Bill Dembski seems to be a bit peeved at those theistic evolutionists — they keep siding with the evolutionary biologists, whether they’re Christian or atheist or whatever! And all that despite the fact that the atheists often roll their eyes and laugh when the theistic evolutionists start babbling their vague claims about a guiding deity. The “biggest detractors” of ID have been his fellow Christians. How can that be?
I’ve got two answers for that. One: selection. When someone in an embattled school district wants a speaker to come in and explain evolution to them, they’re going to pick someone who isn’t also notoriously godless, out of a reasonable fear that it will start more fires than it will put out.
Two: knowledge. Those theistic evolutionists may not like us mean atheists much, but we both agree 100% on the evidence for evolution. Dembski is baffled by the fact that theistic evolutionists “shaft the ID community,” but he shouldn’t be — it’s because the ID community abandons common standards of evidence and wants to redefine all of science. Scientists, both atheist and Christian, easily find common cause in opposing IDiocy.
We’re also still happy to argue. For instance, here’s a little exchange that Dembski had with Ken Miller, and I think they’re both wrong.
A year or so ago, when Richard Dawkins’s website posted a blasphemy challenge (reported at UD here — the challenge urged people to post a YouTube video of themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit), I asked Ken Miller for his reaction. He pooh-poohed it as “a clumsy attempt to trivialize important issues.” The obvious question this raises is whether systematic efforts by atheists to trivialize (and indeed denigrate) important issues is itself an important issue.
Hmmm. Miller says the blasphemy challenge trivializes important issues. Dembski agrees and talks about important issues, too.
What are they?
Is the concept of Hell an “important issue”?
Is it the idea that you can be damned for disbelief in a bit of dogma, or the whole idea of damnation itself?
Is the Holy Spirit an important issue?
How about the concept of an afterlife?
Maybe the important issue is the defense of a patriarchal Semitic sky god with a host of psychiatric issues, like low self-esteem, outbursts of destructive anger, and an obsession with genitalia and diet?
Both Dembski and Miller miss the point. Those are trivial issues, relics of foolish old mythologies, and the purpose of the blasphemy challenge was to appropriately trivialize the trivial. I think the challenge was an excellent idea — we need to demystify and desanctify the tired and falsified beliefs that parasitize our culture. The only important issue in the challenge was the promotion of irreverence about ideas to which some people in society still cling in futile trust.
So, see, I can picture both Miller and Dembski as being in the same boat with religious foolishness, but Miller has several saving graces that Dembski lacks: Miller is not trying to poison public education in this country, he’s actually very knowledgeable about biology, and he can give a coherent and accurate talk about real important issues. He can share some goals with a militant atheist like me, where neither of us have much sympathy for a militant creationist like Dembski.