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Christians in science org dismisses ID but who cares now?

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A friend writes to note that in an age when skepticism of Darwinism is going mainstream, an establishment organization for Christians in science, American Scientific Affiliation, persists in acting as though design in nature is problematic. Referring to the org’s page on intelligent design, friend comments:

It is ostensibly neutral, but it has some sort of quasi-Thomist quote from John Henry Newman that is supposed to demonstrate a theological failure of ID (which is totally bogus), and then some weak comparisons to William Paley, Bill Dembski, and then wraps up with two “thought” questions: the first asking for a gut reaction, the second reiterating the Newman quote; no logic required. Somehow science isn’t part of the ASA presentation, perhaps they should rename themselves ATA. Then there are 78 links after the intro, with a rough count of pro-ID faces = 11/78. The whole thing reeks of damning by faint praise.

Okay, friend, first, American Scientific Affiliation is one of those Christians in science organizations, of whom the less we hear, the more science we get to learn about and cover. Which is why you don’t hear much from us about them any more.

From a Christian perspective, years ago, I was shocked to hear otherwise intelligent people twisting the plain words of Scripture to imply that there is no actual design in nature, even statements as obvious as this?

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse

Well, I got over the shock, and even got used to their executive director flopping around in the mud bath of “consensus science.”

But I did come to see that, in general, just as Darwinism is the creation story of atheism, so “theistic evolution” can function quite nicely as a safe form of atheism for theists.

The only question I (O’Leary for News) would like to know the answer to now is: What do ASA types think of the serious allegations against their guitar-strumming poster boy Francis Collins in Darwin Day in America (with Afterword, 2015)? :

Medical ethicists were appalled. “The word ‘unethical’ doesn’t even begin to describe the egregious and shocking deficiencies in the informed-consent process for this study,” said Michael Carome, MD, the director of the Health Research Group at the nonprofit (and politically liberal) group Public Citizen. “Parents of the infants who were enrolled in this study were misled about its purpose. … They were misled to believe everything being done was in the ‘standard of care’ and therefore posed no predictable risk to the babies.” Carome, who previously served in the Office for Human Research Protections in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helped lead the effort to expose the misconduct of researchers and to ensure that the abuses did not recur.

And get this:

Chief among the defenders of the premature-infant study was NIH head Francis Collins. One of Obama’s key science appointees, Collins was known for his work as head of the Human Genome Project as well as for being an outspoken evangelical Christian. Unlike most evangelicals, however, Collins had supported Obama for president in 2008, and many of his views were out of sync with those of other evangelicals. He was among the NIH officials permitted to review the OHRP’s second compliance letter, and according to Public Citizen, he led a public relations campaign to undermine the OHRP’s initial findings. Citing e-mail messages, Public Citizen accused Collins of seeking to have the second OHRP compliance letter issued the day before an article coauthored by Collins was to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine defending the premature-infant study. Public Citizen found it “disturbing” that Collins and his coauthors “essentially leaked” to journal editors “the fact that OHRP soon would be issuing a compliance oversight letter to UAB putting on hold all compliance actions related to the investigation.”

Note: These children were not scheduled for late term abortions and organ harvesting, so were probably “wanted.” Thus, even cool, liberal, and up-to-date Christians should have a problem with what happened, assuming the assertions are correct.

It’s odd, readers. I (O’Leary for News) now regularly hear more Christian-compatible approaches to evolution from non-Christians than I ever did when I was a participant for years in an ASA discussion group.

Now that Darwinism as such is coming under serious fire from a number of quarters, maybe somebody should confront that “Darwin saves Jesus” crowd. Not us. We’re busy. News is way more interesting than oblivion, so no need to get back to us if you choose to try.

See also: Why atheists will doubt Darwin ahead of Biologos and American Scientific Affiliation (I wrote that in 2011, and the trend is well under way now).

Has American Scientific Affiliation forgotten its stated identity?

Why Caroline Crocker observed that ID was treated with disdain at the ASA conference


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

Next up: Fun with Richard Dawkins, and then back to science news tomorrow. Whew!

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johnny b: If the majority of its most vocal members were anti-Semitic, what would you conclude? I think the situation speaks for itself, and would be a disgrace - were not the persons involved beyond disgrace. News
Personally, I think that the ASA, as an organization does a decent job with ID. The problem is that a majority of its vocal members are rabidly anti-ID. The stuff I've read on the ASA mailing list, the few times I've bothered to take a look, seemed to be a mish-mash of the same kind of dismissive vitriol that comes from Jerry Coyne. I don't expect the ASA to be a cheerleader for the ID movement, any more than I expect the ASA to be a cheerleader for anything. As long as it is still up for discussion among its members, I think they have done their job organizationally. The place, however, where I think the bias shows the most is in their journal. The ASA's journal *should* be at least minimally checked for quality. That said, I've seen some pretty ridiculous things in the ASA journal on the side of materialists (like, if I recall correctly, putting CS Lewis on the Darwin side). johnnyb
But I did come to see that, in general, just as Darwinism is the creation story of atheism, so “theistic evolution” can function quite nicely as a safe form of atheism for theists.
Good points. A lot of this is a function of liberal Christianity which has, apparently, as it's only goal to apologize for everything it doesn't like. This started out in a somewhat noble gesture of being ecumenical with other religious groups. It usually meant setting aside one's own distinctive character to show common-ground with others. When this shifted to atheism, a new development emerged. There was an apology to Darwin first. The organizations did everything possible to show they didn't oppose him. Darwin was "misunderstood". That's the key term. All the other people outside ASA, really didn't "understand" Darwin like they did. The same was for atheists in general. The ASA types, supposedly "really understand atheist concerns", unlike people (like IDists) who conflict directly with materialism. So, it's a badge of academic-honor. "We're the Christians who really are intelligent enough to understand atheists (unlike all the fundamentalists out there)". It's sad though that in order to show their sympathy towards "the atheist struggle", they get rid of their own Christian character. Thus, they find it hard to even criticize Darwinism at all. But in the same spirit, someone in ASA recognized that they "need to understand IDists" also. So, they include some ID works in their reading list. To me, it's not a big deal - for reasons given in the OP. It's kind of boring and the evolutionists don't really care that much. Jerry Coyne, for example, condemns ASA for what he sees as a dishonest pretense. They're covering over the real disagreements. The worst part of ASA and Biologos groups, as I see it, is that they foster materialism as the dominant voice in the academic culture. That continues to create problems for pro-ID researchers who should have more visible support from ASA and others. Silver Asiatic

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