Venema, department head at Trinity Western University, claims to have formerly seen the design of life, but has now seen da light, and is an “evolutionary creationist” (Christian Darwinist), posting BioLogos. All due to reading Mike Behe’s Edge of Evolution.
Thomas Cudworth dissects Venema’s BioLogos post:
He says he was an ardent supporter of ID. Really? Then how come no one in the ID movement has any memory whatsoever of his support? What conferences did he organize to bring in pro-ID speakers? What positive book reviews of ID books did he write on Amazon, or in his local newspaper, or in any other venue? On what internet debating sites did he sign his name to defenses of ID against its critics? Where on Panda’s Thumb or Pharyngula or TalkOrigins will we find his sterling defense of ID? On what platform did he debate Eugenie Scott or P. Z. Myers?
Cudworth, I’ve covered this beat for a decade now, and never once heard of the man except when he was trashing the design of life at BioLogos. Trust me, he’s a ringer.
Overall, Dr. Venema’s series on why he abandoned ID is much like his series of articles on Signature in the Cell — an intellectual washout. It contributes nothing to the serious discussion of ID notions and ID arguments. If this is the best argument that Biologos can marshal against ID, its days are numbered.
No, alas. If past experience is any guide, if BioLogos can get billionaires like Paul Allen, well-endowed churches, or government grants to support their efforts, they will thrive. And contributing to a serious discussion is unwise in that market.
That said, I too had a queasy feeling about Venema’s newfound enlightenment. But I was coming from a different quarter from Cudworth. Venema tells us,
Though it is not polite to recount it (and I want to be clear that I hold no animosity towards Dr. Behe, but merely want to share my initial reaction) I clearly recall putting EoE down on my desk thinking, “What is this?” I was shocked: I had fully expected to once again be amazed and amused watching Behe take evolution down a peg or two. Yet here I was, knowing virtually nothing of evolution, and already I was seeing nothing but holes in Behe’s argument.
Problem is, if Venema knew anything at all about anything at all, he knew one thing: Behe is a man much hounded by tenured Darwin bores, their trolls-in-training, and hordes of trolls joining the fray. Which is to say, it pays to be a tenured Darwin bore. And the trolls-in-training cling to the hope of becoming one, just as the hordes hope to gain the approval of one. At a Christian university, one must yay-hoo for Jay-hoo from time to time, of course, but that just adds to the fun.
It doesn’t pay to be Mike Behe. Or anyone who supports him. So yes, Venema, newly enlightened, is unconvincing: Sometimes what a person does not discuss is most revealing. He says he knew “virtually nothing of evolution,” but it’s hard to imagine he did not know which way the wind is blowing.
I will shortly be starting a series of seven questions about BioLogos (along the lines of why it even exists). The reason is that I get the sense BioLogos could be in some kind of trouble. Their Paul Allen has not appeared. Absent him, the Search for Darwin’s Christ is not a priority anywhere.
Note: Here, so you can get a feel for the real Mike Behe, we offer his article pointing out why the recently advanced theory of neutral evolution does not provide a mechanism for producing functional complexity. The comparison with bureaucracy, on the part of the theory’s authors, is more apt than they surely intended: Bureaucracies inhibit functionality as they grow. Story for another day, that.