Thursday, October 21, 2010
It's Not Easy Being 'Tween
PZ Myearshertz has already noticed that Wild Bill Dembski has admitted to being a "biblical inerrantist" and takes that to mean that Dembski believes "his god actually created the earth in 6 days." Jack Krebs, at The Panda’s Thumb, and Lauri Lebo at Religion Dispatches, based on a more complete source than PZ's, namely an article in the Florida Baptist Witness, have come to similar conclusions.
Not quite, I think.
The whole thing arose in connection with Dembski's book, The End of Christianity, in which he attempts to reconcile the notion that the universe is billions of years old, (as supported by scientific evidence so strong, according to Dembski, as to convince him, despite his druthers, to accept an old Earth) with a belief in the recent creation of humans and a recent "Fall" as the origin of evil in the world. As he said in his book:
For science to trump the most natural reading of Genesis and the overwhelming consensus of theologians up through the Reformation, either science has discovered momentous new truths or science has gone massively awry. In either case, science has raised a crucial challenge to young-earth creationism.
Then, Tom Nettles, professor of Historical Theology at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, published a review of Dembski's book in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. This caused Dembski to be called on the carpet by his employers, particularly over a section of the book that said:
Noah’s flood, though presented as a global event, is probably best understood as historically rooted in a local event.
But then his employers published a "defense" of Dembski, by David Allen, Dean of Southwestern's School of Theology, where they specifically admit that old-Earth creationism is "a legitimate position simpatico with the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message."
So, he has not necessarily abandoned old-Earthism. But it must be galling, when the evidence against a universal flood is every bit as "strong" as that for an ancient universe, to be made to recant the one, even if he was allowed to keep the rag of the other.
But he had practice at such two-faced belief, having to shelter his more anti-science students with what he calls "pessimistic induction," according to which, one is justified being skeptical of any scientific claim because "most scientific claims of the past have had to be radically revised or jettisoned." Which makes you wonder, if he really believes that, why he would think any scientific evidence was "so strong" as to command his belief.
There is much that is funny in the "defense," not least of all this from Allen:
While Dembski struggles with wearing both the theologian's robe and the scientist's lab coat (Who among us doesn't?), he is clearly committed to the proposition that science cannot trump the Bible.Not only has Dembski never been near a lab coat, but for Allen, who gleefully admits admits to being a YEC, to include himself in those who are both theologians and scientists is certainly giggle material.
But, surely, nothing is funnier than this from the nearly-Expelled Dembski himself:
Unfortunately, scientific research can be suitably slanted to support just about anything.
Absurd. Ptolemy was wrong about planetary movements. So was Copernicus. But, to paraphrase Asimov, to think that they are both equally wrong is to be wronger than both of them put together.