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Rosenhouse praises Discovery Institute Fellow John Angus Campbell

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Campbell at JMU

Can you believe it? I was there that night also. I offer my competing account of the event.

Campbell argued that Darwin’s idea can’t be fully understood without understanding the idea Darwin was seeking to replace, namely (using today’s jargon) intelligent design. Thus to learn about Darwin correctly, one must learn about intelligent design.

Darwin explicitly points out he’s going after “special creation”, “plan of creation” or “unity of design”. (See Chapter 14.)

It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the `plan of creation,’ `unity of design,’ &c.,

This grand fact of the grouping of all organic beings seems to me utterly inexplicable on the theory of creation.

What is the proper relationship of special creation to intelligent design? [and this is my clarification, not John Campbell’s] Intelligent design is a necessary but not sufficient condition for special creation. This logically implies that if one can negate the design argument through a designer substitute (Darwinian mechanisms), one can destroy not only the design argument, but also the case for special creation.

To illustrate, a typical car needs fuel to run. Fuel is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a car to run (a lot of other things like electricity and oil are needed to make a car run, not just fuel). But if there is no fuel, the car doesn’t run.

In like manner, if there is no intelligent design, there is no special creation. In fact, since intelligent design is a necessary condition for theories like Front Loading, PEH, etc., they (in addition to special creation) would be swept away if Darwin’s hypothesis were true.

Darwin attacked the idea of special creation by attacking the intelligent design argument.[end of my clarifying remarks and back to Campbell]. Thus to understand Darwin, one must understand intelligent design.

Campbell said (to me later), the other great work we should read was by Mills, and that he would especially admonish his fellow Darwinists to heed Mills words:

On Liberty

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. …

We have now recognized the necessity to the mental well-being of mankind (on which all their other well-being depends) of freedom of opinion, and freedom of the expression of opinion, on four distinct grounds; which we will now briefly recapitulate.

First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.

Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.

Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.

And not only this, but fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but encumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.

There were some creationists from the Shenandoah Valley Family Forum asking of Campbell as he concluded one of his remarks, “Would it be alright if with you if we all said, Amen?”. Campbell might well be one of the few Darwinists who ever received such an honor from a group of creationists!


Dr. Rosenhouse responded to my comment #6 here:
Round 2 with Cordova

I do appreciate the time he has taken to offer his criticism of my opinion, and I would hope the readers would respect his scholarship on Darwin's work.

However, let's say for the argument sake that the passages I identified as anti-Design arguments by Darwin were not as I had earlier characterized them. I would then leave the reader to ponder this quote (bolding mine) which can be found at Atheists United where Darwin describes his ideas in relation to the design argument:

The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection had been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.

Moving on, I can understand Dr. Rosenhouse's concern that the term ID was being equivocated. Certainly there are differences between Paley's design argument and the design argument of today, but there are similaries, and I hope it was clear that I did not view them as exactly identical.

I'm appreciative Rosenhouse feels at least Paley's version of ID is admissible in class as a backdrop to Darwin's idea.

Regarding the modern version of ID, let me state, I've been reluctant to get involved with the issue of ID and/or creation science and theology in public schools. My involvement has been at the college level up until now.

However, because I have been recently sought out to provide inputs on the issue of public schools by certain parties in Dr. Rosenhouse's town of Harrisonburg, I have been forced to finally take a position on the issues.

What my views on public schools are deserves a different post. Let me offer briefly that I think it very unpractical to get non-ID teachers, or teachers who despise ID, to teach ID. Furthermore, a lot of creationist parents wouldn't want their kids learning creationism from non-creationists. Thus to a great degree, some issues are moot...

Also, I certainly don't want anti-ID parents feeling their kids are being asked to accept things they don't agree with, or that their kids are being proseletyzed.

There are more issues to delve into regarding this, and perhaps when I have time I'll post on it. I have been talking with the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State on this delicate issue, and am actively soliciting their ideas on what they would find mutually agreeable. I would only want a solution that has broad support from both sides. I think a situation like Dover is the last thing either side wants to face....

John Angus Campbell's visit was helpful in giving many of us ideas how to deal with these issues. The first step is getting both sides to talk, and he is hopeful the Harrisonburg community could be a model for the nation on how to deal with this issue. That's quite a tall order for a community to live up to, but well, it's worth a try to see how far the spirit of cooperation can work.



Rosenhouse responded Cordova on Campbell.

In response, I edited my earilier post to show where I inserted my personal clarifying comments versus Campbell's ideas. The quote by Mills was recited by Campbell almost verbatim from memory by Campbell, and I think it summarized best Campbell's aims for Democracy and Education....

Campbell repeatedly said, "Darwin was addressing the prevailing view of the time, and that view would be known in today's terms as intelligent design". Campbell made some simplifications as there are somethings that are different, but many things the same since 1859 regarding the design hypothesis.

Rosenhouse objects by saying that Darwin was arguing for common descent and the mutability of species as the conclusion of the theory. However, Rosenhouse misses the fact that Darwin had to use anti-Design arguments, particularly in chapter six to justify his conclusion. Also his writing was targeted at the pro-Design culture of the time. To arrive at that conclusion, Darwin had to make anti-Design arguments. One will see his writings anticipate design arguments of his day and today:

In Chapter 6

Organs of extreme perfection and complication.
It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye to a telescope. We know that this instrument has been perfected by the long-continued efforts of the highest human intellects; and we naturally infer that the eye has been formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference be presumptuous? Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man?
may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the Creator are to those of man?
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

"It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye to a telescope," and in the modern day it is scarecly possible to avoid comparing the flagellum to an outboard motor, or some parts of the cellular machinery with a computer, or biological clock with clocks. Darwin recognized he had to address the design argument for his anti-creationist theory to be received.

Darwin would not reach Chapter 14 had he not felt he offered a sufficient designer substitute. I think Jason is underestimating the importance of the anti-design arguments which are in Darwin's work. Darwin recognizes that the problem of design in "organs of extreme perfection" could sink his whole theory. And that is very much the same battle ground being fought today!

But let us look at my claim, "a necessary condition for special creation is intelligent design." Darwin claims special creation can be negated by the success natural selection argument. The Natural selection argument however can be overturned by the success of the design argument. Through the manipulation of thes ideas via symbolic logic, one will see the logical consequence of this is that intelligent design is a necessary but not sufficient condition for special creation, just as I claimed. Thus I demonstrate even from Darwin's writings that my claim is justified: "a necessary condition for special creation is intelligent design."

In fact, what Jason call's "poppy cock" is the very thing Darwin affirms: the issue of "special creations" hinges on the success of the design argument.

Finally, I also pointed out in the modern day, there are other origins scenarios which hinge on the design argument like PEH and FLE. One cannot therefore say ID=creationism. I hope I have shown the proper relationship of design to the idea of special creation.

Rosenhouse may have been a bit confused when I interjected my commentary versus the account of Campbell's thesis, and I made some editing changes to hopefully clarify Campbell's ideas versus mine.


Why in Sam Hill is he still a Darwinist? Scott
Rosenhouse wrote: “…the problem comes in presenting the modern incarnation of ID as a legitimate scientific theory alongside evolution. I argued that we should not do that because the arguments ID proponents make are totally false. I also pointed out that civility is a two-way street, and that considering that all of the leading ID proponents engage in , dishonest rhetoric, it was a little galling that I was expected to be civil towards them.” Both sides believe that there's at least some dishonesty in their opponents rhetoric, but guys like this have branded their opponents "liars" and exempted themselves from any obligation to be civil. In doing so, they disrespect the majority of Americans who are at least willing to give ID the benefit of the doubt. russ
There's a video talk given by Campbell on the http://www.uctv.tv/library-human.asp?series=show&seriesID=Focus_on_Origins website (the talk "The Rhetoric of Darwin" - second talk from the top in the list) ozcanyoner
I don't read Darwinist blogs very often, but your link intriqued me. I was rewarded for my effort by this intriguing comment (among others): "...the problem comes in presenting the modern incarnation of ID as a legitimate scientific theory alongside evolution. I argued that we should not do that because the arguments ID proponents make are totally false. I also pointed out that civility is a two-way street, and that considering that all of the leading ID proponents engage in , dishonest rhetoric, it was a little galling that I was expected to be civil towards them." I wonder what specific arguments or aspects of the rhetoric used by "leading ID proponents" the author considers to be , dishonest, or "totally false"? It is interesting that he apparently finds the rhetoric so frustrating he not only wants the government to prevent this rhetoric from being heard by impressionable high school students, he apparently also thinks it is so reprehensible he is justified in not being civil toward the ID proponents. Econman
I think John has set an excellent precedent. More of the Discovery Institute's money should go to Darwinians, rather than to ID proponents. :-) valerie

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