Why Does ID Criticize TE?

@vjtorley maybe you can help me understand. Why do a majority of ID proponents criticize the theology of EC proponents when so many ID proponents reject a literalistic timeline as presented in Genesis?

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Great question. Looking forward to hearing thoughts from others.

Most of ID leaders are OEC, like @vjtorley and @Agauger are inclined. They genuinely have had legitimate and valid concerns about atheist evolution, and feel that EC has often given up too much. They also have theology is in many ways incompatible with EC. For example, even though a historical Adam is technically within BioLogos, ID leaders (in my experience) have generally felt that a historical Adam (ancestor of us all, specially created) is required. There are exceptions (e.g. Behe), but that seems to be the pattern.

At the same time, a very large portion of the ID base is YEC. They do not score any points for arguing for an old earth. The whole rational for forming ID in the first place was avoiding internal debates about the age of the earth in order to focus on fighting more important battles, like opposing atheistic evolution. To his credit, Philip Johnson made an effective case for including theistic evolutionists like Behe too.

For that history, ID as social movement works because it is triangulating. They argument to YEC’s is that they should put aside their disagreements with OECs (and even some TEs), in order to made a more effective case against Dawkins and evolution.

Where it gets interesting is EC, Francis Collins, and BioLogos. TE in this form is a creation of the ID movement; it arises historically as a reaction against ID, even more than YEC. BioLogos, for example, has really be defined by opposing the excesses and errors of the ID movement. They would not exist however, if not for the ID movement in many ways. It was because of the Dover Trial that the Language of God was published in the first place.

So EC has honestly been attacking ID for far longer than ID has been attacking EC. From talking to people like John West and David Klinghoffer, I think they’ve legitimately seen themselves as defending themselves from EC scholars. They have struggled to understand why Christians would oppose their efforts in making the ID case. It is a big change, in truth, that the new Crossway TE book was published by ID thinkers. This is really their first concerted effort to engage with EC theology in a public way.

That is a good thing. Getting the theological differences on the table will be how we sort through them. In the past they have resisted engaging theology, even though that is really where the crux of the disagreement is. Perhaps @Agauger can comment, but perhaps they felt they need to engage directly with BioLogos in these terms. It certainly served their social strategy of triangulating between evolution and YEC to negotiate internal truce between YEC and OEC. It is just now that they are clarifying that opposing EC is just as important as opposing atheistic evolution; and that opposing EC will require a theological response too.

It is also worth asking the question of how our work fits in at Peaceful Science. It certainly seems like we are triangulating too, but in a different way.

We affirm God’s action in the physical world. We believe he providentially governs all things, and have been successful in arguing the scientific case for a historical Adam, ancestors of us all, including de novo creation. We also are not defined by opposition to evolution, and most of us have no problem with Common Descent.

This, it seems, scrambles the categories. I’m still trying to figure out where we fit in (and by extension, myself). Unless EC changes, I’m not a good fit at BioLogos. Unless ID changes, I’m not a good fit at DI. Maybe we need a new way forward.

What do you think? @jongarvey @cwhenderson @vjtorley

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I’m certainly not opposed to ID’s efforts at all. I’m not anti-ID. I accept common ancestry. I am very confident in the truth of common ancestry. And I’m very confident in modern evolutionary theory’s ability to explain the observations we see and at this time I see no reason to posit an intelligence to explain some biological feature. But I have absolutely no problem with adopting intelligence as an explanatory tool within the common ancestry framework (I’m still looking for an IDist to explain to me how ID should be incorporated into common ancestry. Previous attempts didn’t go anywhere.). So I don’t oppose ID as a scientific idea at all. Just think it’s wrong at the moment. I just have beef with the ID movement. Don’t think they are doing things the right way. But @Agauger has caused me to see them in a better light here recently. If I came to accept ID id probably call my position theistically guided evolution. Or something along those lines.


I’ve wondered this too. If I accepted ID my theology really wouldn’t change


I realize that it is more complicated than this, but do you think your position on Adam and Eve is the biggest reason for the lack of fit?

@T.j_Runyon, I think very closely along the same lines. I certainly believe in God as Intelligent Designer, but there is substantial evidence for common ancestry. I don’t know the details of precisely how God used evolution in His creation and I don’t believe His exact involvement is directly evident, but I acknowledge Him as ultimately responsible for all creation.

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@cwhenderson, well said! Your words are perfect. It’s the Gospel Truth!

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I keep hoping to find your answer to this question from @cwhenderson. But you haven’t posted once to this thread. Please advise.

Hi @cwhenderson,

@vjtorley maybe you can help me understand. Why do a majority of ID proponents criticize the theology of EC proponents when so many ID proponents reject a literalistic timeline as presented in Genesis?

Just a very quick answer before I head off to work. If you want to know why some ID thinkers criticize EC, you might like to have a look at the writings of Wayne Rossiter (a former atheist) over at his blog, https://shadowofoz.wordpress.com/ . Rossiter’s two biggies, as I recall, are: (i) if mutations are genuinely random, they cannot be designed, which leaves God out of the picture; and (ii) if mutations are not random but pseudo-random, then that makes God responsible for all the diseases and deaths that have occurred in the history of life on Earth - to which Rossiter responds, “Not my God.”

Several years ago, I critiqued Darwinism from a Thomistic standpoint in this article: Why Aquinas and Darwin don’t mix, which was one of a five-part series. My views have changed to some degree since then, but here are some brief quotes to get the ball rolling:

Let’s recapitulate. According to Aquinas, living things belong to fixed and unchangeable kinds or types. All of these creatures, and their bodily organs, are perfectly made, in relation to their proper ends. God makes nothing in vain; thus there are no redundant organs or body parts in living things. And finally, for each and every kind of organism in the natural world, each and every one of its characteristic features was personally designed by God.

Now, if you believe any of these things, you cannot be a Darwinist. Darwinism insists that there are no fixed essences, at any taxonomic level: we all sprang from a common stock, as a result of natural processes (variation kept in check by natural selection), all of which operate without any foresight of long-term goals. Moreover, imperfections, such as faulty and even maladaptive designs, redundant genes, and vestigial organs (some of which serve no purpose at all), are rife in Nature. The idea that God personally designed all these features would have Darwinists rolling in the aisles.

and also:

Aquinas taught that there was just the right amount of natural evil in the biological world… Asking God to accomplish the very large, long-term goal of designing a world with just the right amount of natural evil, using only memoryless processes that are inherently incapable of being directed at long-term goals, is to ask the impossible. It’s a contradiction in terms. Not even a Deity could do that.

Got to run now. Cheers.


I think your theory applies to some folks… folks who think Young Earth Creationism really does give God an “out” on the issue of theodicy. And maybe there are some who unconsciously believe this … but when nudged, realize this is an undefendable position.

As for being a Darwinist, the only ones who worry about that are the Atheists. I know very few BioLogos supporters who worry about abandoning the “randomness of Darwinism”. Christians who understand their beliefs are happy to abandon Darwinism.

If you think Young Earth Creationism gets God “off the hook” regarding Natural Evil, I suppose we’ll need a thread on that topic. Because that “dog won’t hunt”. The Bible itself corroborates God’s involvement in natural evil explicitly… without even having to develop an “if/then” logical analysis.

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The central reason I left is that they asked me to leave, because they disagreed with the science I presented on universal genealogical ancestry, and insisted (even after clarification) I was “naming others as sub-humans.” They were deeply offended by this article: http://henrycenter.tiu.edu/2017/06/a-genealogical-adam-and-eve-in-evolution/, and raised this specifically as the reason they were angry with me, and one of the key reasons they wanted me to leave.

I would have probably tolerated quite a bit, justifying it by telling myself (and others) that “they do tolerate me and my position,” but after being kicked out, that no longer applied.

Then, I decided to make this public when they insisted on arguing that the de novo creation of Adam was anti-science: In Defense of Tim Keller. They still have not retracted their claim, even though it has been soundly dismissed. I do not think there are even any scientists in BioLogos that think that is correct any more, yet they have held on to this for over a year now. I was glad when Deborah Haarsma finally made a comment that they are considering changing their position: A Flawed Mirror: A Response to the Book “Theistic Evolution” - #9 by Swamidass - Faith & Science Conversation - The BioLogos Forum, however, my comment in response (it seems) got me banned from the BioLogos forums.

At the moment, they are more intent on promoting a particular theological and hermeneutical approach, that is totally opposed to something like a Genealogical Adam. Science, right now, is subservient to that agenda, so it seems.

Thankfully, Jeff Schloss, Jeff Hardin, Ted Davis, and Darrel Falk got involved, and helped them come to terms with the science I was presenting, and stop calling it “racist.” However, they were very clear they wanted nothing to do with me after this. Notice that they have not acknowledged any of their errors, or genealogical science, or me this last year.

That is their choice, even as I’ve offered them olive branches over and over again (and will continue to do so). I’d love to get on the same page with them. It seems, however, that they are not interested. They would rather I just went away.

Ultimately, they do not have to like me, or what we are doing. They can choose to continue opposing traditional theology. However, it crosses a line when they use their scientific errors against others. That I am not okay with, and I am one of the few people with credibility to defend people from that sort of behavior. So, that unfortunately leaves me in a situation where I feel obligated to say things that they very much dislike (e.g. defending Buggs, and Keller).

At the moment, I just hope that they could stop using science against positions that are not in conflict with science, and let go of their anti-traditional theology agenda. For me to return to BioLogos, I’d have to be invited back as more than a person they intend to silence and ignore.

Wayne Rossiter is an important case study. He wrote recently:

I also had some private conversation with Joshua Swamidass. Very encouraging stuff. I think I was too hard on him in previous posts. He and I probably won’t agree on everything, but I want to say that I think he is an authentic seeker of the kingdom of God, believing in His miraculous power and salvation through Jesus Christ. More on these, and other convictions of sin, to come. Take care out there. God bless.

He, interestingly enough, is a theistic evolutionist. He affirms common descent and an old earth. His issue is not with evolution but specifically with the BioLogos theological agenda. He is a person to watch closely going forward.

[Edit: removed mistaken claim that he left ID]

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If you had known that they were troubled, and if you had known that they thought you were labeling 10,000 Homo sapiens as not in the Image of God , do you think they would have been reassured?

It seems the grounds for their upset was based on an error.

I told them this several times, over the course of a year. Jeff Schloss and Darrel Falk told them the same thing. I have no explanation for why they continued to say I was “naming others as sub-human” for so long.

At the moment, I think most people have realized that was all falsehood. Dennis, however, made clear he still think that is my position, that I am naming others as sub-human. That is his current position, to be clear. He has been told by me and several other people this is just false, but he maintains that he understands my position better than me.

When things like this happen, there are other motivations left unspoken. There are reasons they wanted me to be wrong, and to silence another way forward. It will take time for all this to work out. The fact that I am not with BioLogos rightfully continues to raise a lot of questions. At some point they are going to have to adjust.

Hopefully they will want to invite me back in eventually too.

Such a shame, @swamidass. Who would have thought such entrenched error could be sustained in the cold, cool text of analysis…

Dennis is not enough to keep me away from BioLogos. I’m not opposed to him. As @T.j_Runyon is quick to point out (and I agree) he has done a lot of good, and is one reason that he came to faith.

The bigger problems, that are more durable, are best summed up as a “difference in values.” It will take a change in our values to be in the same camp one day. At this point, I do not think that is what they want any ways, so this is a moot point.

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That seems to be the crux of the issue. Your position does not fit within ID right now. JP Moreland explains, he can’t tell the difference between an atheist that does not believe God exists, and a Christian who does not think science can detect God’s action.

How do you think it is wrong?

Isn’t that fairly easy? Maybe God had to inspire sets of mutations along the way because some of them were required, and were to difficult to arrive at by an unguided process. @anon46279830 mapped out several other types of guidance, all of which (by the way) would be totally undetectable by science.

And to be clear, I am not an IDist, and it is because I think ID is science-engaged philosophy, not science. Moreover, their arguments are not scientifically correct, in my opinion. There are clearly people here who disagree with me.

As far as Moreland’s comment goes nothing about theism entails that’s God’s action should be detectable by the sciences or at what frequency God’s action should be detectable. Scientifically detectability is irrelevant. This is also why I think the argument from the history of science for naturalism fails. I feel like I can make a strong case for Christian theism without making any arguments that depend on scientific detectability. You can perceive design without detecting it scientifically. I’d like to discuss ID and common ancestry a bit. So an ID proponent who accepts common ancestry might say God caused multiple simultaneous mutations so a certain trait could arise and then it evolved like normal? Or God brought a new protein fold into existence and then selection took over (im still a little unclear on their model for protein evolution)? Or an IC structure. Along these lines?

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That is about right.

One notion is that certain things that have happened in evolution required God to have intervened to make them possible. There are other views too that do not precisely require intervention. However, in addition to this claim (which might be correct) is the presumption that we can scientifically show this to be true. That presumption motivates a lot of claims from evidence that turn out to be false.

God certainly could have intervened. This does not violate science, because science is silent about God. However, if He did intervene, given what we have seen in nature, and how science works, we do not expect to determine how. That is just as it is in all areas of life. God providentially governs all things, including evolution, even though we do not know the precise details of how He governs all things.

This goes against the first part of your statement.

And on this you are on much more solid theological and philosophical ground than one of the leading lights of the ID movement.

The problem is that you have to be able to demonstrate something scientifically for it to be part of science class. And historically, ID has always been about getting into science class. Hopefully that will change in the future, especially as they become more engaged with theology, and more upfront about their religious motivations. ID does not have to be about the Dover Trial and the Kansas Hearings, but they are going to have to evolve.

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As for which “certain things”, perhaps the most reasonable model is that of a unique set of coordinated mutations that must all simultaneously take place to be useful. No one has been able to prove that they exist, or to disprove them either. This is closely related to the Waiting Time problem you were asking me about. Sadly won’t be able to post on that for a bit longer, and I’m still banned from BioLogos.

While I will dispute some critical parts of the Waiting Time problem, the basic idea is important and has validity too. While we cannot prove that a unique set of coordinated mutations was required, for example, in human evolution, perhaps a set of 10 or 20 were in fact required. There is no way of establishing this from evidence (one way or the other), but it also might be a real barrier evolution faces. I’m an agnostic, personally, on this.

If this barrier exists it might be necessary for God to periodically insert these mutations to help evolution get over creative barriers. That assistance would be lost in the noise of neutral evolution though, and we are left with no evidence for or against it.

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