Intelligent Design

What Are They Teaching at Abilene Christian?

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A new journal seems to be trying to push Darwinism and eco-feminism on undergrads at Abilene Christian University.

I don’t really like to pick on undergrads, especially undergrad papers. I mean, I get it. The only thing they know is what they’ve been taught. I was an undergrad once, and I understand how limited anyone’s perspective is at that period in their life. So, I think some grace is in order.

With that said, I want to show you the latest from Abilene Christian University. They have established an undergraduate journal of science and faith called Dialogue and Nexus, now in its fourth volume. I was introduced to this volume because of the paper Intelligent Design: Should We Teach It.

So first, the paper. The paper is bizarre, in that it seems to (a) completely misunderstand Intelligent Design, (b) completely disregard what ID says, and (c) almost entirely use sources that are against Intelligent Design. There are, literally, two citations from the Intelligent Design literature in the whole paper, both from Michael Behe, which, as we will see, is very odd considering the rest of her paper (I’m wondering if she could have possibly read Behe). One of the citations is merely for the definition of Irreducible Complexity.

Now, imagine that I was to write a paper criticizing anything, anything, and I only cited the literature from the thing I was citing twice. That is an amazing show of lack of engagement with the subject.

So, what’s funny is that she says that Intelligent Design is all about the interpretation of Genesis and that it is just creationism rebranded. I find this hilarious. As someone who is also a card-carrying Creationist, I can attest that while there is overlap between the two positions, they are scarcely the same movement. In fact, Creationists have often criticized ID precisely because it isn’t partial to a particular reading of Genesis nor does it care about Genesis at all.

In fact, it is interesting that she cites Michael Behe in particular, given that Behe believes in universal common ancestry, and most of the things that Creationists hate. If Behe is the person she is citing, how can she possibly link ID and Creationism so tightly? It doesn’t help a case trying to present ID as Creationism if the only ID theorist you are familiar with is actually a theistic evolutionist in the broad sense.

The paper says,

As proposed by its advocates, ID is a retelling of two Biblical creation stories using scientific terminology
in an effort to make it acceptable for teaching in public schools.

What?

It was also amusing to see that she contrasts ID with evolution while ID does not actually criticize evolution per se, but Darwinism in particular.

What’s also amusing is that she attempts to talk about the ID argument about the eye’s complexity as if it were solidly refuted, but she gives away the store when she says, “we know today that there are several seemingly more primitive versions of the eye found in nature; all of these are likely incremental steps taken in the production of the complex eye seen in mammals today.”

So her only defense is storytelling based on the fact that there exist other eye systems that are less complex? Seriously? That qualifies as a refutation?

She also talks about Irreducible Complexity of the flagellum, and I can only believe that she has never even heard of Casey Luskin’s article Do Car Engines Run on Lug Nuts?

But then, her conclusion is not based on evidence at all, but the establishment clause. In other words, don’t bother considering the evidence I just presented, the real reason is because I have painted ID as creationism. We will just use the evidence as backdrop in case someone asks about the truth of ID, we can at least pretend we considered it.

Anyway, her article was not all that interesting because it was basically a collection of things that we have all heard before that only survives because so few people bother to actually read source material from the ID literature. What was more interesting to me was the journal.

Nearly every paper I looked at had the same theme – combining Christianity with either Darwinism or eco-feminism. Then I thought to myself, given the population that normally goes to ACU, what are the demographic chances that everyone coming into (or out of) their biology department is actually a Darwinist or an eco-feminist?

What concerns me is that the purpose of the journal might be to promote Darwinism and eco-feminism. I can see the conversation that takes place: “Oh, well, we could get you published in our fancy undergrad journal and jump-start your career. But I don’t like the direction you are going with your science and faith dialogue. If you moved it in this direction, then you could take advantage of our publication process and be published as an undergrad! Or you could miss out on your future science career. You know, your choice.”

You might say, “well, if it is going to be a well-respected journal, it needs well-thought-out arguments, and ID doesn’t present any.” However, I present to you as a counter-point the paper just discussed. It was awful as an argument, but it was published. If quality was a heavy factor, they missed the boat.

If you are a donor to Abilene Christian, you might take a hard look at what they are teaching in their biology departments.

7 Replies to “What Are They Teaching at Abilene Christian?

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    “The paper is bizarre”
    That’s an understatement.

  2. 2
    tribune7 says:

    A college freshman is almost by definition ignorant. The damning thing is that nobody confronts this person on her ignorance despite being charged and paid to do so.

  3. 3
    johnnyb says:

    Not only that, they are publishing this stuff. I would imagine that if you bothered to put out a journal, you might provide some feedback or be selective about what gets out there. From the journal contents, it looks like they are largely writing what they are being fed.

    I did find one paper in there that seemed to challenge the Darwinian framework a little bit. Neuroscience, Materialism, and the Soul is a worthy read. He takes the “methodological naturalism” tack to separate issues of the soul from the realm of science, but that’s pretty reasonable given his age, background, and, apparently, his schooling. He does it from a position of strength instead of resigned defensiveness. I might see if I can find his address to send him a copy of Naturalism and Its Alternatives.

  4. 4
    tribune7 says:

    –you might provide some feedback or be selective about what gets out there. From the journal contents, it looks like they are largely writing what they are being fed.–

    That is scary especially at a “Christian” college.

  5. 5

    Not everything labeled Christian…is Christian.

  6. 6
    News says:

    Here’s a useful test for these kinds of situations: If a Christian naturalist paper sounds like it could have been written by staff at a Darwin lobby pressure group – and shows no apparent awareness of Third Way evolution issues issues – it’s not just indoctrination, it’s educational malpractice.

    That’s an issue in and of itself. There is no excuse for that any more.

    See: What the fossils told us in their own words

  7. 7
    tragic mishap says:

    I knew one kid who went to Abilene. Yeah he was not a Christian anymore when he came back.

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