Some Facts about Motives - for Paul Nesselroade

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Paul Nesselroade opens his recent “Wedge Update” at ARN (here) by saying,

Recently, a few Intelligent Design (ID) critics have created some confusion over the meaning of “The Wedge.” Several statements made by ID detractors in books and blogs (web logs) have suggested “The Wedge” to be a partially concealed strategy by well-funded religious fanatics to attack science and force it to come under the thumb of a specific religious mindset. …

But is this an accurate characterization of “The Wedge,” or is this just a baseless appeal by Darwinists to impugn the motives of their adversaries? Well, as they say, when the facts aren’t on your side, argue motives.

Well, speaking of facts, here’s some information about an “Intelligent Design Conference to be held in beautiful Highlands, North Carolina this June 24-26,” sponsored by the Community Bible Church. (Information here)

The conference information page starts with some standard fare:

MISSION STATEMENT: Your ancestors were monkeys… At least that is what most of our children have been taught over the past two generations. … Darwin’s theory remains controversial to this day - primarily because it has not been supported by scientific facts. …

This Darwinian tradition of random evolution often ignores the scientific data that indicates that our universe could not have progressed by random chance. Yet, some schools still refuse to present evolution as theory, or to present the growing body of evidence that suggests that all living beings are part of a planned and intelligent design.

After invoking Phillip Johnson, they conclude,

Through asking the right questions and through careful consideration of Intelligent Design, we can inspire others to become informed about the facts. We are all educators in some capacity. Solid evidence can be presented in schools and in the public arena that challenges Darwinian theories and that points us in the direction of a God who designed the universe.

One of the goals of the conference is to “Show young people the truth on Intelligent Design in order to prepare them for other theories they will receive in colleges or universities,” and so they are having a special Worldview Youth Conference for students between 12 and 18. The purpose of this part of the conference is

To introduce Jr. and Sr. High Youth to two worldviews.

1. The secular worldview which is humanistic in nature placing man at the center of all philosophy.

2. The Biblical worldview which looks to the Bible as the ultimate authority of all truth.

The speakers at the Youth Conference are

Mark Eckel: Associate Professor of Educational Ministries at Moody Bible Institute, speaker on the origin of life and how it relates to worldview.

Dr. Kenneth Boa: President of Reflections Ministries, presenter of the Powers of Ten, designed to expand the viewer’s appreciation for the greatness and glory of God through His creation.

Dr. Michael Behe: Professor of Biological Science, author of Darwin’s Black Box - The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.

Chuck Colson: International speaker and author on worldview and cultural issues.

Casey Luskin: Co-president of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center, a ministry focused on equipping students to promote Intelligent Design.

Now let’s notice a few things.

First of all it is crystal clear here that one of the purposes of Intelligent Design as represented by this conference is to establish that the Christian God is the “designer,” and to integrate ID with a “Christian worldview.”

Contrary to what Nesselroade says, this looks like a “particular religious mindset” to me. I don’t think ID critics are “confused” when they look at conferences like this (and this is one of many) and speak the obvious truth - ID is being used a vehicle for Christian apologetics.

Pointing to conferences such as this is also not a “baseless appeal by Darwinists to impugn the motives of their adversaries.” Obviously it is not baseless, because the facts are here, in black and white. The motives of the ID movement are clear and explicit (eg. the Mission Statement and Goals of this conference,) and the ID critics understanding of those motives are based on facts - things written and said in abundance by ID advocates. I don’t see how people like Nesselroade can in good conscience make the claims they do about the ID movement when we all can see the movement being engaged in activities such as this conference on a daily basis.

P.S. - In some other thread, there are been some discussion about whether the IDEA club, led by Casey Luskin, is a religious club. Despite the requirement that its officers be Christians, Casey says they are just a scientific club.

However, notice that Casey is speaking at the Youth Conference, and his IDEA club is advertised as “a ministry focused on equipping students to promote Intelligent Design.” [my emphasis]

Perhaps Casey would like to explain this?

Let me finish by being blunt: the contradiction between what members of ID movement say in public (e;g. Nesselroade at ARN and Luskin here at the Panda’s Thumb) and what they do and say in other venues is extreme. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that at times they know they are being deliberately dishonest, or at the very least they are in the grip of quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.

What I don’t understand is why they don’t “come clean.” If they think the evidence points to the Christian God as opposed to a world in which no god of any kind exists (which is the false dichotomy that is the real meaning of the Wedge - a topic for another time,) then they would be better off (at least in some ways) to come right out and say that to everyone and in everyplace. At least then we would be talking about the real issues, rather than having to defend science from being hijacked by (dare I use the metaphor) a Trojan Horse in the service of apologetics.

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Oh What Tangled Webs They Weave... from Dispatches from the Culture Wars on June 11, 2004 10:12 AM

There are few things quite as amusing as watching ID advocates pretend that ID is not about promoting a particular religious view. It's just fun to see them wiggle and dance when they get caught up in this web of pretend objectivity. A perfect example ... Read More

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Shocked! Shocked I am, to discover that Casey Luskin is co-president of a ministry. I would have guessed he was a scientist, from his oh-so-scientific, and certainly not religious, club. I was completely fooled.

What I don’t understand is why they don’t “come clean.” If they think the evidence points to the Christian God … then they would be better off (at least in some ways) to come right out and say that to everyone and in everyplace.

Oh, I think we all understand: that would pretty much torpedo their chances for “wedging” ID into public school curricula.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that at times they know they are being deliberately dishonest, or at the very least they are in the grip of quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.

I usually phrase this a little more strongly, but everyone has his own style.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that at times they know they are being deliberately dishonest, or at the very least they are in the grip of quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.

People who wear their Christianity on their sleeves bearing false witness? Impossible. That’s like saying that the President knew the WMD intelligence was crappy but pretended it was really good.

I’m sure Casey has a good explanation for all this and he’ll clear it up for us shortly.

Copy of email send to Highlands ID conference:

To whom it may concern,

According to the mission statement for the ID conference “ … This theory, first proposed by Charles Darwin more than a century ago was controversial when first presented . … Darwinian tradition of random evolution often ignores the scientific data that indicates that our universe could not have progressed by random chance.” Yes, you are perfectly correct, scientific data does suggest that some parts of the Universe could not have occurred by random chance. These parts of the Universe being living things. Biological evolution does not happen randomly. Yes, mutations are random, but then natural selection favors the most beneficial mutations, and that’s not random. Also, you are confusing the formation of the Universe with Darwinism. The theory of evolution is just about how biological organisms change. Oh yes, and Darwin wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea of evolution, for several decades before Darwin came on the scene other people had suggested that species changed over time, Darwin was just the first person to suggest the way this happened, which was via Mutation and Selection. I notice that none of your speakers expect Dr. Michael J. Behe is a biologist, and then it is question whether Behe is a biologist. That’s kind of like a bunch of biologists holding a conference attack economic theory. Perhaps before you hold an event as big as a conference you should do some more research or actually find speakers who do fully understand the topic the conference is challenging. Although I should say you were right that the idea was controversial when it first appeared, but it’s not any more.

Kind regards

Mr George University of Western Australia

Spot the intelligently designed typo:

I notice that none of your speakers expect Dr. Michael J. Behe is a biologist, and then it is question whether Behe is a biologist.

Behe is a chemist.

Actually, he’s a biochemist. We biochemists generally try to discuss chemistry with biologists, and biology with chemists, thereby confusing both groups while assuring them that our work is very important. An intelligently designed strategy to be sure. :)

The purpose of this part of the conference is To introduce Jr. and Sr. High Youth to two worldviews. 1. The secular worldview which is humanistic in nature placing man at the center of all philosophy. 2. The Biblical worldview which looks to the Bible as the ultimate authority of all truth.

There are many things wrong with this false dichotomy, but there’s one that I find particularly troubling.

Which worldview strikes you as myopically man-centered? (1) One that describes the universe as older and vaster than easily imagined, in which humans occupy an infinitesimal speck of space and time? -Or- (2) One that sees humans as the central point of creation, the special project of the author of the universe, the one species that said author went and incarnated “himself” as?

Moreover, the choice of worldviews is likely to influence behavior in important ways. According to one, our existence is the result of contingencies that could easily have worked out differently, and that we - especially now that our numbers and impact on the biosphere are no longer negligible - could easily screw up. According to the other, since we are the centerpiece project of the creator of the universe, it seems unlikely that “he” is going to let us botch it.

Intelligent Design - religion in general, for that matter - does different things for different believers, but the notion that it is ever separable from politics strikes me as naive.

While the intent of Mr George’s above letter is noble, the poor spelling, punctuation and grammar leaves a bit to be desired. If we as evolutionists want to truly effect some sort of change–or at least make an impression–let’s not spurn the use of a good spell checker.

Oops…I meant “…leave a bit to be desired.” D’oh!

Hi Matt. Yes, there were a few mistakes in there, I apologize. I wrote it in a rush before leaving work. Unfortunately evolutionary biology is my strong point, not spelling or gramma. Before I wade into the debate in the future I’ll be sure to run my spell-checker. ;)

You cite the religious fanatic side. Here’s the well funded side: http://www.geocities.com/lclane2/discovery.html

This one’s pretty innocuous and mundane.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on May 31, 2004 7:53 PM.

The IDEA Club’s Punk Eek FAQ was the previous entry in this blog.

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