Denyse O’Leary’s post today at her Post-Darwinist blog takes Simon Conway Morris to task for attacking ID on bogus theological grounds (go here). Her post has finally moved me to begin a series here at UD on ID’s Cultured Theological Despisers. I had been thinking about doing this for some time. In fact, I already have one post on this blog (also titled “ID’s Cultured Theological Despisers” — go here) in which I challenged Conway Morris’s abuse of theology against ID. I now intend to make such postings, challenging a range of theologically motivated attacks on ID, a regular feature of this blog.
With regard to Simon Conway Morris, I’ve known him since the spring of 2000, when he spoke at a conference I helped organize (Baylor’s Nature of Nature Conference). At the time, he was sympathetic to ID — in fact openly so at the conference. Then in August of 2000 he took part in an ID symposium at New College, Oxford (Berlinski, Denton, and other Discovery Institute principals were there as well). It was clear at that meeting that he had turned against ID.
Since then he has had nothing kind to say about ID (at least on the biological side; he did provide a jacket endorsement for The Privileged Planet). In my interactions with him, I’ve found him condescending and evasive. At no point in our interactions (since the early days at Baylor) have I found him to engage ID’s actual arguments, explaining why they are defective on their own terms (as opposed to for theological reasons) and how his own approach is preferable scientifically. What I see from him are side-jabs, raising irrelevant considerations from theology and philosophy (cf. my review of Life’s Solution here: http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.12.Conway_Morris_Solution.pdf).
Conway Morris’s message, along with those of his fellow theistic evolutionists, is, Don’t mess with the science; people like Dawkins are merely wrong about the implications they draw from the science. The ID approach, by contrast, is far more radical and is, in fact, winning the day, which I suspect is why Conway Morris and his colleagues are digging in their heels against ID. This has nothing to do with Christian charity or the search for truth, in my view, but everything with defending turf and reputation. ID is the academic equivalent of leprosy. Hence the constant ritualistic denunciations of it.
I therefore regard Denyse O’Leary as entirely on target in challenging Conway Morris the way she does on her blog. This is simply a matter of keeping unfair critics of ID like Conway Morris honest. Right now, in their cozy cossetted cocoons, these critics are permitted any denunciation of ID, no matter how ill-conceived or uninformed, and are moreover rewarded for their attacks on ID with Templeton bucks (go here — scroll down and see if you recognize some of the names).