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Feb 17 2011

How Intelligent Design has evolved since Dover

There’s a metric ton of shitty things happening in the world right now, and I don’t have the wherewithal to blog about it all while I’m doped up on painkillers for my strained leg. (Shoveling. All last week. A few hours every day. Not surprised I hurt myself, honestly.) So, instead, I’ll just throw this nugget of heathenism out there for your edification. Will probably put together a RCimT tomorrow for the various smaller bits of outrage I’ve collected, and will save the good rants for the weekend (when nobody seems to visit the blog). Sound fair?

This lecture by Josh Rosenau tracks how Intelligent Design has evolved (*snerk*) since the Dover trial. It’s certainly a fascinating subject, as are most historical retrospectives about movements that claim to know The Truth but provide no empirical evidence.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Daniel M.

    I’ll have to admit that the banana demonstration that “destroyed” evolution was not one of the finest moments in christian apologetics. Not that it represented Christian apologists as a whole, but a whole lot of people probably saw it and either used it as a defense against evolution (I still shudder at that) or someone was completely turned off by it and decided to never listen to another Christian apologist again.

    Hopefully we’ve moved on from that.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    No indeed. Sadly, he was seriously proffering it as an example of something “obviously designed”, until he was roundly and soundly rebutted to the point of (well-earned) ridicule. Only after several months of this did Comfort try to spin his way out of it by saying it was just a joke to get laughs. Sure, some things like that ARE presented in such a way as to get laughs, but you can tell he was dead serious that it proved God. (How you get from “this banana is designed” to “therefore, Jesus specifically as opposed to any other gods” is beyond me.)

    And yeah, I saw the argument “in the wild” despite rebuttals happening almost immediately afterward. In other words, the argument actually gained traction amongst believers because it has that tinge of “look at how stupid atheists must be if they can’t tell this banana was perfectly designed for us”. It’s one of those “feel good” anecdotes that makes people laugh whether it’s true or not. Like most joke forwards, it has exactly that appeal.

  3. 3
    Daniel M.

    I cringe at arguments like that and it’s not because I’m trying to take sides (although some of my Christian peers think I am). It’s just that there IS a lot of ignorance spreading within the Church and it concerns me as a Christian.

    An example is a gentleman at wheaton college by the name of John Walton who has a recent book “The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate”

    Certain Christians (YEC’s in particular) are already lashing out against it and labeling him as a “liberal” when it comes to the authority of Scripture. But that is simply not the case. In fact, I think that even skeptics could benefit from this book, as it gives a VERY logical perspective on Genesis. It is so convincing to me that I was simply blown away that I didn’t catch it before.

    It’s just unfortunate that we’ve created this culture of “you better read it literally or your not being Christian” in our Church. I find it ironic that St. Augustine, in the 4th century, actually warned us about being dogmatic in reading things into the text that aren’t there. Take a look:

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [quoting 1 Tim 1:7].

    (emphasis added; quoted from Noll, pp. 202-203, from the John Hammond Taylor translation of 1982)

  4. 4
    Dan J

    Daniel mentioned something that applies to many sides in this:

    Not that it represented Christian apologists as a whole…

    Christianity has no “authority” speaking for the whole. There are different subgroups which have their own (often self-proclaimed) authorities, but no one speaks for all of Christianity. The same applies to atheism. There isn’t a leadership, and not all atheists think the same way.

    How can you tell if someone is a “true” atheist or Christian? Just ask them. If they say they are, then they are.

  5. 5
    Human Ape

    Daniel M. wrote “It’s just unfortunate that we’ve created this culture of “you better read it literally or your not being Christian” in our Church.”

    Mr. Daniel M., your dead Jeebus read it literally. He was a creationist. If a Christian accepts evolution, he or she is admitting Jeebus was an uneducated moron. So it’s fair to ask these pro-science Christians “Why do they worship an idiot?”

    darwinkilledgod dot blogspot dot com

  6. 6
    George W.

    I hate to do this, but Human Ape’s comment is entirely unfair.
    First, literalism is actually a relatively modern phenomenon in Christianity, as Daniel gives some evidence for in his comment. It is more a reaction to the other option which appears on it’s surface to be a “god of the gaps” acceptance of science. Jesus was a creationist. So was every learned man at the dawn of the first millennium. Name one person who was not a creationist contemporary to Jesus. It would take about 1700 years before unifomitarianism was pioneered by Hutton and a hundred years longer before we had a reasonable biological argument against it.
    I am not known for sticking my neck out for Daniel, but we owe it to ourselves to be fair.

  7. 7
    Daniel M.

    George, I appreciate you building some context for me.

    Human Ape, I can’t begin to say how entirely arrogant and borderline ignorant your statement is. I didn’t even comment on Jasons post to elicit a debate and I’m not sure I want this to turn into a stretched out exchange, but I can’t help but redirect your aimless contentions.

    You seem to be applying the word “creationist” as a YEC or a literalist. So, I am going to assume that you carry lots of baggage with that term. Any professing Christian is a creationist in the sense that He believes in the creative work of God and His involvement in the cosmos. So, let’s be more clear with our terms.

    You’re suggesting (or so it seems) that Jesus held a YEC or literalist view. You’ll soon figure out that both you and YEC’s alike have more in common than you think. The utter lack of willingness to read Scripture in context of the culture to which it was written is the first serious mistake anyone makes prior to judging whether we should interpret something literally or not (in our 21st sense of the term).

    The truth of Genesis conveys something that both YEC’s or literalists and ardent skeptics like yourself seem to miss. Let me digress for a second. It’s worth pointing out that you are suggesting that someone is a moron for not knowing about biological evolution. Plato believed in intelligent design and didn’t know anything about Darwinian evolution, does that make him a moron? No, because science has helped us progressively discover new truths about the physical world around us and we shouldn’t expect a 1st century individual to know about these scientific discoveries.

    You make a huge mistake in assuming that if Jesus didn’t mention evolution then He’s uneducated. You WANT Jesus to know about evolution and you WANT Genesis to give us a scientific account for the origin of the material Universe. You wanting these things and those things actually being the purpose of the text are two entirely different things.

  8. 8
    George W.

    And by “it” I mean creationism, not uniformitarianism. My sentence doesn’t read well.
    You are welcome Daniel. We don’t often agree, but you have always been reasoned and fair. I hope you feel the same….

  9. 9
    Daniel M.

    The only reason I comment on Jason’s blog is because I feel as though most of the common folk here are reasoned and fair. ;)

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