A case for ID. The post below to the ASA LISTSERV in Jan 2004 is one I can endorse.


From: "Ted Davis"
To: asa@calvin.edu
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2004 14:19:01 -0500
Subject: Re: A case for Christianity that does use ID or YEC arguments

Let me offer a "second opinion," relative to your friend using ID arguments.

I think that the ID movement is making some valid points about modern science, as follows.

(1) for many years now, scientists have been working hard at trying to understand how biological complexity arises, and how life itself has originated. they have made rather little progress on the latter (so I judge from reading some sources that i regard as unbiased), and are also still mainly in the dark about the former. it's fair IMO for ID advocates to "call the question," that is, to claim that doubts about the ability of Darwinism to explain this can fairly be articulated.

ID of course wants to go a lot further than this, to base faith significantly on this point. I regard that as potentially dangerous and certainly as questionable as their own questions about evolution. Neverthless, I stand by the paragraph above.

(2) it's common for leading scientists to interpret science to the general public in terms of atheism, that is, science supports a materialistic interpretation of the universe in ultimate terms. Giberson & Yerxa call this group the "Council of Despair," Howard Van Till calls them "preachers of naturalism." I regard ID as a fair response to this group, esp on cosmology but also (see above) to a lesser extent on overzealous claims about the explanatory success of evolution. And, we should not forget that the ID movement as such arose in just this polemical context: Phil Johnson was directly responding to Richard Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker, which he read while on sabbatical in the UK.

While I have serious reservations about Phil's equally overzealous claims about living in the last generation of evolution, etc, I also think that an apologetic response along the lines developed by Dembski and Meyer, etc, is legimate as a response. In my opinion, all Christians *should* believe in a God who created the universe purposefully. We don't all have to agree about whether *science itself requires design inferences* (that's what the ID movement claims at its core, and I am hesitant about that), but we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the effort to use what we actually do know about nature and the science of nature we presently have, in order to respond to overzealous claims based on "science" and used against Christian theism.

Having said these things, of course others on this list will offer their own views, I suspect will mainly dissent from mine on this subject. I agree with those who don't care too much for natural theology, but I would not entirely dismiss its value in this context; certainly it has some biblical basis (we disagree on that one, George, I'm sure you'll let us know that) and it has not been entirely without value in helping Christians understand that theism can be given a rational defense. Anyone famililar with John Polkinghorne's little book, "Belief in God in an Age of Science," which I do recommend to Doug's friend, will see my point, even if they don't accept it.

So, Doug, I would perhaps help your friend (a) select the best of ID writing (I think there is some) and (b) read more widely than this, such as the Polkinghorne book and the really wonderful essay by Eugene Wigner on "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics," available on the web though published 40 years ago. Wigner's elegant essay cries out for a theistic interpretation.

Some sort of rational defense of the faith--some sort of natural theology (forgive me, George, but I don't know another term for it, I'm open to suggestions) -- is called for. ID can be part of this, if carefully approached. But be sure to avoid the kind of "dancing on gravestones" (triumphal expressions about the immanent demise of modern science) that does mar a lot of that literature.


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