Monday, June 16, 2008

Rumblings over theistic evolution

Last Sunday's NYT magazine has an article about a pastor who calls himself an evolutionary evangelist:
For the last six years, he has traveled across North America with his wife, Connie Barlow, in a van that displays an image of two fish kissing each other — one labeled Jesus, the other Darwin — explaining to conservative and liberal congregations why understanding and accepting evolution will bring them closer to spiritual fulfillment. The religious advantage to embracing the evolutionary worldview, Dowd says, is that it explains our frailties, our addictions, our infidelities and other moral deficiencies as byproducts of adaptation over billions of years. And that, he says, has a potentially liberating effect: never mind guilt; once we understand our sinful ways, we can get past them and play a conscious role in the evolution of humanity.
Read the full article here. It includes criticism both from religious and atheistic side for his views. Indeed, the pastor seems to go a bit too far in incorporating evolutionary psychology into his spiritual (?) world view. But at least he accepts science for the explanation for the physical world.

On the other side, William Dembski has gone ballistic over Ken Miller's new book and his brand of theistic evolution. Read commentary on this at Open Parachute and at Pharyngula. The funniest part of Dembski's rant is that he calls Ann Coulter for his defense. Really? C'mon Billy D... you can to do better than that.

Here is what he has to say about Ken Miller and Francis Collins:

Could it be that the evolutionists’ assault on both science (by perpetuating the fraud that natural selection has unmatched creative powers) and religion (by using evolution as a club to beat people of faith) is undermining America’s soul? Not according to Miller. He’s got other fish to fry. For him, it’s the ID proponents’ assault on evolution that is undermining America’s soul. Forget about Dawkins and his blasphemy challenge. Let’s shaft the ID community.

Francis Collins agrees. His endorsement of Miller’s book leaves no doubt that the ID people are a bigger threat than the atheistic evolutionists like Dawkins:

“In this powerfully argued and timely book, Ken Miller takes on the fundamental core of the Intelligent Design movement, and shows with compelling examples and devastating logic that ID is not only bad science but is potentially threatening in other deeper ways to America’s future. But make no mistake, this is not some atheistic screed — Prof. Miller’s perspective as a devout believer will allow his case to resonate with believers and non-believers alike.” –Francis Collins, Director, the Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

With devout believers like this, give me a good infidel any time.
Hmm...this is so much fun! And then Billy D. lays out his strategy, which includes the unleashing of Ann Coulter over the civilized world:

What’s our strategy. The strategy is multipronged. Let me just give you one prong: WIN THE YOUTH. The release date for Miller’s book is June 12th. I’ve got a book titled Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language (co-authored with youth speaker and high-school teacher Sean McDowell) whose release date is July 1st. It is geared specifically at mobilizing Christian young people, homeschoolers, and church youth groups with the ID alternative to Darwinian evolution. You might want to compare Francis Collins’ endorsment of Miller’s book with Ann Coulter’s endorsement of mine:

In my book Godless, I showed that Darwinism is the hoax of the century and, consequently, the core of the religion of liberalism…. Liberals respond to critics of their religion like Cotton Mather to Salem’s “witches.” With this book, two more witches present themselves for burning: Sean McDowell, whose gift is communicating with young people, and Bill Dembski, often called the Isaac Newton of intelligent design. I think Dembski is more like the Dick Butkus of Intelligent Design. His record for tackling Darwiniacs is unmatched. This book gives young people all the ammo they need to take on Darwinism and understand the only viable scientific alternative to Darwinism: intelligent design. Every high school student in America needs a copy of Understanding Intelligent Design. –Ann Coulter, BESTSELLING author of Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Yes, please do compare Collin's endorsement with Coulter's.

Read Isaac Newton's - er.. I mean Bill Dembski's full rant here. Also Ken Miller's book is Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul.