One of the interesting — although probably futile — exercises in The Controversy between evolution and creationism is attempting to express the entire spectrum of beliefs in a simple diagram. We’ve posted before about The Creation-Evolution Continuum proposed by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It’s their diagram that appears at the top of this post, but we’re not talking about their diagram today; we put it up there for background.
The BioLogos Foundation has their own concept of how the various viewpoints should be organized. They don’t have a diagram, just a list of concepts and individuals (some recently deceased, and one in prison), arranged in a conceptual sequence. You can see it at their website: The BioLogos Spectrum. They say, with bold font added by us:
The BioLogos position on origins sits partway between two fundamentalisms: on the “left” end of the spectrum is the fundamentalism of people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett who are committed to the belief that the only reliable form of knowledge comes from science, and that alternate ways of knowing must be either rejected entirely or completely subordinated to science. On the “right” end of the spectrum is the fundamentalism of those who insist that reliable knowledge can only be found in an ultraliteral interpretation of the Bible, and that alternate ways of knowing must be completely subordinated to this way of reading the Bible.
They start with young-earth creationists (Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, etc.) and their lineup ends with what they call “Anti-religious non-accommodationists” (Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, etc.)
Of interest to us is where, between those “two fundamentalisms,” BioLogos positions the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
BioLogos places the Discoveroids’s intelligent design position (Michael Behe, William Dembski, etc.) right after the old-earth creationists. The very next group on their sequence is BioLogos itself. We think the Discoveroids have been given a place they don’t deserve, and if we were with BioLogos we wouldn’t be pleased to see our group listed next to theirs — but we’ll get to that later. Here’s how BioLogos describes the Discoveroids:
Intelligent design (ID) proponents believe that much of modern science is wrong and must be rejected because of its naturalism. The term Intelligent Design, although appropriated by these science critics, is used in many ways and is embraced by the first 5 [creationist] groups on this list. ID proponents highlight mysteries within science, arguing that science will never explain mysteries like what caused the Big Bang, or how life originated. They then argue that we must use non-scientific explanations like “Intelligent Design.” Favorite topics include the Cambrian explosion, complex structures, and the origin of biological information. BioLogos rejects such “god of the gaps” reasoning.
That strikes us as an accurate, albeit tastefully restrained description. As you can imagine, the Discoveroids aren’t happy about this. They’ve been sparring with BioLogos for quite some time. For example, more than a year ago we posted Discovery Institute and BioLogos: Not Allies. The antagonism between those groups continues.
No less a Discoveroid intellect than Casey Luskin has posted a response at the Discoveroid blog. The title of his piece is glorious! Here are some excerpts from Casey’s Intelligent Design explains and unifies data from across the spectrum of scientific fields.
We’re going to skip over large chunks of Casey’s post, because — as is so often the case — it’s just too tangled to bother with. Starting in the middle, he says this, with bold font added by us:
The reality is that ID uses the scientific method to make its claims. … Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI [complex and specified information]. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. … When experimental work uncovers irreducible complexity in biology, researchers conclude that such structures were designed.
Curmudgeonly translation from Casey-speak into English: “Whenever Michael Behe encounters something he can’t figure out, he declares that it’s designed.”
Casey then goes through a list of things not yet fully understood, declaring in each case that the “scientific” explanation is intelligent design — or Oogity Boogity! The last item in his list of “data from a number of scientific fields” is:
Physics and cosmology, where ID encourages scientists to investigate and discover instances of fine-tuning of the laws of physics, which uniquely allow for the existence of advanced forms of life.
Yes, it’s not just the bacterial flagellum. The cause of the whole gull-durned, ying-yang universe is Oogity Boogity! Verily, it is just as Casey’s title promised: “Intelligent Design explains and unifies data from across the spectrum of scientific fields.” Blessed be the designer!
Why in the world does BioLogos put those guys right next to themselves, near the middle of their list? Let’s read on from Casey’s article:
ID is not merely a negative argument against neo-Darwinian evolution or other material causes. Again, whether you agree or disagree with ID, you can’t deny that ID proponents make a positive argument.
We can deny it. So can any rational observer.
Casey’s post is very long, and it’s not worth the effort required to spend any more time with it. But don’t let us discourage you. Click over to the Discoveroid blog and study it in detail as Casey attempts to rebut the BioLogos description of intelligent design.
We don’t need to do that, because we already know what intelligent design is — it’s a sanitized (i.e., disguised and closeted) form of creationism. If Casey sincerely believes what he has written about the splendor of his “science,” then … well, there’s no need to spell it out. You know.
Here’s one more small excerpt from near the end of Casey’s post, as he summarizes what the Discoveroids think of the BioLogos spectrum:
Make no mistake: If you’re looking for the dry objective facts about ID, you won’t find them in this BioLogos description.
It’s not important here, but our own method of sorting these groups out is more complicated. That’s because we think they should be arranged along more than one axis, so we’d like to see several diagrams. On an axis of science, they can be lined up according to their acceptance or rejection of objectively verifiable reality. That places young-earth creationists at the “total denial” end, old-earth creationists and Discoveroids would be close to them, with the secular scientists at the opposite end.
They can also be sorted out according to logical consistency. Some of the young-earth creationists are every bit as consistent as the secular scientists. The two groups start out with very different concepts of reality and how to gain knowledge about it, but once their premises are understood, both can show remarkable consistency (or fanaticism, depending on one’s viewpoint).
Arranging them according to their philosophical positions is something we won’t attempt for now — too many issues there. For example, what can we say about the strictest of the scientific secularists, who insist that nothing exists except that which is objectively verifiable? We can’t know if they’re correct, and neither can they. But it probably doesn’t matter if they’re willing to accept the existence of anything that may become manifest. There’s no practical reason for objecting to their position; but it’s philosophically debatable.
They can also be arranged along an honesty-dishonesty axis. On that one, we place the Discoveroids at the farthest end. They not only present extremely dubious arguments (e.g., about the political consequences of Darwin’s theory), they also deny the overwhelming evidence for evolution, and they always hint at, but never present, the evidence against it (unless you think Casey’s little list of “data” is such evidence). Further, and this is unique to the Discoveroids, they pretend that they have no theological motivations. In contrast, we’d place BioLogos at the opposite end of the honesty scale. They’re not trying to fool anyone. That’s also where we’d place many sincerely faithful young-earth creationists — as long as they don’t fiddle around with phony “creation science.”
We can also arrange them on a “threat to freedom” axis — that is, what would life be like for the rest of us if their positions were accepted? Those with theocratic motives are at the deep red end, and that’s certainly where we’d place the Discoveroids. Again, BioLogos seems to belong at the opposite end of that scale.
Actually, no matter what scale we use to classify the players in The Controversy, the Discoveroids are always at the dirtiest end of the stick, nowhere near BioLogos. Well, opinions vary, but that’s how we see it.
Update: See Discovery Institute Battles BioLogos.
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