Saturday, February 10, 2007


Of Flocks and Feathers

John Harshman over at the newsgroup has made a good point. In a discussion about the differences (if any) between "creationism" and "Intelligent Design," after pointing out the ambiguity of the terms and discussing "theistic evolution" as well, he said:

You might think that the difference between a young-earth creationist and an IDist who accepts most of evolutionary theory except for the occasional need for a tweak from you-know-who would be greater than the difference between the IDist and that theistic evolutionist who thinks that natural selection is God's mechanism. But they don't think so. I think what this shows above all is that ID is a political/religious movement, not a scientific one.
That certainly seems the case as can be seen in William Dembski's piece, "What every theologian should know about creation, evolution and design," where he writes:

Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution. As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is American evangelicalism's ill-conceived accommodation to Darwinism. What theistic evolution does is take the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptize it, identifying this picture with the way God created life. When boiled down to its scientific content, theistic evolution is no different from atheistic evolution, accepting as it does only purposeless, naturalistic, material processes for the origin and development of life.

As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is an oxymoron, something like "purposeful purposelessness." If God purposely created life through the means proposed by Darwin, then God's purpose was to make it seem as though life was created without any purpose. According to the Darwinian picture, the natural world provides no clue that a purposeful God created life. For all we can tell, our appearance on planet earth is an accident. If it were all to happen again, we wouldn't be here. No, the heavens do not declare the glory of God, and no, God's invisible attributes are not clearly seen from God's creation. This is the upshot of theistic evolution as the design theorists construe it. [Emphasis in original]
It was always obvious from Dembski's article that his objection to "Darwinism" was theological, not scientific. But it is an additional telling point that, while young-Earth creationism's lack of science content is happily papered over in the name of the "big tent," theistic evolution, much closer to, for example, Michael Behe's position than Behe's is to Ken Ham's, is nonetheless considered ... well ... anathema.

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