metaphysical in that it requires intervention from outside time and space; metaphysical events do not. I may be stretching the definition of metaphysical, but I can find no better word to represent that which is real but immaterial. Atheists tend to write these things off as illusory, and ideas arguably could be, but information cannot. IMO, science itself should not presuppose the supernatural, nor deny it. It should be agnostic, taking note when extra-natural events are suggested by the evidence, but not abandoning the pursuit of naturalistic explanations even when supernatural influence is strongly suggested. Whatever limits to quantitative knowledge exist will eventually become undeniable, and such has occurred with physics and black holes. Since the supernatural is not directly observable in nature (under normal circumstances) it probably shouldn't be explored by science itself, whether in support or denial of. It might be suggested that this is a sort of NoMa philosophy, but I don't think that it is. In my estimation, it is completely appropriate for science to produce evidence in favor of supernatural events (the big bang, special creation) just not to provide any sort of philosophical gloss to its findings.Apollos
April 27, 2007
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Tribune7 (109): “If you define science simply as the pursuit of knowledge you’d have to include activities like praying for guidance or indulging random curiosity ...” Well ... words mean what people think they mean. Once upon a time “science” meant knowledge—not just obvious, frivolous facts, not hopes and dreams, not wishful thinking, but knowledge. Theology was the “queen of the sciences”—so in those days philosophy and science were not sharply distinguished. The point is not that science has some logically obvious, exclusionary meaning. The point is the prestige of the word and the battles waged over what gets to be called “science” and what gets excluded. Letting the materialists arbitrarily define such an emotive, high prestige word is not a good thing.Rude
April 27, 2007
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I would disagree—science is not so much a methodology as it is (or should be) an honest pursuit of knowledge by people truly wanting to know (and humble enough to admit it when they don’t). OK, here's the problem I see with that definition. If you define science simply as the pursuit of knowledge you'd have to include activities like praying for guidance or indulging random curiosity (I think I'll see what Murphy's doing at the garage) which would generally be considered the opposite of science. And there is nothing wrong with praying for guidance (which I often find effective) or indulging curiosity (Moses investigated the burning bush, after all) Demarcation is not automatically a bad thing either. If a particular word is assigned a particular definition, I'll go along. The important thing is to make sure the other side plays by the same rules and to not let them change the rules if they should find themselves losing.tribune7
April 27, 2007
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Tribune7 at 106:
What is science? It is just a methodology for understanding the rules of nature (i.e. the material).
I would disagree—science is not so much a methodology as it is (or should be) an honest pursuit of knowledge by people truly wanting to know (and humble enough to admit it when they don’t). The methology is the same for everyone—observation, reason, authority—this whether you’re a farmer, a hunter gatherer, or a top scientist. Science didn’t arise because Europeans discovered some magic new methodology. Rather it was a climate of wanting to know and a belief that we can know—it was Judeo-Christian monotheism: belief in a unified, stable world, that we are created with the mind to comprehend that world, the belief in progress and high standards of ethics, etc. The materialists have been trying very hard for a long time to demarcate a boundary between science and religion—why? Because science has achieved prestige through technology and, as Phillip Johnson and Nancy Pearcey have pointed out, whatever is called “science” will therefore define public knowledge. Thus our public knowledge has been constrained by materialism with the disastrous effect that now “who’s to know” whether anything is right or wrong “… and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”Rude
April 27, 2007
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Vladimir Krondan, What a wonderful post. You are our resident philosopher.jerry
April 27, 2007
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ericB -- The reason this process does not support drawing the conclusion that God created life is because science does not have access to evidence concerning life that would distinguish “God did this” from “Some intelligent agent did this”. As far as I can see I agree with you 100 percent. Which gets us to the limit of science and its inability to be a definitive authority. What is science? It is just a methodology for understanding the rules of nature (i.e. the material). What about powers not bound by the rules of nature? Science can't address them and it is silly to attempt to do so. And there clearly are things not bound by the laws of nature. Energy -- which can't be created according to thermodynamics -- comes from somewhere. So there has to be something beyond science that is the authority, and since science can't deal with it that leaves it to other fields.tribune7
April 27, 2007
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Atom - concerning no information in the genome, A very handy way to resolve all the implications of 'information' in biology. Just deny there is such a thing. Have you noticed a tendency on the part of philosophers to deny what they are trying to explain? When a philosopher explores the often absurd consequences of his conceptions, he may run into some horrible empirical fact which totally refutes them. At this point, if he is sensible, he will abandon some of his preconceptions. But if he is not sensible, he will view the empirical fact as a 'problem', to be explained by his 'system'. A 'problem' that can be solved by denying its existence. For some, the preservation of the logical splendor of philosophic delusion is always preferable to empiricism, as we shall see. This has been the case with many philosophers - Hobbes, Hume, Berkeley, Marx, etc., and recently Popper, Kuhn, and others. Hume faced an obvious problem: that science really does work, and so inductive skepticism must be nonsense. Instead of accepting this, Hume argued that empiricism proves nothing, generates no knowledge, etc, and the upshot of that is, science is basically an illusion. Berkeley's odd manner of thinking ran up against an annoying empirical refutation: there really is such a thing as matter, but his philosophical system said otherwise. But far be it from a monkey-wrench cast into the philosophical machine - Berkeley merely concluded that matter does not exist. The same for Popper, etc., who, because of their absurd deductivist preconceptions, had to view empirical science as an insoluble 'problem', and hence, empirical science had to go. The same can be said of those who, because of philosophic considerations, insist that we have no free will. Dawkins assures us we have none whatsoever - that we are blind automata enslaved by genes. Now, free will is an empirical fact - all the experiences of all the humans that ever lived testify to this fact. But what of it? If it stands in the way of some philosophic ism, it has to go. Remember Huxley's silly essay about the 'protoplasm'? Where he hammers away on the point that there is no difference between dead matter and living matter? That's a convenient way for a materialist to approach the problem of life. Simply deny there is such a thing. But we must admit it is an odd position for a biologist to take. Consciousness has been finally explained! Consciousness, we are told by some Darwinian philosophers (like Dennett) is an illusion. I bet you saw that coming. Well it has to be, for if it were not an illusion, it would refute their a priori biology. What of the empirical fact of altruism? That too, is a troublesome thorn in the side for the philosophy of a priori biology. And how do the a priori biologists explain it? By saying it does not exist, that it's an illusion, a case of selfishness disguising itself for clever strategic reasons, etc. And the Marxists have had ample empirical refutation. Has that any effect on them? No. They merely deny the existence of marxist regimes.Vladimir Krondan
April 27, 2007
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ericB, There were other theories out there that fit the data better than Galileo hypothesis. Tycho Brahe's theory fit all the data better even though it was eventually Galileo's ideas which were accepted and Brahe's ideas which were discarded. Actually Kepler had a better handle than did Galileo since Galileo believed in circular orbits while Kepler believed in elliptical orbits. Galileo could not solve the parallax problem nor could he explain why there was no wind as the earth spinned on an axis. If it was rotating at a 1000 miles per hour at the equator, any sensible person realized that something going that fast would create massive winds. We now know better but then they didn't. Galileo also said the tides were due to the earth moving on its axis which was wrong. He was a bright but arrogant fellow who got mixed up in a plague, the 30 years War, supposed conspiracies between two arch enemies, The Holy Roman Empire and France and the literal translation of the bible. It would make a great movie if anyone would be interested. But no one would tell it truthfully.jerry
April 26, 2007
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tribune7: But how is teleological being defined? Is it simply an attempt to determine design? I’d agree completely that would fall under the definition of science. Or is it an argument for the existence of God? I’d say that doesn’t fall under the defintion of science.
The determining issue is whether a proposition can be supported by evidence that is accessible to science. There is a saying that if you see a turtle stranded on top of a fence post, you can know that someone put it there. How can we make that inference? Because as we learn about turtles, we begin to understand that turtles cannot climb up fence posts. If a turtle could climb the post, you couldn't make that inference. For ID, the key fact is that intelligent agents can be observed to create effects that cannot be created by unguided, natural processes. If some effect could also be caused by natural processes, then we would not be justified in making an inference to intelligent agency for that effect. We are only justified in supporting an ID inference when we observe that natural processes by their nature do not behave in a way that leads to those effects. The reason this process does not support drawing the conclusion that God created life is because science does not have access to evidence concerning life that would distinguish "God did this" from "Some intelligent agent did this". We have excellent reasons to infer that natural processes will not invent language, which is needed by life. Language needs intelligence. But that doesn't tell us whether it was a natural or supernatural intelligence.ericB
April 26, 2007
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This has nothing to do with the ASA but here is a criticism of creationism going on right now in California school systems. There is an article about Donald Kennedy, past president of Stanford, who is an expert witness and is critical of the value of creationist materials in Christian schools in California. http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/april11/kennedy-041107.html There is an easily tested hypothesis, Do students who come from Christian schools have less curiosity than those who come from public high schools? Kennedy says they do. Maybe ASA could design the experiment and implement it. If true then it may back their disproval of YEC in the classroom. If not then maybe they should shout down people like Kennedy.jerry
April 26, 2007
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jerry: Galileo was allowed to say and believe anything he wanted about the heavens as long as he said it was a hypothesis. It is when he said it was truth and how he said it that he was censored. Proof of Galileo’s hypothesis wasn’t available till almost 200 years later.
It quite true that Galileo's "punishment" was quite mild, and that he really got himself into trouble by how he conducted himself (e.g. insulting a pope that was formerly not hostile to him). About evidence, it depends on whether you mean evidence for heliocentrism or evidence against geocentrism. Being able to see planetary moons is direct evidence against pure geocentrism. (Yet some refused to even look into the telescope.) But, either way, all of this is beside my actual point. It is harmful to science to require adherence to any predetermined result, a priori. I mention Galileo as an illustration because many who would object loudly to the speck of sawdust in how Galileo was treated would also fail to notice the present day log of methodological naturalism.ericB
April 26, 2007
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Galileo was allowed to say and believe anything he wanted about the heavens as long as he said it was a hypothesis. It is when he said it was truth and how he said it that he was censored. Proof of Galileo's hypothesis wasn't available till almost 200 years later.jerry
April 26, 2007
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Ted Davis, a doyen of the American Scientific Affiliation list, posted a long item at 92, courtesy of WmAD, defending the ASA from my accusation that it has been essentially AWOL during key materialist advances in recent years. The materialists (1) damaged the careers of non-materialists in science, for ideological, NOT evidentiary, reasons - including the careers of people who are Christians and maybe even members of ASA (2) forced almost all taxpayers in Western countries to subsidize their views in textbooks, (3) make a direct appeal against any transcendent view in the recent “anti-God” campaign. (While called “anti-God” for convenience, the campaign is really pro-materialist. Otherwise, how to explain the trashing of Sam Harris, an atheist neuroscience grad student who accepts actual evidence of non-materialism?) Instead of addressing these growing issues - and one never hears any accounting of their failures - ASA committed itself to the essentially silly goal of combatting young earth creationism - a doctrinal position of some fundamentalist religious denominations that have almost no key societal impact. Having read Davis’s post, I see nothing to revise. What was missing all along (and still is) was any obvious concern about the dominance of materialism in the sciences, in defiance of evidence, resulting in the problems described above - as well as many other problems, including some that will be clearly detailed in The Spiritual Brain (Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, August 2007). I am glad to learn from Davis's post that ASA members live a life that contradicts “Dawkins and company.” Indeed, I find that easy to believe. The rumpled, scruffy people who ask me to buy them breakfast at the Horton’s on Sunday morning live such a life by virtue of their very existence. That is the central thesis of non-materialism, of which the Christian tradition is an integral (and in my personal opinion the central) part. I would not quarrel with the view that ASA members are more virtuous than the general run of humanity - including the groups I associate with - if that view is strongly asserted by people I respect. But how ASA members live has nothing to do with confuting Dawkins and company in practical terms. As John Paul II said, when writing on evolution, that quality of direct connection to the divine life is integral to humanity. That was PRECISELY why Dawkins attacked John Paul II for his view s on evolution , while others were content to simply misrepresent him. I monitored the ASA list for some years while writing my book, By Design or by Chance?, and continued to follow the list when I decided to make the intelligent design controversy a major beat. I had realized while writing Design or Chance? that the intelligent design controversy would explode in the mid-part of this decade and go international. So of course I wanted to assess the co-dependence of an identified Christian establishment with the materialism that has long suffered it to exist - but only according to strict limitations - before intelligent design became an important challenge. In my view, if he ASA list is anything to go by, the organization continues to conform to those limitations even when there is no longer any need. My sense is, they could break free now if they wanted. But perhaps they don't.O'Leary
April 26, 2007
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p.s. To require all scientists to operate as though naturalism is true is no different in kind from requiring Galileo to operate as though a particular understanding of the heavens is true.ericB
April 26, 2007
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TED DAVIS: Some of us agree with you that methodological naturalism should be directly refuted, and some of us don’t; but we all agree that metaphysical naturalism is a false religion, based on false assumptions about God, humanity, and the creation, and we all try to show the weaknesses of atheism while providing a more thoughtful alternative.
I appreciate Ted Davis taking the time to offer his thoughtful and informative response, and I greatly appreciate the respectful and exemplary tone in which he has offered it. Even if he disagrees with me, I find it a refreshing and commendable expression. That said, I do find the proposition of holding on to methodological naturalism to be untenable. If we can agree that (metaphysical) naturalism is a false premise, then it follows necessarily that doing science as though it were true means one is committing in advance to reasoning from a false premise. Why would you ever want to willingly obligate yourself in advance of evidence to reasoning about nature as though a falsehood were true? Or to never drawing a conclusion that could be considered to conflict with that false premise? To be healthy, science should be free of obligatory, a priori commitments about what the answers will turn out to be in advance of considering the evidence. We would never agree to a trial that was required in advance to find the defendent guilty, and whose only job was to find the best explanation of the evidence that arrives at that predetermined result.ericB
April 26, 2007
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George Murphy states at 83, "Or what would be the point of O’Leary, in the lead article here, calling attention to an “anti-God campaign” if she had no interest in religion? " I've never claimed to have no interest in religion. I am a Roman Catholic in communion with the Church, and I make that clear at the bottom of almost every post to my own ID blog, the Post-Darwinist. It does not follow that a given intelligent design thesis backs a specific theology. If the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex, is that fact to be credited to one religious system over another? Which one? Why? If irreducible complexity is the best explanation of a given phenomenon in living nature, all it really means is that radical materialism and its creation story, Darwinism, are not true. As for the anti-God campaign, many people who have no personal interest in religion have noticed it. Actually, it would be hard not to notice. That was why I was initially so surprised at the general failure of response on the part of ASA, which kicked off this whole series of posts. A person who wants to demonstrate my personal interest in religion would be better off to quote the information at the foot of regular posts to the Post-Darwinist (that I am a Catholic in communion with the church and have no time for village atheism or random Jesus-hollering) than to note that I am aware of the anti-God campaign and its implications. The latter proves nothing except that I keep up with my faith and science beat, as a hack is bound to do.O'Leary
April 26, 2007
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Hi scordova [sort of off-topic?]: You wrote... "In fact the opposite often happens, since it is by the policy of dogmatism that untruths are defended, the Bible being defended by way of reciting of creed does not convey the appearance of inherent truthfulness to the doubting Thomases out there who would sincerely like to believe. One does not need dogmatism to enforce acceptance of the approximations known as Newton’s laws of motion or his theory of universal gravitation." Maybe I'm misreading you, but... If I look back to every science course I ever took -- there were many! -- I can recall writing exams where, unless things were answered precisely, there would be certain failure. In fact, all my courses required examinations. In the NT Jesus asks a question: Who do you say that I am? An exam question to be sure, and likely THE most important exam question of all time. So when Christians are regularly asked that exam question, as they have been asked for upwards of 2000 years, they respond. They respond by identifying what is considered to be orthodox Christian belief: the Creed. Without adherence to such precise dogmatism there is opportunity for almost countless differences of opinion -- and so there are. As you can appreciate, Christianity is something, rather than anything. Also, ID. Unless you believe your eyes and intellect that design is observable, you don't fit the category of IDer. Dogmatism of what is considered to be the truth is mandatory for any intellectual progress. Arguments are not won by wish-washy brain-squalls. Important arguments have been won in arenas where Christian blood flowed freely -- and necessarily. And, truth is not won by mixing it with what is untrue. Being dogmatic with the eyes open is quite different from being dogmatic with the eyes shut. But I'm almost sure you agree -- with about 15% certainty? ;-) Now, GM has (has been) signed off. Funny, but my neural connections seem to interpret the "Auf Wiedersehen" as a direct request for a "Sieg Heil". From the little I've read from GM his ideas would tend to lean towards the left, liberal, syncretistic side of things. Luther's "Theology of the Cross", which GM would seem to champion is likely the basis for that bent. A bent, IMO, that leads to blindness to the stark and clear view of ID. I can't imagine that many, or most, ASA adherents would go along with those notions. It would appear this particular "Theology of the Cross" cannot see the same glory of God the stars see. It couldn't comprehend God's encore of daisies, each and every Spring.It couldn't appreciate the "song in the soul set free". Faith would be a jump into the dark rather than into the light, as Polkinghorne might say. Personally, I would go along with Denyse, and not touch this promiscuous association with materialism, with a ten-foot pole. With a ten-foot polemic, that's a different matter. I really do think YECs are quite wrong. I really do think TE is quite wrong. Is one worse than the other? IMO, YECs have a doctine of God that maintains his simultaneous transcendence and immanence: his ontological separation from creation, yet his providential and sustaining connection. The second Person of the Trinity became one of us so that we could observe, even measure. Faith is not blind, it is substance that cannot be seen, it is the tangible promise of expectation. OECs, ditto. TEs, on the other hand, it seems to me, do not make the transcendence/immanence distinction to the same degree. God is allowed to hide himself in materialism in order to effect a syncretistic, and palatable, primeval soup. Presumably, out of this slime, emerges atheist attractants, and apposite anathemas to opponents. Such a different idea (doctrine) of God would seem to indicate many orders of magnitude difference between Y/OECs and TEs. But my latest SALVO has just arrived, so must stop!!!eebrom
April 26, 2007
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Why do these people get so hot under the collar about YEC? They seem to be wanting a statement from us that it is absolutely impossible for the age of the earth to be 7,000 or so years. The seem to unwilling to accept "it seems unlikely" or "evidence indicates it is 4.5 billion years old" but demand that we declare calculations based on Biblical genealogies to be wrong and to ban or humiliate anyone who disagrees.tribune7
April 26, 2007
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TED DAVIS ASKED ME TO POST THIS OPEN LETTER TO DENYSE AND ME. --WmAD =-=-=-=- Dear Bill and Denyse, I do not think it is fair to criticize the leadership of the ASA on your blog, "Uncommon Descent," for calling attention to the following issue, which one of our members worded as follows: "The young-earth message has bitten deeply into the evangelical culture, and people trust this message. What will it take to show people believably that the young-earth view is not the only possible one, without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that position?" In the context of the ASA and its history (since 1941), Jack Haas' letter is simply a matter of looking over our shoulders at the inroads that YECs have made in conservative churches since the 1970s, while we are engaged in our primary mission of advancing the cause of Christ in the scientific community. To the best of my knowledge, neither of you holds to the YE view, and it cannot be too difficult for you to understand the concern stated above. How one could construe this as an effort to attack fellow Christians is beyond me. The language is very clear; many in the ASA are concerned about “the young-earth view,” but we are no less concerned to speak to that "without undermining the Christianity or sincerity of those that hold that position." I fail to see how one can fairly accuse the ASA of wanting to attack fellow Christians, on the basis of this document. Trying to convince people that there are multiple views about origins within the Christian community is hardly equivalent to attacking fellow Christians. Indeed, would it not be fair to say that some ID advocates try to do precisely the same thing? Don’t they want some fellow Christians to think that there are alternatives to TE? Or YEC? As for scientific materialism (here you picked up on Jack's words, where you apparently ignored them above), you need to understand two highly relevant points. First, ASA was founded at Moody Bible Institute by five men, a mix of OECs and at least one YEC (the late Harold Hartzler). Their concern was similar to that of leading anti-evolutionist Harry Rimmer at the time: to use what they took for genuine science to help uphold the faith of the youth. An excellent purpose then, and I still think so now. To the extent that you try to accomplish the same goal, I applaud. The problem was that their view of genuine science was far too Baconian, what I call the "Dragnet" view of science: "Just the facts, ma'am." The powerful coherence found in larger "theories" did not qualify in their minds as legitimate science, even though this has been a key part of scientific reasoning since the early 17th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, as people like Bernard Ramm, Elving Anderson, Richard Bube, and many others moved into the ASA, and as a much larger number of professional scientists joined, the Baconian view no longer dominated the ASA. Most of us do not view H-D science, including the historical sciences, as inherently suspect; we don't identify them pure and simple with "materialism." This is what Jack was probably referring to. This context is vital to understand the point. If the ASA moved, it wasn’t recently, it was at some point in the 1950s and into the 1960s. It’s no accident that Henry Morris and some others left the ASA in the early 1960s to form the Creation Research Society. Whatever may be said about the ASA as we find it today, it is not possible to say that it is a “creationist” organization in the usual (popular) sense of that term. It isn’t clear that it really ever was such, but it was friendlier to creationism in that first decade. It is also true that, especially since the 1970s, many in the ASA have primary interests in areas other than “origins,” although there is no lack of interest in that topic even today. I myself would say that is a primary area of interest, but many of my friends are much more interested in stewardship, bioethics, genetics, HPS (which is obviously my number one interest), or even theology. We’re very interdisciplinary and more widely ranging than we were a few decades ago. As for genuine materialism, we have not lost our way, not at all. In response to claims that we don’t confront atheism, for whatever stated or implied reasons (I won’t review them here, except to say that gutlessness is not left out of the mix), I have several times in various places responded to this. Just this morning on the ASA list, I reiterated comments I have made before about multiple visions of Christian vocation among ASA members (including those members who advance ID) and different strategies that are used to respond to the larger cultural claims that God is a fiction and religion is not something that smart people believe. We entirely agree, you and I, about the offensive and dangerous nature of this claim. You have your ways of responding, I have mine, and other ASA members have theirs. But respond we do. I could literally fill this blog with examples, but let me limit myself to a few prominent, recent ones that many in cyberspace have probably noticed. Owen Gingerich's recent Noble lectures at Harvard (the same place where Pinker and others have prevented students from even taking one course on religion, perhaps the most secular university in the nation), published as “God’s Universe”, directly challenge a nihilistic interpretation of the universe, and even appeal to “design” in doing so. Francis Collins' many activities, which you have (apparently somewhat grudgingly) acknowledged on UD, are so very important for their high visibility and for the contradiction that Collins himself represents to Dennett and the “brights.” Not to be missed is Randy Isaac’s important essay in the current issue of “Phi Kappa Phi Forum,” which we will shortly be adding to the ASA website. That is a very secular venue, but Randy’s message is clear and to the point about Dawkins, Dennett, and Provine, not to mention the falsity of the “warfare” thesis about the history of science and religion. Speaking of the warfare view, my entire scholarly career has been devoted to debunking it, piece by piece and bit by bit, and to providing very helpful (I hope) alternative understandings of the rich and multifaceted historical relationship between science and Christianity. That is my own vocation: to undermine Dawkins and company historically, while at the same time providing ideas and examples (ie, examples taken from history since the mid-17th century) of Christians doing science and interpreting science to larger audiences in ways that are faithful to the science and faithful to Christ. I speak about this anywhere I am invited, including top research universities. (Next month, Owen Gingerich and I will be on a panel at a theater in Philadelphia, where another panelist is Harvard evolutionary psychologist Mark Hauser. We do what we can.) Several other ASA authors have written very helpful defenses of Christian theism, including rebuttals of scientific atheism; and I don’t need to remind you that quite a few ID authors are ASA members themselves. They have apparently found our journal, annual meeting, and networking helpful to advancing their visions of science as Christian vocation. On a different level, there are the apologetics ministries of Fred Heeren and Hugh Ross, both of whom are ASA members. In this context, it is vitally important not to miss the significance of teaching, mentoring, and being public witnesses on highly secular campuses. This goes under the radar screen most of the time, unless you know those campuses. But it’s extremely important, since it influences lives and minds at crucial points of intellectual and spiritual development. These activities need to be seen, and credited, and the role of the ASA in helping these members carry out their vocations, by linking them with others of like mind and heart, is vital. Loren Haarsma, whose essay “Does Science Exclude God?” in Keith Miller’s book (“Perspectives on an Evolving Creation”) is one of the best I have ever read, has taught with his wife Deborah Haarsma courses on Christianity and science at secular colleges like Haverford and in China. They both teach at Calvin, which is not a secular school, but their enormously helpful and thoughtful materials are partly available online, and are being made available soon in printed form to churches. Many others ASA members do similar things*again, perhaps not on your radar screen, in which case you might want to adjust the frequency. Ian Hutchinson teaches a terrific course about “the Faith of Great Scientists” at MIT; Walter Bradley, David Vader, Martin Price and so many others help initiate their students into meeting the basic needs of impoverished people around the world. (What I want you to see here is the power of this type of witness, in response to the empty morality of Dawkins and company. Actions really do speak louder than words.) You know of course about Walter’s strong pro-ID stance; it is worth noting that he will be president of the ASA next year, when I will be VP. For much of his career (he is now retired), Dick Bube taught Stanford students about science and Christianity, wrote about it in several books, and edited the ASA Journal. Bob Griffiths and Gary Patterson teach courses at Carnegie Mellon, David Snoke brings religious speakers to Pitt, Bob Kaita mentors students at Princeton. And Nobel laureates Bill Phillips and Charles Townes (the latter not a member, but on our advisory board) speak against scientific atheism all the time; they just aren’t as “in your face” as some others, and not as widely publicized. I could keep going all day, which I haven’t got; I’ve left out so many others, even top names like Fritz Schaeffer and Elving Anderson. These are all ASA people who courageously bring Christian perspectives on science to very secular places, in various ways. They may not get on the radio opposite Dawkins or on the cover of Time magazine, but they count. Some prefer ID to TE, some prefer TE to ID, and some would say they like both. As for those who prefer TE, you may believe that a more aggressive response to scientific atheism, such as that represented by ID, would be more effective in the long run. If so, that would be simply a difference of opinion about strategy, not a failure on the part of ASA members to confront and engage the claims of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and company. Some of us agree with you that methodological naturalism should be directly refuted, and some of us don’t; but we all agree that metaphysical naturalism is a false religion, based on false assumptions about God, humanity, and the creation, and we all try to show the weaknesses of atheism while providing a more thoughtful alternative. Simply b/c most of us don’t publish in “Salvo” magazine or get invited to debate Michael Shermer, does not mean that we don’t confront the atheists. You have stated on your blog, Bill, that you won’t let anyone “insult” Denyse there, and that those of us who participate in the ASA list (which you can post to anytime you wish) need to “watch your step” if we respond to her charges. You say that you are ready to “boot anyone at the least provocation.” I can’t imagine that any fair-minded person would regard this post as provocative, in the sense you seem to have in mind. I ask you, therefore, to post this entire message on your blog, as an appropriate response to Denyse. As you know, Bill, technical problems with your server have prevented my posts from going through. I’m sure your moderators can put this post directly onto the blog; or you could do it yourself. Please take care of this for me. For my part, this is all I wish to say, but I’ll watch for any further comments on UD or the ASA list. TedWilliam Dembski
April 26, 2007
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George Murphy: Your D&D comment merits a boot. I see subsequently that are claiming to remove yourself from the discussion here. That's a happy coincidence. Yet to ensure that you don't change your mind, I'm disabling your posting privileges.William Dembski
April 26, 2007
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Just a brief comment on theological implications. The major reason ID gets rejected (Dover for e.g) is the incorrect assumption that it is necessarily tied to religion or belief in God. Making this connection is the major tactic of IDs opponents. The connection, however, is not obligate. To speculate, (which is not part of the official ID position, note) the designer(s) could be people much like us, only significantly more advanced in the biological sciences. Certainly modifying biological designs is not beyond our capacity even now. http://www.panspermia.org/ Materialists especially should start taking panspermia seriously; It's their best hope of a replacement theory which fits the evidence much better than Darwinism, but still allows the possibility of only natural causes. Note that, unlike Darwinism, it does not exclude the possibilty of divine intervention either. It's a theory that really ought to be looked at seriously by all parties to this debate. http://www.panspermia.org/dacook
April 26, 2007
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George Murphy wants to talk about the theological implications of Intelligent Design. Well, no ID adherent denies that there are theological implications to ID, for if ID is right in identifying design in the biological sphere then this finding is compatible with the interventionist deity of the Bible (and of many other traditions)—but not with the deity of TE. So we don’t differ here. But we do differ in that ID is not driven by theology whereas the Darwinism of most TEs is driven by theology. ID is the richer project, as others have noted, in that there are no a priori bans on design and agency. What we find is what we find—even if it means we will have to readjust our theology. In this sense “there is no theology of ID.”Rude
April 26, 2007
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George Murphy, "3) At the risk of stating the obvious, this refusal to discuss theological implications of ID by its partisans is not paralleled by a refusal of those who reject ID" What do you mean by "theology?" Certainly not any particular religious tradition with it's holy books and artifacts. ID necessarily posits that at least one intelligence is partly responsible for life on this planet. Beyond that it implies nothing, as far as I can tell, neither about the nature of the designer nor the nature of the universe. So as an irreligious hedonist (who was raised in a Christian home and has an admitted affinity to the traditions thereof) I'd like to know what you have in mind. But, alas, you've left the building.mike1962
April 26, 2007
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Tribune7, "Here’s a homework assignment. Go to Panda’s Thumb and begin a discussion of the theological implications of neo-Darwinism. Report back what happens." I love it.jerry
April 26, 2007
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That there is a religious component of the ID movement (& note that I speak of the movement as a whole, not of all individual IDers) is quite obvious George, I will submit there is literally a greater religious component to Bacon's Novum Organum, which is the foundational work of science, than anything in the canon of ID. IDers generally - & especially those involved in the exchanges here, are unwilling to engage in serious & thoughtful discussions of the theological implications of their religious beliefs George, I think what upsets you is not so much that we are unwilling to dicuss theological implications, but that we don't agree with your conclusions. Turn it around: what are the theological implications of neo-Darwinism (or paleo-Darwinism for that matter)? Here's a homework assignment. Go to Panda's Thumb and begin a discussion of the theological implications of neo-Darwinism. Report back what happens.tribune7
April 26, 2007
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George you just want to use your theological views as a means to an end i.e. to discredit ID. Since that is obvious why should it surprise you that you find no takers to argue against your agenda? Your trite comment is just an exercise in bitter egotism. You came, you saw, you didn't conquer because no one cared. So it must be because we aren't elevated enough to acknowledge the divine mercy you come to bestow. Get over yourself. The path to grace is through humility.mentok
April 26, 2007
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great_ape, Here is my take on the distinction. Materialism is one manifestation of atheism in the sense that it presupposed that there is no God. (We can put aside just what this God is for the moment and He definitely does not have to be the Judeo-Christian God.) Materialism as the term is used here says that everything that ever happened has only causes that are natural, that is there is nothing outside of matter and energy which is necessary to explain every phenomena of the history of the universe. There are two forms of it; 1) there is no need for something outside of the material universe and a stronger version 2) there isn't anything. Both are forms of atheism. The second directly and the first indirectly. If God existed then the first version says He has never done anything because only things within the universe are needed to explain what has happened so He essentially doesn't exist. This is similar to a lot of the Deism beliefs in the 17th and 18th centuries where they may have granted a God created the universe but He then retired or hasn't been seen since. However, suppose that God exists and that He did have some interaction with the universe since its beginning. This interaction would be an override of the natural forces within the universe at least once. As such the empiricism of science would not be able to explain it. So in this way the empiricism you are pointing to would in at least one case have to fall short. Maybe no one would know just where God intervened but the philosophy would have to accept that there may be some places where we will never find an answer. It does not limit science from pursuing anything but just says in the back of their minds, that maybe here we will not find an answer. The materialism we object to is the one that say the last two paragraphs are nonsense or impossible and should never be considered in science and especially the teaching of science in the curriculum. Intelligent Design is a stronger case of the previous. It says that maybe at some place along the line an intelligence was necessary to affect a course of events. This intelligence could be God Himself or could be something else. That is a question that is a philosophical question probably best debated outside of science. Intelligent Design also says that there may be some markers that would indicate that an event was designed by this intelligence. We can certainly discuss what some of these markers might be. In fact hypothesizing an intelligence, leads to the same sub set of hypotheses that empiricist science would explore but in addition it leads to a larger super set that could be investigated. So materialism explores a smaller set of hypotheses at the moment than would someone with an ID viewpoint. Certainly others here may have a better take on the debate but this is how I see it. I personally think there are two instances of interference by God and probably many more. These are the fine tuning of the universe and the origin of life itself. Both seem such low probability events that they defy credulity to say that natural forces produced each. But my assessment does not mean that each must not be researched only that it might not have a solution outside of intelligence.jerry
April 26, 2007
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It's obviously time to say good-bye since folks here seem to be either ignorant of, or uninterested in, the issues I've raised - or both. A few closing comments: 1) I admit to being a bit casual about the way I've used the words "religion" and "theology" here. Theology involves thinking about one's religious commitments & trying to make sense of them - "faith in search on understanding" in the classic phrase. That there is a religious component of the ID movement (& note that I speak of the movement as a whole, not of all individual IDers) is quite obvious - again I note Dembski's statement that "intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the language of information theory." Or what would be the point of O'Leary, in the lead article here, calling attention to an "anti-God campaign" if she had no interest in religion? But having said that, there's some truth in the statement of tribune7 that "There is no theology of ID," though not in the way he/she meant. I.e., IDers generally - & especially those involved in the exchanges here, are unwilling to engage in serious & thoughtful discussions of the theological implications of their religious beliefs and their connections with their broader (in most cases I think) Judaeo-Christian tradition. This is not to say that no IDers have given any thought to these matters. But even those who do have some theological competence seem singularly unwilling to discuss them publically. E.g., in the "Objections to Design" appendix of _Intelligent Design_, Dembski does not deal with any serious objections from the standpoint of Christian theology. 2) I have said before, & meant, that theology should not dictate to science & that I realize that there are genuine scientific matters involved in ID. They are simply not the matters I wanted to discuss here. If nobody here wants to talk about the theological issues, fine, my prior experience of avoidance is reinforced, Auf Wiedersehen. But don't try to tell me that I have some obligation to enter into discussion on other aspects of ID, important though they may be. 3) At the risk of stating the obvious, this refusal to discuss theological implications of ID by its partisans is not paralleled by a refusal of those who reject ID (including those who are Christians) to discuss the science. There have already been many discussions of that, & the fact that people here simply blow them off doesn't change the fact. My point in referring to Miller & Collins was not that they are "authorities" but that the scientific discussion is taking place quite well without my input. Now I guess I should check the thread on Dembski's article to see if I need to make any concluding remarks there. But as far as this one is concerned, I'm out.George Murphy
April 26, 2007
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