Friday, June 05, 2009


Faith In Public Relations

David Klinghoffer agrees with Jerry Coyne.

It's become clear recently, with the launch of the DI's faith + evolution site and the glee with which the attacks on "accommodationism" are greeted in the ID camp, that the anti-science crowd fears the theistic evolutionists far more that they do atheists.

And why not? What is more likely, certainly in the short term -- that significant numbers of religious people suddenly become atheists or that significant numbers become more liberal and science accepting? And do you move at all if it's made clear that you're not welcome unless you give up something that has been a large part of your self-identity for most of your life? As Klinghoffer says:

You can jump in the middle of the fight, and should do so especially if you are a Darwin-believing religious liberal or moderate who's curious what the dominant atheist contingent in the Darwin community really thinks of you.

To the extent that much of the touching need to reconcile Darwin and God is driven by social and self-image worries, theistic evolutionists may as well throw in the towel. They will never safely secure the esteem of the atheists. Where, then, to turn? For a reasoned alternative, start by checking out Faith and Evolution.

Just in case, I'm not telling anyone to "shut up" ... at least not any more than the incompatiblists are telling the accommodationists to "shut up." I'm just suggesting that, if you are considered by the Discovery Institute, certainly good at flackery, as the best advertisement going for ID, you might just want to wonder why.


Is what I think supposed to be influenced by whose esteem I can gain?

I'm supposed to be worried whether Dawkins will like me? Or, for that matter, Collins?

I'd say that the anti-evolution movement continues to amaze me by the depths of inanity that they can achieve. I thought that when they threw out all substance in ID, that that would be the end of it. But they surpassed that with the "strengths and weaknesses", and I naively thought that nobody could top that. Now we get "Be worried about what people will think of you".

Tom S.
Inane it might be but worrying about what others think of you is, among other things, what drives our economy of conspicuous consumption.

Don't underestimate its power to influence a social species.
OMG, I'm between a rock... hey wait a minute! I'm between the prongs of a false dichotomy. The DI can't see beyond their worldview of Them and Not-them, or as Van Vogt put it, A (sorry, not red) and null-A.

As a more-or-less Theistic Evolutionist (100% Ev,?% Th), any chance that Dawkins, Coyne, Hitchens or PZ are likely to scare me into the DI camp is
laughable. My take is that the 'tuters are well aware of this and have properly written us off.

They are promoting a variety of religion which is anathema to any thinking democrat (lower case) since they are, at the base of it, theocrats.

As I tell my kids, as far as an afterlife is concerned, I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised.

Bob Carroll
Accommodation can only occur when you have things that are not incompatible. In this debate either there is God, or there is not God. God created the world or He did not. A passage in the bible is true, or it is untrue. . Prayer can cure cancer or it can not. An amputee can pray for a new leg and get one, or not. There either is a heaven or there is not. Science theories are either true or they are not true.

There is no middle ground. Either God did it, or God didn’t do it. Period. To say we have to spend all this time discussing the notion that, well, God did it, and it looks exactly the same way as if God didn’t do it, is not a position worth defending.

The religious need to discuss what it is they need to believe. Galileo dared to tell us that the earth was not the center of the universe. The stars were not attached to the firmament. There were not windows to heaven from where the rain came from. The earth was not fixed. It did move! The church argued in vain for 200 years that it wasn’t so. Finally they conceded the point. Now we don’t argue geocentric creationism. That argument was lost. In this case, the bible was untrue.

Egyptian mathematicians calculated with great accuracy the diameter of the earth. They accomplished this simply by looking at the horizon, and watching the ships disappear in the distance. However, they probably failed to convince the flat earth creationist at the time. It wasn’t some Egyptian mathematician that convinced the flat earth creationist their story was no longer true, nor was it Galileo that convinced the geocentric creationist that their story was no longer true. It was because the church no longer preached the flat earth sermon, nor the geocentric sermon. It had very little to do with what science was tinkering with at the time.

One day the church will realize they can no longer preach the sermon of creationism. That’s the day beliefs will change. It will not be because we tried to accomidate all sides.
There is no middle ground. Either God did it, or God didn’t do it. Period. To say we have to spend all this time discussing the notion that, well, God did it, and it looks exactly the same way as if God didn’t do it, is not a position worth defending.

I don't want to get into a long discussion of this but I don't know what the universe would look like if an omnipotent being made it and was unaware that science had developed a critical test to determine that question either way. Even Dawkins admits that a creator god of some sort can't be ruled out.

Someone mentioned Azimov's article "The Relativity of Wrong" recently, a useful response to those that claim that anything wrong in science means that everything is wrong. Even if we can say with confidence that most religion is wrong, there are gradations of wrong and I'll continue to treat those gradations differently.

I don't see how we can say with confidence how human history will go, any more than we can say how human evolution will go, nor tell what forces will play what role. In the meantime, I'll opt for encouraging those who accept science and its results as the best course both for the future and my sense of what's right.
I accept your argument that we will may never know if there is a god or not. My point is that in order to have accommodations, both sides need to have merit. When ID was on the “teach the controversy campaign”, they got accommodation by some that said, what is wrong with teaching both sides? You cannot accommodate teaching both sides, when one side is simply wrong.

What are we accommodating? That we can pray for our children instead of giving them medication? Can pray for the cancer patient instead of chemotherapy? It doesn’t matter if solders die because we know they are going to heaven? I hope not.

If we are accommodating the fact that a scientist looked at a waterfall and had a God moment, ok, I’m cool with that one. But many a truck has been driven though the loophole opened by accommodation.
But many a truck has been driven though the loophole opened by accommodation.

Yes, and I agree that we cannot allow the egregious examples you give of religious abuse. But there is a synergy, I think, between accepting science and acceptance of the kind of liberal secular government that is the best preventative of such atrocities. As Ed Brayton is fond of pointing out, most of the Founders of the liberal American democracy were not, in fact, deists but liberal theists of various stripes who also had a great respect for science and the Enlightenment.

As for ID, it had hidden its motives and the paucity of its substance so well at first that I think any impulse toward accommodating it was due to a lack of undestanding how insidious it is. It took some time to see the snake in the grass.
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