On Creationism, ID, DI, etc

Sorry, so are you now admitting that the DI supports creationism? Because you’ve been denying that for ages with me.

Regardless, that book from Luskin would be an example of what I am describing. They don’t come right out and explicitly state that special creation occurred. But they make enough insinuations to leave it clear what they think should fill in the blanks.


You’re reacting to my mention of Denton without paying attention. I’ve many times, and in your hearing, specifically noted that when I speak of Denton as unambiguously “evolutionist”, I’m speaking about his work from Nature’s Destiny onward (1998 and since). The article you link to on Answers in Genesis, written in 1999, never mentions Nature’s Destiny, and is discussing Denton’s first book, Evolution in Crisis (1985), which was much less clear about where Denton stood on the reality of descent with modification.

We are here discussing whether Discovery took a turn toward fundamentalism in 2017. During the relevant period, i.e., since 2017, Discovery has published four books by Denton, who since at least 1998 has presumed universal common ancestry to be true (and hence would be a persona non grata to the writer of the Answers in Genesis article that you cite). So your citation of the AIG article is hopelessly out of date and is irrelevant to the present discussion.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and presume that your error here is caused by laziness (a quick Google search on the web to find a proof text, without closely reading the article you found) rather than deliberate dishonesty (trying to pass off a discussion of Denton’s earlier work that you knew full well had been superseded).

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What you call my “denial” is based on your willful misuse of the term “creationism.” I tried to educate you on the historical meaning of the term, drawing on my 50 years of training and study in religion and related philological and historical disciplines, but you refused to accept the overwhelming empirical evidence I presented, and persisted in using the term in your own idiosyncratic way.

The DI does not “support creationism” as that term is commonly construed. It does not support the view that Genesis has veto power over modern scientific conclusions, that it should be read literally, etc. It takes no position on the proper interpretation of Genesis or even on whether Genesis is divinely revealed. Nor does it uphold the other pillar of creationism, i.e., that macroevolution from simple forms to man has not occurred. Indeed, it has expressly declared that macroevolutionary change is not incompatible with design inferences.

What I am saying in this discussion is no different from what I have always said, i.e., that the notion of intelligent design is compatible with belief in evolution, in OEC, or in YEC. Therefore, Discovery does not take a position on which of those views is the correct one. It has argued that unguided evolution (whether “Darwinian” or some other type) is false, but not that evolution – a process by which the simplest one-celled life forms generated all future species, including human beings – is false. From the point of view of ID, all options are on the table, except unguided evolution.

There is therefore no reason why Discovery should not publish books representing all three points of view, evolutionist, OEC, and YEC. Yet, as I noted, it does not seem to publish books representing the YEC view. This would seem to fit in very poorly with Puck’s charge that the 2017 Crossway book (not even published by Discovery!) indicated a change of heart and a movement toward “fundamentalism” on Discovery’s part. “Fundamentalism” these days is predominantly YEC fundamentalism, so if Discovery has embraced fundamentalism since 2017 one would expect more promotion of YEC in its book offerings since then. But the YEC-endorsing books have not materialized. Further, Discovery continues to publish books by Denton, who is on record as saying that human beings evolved from one-celled animals by natural processes without supernatural intervention. That fact, coupled with the complete absence of books promoting the YEC point of view, deals a death-blow to Puck’s claim that since 2017 Discovery has adopted a more fundamentalist stance.

In fact Discovery’s publishing program in 2022 doesn’t look much different from its publishing program in 2015; the Crossway volume changed nothing. You and Puck can accept this fact, or you can try to deny it, but as the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Have a nice evening.

Tell you what: Figure out what you actually believe and then get back to me. There’s no reason to argue with you when you’re too busy arguing with yourself.


I’ve presented clearly what I believe about Discovery’s Big Tent position. I’ve made all the necessary distinctions (e.g., the distinction between “ID allows OEC as a possible position” and “ID insists that OEC is the true position”) in order for you to understand that position. That you have trouble sorting through well-expressed distinctions is not my problem. Perhaps in your university education you should have studied a little less biology and psychology and a little more Aristotle, Hobbes, and Mill. Best wishes.

And my position is that the ID proponents are creationists who will not admit to this for political/ legal reasons. Your distinction does not argue against that position at all.


To be clear, what I said was that the DI seems to have a deepening commitment to fundamentalism, and that this was an interesting moment in that. My sense has always been that the DI wouldn’t exist at all if it were not for religious fundamentalism, and that the existence of those sorts of retrograde elements in our culture is the only thing that keeps such things as the DI solvent. The great thing, as Phineas (the Fabulous Furry Freak Brother) once said, about fundamentalism is that it’s got a fund.

Other interesting moments there include the recent Meyer book which throws out the whole “none of this is about holding up primitive notions of a creator-god scowling at us from his cloudy perch, no sirree” denial which the DI used to be fond of, and the publication of The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith via a publisher who is also responsible for the convenient End-Times Wallchart which can help you navigate the apocalypse in a user-friendly but, handily, not electricity-dependent manner. The DI’s journey, though, is more about how the DI chooses to portray itself than about what it truly means to accomplish. It seems to me that they may once have had the delusional notion that they could pull a con so convincing that they could win the respect of cultured and educated people; today, having found that that’s never going to happen, they’re more comfortable than they used to be with just not bothering to hide their motives.


That explicit endorsement is really all that matters, despite all of your verbal dancing.

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How about defining “fundamentalism” for us, since, as John Harshman has pointed out, it means different things to different people? Does “fundamentalism”, for example, require a belief in Young Earth Creationism? What are the characteristic marks by which I can tell that a Christian is a “fundamentalist”? Without a definition, I don’t see how we can say whether the DI is becoming more or less “fundamentalist.”

I’d agree that the DI could not exist without funding, and that much of its funding comes from “conservative” Christians. What percentage of those conservative Christians are “fundamentalists” is hard to say, especially since you have not defined “fundamentalist.”

And your position continues to fail to explain why ID has published four books by Denton, with a fifth in the pipeline.

A creationist who does not want to admit he is a creationist might avoid directly denying universal common descent, but no creationist would willingly promote books by someone who unambiguously affirmed universal common descent. You don’t see Ken Ham’s creationist organization publishing works by Denton, and you don’t see Hugh Ross’s creationist organization publishing works by Denton. The most economical explanation of the facts here is that the DI means what it says when it says that universal common descent is compatible with design.

Only by torturing both logic and common sense could you arrive at the conclusion that the DI would willingly offend a large number of its donors and readers by publishing, without criticism, the writings of a man who does not believe that Genesis is the word of God and who thinks man descended not just from apes but from brainless one-celled creatures. You must be desperate to maintain your conspiracy theory when a more common-sense and coherent interpretation of the facts is available, i.e., that the DI exists for exactly the reason it says it exists, i.e., to promote design theory, which is certainly compatible with creationism but extends beyond it.

Why talk about authors? Why not talk about actual science?

Your choice of “elements” is telling. Might it be that it never does so because those elements of their rhetoric are not supported by any evidence–or at least evidence that not even you will point to as convincing?

There’s yet another implicit admission that ID was never intended to be science. Can you imagine anyone referring to real science in that way–“the cell-biology movement” or “the genetics movement”?

That term “movement” is far more political than scientific.

Another admission that this is all political. Does the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) have any official views on any scientific issues themselves? The Society for Neuroscience?

Does the ASCB have any strategies relating to tent sizes?

But not science, so that’s another tacit admission that creationism isn’t science. Thanks!

And presenting this as a matter of notions and belief is yet another admission. Science isn’t about belief, but beliefs and politics and money is pretty much all there is to ID.

Bigger political tents bring in more money. There’s no attempt to be intellectually or philosophically coherent in any of this, as your Culture Warrior stance has demonstrated here.


Because he’s a creationist, and they publish creationist books. Was that supposed to be a trick question?

You continue to deny the existence of ID Creationism, a peculiar form of creationism that sometimes acknowledges common descent.

When did I deny that?

Our disagreement is over whether ID is creationism. Do try to keep up.

Ah, so you are under the impression that the DI is now insolvent and facing financial destitution because the religious fundamentalists upon whose financial largesse they depend are now abandoning them because they have promoted Denton’s books.

Sadly, that is not at all the case.


Let me offer a functional definition for the current thread: rejection of common descent among major clades and an explicitly religious motivation. It does appear that the DI is going more and more in that direction, despite the continuing presence of outliers in the big tent.

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Uh-oh. Now we need your definition of “creationist”. Denton sure doesn’t fit mine.

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My definition is someone who denies that the theory of evolution is adequate to account, in scientific terms, for the diversity of life that has inhabited earth, and that an account can only be provided if a god is somehow involved.


So theistic evolution is creationism too? I don’t think that’s a useful definition.

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No. Theistic evolutionists accept that the theory of evolution provides an adequate and well supported scientific account. They just think there are some theological aspects that need to be added to make it a full account.


Nobody on the planet thinks Denton is a creationist, except for you. And while a minority of one is not always wrong, in your case, it is.

I deny the validity of the term “ID Creationism”, which was invented, or at least first widely promoted, with the conscious attempt to misrepresent what ID people were saying, for political reasons. I do not deny that there are ID proponents who also happen to be creationists. However, the latter meaning is not what you have in mind, as I know from scores of exchanges with you here. You have in mind the deliberately distortive misrepresentation.

Not precise or clear enough. Our disagreement is over whether all ID proponents are automatically creationists, merely by virtue of being ID proponents. You affirm that proposition. I deny it. And I will never cease denying it, because it is objectively false, based on the philologically demonstrated typical usage of the term “creationism” in American popular discourse about origins, and based on the very explicit and well-reasoned statements of the meaning of ID on the Discovery website, which you have been linked to many times, but refuse to read. The ID people invented ID; it’s their term, not yours, and they, not you, get to define it. If you choose to define a term invented by someone else differently from the person who coined the term, you’re guilty of flagrant obstruction of communication.

You can correctly claim that certain ID proponents are creationist. But if you insist that ID, as such, is creationist, you are simply wrong, and whether this is due to incapacity or to unwillingness to properly use the English language, does not change your wrongness.

No, not at all. The donors to Discovery understand perfectly well that among ID proponents there are those who accept bacterium-to-man evolution. They know that ID is a big tent, and they accept that their money will be used to promote a wide range of people who defend ID, even if some of those people are not creationists. If they could not endure their money going to non-creationists, they would not donate to Discovery, but to Ken Ham or Hugh Ross some similar organization. There is no deception involved; Discovery is completely up front with its donors and makes no apology for printing Denton’s books.

You, on the other hand, think that Discovery practices deception. You think it’s trying to deceive school boards, and you presumably also think it is trying to deceive its donors by telling them all their money is going to print creationist books. But this is not the case. The donors know the score. They are much less stupid than you think they are.

I don’t object to this as a working definition, but it’s essentially the same as my definition of “creationism” (minus the requirement of references to Genesis), and I thought you wanted us to be cautious not to confuse creationism with fundamentalism.

But employing your definition, I don’t see that Discovery is any more “fundamentalist” now than it was before the Crossway book came out. Its list of Fellows is almost identical to the list as it existed in 2017, and none of them have changed their opinions since then, to my knowledge. It’s still headed up by John West, who does not appear to have changed his view on origins over the past 10 years or more. Its definitions of ID, up on the site, are unchanged for past 15 or 20 years. And it still has not published any work by an author explicitly defending a YEC perspective. It looks to me like business as usual.

I’m here speaking only based on what any observer of the web site and the publications could see. I also have lots of additional information based on knowing a large number of the participants reasonably well and communicating with many of them frequently, and that information confirms the impression just given, but of course no one here will believe me when I say that, so I don’t adduce it as evidence; and I don’t need it. The onus is on others to show the marked shift to fundamentalism. So far, the only evidence adduced here is a book not even published by Discovery, a book containing not a single contribution by an ID-evolutionist even though ID-evolutionists are among the most important ID proponents. That’s pretty weak evidence on which to claim the existence of a trend. Unless further evidence is provided, it’s reasonable simply to dismiss the claim.

Not clear on the distinction between an adequate, etc., account and a full account. And theistic evolutionists seem to differ quite a bit on how much divine intervention is necessary. As far as I can tell, Denton thinks that God just set up the laws of nature so that evolution would happen, and that’s it. How is that creationism?

That’s just nonsense. It was invented because the ID political movement is at core a creationist one — in my sense, not @Faizal_Ali’s — despite the few outliers you keep talking about. “Cdesign proponentsists”, anyone? Now that’s a cheap suit.

No, I just want to understand what various people mean by “fundamentalism”.

It’s not that it’s more fundamentalist, or creationist. It’s just that it seem more willing to expose that point of view in public. Nobody has to change their opinions for that to happen. And YEC is a red herring, so don’t go there.

Most important by what criterion?

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