Sunday, January 28, 2007

Am I being deceived?

I’ve been thinking about some comments posted by Jeremy in regard to my post on Methodological Naturalism. Jeremy is a Christian, and like Ken Miller, he believes that there is a designer of our universe, yet they also believe that we are not able to detect this designer’s hand in nature. What’s weird is that they believe that, for all we can tell, our universe is the result of an accident, and that design cannot be empirically detected.

Jeremy wrote:
“Those criticisms of the ID movement were not entirely directed at you. They were mostly directed at the leaders of the movement who I think sometimes mislead their fellow believers.”
So, in other words, you think those “leaders” are deliberately misleading their “fellow believers” in order to get them to accept something that they themselves do not believe (in other words they are merely “lying for Jesus”) for no other reason than to make a stand for their particular religious beliefs? Or, do you think they stretch the truth about their opponents position in order to make people stand up and take notice? Or, do you think they occasionally lie about their own position in order to get people to listen? I’m confused as to why exactly you think they feel the need to mislead their “fellow believers”.

I will say there have been a couple times when I have felt that a few people from my side have made remarks about the opposition out of frustration, and I remember emailing two people and mentioned my disapproval of their statements. I’ve also phoned a few authors of books and questioned them for clarification of their claims. Have you ever contacted those from your side who you believe have crossed the line? I’ve also emailed people who support your position who ~I personally~ feel have misrepresented ID supporters. I do that not because I want to accuse them of anything but because I truly want to try to understand where they are coming from. Ken Miller was one of them. We talked, but I certainly won’t share that conversation publicly.

I still believe both you and Miller are in the wrong camp. It’s quite clear that you support design on some level, but it appears that your arguments stem from the fact that many ID supporters question evolution. But, that questioning applies only to certain aspects of evolution, such as discussions on origins and macroevolution, not the entire theory. Like all other supporters of ID, I have never suggested that any portion of the ToE be removed from our student curriculum, so I don’t believe you have anything to be so worked up about.

Your other big concern is the definition of science, which you feel must invoke methodological naturalism. What has happened because of this term is that we have put ourselves in a position that we may never be able to attain truth in regard to origins. If we have a prior commitment to naturalism and reject any arguments against Darwinian evolution, we may find ourselves stuck with a dead end theory. Obviously, there are implications of design in nature as even the most staunch atheists will attest to this. Yet, the “scientific community” takes the position that any hypothesis inferring design should be scrupulously avoided, regardless of the evidence. It makes no sense.

There are two ways in which we can define science:

1. Science is the activity of seeking explanations for natural phenomena.

2. Science is the activity of seeking only natural causes as explanations for natural phenomena.

The first one is an objective definition. The second is a science stopper because we cannot be certain that all that we observe in nature is due to natural causes. On the other hand, it may be that there is a natural designer that is responsible for the design we see in nature. If we don’t consider a designer which is either natural or supernatural, that leaves us with the first cause of our existence as nothing other than a purely undirected, unintelligent chance occurrence. That is being rather close minded to the obvious design in nature that even the ardent atheist Richard Dawkins refers to time and time again.

“I do not think you are dishonest. I think you genuinely believe the things you write about ID. I just don't think some of those things are true. I am sorry to say that I think you are being deceived.”
No need to be sorry, I’ve known for quite some time that you think I’m “being deceived”, which in other words means that you believe my ability to research for the accuracy of the claims being made by ID advocates is sorely lacking. I’ve listened to the arguments repeatedly for about three years now and have witnessed many highly credentialed individuals (scientists included) question Darwinian mechanisms just as laypeople like myself have. If it were just me who was not able to wrap my head around the ~unquestionably factual~ evidence for Darwinian evolution, then I’d just have to get past it. But, the funny thing is that I’m not the only one, and I ~truly~ do not feel that this observation is based primarily on my religious beliefs. It seems extremely obvious to many of us that Darwinian evolution is sorely lacking in many respects.

Yet, for some of you, there is nothing to question. For you, the concept of Darwinian evolution seems to be based on solid unquestionable evidence, when in fact it is based on speculation which is inferred by empirical evidence. It is in this same manner that ID should be considered a scientific inference.

As far as the dishonesty accusation, it seems to me that when someone points out something from an article written by an evolutionist that supports the questionable aspects of evolution, Darwinists cry “quote mining” . Evidently, if a Darwin supporter writes a paper offering a possible explanation for something but it’s obvious that what they are offering is speculative, we are not allowed to point out that fact. It’s also interesting that often these papers in regard to Darwinian evolution are rife with phrases like “might”, “probably”, “perhaps”, “seems to be”, but if one brings this up, Darwinists deem them dishonest because they believe that since the author of the paper is offering a possible solution to the problem, that it is being deceptive to pull quotes which obviously support their speculation. Darwinists must realize on some level that their extrapolations of the theory are speculative, though the rest of us are deemed “dishonest” for pointing to these problematic areas.

“Please notice that nowhere did I claim that evolution supporters are always honest. Instead, I wrote that the promotion of ID is accompanied by an inordinate amount of intellectual dishonesty.”
“Inordinate amount” -- Statements like that make me realize just how far the chasm is between those who support ID and those who do not. I have to say that I cannot even fathom that statement because I read articles by ID supporters all the time, and one source that has been extremely helpful to me has been “Evolution News & Views”. I have read their material with a very skeptical eye and have double checked many things (especially what they’ve written about the Dover trial). I’m sorry, but they are exactly right about the extreme misrepresentation surrounding many issues in that trial. Yet, you and other Darwinists see none of these issues as misrepresentation and that is alarming.

“Of course there is dishonesty among evolutionists. But, as a group, evolution supporters do not go around speaking in churches and presenting themselves as representatives of Christianity. Creationists and ID promoters do that all the time. In fact, some of them make a living off of it.”
Well, first of all the reason that most of the ~leaders~ of the Darwinian plight don’t present themselves as representatives of Christianity is because most of them are not Christian, and it is unclear as to why it is wrong to speak in churches about intelligent design. Most of the people in churches understand that there is a first cause of our existence, so design would obviously be something they are interested in. I don’t see your point.

But, I’ve seen evolutionists scheduled to speak in churches as well. In fact, come to think of it, I see this happen quite often. Just a couple months ago there was a church here in town announcing a night of speakers with a background in science along with Christian leaders expressing their opinion that evolution and religion are not in conflict.

In fact, Eugenie Scott is a pro at this angle and she works with preachers all the time. My uncle is a supporter of Darwinism and he once sent me a tape with a series of short lectures that took place at a church, and one of the speakers was Eugenie. You might also note that Eugenie’s latest book, Not in Our Classrooms, offers a foreword by Rev. Barry W. Lyn, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ. Another contributor to the book was Ted Peters, an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She ~absolutely~ *uses* the Christian church to further her own ~ministry~. Of course she, herself, supports the atheist church (ie. humanist organizations/humanist manifesto etc.), but she realizes that working within the Christian churches will further her mission of keeping “creationism” out of society in general. Hence her statement: "I have found that the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day!" (The link to that quote from Scott does not seem to be available at the moment. Interesting). Eugenie even mentioned in her KU speech that Steven Weinberg is an authority figure for her, and we’re all familiar with his take on religion. He wants it done away with. So, although she doesn’t “represent herself as a Christian”, I think what she is doing is FAR more underhanded than a Christian speaking in a church and offering *all* the reasons why they support the movement. So, I’m not sure your comment above holds water (at all).

Most atheists not only want their science firmly planted in the public schools, but they also feel that our students would be better off rejecting all "ancient myths" (religion), in exchange for “logic and reason” (ie. atheism). And, most philosophical naturalists (Dawkins, Scott, et. al) are not particularly worried about theistic evolutionists because they know that it’s a very small step from not being able to detect a designer to believing that there is no designer at all.

Take for instance this comment that I read which was written by an atheist at an on-line forum in reference to this exact topic.

"Ken Miller's God may be real, but Ken has stuck him/her/it in a permanently closed off part of the universe. Ken Miller's god lives in a giant, (or is it small?) unclosable gap, where science cannot go.

And what's the difference between a God that we can never detect - ever - and no god at all?"
There is no difference. Theistic Evolutionists close their eyes to the immense amount of design in nature (that even atheists accept, but deem an “illusion“), and attribute it to natural causes just as the atheist does.

“I am saying that they should be holding themselves to a higher standard. The fact that they are unable to do so speaks to the desperation of their position.”
It’s always mind boggling how we can look at the same situation and view it from completely different perspectives. From where I’m standing, the ID folks have been extremely honest about their position in this debate. In fact, when I made mention in one of my posts that there were over 600 scientists who have signed the “dissent from Darwinism“ document, I was not clear enough in my post that not all of those scientists support the ID movement, but that they all question Darwinian evolution. Robert Crowther, from the DI, left a comment on that post so that readers would clearly understand that. He was making sure there was ~no~ misunderstanding. I think that’s pretty impressive that someone would go to the point of making that clear on a little blog like mine.

I believe that ID supporters hold a very high standard for themselves and I think they do an outstanding job of being honest with the public. I follow many pro-Darwin discussion boards and blogs where members are absolutely cruel to supporters of ID or creation science. It’s horrible, and I can hardly believe some of the things that are said. On the other hand, I’ve read many threads on ARN, and they are always serious and professional. And, I’ve yet to find a blogger from our side of the debate who is anywhere near as venomous as some of the bloggers who support Darwin.

I’ve only stuck my head in at The Panda’s Thumb a few times, and I was called every name in the book. One person asked me what I was doing there, and shouldn’t I be home barefoot and pregnant since I am a conservative woman. Another referred to me as “foreskins” rather than forthekids. The name calling went on and on. I wrote nothing to deserve that type of response. I’ve watched some Darwinists comment at UD, and I’ve never seen them treated like that. So, it’s terribly unclear to me why you think that IDists are such horrible and dishonest people.

And, it’s also interesting that you believe there is “desperation” among the ID supporters. Funny, it seems to me that the Intelligent Design movement is growing by leaps and bounds. More scientists are signing off on the dissent form Darwin statement all the time, and the United States is definitely not the only country talking about these issues anymore. Even Sue Gamble (Kansas board of Ed) recognizes that ID has grown. At the KU panel discussion, she mentioned that in ‘99 she received emails from other countries wondering why the US has such a problem with “creationism”, yet in 2005, she was receiving emails from all over the world complaining that “the problem” is at their doorstep now as well. People are waking up, Jeremy...faster than I expected actually.

It seems to me that Darwin supporters are a bit more “desperate” than you care to admit. It’s interesting to consider the methods they are willing to resort to, like the recent demand that an entire freshman class (or at least a large part) at UCSD was required to listen to Robert Pennock speak on the evils of the ID movement with absolutely no time given to an ID advocate who would be able to explain what ID really entails.

So am I being “deceived”? I don’t know....are you being “deceived”? The better question to ask would probably be, “are you being used”?

I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that there are three perspectives on these issues and everyone falls into one of those three categories. I don’t think any amount of education or “enlightenment” is going to change anyone’s opinion. In fact, since I've been involved in this debate I’ve never ONCE seen someone change their perspective. So, I figure we can all keep fighting about it ‘till the end of time, or we can somehow work together to provide our students the opportunity to understand each view from the perspective of it’s supporters.

But, I certainly won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.