Where Eddie Agrees With Peaceful Science

Continuing the discussion from Why I Am an ID Proponent:

@eddie is a friend, but we are often locked in resistance of one another. Hopefully constructive, but not always. For that reason, as is the case with everyone I am locking horns with, it is important to note where we have important areas of agreement. Here is one of them…

To which @eddie responds:

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I understand with your point, Joshua, and to some extent sympathize. I would not say that every argument advanced in Evolution News and Views columns is of equal scientific quality, and I could see how a reader, happening to stumble across one of the weaker columns, might well suspect the scientific quality of DI as an organization.

This is a problem inherent when science (or any human activity) is done by advocacy organizations rather than by individuals. When an argument (scientific, philosophical, historical, etc.) is made by an individual, one only has to deal with that argument offered by that individual; one doesn’t have to pass judgment on arguments made by others. Things are clearer.

I have had the same problem with BioLogos. Often I found myself in agreement with statements made there, e.g., Genesis 1-11 are not meant as on-the-spot news reports, and that evolutionary change has occurred. But the ethos of BioLogos was such that if one accepted that, one was also under pressure to accept a lot of other stuff that I did not accept, e.g., that God gave nature “freedom” to co-create with him, or that natural theology was bad theology, or that God would never directly create something nasty like malaria and so malaria had to be an evolutionary accident, or that evolution could just as well have spit out more intelligent octopuses and God would have been happy with that, or that design arguments regarding nature are in principle impossible, etc. The fact that BioLogos so often seemed to be championing what I deemed logical, historical, theological and philosophical errors made me mistrust BioLogos overall, even though I agreed with some of what it had to say.

The answer, I think, is for people to speak for themselves, and not through a corporate mask. That is the traditional academic way: scholars and scientists speak for themselves (not for their university, or for “science”, but for themselves), and defend their claims.

However, the world being the way it is, there are advocacy groups, and as long as advocacy groups for one side exist, and are allowed legally to promote their positions, it’s only fair that advocacy groups for other sides should be allowed to exist, too. So if we have to put up with the theoretical murkiness of BioLogos columns, we have to put up with the theoretical murkiness of Evolution News and Views columns.

I prefer discussing theoretical notions put forward by various ID leaders, to discussing the social or cultural behavior of the DI. Similarly, I would rather discuss the particular positions of Francis Collins, or Denis Lamoureux, etc. than talk about the behavior of BioLogos in general, or “theistic evolutionists” in general.

I think that Peaceful Science will serve the public best if there is no “Peaceful Science” corporate doctrine, but if the place remains a forum for dialogue between people from different camps, where no camp is treated as sacrosanct and beyond criticism, and ideas are weighed on their merits, not on whether they come from Discovery or BioLogos or somewhere else.


I agree with much in your last voluminous post

Except I’m willing to apply the razor both ways. I see no reason to put up with either ENV or BioLogos murking up the water. You often have been critical of BioLogos for this reason. Do you raise the same issue with DI?

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I have often admitted, several times on BioLogos if not here, that I find some of the posts on Evolution News and Views, particularly those written by non-scientists, to be journalistic and rhetorical, even polemical, in character, and therefore not a contribution to genuine scientific discussion of origins. Posts of that sort are often organizational pep talks to “rally the troops” for ID and against something else (typically atheism or BioLogos), and political rather than intellectual in character. That’s why I keep telling people like George Brooks to read the books of Behe, Denton, etc., and not worry about the culture war activity of some ID proponents. If one wants to know what Behe or Denton think about evolution and design, one won’t find those thoughts in the Wedge Document or in an anonymous ENV editorial; one has to read the writings of Behe and Denton.

I sometimes agree with ID critics on some details. For example, I think Behe could have ceded the example of the blood-clotting cascade when it was pointed out that shorter versions of it, with fewer parts, existed; that wouldn’t have damaged his other examples of irreducible complexity. I think Meyer in some places incautiously said that mutations could provide “no” new biological information, which I think is not right, and not necessary for his argument – and I’m pretty sure I conceded that in a discussion on BioLogos, way back. I’ve never been of the view that all ID statements are beyond criticism, or that all will stand the test of time. There’s room for improvement.

Privately I have disputed internally with ID folks. I have from time to time written to people at ENV or Uncommon Descent with objections either to the correctness of statements, or regarding their political conduct toward perceived opponents.

Generally speaking, I find that ID proponents have lively internal debates (scientific, philosophical, theological, even sometimes specifically Biblical) all the time. Not all of them, however, take place in the offices of Discovery Institute. In fact, most ID discussions don’t take place through Discovery, but through other means of communication. Those who know ID only through Discovery, which as an advocacy group naturally tries to present a united front, will doubtless get the impression that ID folks are incapable of self-criticism; those who know the behind-the-scenes, “family” discussions will know that ID folks are constantly engaged in healthy internal debate, over both theoretical matters and collective ID behavior.

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Ahhhh @Eddie, so true! These hesitancies drove me crazy!

However, below, you include a position of a different category! Sneaky… and erroneous. Design arguments are impossible in principle!

The moral argument is a strong argument for design, in philosophy, not science.


Thank you.

Even if that were true – which I don’t concede – it would not follow from the notion of “evolutionary creation” itself. The notion of “evolutionary creation” by itself is only the notion that God created through an evolutionary process. Period. It says nothing in itself about whether or not God’s design would be detectable. That is an “add-on” – a gratuitous add-on, and one that is characteristic only of very recent theistic evolution / evolutionary creation. Older generations of theistic evolutionists (Gray, etc.) never laid down any stipulation that design could not be detectable. They just said that God worked through evolution.

And did anyone here happen to notice when it became a common argument among “theistic evolutionists” (whether among the ASA or at BioLogos) that design could not be detectable? I’ll tell you exactly when! It started to appear as an argument after the modern movement of Intelligent Design appeared. It’s there deliberately to tweak the the nose of the ID people. It doesn’t logically belong to “theistic evolution” or “evolutionary creation” as an inherent part of the idea.

If an individual TE/EC makes the argument that design is not detectable in nature, speaking only for himself or herself, I have no problem with that. What I objected to was the sly slipping-in of that doctrine as part of the “package deal” of TE/EC, so that soon being a TE/EC started to mean not only that one thought God created through evolution, but also that no traces of God’s design were detectable.

Imagine being all ready to buy a car that has almost everything you like, and then being told that if you buy the car you have to take the leather seats, and you hate leather seats. That’s the situation I was put in by the people at the ASA and BioLogos. They weren’t content just to sell me a car I would like, with working engine, mirrors, brakes, etc. They insisted on selling me the leather seats, the sun roof, the spoiler, the keyless ignition, the roof rack, the built-in GPS, the hybrid fuel system, etc. – while taking away features I liked, such as the DVD player and coin box. So I told them what they could do with their car – errr, ah, I mean, I told them I would buy my car elsewhere.



I would label the onset of this gridlock to be in sync with efforts by Evangelicals to totally ban teaching evolution …

…progressing into efforts by Evangelicals to get their religious metaphysics added to public school curricula.

The new generation realized where the agitation would lead…

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I have no doubt that the social and political context has something to do with the crazy overreactions we see among all parties in these origins debates, and so in a general way, I agree with your point.

We must also remember that many of the key leaders of TE/EC were either raised as creationists or had a period in their lives of creationism – Falk, Giberson, Venema, Lamoureux, Deb Haarsma, Randy Isaac, Brad Kramer – and I think that there is more than a bit of the attitude in some of them of “saying black just because the other guy says white.” So, even though BioLogos could defend a non-literal reading of Genesis, an ancient earth, and macroevolution from molecules to man without opposing in principle the possibility of detectable design, they lash out at the idea of detectable design because the ID people endorse it. It’s childish, but plenty of adults behave in childish ways, especially where politics or religion are involved.


Non-Americans are prone to agree with you, as you are a non-American yourself.

But it is not childish to insist that religiously motivated anti-science factionalism stay OUT of public schools.

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Yes, guys like Brad Kramer had to fight the adversity of coming from a loving YEC family. He overcame this upbringing to get a Masters in Divinity and now works at Biologos as a TE supporter. Against all the odds and adversity thrown his way. :rofl:

That’s not what I said was childish. What is childish is to determine to negate anything any ID person says, just because it comes from an ID person. And that was often the atmosphere at BioLogos, on the talk pages, and even in the columns at times.

I don’t get the rebuttal, if it’s a rebuttal. The point is that Brad now rejects his original YEC doctrines in favor of TE, and, like virtually everyone who has taken that path, foams at the mouth at the very mention of ID. It’s a Pavlovian reaction for them now. You can say “ID” and watch their faces twitch with agitation. If you had a blood pressure device on them, you would see the numbers rise. Of all the people at BioLogos, only Ted Davis (and maybe Christy the moderator) is emotionally and intellectually mature enough not to have this reaction.

It wasn’t a rebutal. I actually found it to be comical that the folks at Biologos actually think that they accomplished something great and wonderful by going from YEC to TE while rejecting ID and OEC. They did nothing of the sort. TE is creationism just like YEC, OEC and ID. Perhaps a more socially acceptable creationism, but still creationism nonetheless.


Once the political goal became clear… the determined effort to silence the political “insurgents” stopped being childish… and began being necessary.

George, you are giving a heavily “political” slant to the motivations of the people at BioLogos. I grant that they have some concern about church/state issues, but as I read their biographies and autobiographies and their comments, it seems to me that their primary concern is not the battle over ninth-grade biology class, but making a space within the evangelical church for Christians who accept evolution. What has really hurt most of them personally is: the loss of jobs at evangelical institutions (Stump, Enns) for their belief in evolution or in non-historical readings of Genesis; rejection from certain churches; or having to conceal their belief in evolution to avoid possible persecution or at least friction (e.g., Applegate has to watch what she says because she’s in the conservative branch of the Presbyterians who reject evolution); etc. They see ID folks as somehow standing in the way of their quest to make more space for evolution in the evangelical world, and that is one of the reasons they are angry at ID. They lump it in with creationism in that regard. And it’s true that some ID folks are creationists. But it doesn’t follow that everything any ID person says must be opposed.

But we have wandered off-topic into the psychology of these people. My main point was that at BioLogos they tend to multiply the doctrines you are expected to hold to be a TE/EC. If all they demanded was what Asa Gray demanded, over 100 years ago, Jon Garvey would be onside, and heck, even I would be onside – and so would MIchael Behe! So they are reducing their appeal by demanding too much.


Something in your logic fails you.

They demand too much for comfort because comfort is not the point.

Well, whatever the point is, their demands have cost them many supporters. On the science side, they have lost the people they might have lured from the ID camp, like Behe, by their uncompromising rejection of any possibility of design detection, and on the theological side, they have lost the support of those evangelicals who could be brought around to evolution, by their flirting with experimental theologies. On top of that, their Templeton grants have run out, or at least have been drastically reduced, so they are in a bad way. They are now down to “reprinting” old columns most of the time, because they no longer have enough money to pay regular columnists, and their talk pages now seem focus on “Christian self-help” as writer after writer whines about how he has lost his faith and need advice. It is becoming a sort of evangelical Dear Abby site. I predict BioLogos will not exist five years from now. You heard it here first.

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