Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is ID 'middle ground'?

In the little town of Dayton TN . . . . OK, without re-iterating, or worse, rewriting history, you all know about the Scopes Monkey trial. Sort of interesting article over on "Fight over evolution still simmers 85 years after Scopes trial." Aside from the typical pandering for votes when the three candidates for governor whose comments were included, one other line really caught my eye.

"some prefer the middle ground of intelligent design, which claims God designed how life evolved"
By 'middle ground' Bob Smietana, the author, is repeating a common misconception about Intelligent Design. Is it really a middle ground between science and evangelical creationism? Well if that is what Bob thinks, he really needs to do his research better! Even the Discovery Institute doesn't seem to think it is a middle ground, more of a stepping stone. Of course Judge Jones ruled that it's not middle ground, it's clearly well on the same side as Creationism. My perspective, as you may have read in many posts is ID is Creationism-lite, at best Creationisms little brother.

Now folks like Bob aren't the only one who really need to examine their characterizations. A Bruce Barry responded to the article and said some of the same things I am saying. That one makes an interesting read as well. "This Morning's Jesussean: The "Trojan Horse' of Intelligent Design Gets Inside 1100 Broadway". He does have a nice way with words
"Earth to Bob: Intelligent design is not "a middle ground" between science and faith. That is the propaganda that creationists would like feckless school boards and undereducated science teachers (not to mention gullible journalists) to believe."
"The fatal flaw in Smietana's piece in the Tennessean is use of the reporter's voice to frame intelligent design as a mainstream scientific alternative, a position that carries significant weight only among true-believer creationists. A piece of genuine journalism would accurately reflect scientific experts' views of the proper role of ID in science education (that role being nil) rather than legitimize the perspective of religious zealots (and gubernatorial candidates!) who seem to neither understand nor value science."
Now his point of view is fine, but one of his commenter's need to work on his. His post:
"I am a scientist. I think the best approach to the ID people is to ignore them. ID isn't science. They can teach it all they want in divinity school but it will never be compatible with a scientific curriculum."
My other point of this blog post is that the tactic of ignoring ID proponents is no longer a viable one. For years they were treated the same way as the fortune tellers and astrologers. I think it was the right decision. But the ID movement has evolved and we have to evolve as well. Remaining silent is no longer a viable tactic because silence seems to imply agreement, especially with folks like Bob, the author of the original article. We shouldn't knee-jerk a response to everything they say, but when they are doing things like testifying in front of school boards -- we have to be there as well. When gubernatorial candidate say foolish things, we have to be there to correct them and make sure the voters understand exactly what they are standing for -- because I still firmly believe any comment supporting ID or creationism is nothing more than pandering for voters.

One side note about Bob. It was also interesting that one of the other comments identified Bob as something other than an unbiased journalist -- so I googled him . . . anyone else think it's funny that Google is a verb? . . . well anyway, one of the many bios about him says:
"Bob Smietana is an award winning journalist and features editor for the Covenant Companion magazine, a correspondent for Religion News Service (RNS), and freelance religion writer whose stories have appeared in national and regional US newspapers (including the Washington Post, LA Times, and Chicago Tribune) and national religious magazines, such as Christianity Today, the Christian Century, Sojourners, and US Catholic."
Now the cynic in me comes out and I have to question whether the original article is a reporter not doing his homework, or something worse! I can't make up my mind at this point, but I do know I am going to watch anything written by Bob very carefully. Either way, he blew a call and his background, as a religion reporter, makes me wonder because he really should know what ID is and what ID is not -- and it certainly is not 'middle ground!'

So there you have it, we cannot remain silent on the subject because no matter how many times ID proponents lose, they evolve and we cannot afford to ignore them. We need to keep taking to battle to them in from of school board meetings, state legislatures, and even in the press -- especially when the press fails to do it's homework.


  1. Is it really a middle ground between science and evangelical creationism?

    Is all science equal and is evolution, whatever it is, the equivalent of all science? Are all theories and hypotheses of evolution equally "science" or is there some middle ground among them?

    The notion that there is a "middle ground" between science and creationism entails that some notion of science must always conflict with creationism. Indeed, sometimes it seems that the defining characteristic of science in the minds of many is that it is not religion, whatever that is. There is little historical evidence to support Draper's "conflict thesis." Proponents of mythologies of progress merely assume conflict, naturally. And history indicates that the professionalization of science around the same time that Darwinism was prevalent (professional scientist, not amateur natural theologian) has more to do with the definition of science (and the inclusion of Darwinism by mere definition) than any supposed principle or methodology. That is why many Darwinists make theological "panda's thumb" type arguments to this day.

  2. I am not the one who describe ID as a 'missle ground' you can see my response in the rest of the post. I also don't automatically assume a conflict between religion and science. But when one invades the perceived space of the other, conflict can be a result. When theists keep insisting their religion is the equal of science, conflict has been happening -- but it has been happening in the wrong venue. It's been happening in the school board meetings, in the popular press, and in legislative meetings.

    Where it needs to happen is in the lab. If you want any part of your version of religion taught as if it were science, then it needs to be presented with the same level of evidenciary support that scientific theories are presented with. If your version of a religion cannot withstand that level of scrutiny, then you do not belong in the science classroom.

    I do not want a biology teacher teaching any form of Creationism, no matter what religious source. At the same time I do not want a preacher in their pulpit teaching biology.

  3. But when one invades the perceived space of the other, conflict can be a result.

    People who have certain psychological dynamics always seem to speak of another "imposing" or an "invasion" and so on in their supposed space. And yet it all seems to be quite vague and blurred together. Is that space merely a perception?

    When theists keep insisting their religion is the equal of science...

    Theism is not a religion anymore than the Declaration and the Constitution are both unconstitutional for including it and therefore establishing a national religion. Your notions about religion seem to have more to do with "imposing" your philosophy on everyone else and "invading" the private space between parents and their children than with what religion actually is or is not. (I borrowed a progressive pattern of thought for a moment.)

    It's been happening in the school board meetings, in the popular press, and in legislative meetings.

    As it must, given that supporting Jewish ideas about origins in any scientific forum is censored. Apparently one can imagine anything but such ideas being true in the name of science. E.g.…Lee Smolin added an ingenious Darwinian spin which reduces the apparent statistical improbability of our existence. In Smolin’s model, universes give birth to daughter universes, which vary in their laws and constants. Daughter universes are born in black holes produced by a parent universe, and they inherit its laws and constants but with some small possibility of random change–’mutation’. Those daughter universes that have what it takes to reproduce (last long enough to make black holes, for instance) are, of course, the universes that pass their laws and constants to their daughters. ….
    So universes that have what it takes to make stars are favoured in this cosmic Darwinism.
    (The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins :91)

    Indeed, the rejection of Jewish thought seems to be one of the defining characteristic of "evolution," whatever it is. This is not without precedent:
    The scholars whom we shall quote in such impressive numbers, like those others who were instrumental in any other part of the German pre-war and war efforts, were to a large extent people of long and high standing, university professors and academy members, some of them world famous, authors with familiar names and guest lecturers abroad...
    If the products of their research work, even apart from their rude tone, strike us as unconvincing and hollow, this weakness is due not to inferior training but to the mendacity inherent in any scholarship that overlooks or openly repudiates all moral and spiritual values and, by standing order, knows exactly its ultimate conclusions well in advance.
    (Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People
    by Max Weinreich
    (New York:The Yiddish Scientific Institute, 1946):7)

    Yet for all the talk of progress and the supposed disaster that will result if Jewish thought is not eliminated in our schools and so on I suspect that we'll find ourselves in the same position as the Nazis that "expelled" Jewish physicists in the end if progressives and socialists have their way again. The more that congenital imbeciles of this sort change and evolve, the more they seem to stay the same.

    At any rate, you merely assume that allowing evolution to be challenged based on creationism in the schools will lead directly to disaster and so on. Yet what evidence can you cite that it actually will?

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