Daniel Dennett wrote
>the Discovery Institute should finance its own
>peer-reviewed electronic journal. This way, the
>organization could live up to its self-professed
>image: the doughty defenders of brave
>iconoclasts bucking the establishment.
There is in fact a well-funded IDT site
www.iscid.org controlled by one Micah Sparacio
and by William Dembski whom Dennett correctly
>one of the most vocal supporters of intelligent design.
These controllers have repeatedly refused
to allow me to contribute criticisms to that
ISCID site; here is an example of what they feel
their readers should not be exposed to.
"Creationism" is a significant
cross-current within Christianity, distracting
efforts from real issues. And it presents to
ignorant, lazy or dishonest outsiders a very
misleading image of the logic & honesty of
Christians. A target is thus created, which is
nothing better than a caricature, for atheists to
IDT is essentially Paley 1802 - fine,
as far as it goes. Broom's book 'How Blind Is
The Watchmaker' (IVP 2001) is the best IDT I know
of - and fully acknowledging not only a
billions-of-years biosphere but also evolution.
The IDT 'wedge' however has become to some extent
a front for "creationism". Prof Don Nield has
argued, and I agree, that IDT is trying to drive
in its wedge at the wrong place.
Full 28 y ago a leading local
statistician (later prof.), George Seber, tried
to get me to debate publicly against Duane Gish.
The notion was in some ways attractive, not least
because we're both Berkeley Ph.D biochemists; but
I declined, saying I would not dignify his cause
by sharing a stage with him. This reticence,
uncharacteristic for me, I have never regretted.
Much more recently, I gave a talk on
Creationism to our local Christian Academics
Group. In moving the vote of thanks, George
insisted on ignoring my main point by expressing
hope that there will be tolerance of Creationism
alongside the mainstream position which I had
My own position is similar to that of our
leading emeritus zoology prof John Morton (see
his 'Man, Science and God', Collins 1972).
Although generally critical of the Vatican, I
think its doctrine on evolution is hard to fault,
and I credit it for the fact that Rome has had
little trouble regarding evolution. On this
issue if no others, general Christian doctrine
should learn from the Vatican.
Around 2 decade ago Creationists tried to
tamper with school book holdings in Hamilton N.Z.
I have not learned whether this attempt persisted.
In 1983 I photographed in the Science
Museum, Kensington, an exhibit which asserted the
axiom that *either* organisms have evolved
*or* God has created them. This furphy, not
normally so clearly enunciated, seems to me to be
not only the fundamental error of the
Creationist® fanaticism but also typical in its
illogic of most if not all fundamentalisms. I
suggest the racket common to them is the
requirement of assent to a proposition which is
not subtly but flagrantly false. This is not
ancillary or accidental: I believe it is
essential, in that once a person has overtly
signalled switching-off of God-given reason in
favour of a pointedly false slogan from the sect
leader(s), obedience can be thereafter required
much more generally. This is in the nature of
totalitarian systems' social psychology. "The
Slavs are sub-human" is a prototypical modern
example of a blatantly false slogan which you had
to assent to overtly if you were to attain the
(temporary) social security of the National
Socialist Party. "The first 3 chapters of the
Bible, plus the Noah story, must be taken
literally" is similar mischief. I don't see why
this racket is not more widely & vigorously
condemned. Those who propound it do not in fact
advocate that other parts of the Bible be read
literally; Broom & I point to John the Baptist's
hailing "the Lamb of God" - why do
fundamentalists not try to insist that Christ
assumed ovine form for that occasion on the banks
of the Jordan?
As a scientist active in natural
theology, I support the general gist of IDT as
such but fear that it functions on the edge of a
So, far from 'teaching the controversy',
IDT head honchos suppress criticism.
When Dembski visited Auckland I arranged
a half-day symposium for him with Broom, Nield,
and other scholars. He was cordial, but
unresponsive. He feels little call upon himself
to respond to others' reasoning, except by
issuing great gouts of verbiage at a tangent from
what they have said. The Creationists are a
different character type: they not only don't
respond to any opponent's reasoning but also
become, on no shadow of an excuse, rabidly
abusive. IDT is a more subtle problem.
Enemies of religion cannot honestly use
IDT as a surrogate for genuine scholarship. It
purports to be a school of thought, but
contributes just the one tiny point - Paley's
1802 point - and stands pat on that, refusing
to discuss anything else, as if Dawkins & his ilk
might concede that point. This is a crazy
standoff unworthy of further attention.