If you’re anywhere near La Mirada, CA on May 12 you must go to this event. ID scientists Michael Behe, Guillermo Gonzalez, Steve Meyer, Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells will be grilled by skeptics regarding Intelligent Design at Biola University.

[HT: Intelligent Design the Future]

Update: Skeptics will include those from all over, the grilling will take place at Biola.

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  1. Now if only they start publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, it could almost be called a science! [/sarcasm]

    But seriously, it kind of bothers me that I can’t find a list of the “skeptics” (already showing bias? tsk tsk) anywhere, especially since a lot of the more prominent opponents of ID theory refuse to enter into debate, written or verbal. The problem with ID is not the theories, but it’s methods. The “wedge strategy” is complete crap that isn’t even close to being scientific.

    I don’t really put much stock in these debates. I think BOTH sides need to grow up before anything productive will come of it. I suppose we can always hope this will be different, though. Hopefully they’ll post a transcript afterwords.

  2. Productive and mutual searching for truth, even if those involved come from opposite ideologies, is rare and often productive. In any debate where the goal is not to gain a better understanding, everyone goes away saying that their side won. It is obvious by now that if there was any objectivity in the accidental evolution proponents, they would have already seen they are wrong.

  3. “It is obvious by now that if there was any objectivity in the accidental evolution proponents, they would have already seen they are wrong.”

    Could you explain this more? Because quite honestly it’s coming across to me as extremely arrogant, lacking the very objectivity you’re lauding, and frankly, unless you hold a high degree in the field, very much unwarranted. But it’s late and I really just hope I’m reading that wrong.

    Further, your use of the term “accidental” says a lot. Yes, it was a word used around Darwin’s time, but even back then Chauncey Wright put the matter to rest. We’ve come a long way in the past 150 years, and the only people who say “accidental evolution” anymore are those setting up a strawman.

    One thing I’ll never get about the Discovery Institute (someone correct me if I’m wrong here):
    – Michael Behe…biochemistry
    – Guillermo Gonzalez…astronomy
    – Steve Meyer…philosophy
    – Paul Nelson…philosophy
    – Jonathan Wells…molecular biology/religious studies
    – All under a movement started by a lawyer

    I’m sorry, but which of these individuals are qualified to speak about evolutionary biology?

  4. Ryan,

    you seem to know a bit about this topic.

    i’m not surprised that “accidental” is not the accepted way to describe evolution anymore. no one wants to believe they are an accident.

    what, do you think, is a better way of describing evolution? or, what did Chauncey Wright say that put the matter to rest?

    also, can you explain what you mean when you say both sides “need to grow up”?

    (disclaimer: i don’t hold a high degree in any scientific field. but this is a debate in which, as a human being, i have a stake and an interest.)

  5. To clear something up…I don’t hold a high degree in any scientific area either. I’m not saying that’s a requisite for discussion about the topic; but there is a difference in discussing the topic and saying evolutionists should just realize they are “wrong”. Reasons need to be provided, in this case scientific evidence that would contradict the current evolutionary theory. Talking is fine, but if assertions are going to be made, I think it’s fair to expect references or credentials.

    Further, I don’t mean to say that any of these five gentlemen that are defending ID know nothing about evolution. This is especially for Behe and Wells, as for me to suggest their scientific specialties are totally unrelated or irrelevant would be absurd. But when you have a toothache, do you go to the dentist or the optometrist? After all, they both work on part of your face, right? The optometrist might have some good advice about your teeth, but we ultimately regard the dentist as the “expert”. Does that mean the dentist is perfect or always right? No, but he’s in a better position to make judgments regarding teeth. Same thing with evolution. Behe is obviously an intelligent man, but how long and hard has he looked at evolution, and with what motivation or bias? The fact that most ID proponents don’t agree with what evolutionists have to say doesn’t change the fact that the evolutionists are the “experts” of the field. Do I think the ID people have nothing to contribute and should just shut up? Certainly not, but it seems like they’re saying “I choose to ignore the research that is the result of your life’s work simply because you don’t get the answer I want.”

    As for “accidents”…when Darwin published The Origin of Species, evolution was nothing new. One school of thought (associated with Linnaeus) of “released potentialities” put in place by God was falling out of favor, and a Hegelian school of teleological evolution was being popularized by people like Herbert Spencer. Spencer thought evolution was a purposeful, progressive process and man was the pinnacle of the achievement. So when Darwin published his work and admitted “accidents”, it became a major point of contention (how can one have “accidental purposeful progress”?). Darwin asked Chauncey Wright to examine the problem, and Wright replied with an article called “The Genesis of Species” (in response to a work of the same name that criticized Darwin by St. George Mivart; both published in 1871, I believe). In it he states “that in referring any effect to ‘accident,’ [Darwin] only means that its causes are like the particular phases of the weather, or like innumerable phenomena in the concrete course of nature generally, which are quite beyond the power of finite minds to anticipate or account for in detail, though none the less really determinate or due to regular causes.” Evolution is not “hap hazard” simply because we cannot completely explain it.

    The reason Darwin couldn’t explain the effects he saw was because science hadn’t gotten far enough. The study of DNA and genetics was later (and is still in progress), so in Darwin’s time these would have been mystery forces. Now we know about them, but still can’t completely predict the process. Hence, some parts may involve a measure of “randomness”, but no one calls really evolution “accidental” anymore unless, like I said, they want to make a derogatory statement about it.

    My main problem with ID is the underhanded and dishonest political tactics of the “wedge movement”. Science works by a process of experiments that can be replicated, published works for peer review (books are not a peer review source), and providing a theory that makes testable predictions. The ID scientists have failed to engage in this process, so while they may have interesting views, it’s not yet science.

    Instead, what they do is provoke evolutionists and then go on the defensive, after which they shout “Look! A controversy! You have to teach our side, too!” Nevermind the fact they don’t actually have any scientific basis. This strategy is the reason a lot of high profile evolutionists won’t engage in debate with them, because it plays right into their hand. They aren’t after working towards a better theory, they’re out to deceive people. Look at this event. If the ID supporters have such “scientific proof”, why aren’t they attacking with it? Why aren’t they publishing it and changing the evolutionary paradigm? It’s because with no real basis, their strategy requires them to play the martyr.

    For the part of the scientists, they seem completely unwilling to admit anything good can come out of the ID movement. The ID criticisms of evolution could be perhaps valid, but are dismissed because of the source. Further, and perhaps worse, evolutionists seem willing to load their language metaphysically in order to deny the ID movement. For example, some evolutionists will enter into the debate of vestigial organs and talk about their lack of purpose. But don’t they deny purpose? How can one adopt a notion simply because it temporarily suits one’s needs?

    So one side is playing political games and the other is throwing out the diamonds with the dung. And in my opinion (for whatever it’s worth), this debate between the ID supporters and the skeptics shows that not much is changing.

    *deep breath* Sorry that got so long…this is a really exasperating topic for me.

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God’s Broad Shoulders

One of the fascinating aspects of my profession is that I come in contact with a lot of Christians who want to engage with their faith in a deep way. Rather than being content with showing up on Sunday or being CINO (Christian In Name Only), these folks want to understand the Bible better and tease out the implications for their lives.

On the flipside of this, many of these same people are afraid to engage with their doubts in a deep way. It’s almost as if, doubts and questions are treated from a distance–“I don’t struggle with this, but…”

The biggest breakthrough in my own journey of faith came through (and continues to come through) engaging my doubts and questions as my own. They are not theoretical. They are honest struggles: problem of evil is the perennial one. I was in the throes of one of these bouts several years ago when a friend told me, “God can handle your doubts.”

I have used this same bit of advice for my struggling friends and self. If truth is not relative. If God is truth. Your doubts and questions will not overthrow this objective, transcendent truth. It’s not as though you are the first to struggle with doubts and fears and pain. The heavens will not collapse under the weight of your doubts. You won’t come up with a question that will cause God to close up shop. You can honestly engage with your doubts and fears and pain and suffering without having to be quick to give the typical and trite answers to matters of faith.

Go ahead, roll your burdens on God. He’s got broad shoulders.

Blow the Roof Off

Reading through Os Guiness’ new book, Fool’s Talk, for an Honors Seminar I’m leading on the art of persuasion. It is EXCELLENT.

I find that too many apologists take the defensive in explaining the Christian worldview. That has a place, but I would recommend that after you listen and listen and listen some more to the person you are engaging in dialogue, that you take the offensive. Of course, this is not being offensive, but taking the offense in showing the foolishness of the worldview. At some point the team has to score. If they only have defense, they will not score (okay, for the nay-sayers, the defense can score on a take-away…but even then there was an aggression to get the ball and not merely to prevent…BTW, prevent defense is such a great way to lose a ballgame, isn’t it?).

Here’s a juicy quote that I have underlined in the book:

From Jesus onward, the dynamic is crystal clear in Christian proclamation. “The tree is known by its fruit,” Jesus said–not by its seed (Mt. 12.33). If you had tried to persuade the prodigal son to return home the day he left home, would he have listened? If you had spoken to him the day he hit the pigsty, would you have needed to persuade him? Always “see where it leads to,” St. Augustine advised when dealing with false ideas. Follow it out to the “absolutely ruddy end,” C. S. Lewis remarked with characteristic Englishness. “Push them to the logic of their presuppositions,” Francis Schaeffer used to say. Too many varieties of unbelief are halfway houses. Too many unbelievers have not had the courage or the consistency to follow their thoughts all the way home –Fool’s Talk, p.118 (emphasis added)

Returning

Return ArrowLike a long, boring letter or conversation, there’s a tendency to tune out. I pray I haven’t bored you by my long silence. Life has been full of many winding turns over the last year and I am just now getting my feet under me. I am re-thinking and re-tooling my blogging and writing.

I would like for you to enter the conversation and be a part of this part process blog, part resourcing blog, part rumination blog. Would you help me by sending me questions or topics you’d like me to deal with? You can send me an email or make a comment on this post.

I wait. . .