Removing the lion-skin from the donkey

I am often amazed that Intelligent Design as gained such following among certain members of the church. Perhaps because it seems to have the ring of things we do believe. I mean we do believe that God is Intelligent after all, and we do believe that we are here by Design, so Intelligent Design must be right. Right? Wrong. Intelligent Design is an attempt to get fundamentalist Christian creationism taught in the school. Nothing more. It has no value as a science. And everyone but a small handful of creationists comes to the same conclusion: This is not a science. Not even close. It offers no hypotheses. It has no supporting data. It makes no predictions about what one should see genetically, paleontologically, antomically, embryologically or anyway. It is simply the idea that evolution needs jumps to get over something called irreducible complexity, which pretty much means that its main defender, Michael Behe isn’t smart enough to come up with an evolutionary explanation. Or actually, not smart enough to look it up in the literature (and yes this is an ad hominem attack but he deserves it). Turns out all the things he used to illustrate his irreducible complexity already had evolutionary explanations in the literature. Is he a bad researcher or just dishonest? Many have come to the conclusion that he is the latter. This was something that even the judge in the Dover Trial (a case about whether ID should be taught as a science in the Pennsylvania schools) was struck with and commented on in his final ruling—how dishonest the researchers involved with ID were.

There is a great scene in the Chronicles of Narnia where an ape dresses up a donkey with a lion’s skin and calls it Aslan. In the darkness of a stable it looks like it could be Aslan and many are fooled. But it’s not him and the light of day exposes the fraud.

Intelligent Design was very much the same. It gives the appearance of science without any of its substance. Dembski, a fundamentalist Christian mathematician has been one of the architects of this lion-skin–on-a–donkey that tries to add an air of legitimacy to ID by using real math. But his work has been soundly rejected as, well, silly. Much of the ink of this blog has been spilled on the ID and I recommend these posts (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) for more detailed arguments against why it’s not a science. It’s not a conspiracy, as films like Expelled try to suggest, unless it is a conspiracy against shoddy thinking and bad ideas.

And most of all I resent trying to tie the beauty and wonder of Mormon theology with the absolute disaster that is Intelligent Design. We don’t need to hitch our wagon to such ugly ideas to believe in a Creator or believe that we are here for a purpose.

But it brings up a question. What would a Mormon theology that fully embraced evolution look like? In the next few posts I’m going to try to outline what I think are the requirements to have full compatibility. And by compatibility I don’t mean compromise—I mean one that keeps Bruce R. McConkie’s three pillars: Creation, Fall, and Atonement and a view that allows evolution as a science. Both ideas need not be compromised or attenuated.

I’m not going to try to answer what a theology would look like fully formed, but at least outline and sketch what the requirements of such a theology would be (see note at bottom for those concerned about my use of the word theology). Also, there are moves that I think cannot be made until we have more revelation. I’m also going to try to point those out, but I think we must be clear that there are things we just don’t know how to fit together. But by framing those and perhaps by bracketing these things I think we can at least see how full compatibility is a legitimate response that embraces fully both Faith and Science. I expect a lot of debate, but it should be an interesting exercise.

I’m going to start with three Christian apologists for a Darwinism compatible Christianity: Arthur Peacocke (Anglican), John Haught (Catholic), and Hans Kuhn (Catholic). I hope to draw from them a sense of what a move toward Darwinism entails and why and why not their response might work for us. Next I’m going to draw on Henri Bergson (yes really, and no, I have not embraced his élan vital) to look at how to get design and purpose without teleology (e.g., how to get to a designed universe without God having to micro-manage all the details).

At the end of his life as he was dying of cancer evolutionary theologian Arthur Peacocke wrote a few months before he passed away:

Uniquely through all of this the mutual love of my wife and myself has been enriched and deepened in her daily visits and the knowledge that we share the same prayers and the conviction that death will not part us.
. . .
I am only enabled to meet this challenge by my root conviction that God is Love as revealed supremely in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

However the fact remains that death for me is imminent and of this I have no fear because of that belief. This conviction was not available to the non-Christian audience who, according to Bede, we addressed concerning the mystery of life.

[He then quotes Venerable Bede at length but the quote ends with. “Somewhat like this appears the life of man; but of what follows or what went before, we are utterly ignorant.”]

Thanks to the revelation of God through Jesus the Christ we do not share this ignorance. I know that God is waiting for me to be enfolded in love

Death comes to every one and this is my time.

I honestly believe that evolution and our faith both have truths that we need and can embrace together. We don’t need a lion-skin chucked on a donkey. We need Aslan. The real and true.

Note: I’m using the word theology very loosely here. I mean by theology something like the set of our mainstream beliefs and doctrines as commonly understood.

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32 comments to Removing the lion-skin from the donkey

  • Rich

    Looking forward to this. I’m actually writing a book (with my dad) on the subject, and while I don’t have your credentials, I certainly share your enthusiasm. (I’m an active HP in Utah County BTW).

  • an ape dresses up a donkey with a lion’s skin and calls it Aslan….Intelligent Design was very much the same. It gives the appearance of science without any of its substance.

    I think you could turn this metaphor the other way as well, because ID/Creationism commits two parallel sins. One is to try to pass off nonsense as science, and the other is to try to pass itself off as the gospel.

    Looking forward to the series.

  • b

    looking forward to the posts.

  • It’s always refreshing to find Mormons who think as well as believe. Thanks for another good post. I often forward them to family and friends.

  • SteveP, I’m sending you some big props for helping “pro-science” Mormons to embrace ALL of the truths that they hold dear. Your writings have given me some new tools for exploring and harmonizing my scientific and religious experiences. Thanks.

    While some of the “anti-evolution” Mormons are threatened by your posts, I find that they actually promote -and not tear down- faith. The work of the Church is too great to exclude those who embrace science. I suppose it is also too big to exclude those who deny science.

    Big ups.

    Big ups.

  • I will be looking forward to your follow-up posts. While I believe there is harmony in some ultimate sense, I must admit that I try to keep my science and religion separate. I have found that my evolutionary science does not inform my religion, and my religion does not inform my science. However, I keep an open mind, and I will be fascinated in your efforts at “merging.” Would you use that word?

  • SteveP

    S.Faux, That’s a very good point. I’m not I would say ‘merging’ because i honestly believe that some of what would allow a full coming together of the two ideas is going to take prophetic revelation. However, I think what my project is, is more to explore what ‘space’ such a merging would need–pointing out where revelation is needed, but also roughing out why such a space is possible and in avoiding filing the space with mistakes because we don’t take science seriously. So I agree, in some sense they have to be separated until future revelation, but we can take both seriously and fully now even though some of the details are missing.

  • SteveP

    Cynthia (#2). I agree. I see ID as a sin against science and as a sin against faith. Nicely said.

  • I vehemently oppose religion being taught in schools in the form of creationism. At the same time, I think it is unfair to catergorize ID with creationism. Sure, some creationists have tried to co-opt ID in order to get creationism in the schools – we must defend science against these people (e.g., the “Of Pandas and People” folks).

    But there are many scientists trying to launch a legitimate scientific paradigm with ID as its main tenet. Critics who oppose their efforts for no other reason that someone said it is creationism in disguise need to step off the darwinian dogma train and do a little of their own research.

    I am not an IDer, but as a published scientist and scholar who knows much about the history and philosophy of science, I say let ID live or die in the marketplace of rigorous scientific testing. Don’t kill it in the smoke-filled rooms of suspicion and paranoia before it has a chance to prove (or disprove) itself.

  • This is the marketplace of rigorous scientific thought, and ID is dead here.

  • Tim

    Dave says, “let ID live or die in the marketplace of rigorous scientific testing.”
    ID has been given that chance.
    Blood clotting, flagella, etc. etc.
    ID is dead, at least in the marketplace of the natural sciences.
    Unfortunately, it lives on elsewhere.

  • SteveP

    Tim and Tatiana,

    So true.

    It is so dead, but the fundamentalists keep propping up the corpse, putting makeup on the cadaver, and saying look, look, I saw an eye blink.

    Dave, if it’s alive can you show me any falsification attempts? any hypothesis offered or better yet tested? Any publication in a biological journal in which it has offered a theory or explanation of biological data? Can you point to a single research program it’s generated? Can you show me any integrative activities where it unites several disciplines under a single explanation? I’m afraid that not only is it dead, it was never alive. It was only a scarecrow that one for a moment sees and notices it vaguely resembles a human when seen from a mile away, but on any inspection at all quickly is exposed as something that won’t even frighten away birds. Why are you so determine to hold on to this mockery of science? Ether, in the early part of the century at least had some evidence for it and explained some things. ID isn’t even that close. This is so far away from theoretical and empirical data as to be silly.

    “I say let ID live or die in the marketplace of rigorous scientific testing.” well tell it to give us a hypothesis and we’ll be on it, Oh, yeah, it doesn’t offer any. Woops.

  • While it seems undeniable that for many Evangelicals ID is a way to sneak Creationism into educational pedagogy I’m not sure it’s fair to say that of everyone. Some people honestly have trouble with what they see as improbable events. I disagree with them but I think they are being honest and sincere. That said I worry about ID because of the larger group who is using it dishonestly as a means to an end.

    I think the big problem with ID are some questionable views about what information is ontologically in information theory along with quite often just plain bad mathematics.

    What makes me curious is why it is popular among some in Mormonism. There appears to be absolutely no need for ID in our theology. I just don’t understand the religious need for it. I notice that a lot of the pro-ID folks are also anti-global warming and appear to just be contrarians on major issues in science. That is, there is a general distrust of science that is being manifest.

    The only theology that is relevant in an LDS context are those following BRM who have a no death before the fall view for the whole planet rather than just Eden. However ID does absolutely nothing to help in this. If anything it just makes the problem worse… Also ID proper buys into the entire history of evolution and just disputes whether chance is a sufficient driver to explain that history. And folks who adopt a quasi-young earth view of history ought find ID just as problematic as regular history because of that.

  • DB

    Steve,

    I’ve recently started reading your blog (and a few others that discuss evolution, creation, theology, etc.) and am happy to find someone who, like me, is willing to accept both science and scripture without compromising one to make it fit into one’s limited understanding of the other. I have always been of the opinion that the two camps of this argument fight each other because of self doubt and fear. Those who oppose evolution often accuse the other side of having little or no testimony of the gospel, but if their own testimony were so strong they would have no need to deny scientific evidence or to create ludicrous ideas about how such scientific evidence came into existence. Those who oppose a literal interpretation of the scriptures in favor of scientific theory often accuse the other side of having little or no intelligence, yet they cannot figure out how science and scripture can both be true so they construe the teachings in the scriptures to be metaphoric or figurative. Students of the scriptures and of science should not allow their insecurities to blind their minds to other, greater possibilities yet unthought of. Let us remember that the Jews were so blinded by their preconceived idea of the Messiah that when he came, and was not what they expected, they killed him. Let us also remember that none of this is essential to our salvation and to not allow it to blind us to what is. I look forward to your future posts and wonderful discussions of both science and scripture.

  • Steve,
    The inquisitors like Tatiana and Tim have already assembled on your doorstep with pitchforks and torches ready to drive out the evil IDers.

    You bring up several legitimate points regarding the demands that ID has to satisfy to gain credibility in the scientific community (on these points, I agree). I stated on my blog that ID CAN be scientific, but whether it has satisfied the demarcation criteria for being called scientific, I don’t know at this point. I am going to look into this a bit more. Even if ID has satisfied the criteria, it still faces the hurdle of having more predictive and explanatory power than evolution in order to force a paradigmatic revolution a’la Thomas Kuhn. Honestly I don’t see this happening, but then again no one living during the 18th century would have thought that some of Newton’s ideas would be replaced and even proven wrong.

    A bit of advice to the inquisitors: Knee-jerk reactions equating ID with creationism without factual evidence diminishes your credibility on these matters.

  • Brad W.

    Steve, in Moses 2:20-25 we read:

    20 And I, God, said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl which may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

    21 And I, God, created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind; and I, God, saw that all things which I had created were good.

    22 And I, God, blessed them, saying: Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the sea; and let fowl multiply in the earth;

    23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

    24 And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind, and it was so;

    25 And I, God, made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything which creepeth upon the earth after his kind; and I, God, saw that all these things were good.

    Steve, as a believing Latter-day Saint, how do you explain away the phrases “And I, God, created” and “And I, God, made”? Also, how do you explain away the statement “after their kind” which is repeated three times in these five verses?

    I think your students have a right to hear your answer to these questions.

  • Brad W.

    “BYU must resist false ideas. In this university (that may to some of our critics seem unfree) there will be real individual freedom. Freedom from worldly ideologies and concepts unshackles man far more than he knows. It is the truth that sets men free. BYU, in its second century, must become the last remaining bastion of resistance to the invading ideologies that seek control of curriculum as well as classroom. We do not resist such ideas because we fear them, but because they are false. BYU, in its second century, must continue to resist false fashions in education, staying with those basic principles which have proved right and have guided good men and women and good universities over the centuries. This concept is not new, but in the second hundred years we must do it even better.

    When the pressures mount for us to follow the false ways of the world, we hope in the years yet future that those who are part of this university and the Church Educational System will not attempt to counsel the Board of Trustees to follow false ways. We want, through your administration, to receive all your suggestions for making BYU even better. I hope none will presume on the prerogatives of the prophets of God to set the basic direction for this university.”

    President Spencer W. Kimball

  • Brad W.

    “We have nothing to fear when we walk by the light of eternal truth. But we had better be discerning. Sophistry has a way of masking itself as truth. Half truths are used to mislead under the representation that they are whole truths. Innuendo is often used by enemies of this work as representing truth. Theories and hypotheses are often set forth as if they were confirmed truth. Statements taken out of context of time or circumstance or the written word are often given as truth, when as a matter of fact such procedure may be the very essence of falsehood.”(“‘God Hath Not Given Us the Spirit of Fear,’” Ensign, October 1984, p. 4.)

    President Gordon B. Hinckley

  • Brad W.

    “I have spoken before about the importance of keeping the doctrine of the Church pure, and seeing that it is taught in all of our meetings. I worry about this. Small aberrations in doctrinal teaching can lead to large and evil falsehoods.” (General Authority Training Meeting, October 1, 1996.)

    President Gordon B. Hinckley

  • Brad, regarding your exegesis, do you think creation must entail absolute control over every detail? And if so, why? If God controls the environment in which events transpires and sets up the system and maintains it so that such forms develop doesn’t that count as creation? And if you don’t think it does do you think computer programs that utilize neural nets or genetic algorythms don’t count as creating solutions?

    Put simply it seems like there is a HUGE assumption in your question over the meaning of creation. I’d just note that Joseph saw one of the elements of the apostasy as the move from seeing creation in terms of organization into the more Greek inspired absolute ontological creation ex nihilo. Might I sugges that if we follow Joseph in seeing it as organization that there are many ways to organize? (Think of how your Bishop organizes your ward)

  • Knee-jerk reactions equating ID with creationism without factual evidence diminishes your credibility on these matters.

    The problem is that many creationists have taken hold of the term intelligent design. Ask a lot of people what ID is and they’ll describe creationism and not the theories of say Behe. Now it is a fair criticism that one shouldn’t label a movement for the misunderstandings of people claiming to be proponents. However it also seems undeniable that many prominent Creationists are using ID to try and sneak their ideas into legitimacy even if there is a big divide in terms of actual theology. As such the term intelligent design has become muddled and broadened to such an extent that you just can’t control it the way you might wish. (Of course this is hardly unique to ID – you see the same phenomena at work in other movements such as existentialism, pragmatism, postmodernism, and so forth. So I used to call myself a postmodernist but now never would just because of all the crap that has become associated with the name.)

    As to the more formal muddling of terms, this arose after the Supreme Court decision Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987. The “textbook” Of Pandas and People famously does this. (And you probably recall all the kerfuffle over that textbook in recent court battles.) That “textbook” simply replaced the term Creation that was judged illegal with the term Intelligent Design. The original passage that defined Creation as “that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.” became “Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc.” To say this isn’t a formal use of ID in the attempt to undermine scientific padagogy in schools seems hard to accept given all the recent lawsuits.

    Wikipedia has a nice timeline with footnotes for all this.

  • Brad note that evolution is taught extensively at BYU and there is a packet on evolution given to all students. Indeed many world famous evolutionists have taught at BYU.

  • Brad, also note in your exegesis of Moses 2 that you leave out the rather key verses of Moses 3:4-5 which read:

    And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;

    Don’t you find that significant?

  • SteveP

    Wow. Thanks for weighing in. I teach much of today and just got on. There’s some good things here.

    DB always good to find new kindred spirit readers.

    Clark, thanks for weighing in. You’ve brought an insightful point (as always)–especially #13 because I’m confused by the appeal of ID in Mormondom too, as it really is an idea that adds nothing to the discussion within the church or to science. The Utah State Legislature has actually tried to introduce ID to the school based on this confusion. I suppose that is in part why Biologists have been so active in resisting it so vigorously. If were just Behe, Dembski and a few other odd-balls we would let them spout their nonsense with an eyeroll, but the Fundamentalist power plays to get this into the schools have been very concerning and harmful. And that’s why we’ve had to “assemble the pitchforks and torches,” this bad science is being legislated as science so it’s not just an academic debate. What science ‘is’ is under threat.

    Dave, I appreciate you keeping an open mind on this. I will be vigorous in my ID attacks for the reasons stated above, I see it as very harmful if just because it is being taken too seriously by people not scientifically trained. I’m hard on you and you always take it with grace and dignity. While it might not seem like it, I do appreciate your thought and insight.

    Brad, Brad, Brad, go back and read my blog. The whole thing is mostly devoted to how to reconcile evolution and faith. Take your quote from Pres. Hinckley, “Statements taken out of context of time or circumstance or the written word are often given as truth, when as a matter of fact such procedure may be the very essence of falsehood.” and apply it to what you just did. Statements out of context? I think so. The BYU packet that Clark pointed out is available on my sidebar.

  • Clark,

    I think that Pandas and People was a terrible blunder and setback for the ID movement, even if it was the work of rogue creationists. Who knows if it will ever recover from that sort of nonsense.

  • Clark

    I think their problem is that it wasntbjuet a few “rogue” creationists. Rather that whole movement is doing this a lot. The language war is over on that front.

    The problem now is that i’d battles education aren’t just about information and complexity.

  • hbar

    I think an interesting difference between ID and creationism is that ID does abandon some of the most untenable ideas of creationism. I.e. that the earth is ~6000 years old. In that respect, at least, I think it is superior to creationism. With all of its failings, ID doesn’t assault the intellect quite so completely as creationism.

    It also seems to me that a “theology without compromise” incorporating evolution like you propose to explore has not yet been well articulated. I think such a theology would go a long way to slaying ID. I hope you can make a step in that direction. We who advocate for the acceptance of evolution need to be cognizant that for many people, accepting evolution puts them in a place where they have a hard time articulating God’s involvement in the universe. If that changed, I think a lot of people’s resistance to evolution would evaporate.

    I’ll read with interest and hope you can make some progress.

  • Cap

    Great post.

    Where as I can see how it could be hard to believe in Evolution and our theological beliefs, I do not think that it is something that should be forgotten and ignored. I will say that I didn’t always believe in evolution. I wouldn’t say I was against it, but rather did not know, or care enough about it. However, once I became interested in it I found (quickly) that evolution is the only thing that makes sense.

    And so, in a way, those who fall for ID are those who are either to lazy to look to much into it, or too blinded by their literalism. I think the key factor in learning what is true is open mindedness. And I have found that true open mindedness is something that seems to be a little lacking.

    Again, another great post! Thanks for that, Steve!

  • Cap

    Brad, you make me laugh.

  • [...] FARMS Reviews “The Case for Divine Design” (HT: LDS Science Review which offers some good comments) Also check out a recent post on ID at The Mormon Organon. [...]

  • I always thought science was a process that was itself evolutionary in nature, with various novel ideas in competition with established ones, in an environment of constant challenge and dialogue, in which theories are refined, data is gathered, some ideas are synthesized with others, and some ideas fall by the wayside.

    Obviously you are correct that Intelligent Design is not a complete theory explaining the history of life. But I don’t think it has to be, to play a legitimate role in the competition of ideas for survival. I think it offers instead a critique of various theories that are based on materialist assumptions about the development of the universe and of life in the universe.

    Michael Behe states that he believes in the consensus history of the age of the universe and of the earth. He believes that natural selection does operate, and that mutations do occur, and that operating together they can be creative. His argument is that he does not think this mechanism is sufficiently creative to explain the most complex mechanisms in biochemistry, his own field. Personally, I have read a lot of responses to his criticisms, and my own conclusion is that the responses attacking Behe tend to not hold together logically, and rely on a lot of hand waving to cover the gaps in the hypothesized evolutionary chain that is supposed to have produced these complex mechanisms.

    I would have a higher assessment of the credibility of materialistic biologists who attack ID if they were just honest about their utter inability to provide a coherent scientific explanation for the origin of life as we know it. What we get are claims (such as on the National Science Foundation web page) that the very multiplicity of competing hypotheses for materialist creation is evidence that ONE of them MUST be right. This sounds just like the argument of some theologians that the internal illogicality of most modern formulations of the Trinity is the very reason they should be held in awe as a profound mystery.

    Basically, the neo-Darwinian synthesis is a commendable theory to explain a lot of the gradual change in living things, especially changes that mainly involve rearrangement of existing aspects of species. I think the assertion that this theory is sufficient to explain everything about evolution (change over time) is still a hypothesis that one is entitled to criticize.

    The assertion that certain clusters of genes enable complex structures to spring up suddenly in widely unrelated species, which has been obtaining currency recently, does not address the question of, HOW do such genetic mechanisms come into being in the first place? Because they occur in widely divergent species, they had to have come into being early in the joint evolutionary history of different families of life. It seems to me that this simply makes it harder for the standard neo-Darwinian synthesis to explain how these complex mechanisms came into being so early in the evolutionary history of life.

    And the claim that Darwinian evolution explains the origin of life itself is simply dishonest and a statement of faith in materialism and the eventual cleverness of mankind, not a logical conclusion from biochemical evidence and mathematics.

    The exponentially expanding knowledge scientists have gained about the structure of living things has brought us to the threshold of being able to manipulate genes to alter the mechanisms of life. To assert that it is impossible for there to have been any intelligent creature existing before modern man, with capabilities just a little beyond out own, who may have played with earth’s genetics in the way we hope to be doing all too soon, appears to me to be simple pride in the intelligence of mankind (or biologists), and a refusal to acknowledge that there could be any other being in our region of the universe with comparable intelligence before 1800 AD. In a galaxy which is billions of years older than our solar system, the refusal to admit this possibility flies in the face of the Copernican principle that materialists usually love to invoke. Many modern biologists are saying “the only entities smart enough to create life and control evolution are US.”

    I remember attending a lunchtime talk by Henry Eyring in which he offered his definition of God as “the smartest guy in the universe.” Clearly, people vary in intelligence, so they can be rank ordered. If you could do that with all of the intelligent entities in the universe, there would have to be someone who is smarter than everyone else. Indeed, that is how God seems to define himself in the Book of Moses.

    To me, it seems that the desire to insist that no intelligent being (outside of people with PhDs) could have any role in creating aspects of life as we know it, is a simple lack of humility. And for us Mormons, who KNOW the answer to that question, we should not be so personally angry at people like Behe who are basically just pointing that out. After all, the most irreducibly complex biochemical mechanism is the relationship between DNA and the living cell, and evolution has absolutely nothing to say about how that came into existence in the first place, since mutation and competition cannot exist until you already have life with genes that can mutate and be inherited. Darwinism fails at that point, and no materialist solution has achieved anything like scientific proof that is superior to competing theories, such as action by a deliberate intelligence, or panspermia from other places in the galaxy.

    The other liimtation that Darwinian theory has is its inability to explain the fact that the dozen or so arbitrary physical constants of the universe are set in a range that precisely allows complex life to exist and evolve. Any 10% change in any one of these constants would eliminate the possibility of life as we know it. Yet materialists have a marked lack of curiosity about this irrefutable scientific fact. And that is because, if you try to reason out a cause for it (which is the asserted duty of scientists), the most logical conclusion is that the constants were selected by someone intentionally. Like that case, the efforts of materialists often seek to suppress the rational conclusions that the evidence supports.

    Since Mormons are not materialists, we should be a little more wary of buying into the propaganda the materialists sell about those who believe in a higher, predecessor intelligence.

    And by the way, Behe does NOT promote teaching ID in preference to evolution in public schools. He does NOT go around trying to have school district or state legislatures forced into teaching
    ANY theory they don’t personally believe in. He simply suggests that the principle of free speech and conscience should allow any teacher who wants to to tell his or her students about the criticisms of any theory, and encourage them to study evolution well enough to draw their own conclusions–just as he did. Behe is much more tolerant of many of the commenters on this blog than they are of him, and does not make ad hominem attacks on his many opponents. Since we are waiting for the Millenium to find out the real answer to how the earth and its life were created, we can afford to be tolerant of diverse viewpoints like Behe’s. After all, on religious matters, we Mormons are in a perpetual minority, hanging in there despite a consensus by 98% of our fellow Americans (for example) that we are out of touch with reality.

    If you think that Behe was pushing the Dover school board to adopt the policy it got sued over, you are misinformed. If you think the judge’s opinion was a marvel of judicial reasoning, you are also misinformed.

  • stephen

    Mormons obviously don’t need ID, but it is reassuring to learn that evolution by random mutation alone is statistically untenable. I don’t really know what else the ID people have been trying to promote, but the statistics, according to ID, demand a better explanation than just calling it “random”. Demanding better explanations seems like good scientific practice to me. I suppose ID isn’t even really a theory, it’s just a sound criticism of random mutation. I don’t really understand why it makes people so upset.

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