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Intelligent Design (ID)
& Christian Intellectual Credibility

The following is my part of a discussion regarding ID (Intelligent Design) the theory that the cosmos was designed by some intelligence.  As the discussion comes from a private email list, I have omitted names or other identifying references.  An intense discussion arose over whether, in order to maintain scientific credibility, we should avoid sounding like believing Christians. 

ID bids fair to unseat the theory of evolution from dominating Western Civilization.  The evidence is mounting enormously.  I believe the case is sealed, and it is only a matter of time before the secular bastion begins to crumble.  But we are so far behind the 8-ball now, that it will take considerable self-discipline, effort, and maybe a bit of spilt blood. 

These are my own thoughts.  See also Evolution vs. God and Faith vs. Reason.    E. Fox
 

CONTENTS

1. Biola Conference Issues

2. Are We a Movement?

3. Coming Soon -- to a Country Near You (#1)

4. Coming Soon -- to a Country Near You (#2)

5. Evolution & Control - not Freedom

6. Christian Intellectual Integrity

7. Relationship & Intellectual Integrity

8. IDers Sharing Jesus Christ?

1.  Biola Conference Issues

         I agree with XX that we must be very careful about how we express our Christian faith in such events as an ID conference.   But on the other hand, I do also believe that we must learn how to present our Christian faith at such events, that God holds the intellectual high ground, not secular philosophers, not academicians, and that Christians ought be the best scientists and philosophers around.  God is not subverting that high ground, He is trying to get the rest of us to stand there with Him.  We humans are the problem, not Him. 

        We Christians have, for 200+ years, done a horrendously poor job in those matters, which is why the public, especially the academic public, is rightly suspicious of us. 

        When we get this thing right, we will be able to do as Elijah did on Mount Carmel, challenge the other side to an open, honest contest of the truth on any subject whatsoever, with no apologies for our faith in a God who will come through and prove His own case.  Being objective is not the same as being passionless.  The purpose, surely, of our intellects is to inform our passions, not abandon them. 

        Is not science the cross life applied to the intellect?  We lay down our right to be right, and let truth and the Lord of truth speak for themselves.  Our very faith binds us to being truth-seekers at any cost to ourselves.  Honest scientists.  But not passionless. 

        I am no biologist, and am unable to judge the quality of the presentations or debate in those areas, but I repeat my delight at the evidence, quite clear, it seemed to me, that the Christian community is on its way to recovering its intellectual credibility.  Just in small patches so far, but with promise of much brighter light to come. 

        And, yes, lest we get triumphalist too soon, the steady presentation of the truth, accepting the invitation to "Come, let us reason together....," will always sooner or later, lead to the crucifixion.  My experience of the academic life is that it is just as shot through with darkness as any other profession.  I do not know of any profession (especially my own) of which I would be proud to be a member -- without serious qualification.  Though there are noble people out there, probably of every stripe, the dark side will retaliate. 

        DD is right that the media will make much hay over references to Jesus at a scientific conference.  So, let us give them the biggest, largest target we can put up there.  We should welcome the engagement on all levels.  The question is a matter of truth, not whether the media or secularized academicians like it. 

        And in some cultures, people will indeed be persecuted for mentioning Jesus in a scientific (or any other) context.  Strangely, to our ears, the second largest evangelical community in the world has been growing up right under the noses of those world class experts at brainwashing and persecution -- the Chinese Communists.  And threatens to turn China, says one China expert, into a Christian country well before the end of this century.  And some of those same Chinese Christians are planning on taking their message to Jerusalem -- right through the Islamic swath.  They tell us Western Christians not to worry.  They know how to suffer. 

        Perhaps this kind of discussion may be one of the healthiest aspects of such conferences -- how to wed faith to reason. 

2.  Are We a Movement?

        I am not a Biblical literalist, I do not even defend Biblical inerrancy or infallibility.  I just think the Bible reliably gives us the truth about God.  Neither infallibility nor inerrancy are testable notions, reliability and truth are.  I think testability is imperative regarding our intellectual credibility. 

        But as I listen to the debate on the Biola conference, whether we are a "movement", whether we should show passion and religious conviction, I think we are in danger of letting the secularists define the terms of the discussion.  For them, of all people, to accuse Christians of bringing religion into the fray, is nonsense.  Not that we always do it right.   But one of the driving forces of evolution has been the desire to get rid of God.  A religious motive.  Some of them have said so openly (Aldous Huxley, and some evolutionist recently - don't recall who), noting that God tends to butt too much into their personal lives, especially their sexual and power drives. 

        E. Michael Jones is right, I think, in saying that the engine driving most of Western Culture since the late 1800's has been sexual liberation.  The engine ran underground up to the 1960's. 

        John Taylor Gatto (New York Teach of the Year for a few years running in the early 1990's, before he quit in disgust at the public ed system to write a book, "The Underground History of American Education") has a long discussion of this in a tape, "The Mudsill Theory of Education", in which he describes his efforts to track down the source of evolutionary theory regarding the development of government-controlled education.  Evolution was profoundly important to them, he shows, precisely because it gave secularists and atheists, for the first time, an alternative to the Biblical doctrine of creation.  It was, and continues to be, their new religion.  The first Humanist Manifesto says so very clearly.  Humanism is a religion.  (see http://theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/21PbAr/Apl/HumMan1.htm)   Their claims to be "neutral" are bogus.  They want us to be "neutral" so they can insert their religion of atheism unopposed. 

        Understanding that will  help us in dealing "reasonably" with their intransigence about honest debate. 

        The primary driving force for this ID (or lack of it) discussion has been and will continue to be religion -- who is God?  Is there meaning in life?  What is the source of all things.   The goal is not that we all be religiously non-committed (probably impossible), but rather that we be willing to admit if we are wrong.  We must be willing to say, "If I am wrong, I want to know."  About any issue whatsoever.  The way of the cross for the intellect -- giving up our right to be right, and letting the truth (reason) and the Lord of truth (revelation) speak for themselves.  Objectivity should be our goal, not non-commitment.

        The goal of a football player is not to be neutral about winning, but that he be willing to play by the rules of the game.   

        In Isaiah 43, God calls all the nations together for a debate.  They are to present their case, and then God turns to His own people, "You are My witnesses."   The issue is just as with Elijah on Mount Carmel, -- Which claimant to being God can keep his promises?  Who can do what he claims to be able to do?   That is the Biblical test for the true God.   The one who can actually show up. 

        We need to construct Elijah-like experiments, appropriate for our times (like ID), to test who has the truth about the source of being, the meaning of life, etc.  It is not as hard as one might think.  The evidence is all over the map.  The homosexuality issue, with which I have been deeply engaged for several years, is a very good example.  The evidence is embarrassingly one-sided.  But Christians are so afraid of "evidence" and "reason" that they cower at the thought of actually gathering evidence to support a case.  They want to prove everything "sola Scriptura".   Some things we can prove from Scripture.  Others we have to look at the empirical world.  If we do not make the clear distinction, we will continue to look (rightly) like idiots to the rest of the world.

        Also worth noting, at no time ever did the theory of evolution disprove the Biblical answer to the big questions.  Even if all the evolutionary evidence stands firm, the best it can do is provide an alternative to creation.  It does nothing at all to render creation a false notion.   Our side has greatly over-reacted, and hung our tails between our legs, when we never needed to do that.  The evolutionists claim to "victory" (triumphalist???) was a victory of passion, not of fact or logic. 

        So, in short, I am absolutely in favor of objectivity.  But that has nothing to do with being passionless or uncommitted.   Being passionless and uncommitted simply gives the other side their case without a battle.  The issue is precisely our commitments and passions -- that they be guided by reason. 

        Perhaps for the next conference, I will offer a paper on "What is 'science'?  What is 'religion'? and Why are the two always interlocking?" 

3. Coming soon -- to a Country Near You....  (#1)

        This discussion on the Biola conference has got me fired up.  It touches on some of the deepest issues facing Western Civ. -- namely how religion interacts with the rest of culture. 

        DD and others have noted the pressure Canadians are under not to talk publicly about their faith.  Much of that pressure is coming directly from the homosexual community, which has commandeered the levers of power in Canada, and is fast on its way here in the US of A to doing the same thing. 

        The sexual revolution is part and parcel with the evolution revolution.  And the homosexual agenda is currently riding point for the rest of the sex rev. gang. 

        One of their favorite strategies is to declare truth "relative", which they do indirectly when someone challenges them, e.g., with a word from God -- "Who are you to think that you know what God is thinking???  We have our viewpoint and that is just as valid as yours!"   And Christians, almost inevitably, bashfully back down, feeling chastened for being so arrogant as to think that they might know the truth about God. 

        But that is all a scam.  They do not think their truth is relative.  They say it just to get the opposition (us) to relativize their contrary truth so they can insert their own unopposed.   They have a full court press for legalization of their viewpoint.  Not merely tolerance, but enforcement.  They want their religion established and enforced by law, not merely allowed.  And they plan to criminalize any contrary viewpoint.  This is not science (or democracy), this is spiritual warfare. 

        I raise that issue because the desire to be "neutral" in ID may have the same effect.  I.e., to not bring God into the ID discussion.  God (or no God) is the real driving issue, not merely being "scientific".   It is not scientific to eliminate God from consideration.  It is dishonest, and comes directly out of their clever redefinition of science as being inherently naturalistic, i.e., atheistic.  Science is about finding the truth, not about mandating atheism. 

        The first rule of spiritual warfare is establishing a level playing field upon which truth can be pursued -- equipping ourselves with the sword of the Spirit -- speaking the truth in love (not the casting out of demons).  As in science.

        There are no more neutral participants in this ID debate than there are neutral teams on a football field.  We all have our beliefs which we want to promote.  Christians have done their share of dishonest and coercive promoting.  Atheists are currently doing their share.  We need to hold each other accountable on this score.

Football teams want to show that they are "the best".  They are not neutral about that.  But they have a set of football rules which are neutral with respect to the teams and players -- they apply equally to both sides, and are written to provide an honest contest to test which is indeed "the best".  In an honest contest, both teams agree to play by those neutral rules.  But they are not neutral about wanting to win.  At the end, in an honest contest, both sides agree about who won and shake hands.   The losers are not shot at dawn, they come back for another go at it another time. 

Just so with science.  There are no neutral players.  We all have our hopes and relevant commitments.  But if we are honest scientists, we agree to play by those neutral rules of science -- which apply to participants equally, and are constructed to promote the best chance of finding the truth about a matter.  Our mutual commitment to truth is the covenant which makes the game possible in the midst of our other commitments, no matter how deeply we feel them.  Honest scientists can reasonably agree as to who has the best case at a given point, shake hands, and then come back later for further contest. 

        That is the "adversary" system -- which works only to the degree that both sides are committed to the truth of the matter, and can admit that they could possibly be wrong, and, if they are, they want to find out.  That, surely, is what God means by, "Come, let us reason together...." 

        But for any of us to pretend to be neutral is naive, and maybe dishonest.  We need to put all our cards on the table as to what is at stake for us.  The only people who are really neutral are either dead or schizoid.  We have the image of the ivoried-tower professor who pursues truth-for-its-own-sake.  One can rejoice in the brilliant science which sometimes emerges, but his family and friends may be wishing he were a little more human. 

        John Macmurray said about a century ago: "All thought is for the sake of action, all action is for the sake of relationship."   In the end, it is all about relationship.  As in the two Great Commandments. 

4. Coming soon -- to a Country Near You....  (#2)

Thank you, DD, for relating the events in your church. I have been following things in Canada fairly closely, and am not surprised where they have come to. We are heading in the US in the same direction. I am an Episcopal priest, and have watched the self-destruction of our Church -- not because the revisionists had a good case, but because the so-called conservative leadership was more bent on being polite and "neutral" than in speaking the truth in love. The homosexualists should never have won. But Western Anglicanism is filled with cowardly clergy.

[An aside: if your clergy have any backbone, there are ways of pulling down the homosexual house of cards. Go to http://theRoadtoEmmaus.org/RdLb/22Sx/PnSx/HSx/Strtgy1pg.htm
or to http://theRoadtoEmmaus.org/RdLb/22Sx/BroSx/PDF/RobinsonConsec.pdf The strategy is to force the other side to describe their behavior, or for you to describe it without negative comment. Read the list of behaviors and ask if this is accurate, then ask if they are aware of the health consequences. The list comes from homosexual researchers.
See http://theRoadtoEmmaus.org/RdLb/22Sx/BroSx/Html/ShrtEvid.htm
Ask questions rather than make charges. Makes it much harder for them to appear reasonable or to bring charges of "homophobia".]

The only response I can make is that we must continue to force the real issues out into the open. It will be very costly. But that is not new to the Christian faith. We Christians have brought this on ourselves by two centuries of timidity and ignorance. We could have stopped it long ago, but chose to be disloyal to truth and to the Lord of truth.

We are not now, and have never been, in a polite debate. We are in spiritual warfare, as I said in an earlier post, the first step of which is to enforce rules of honest debate. Speak the truth in love, at any cost to ourselves.

How each of us will do that will have to be decided locally and sometimes with no time for preparation. But we are well into a new Dark Age, and will have to learn how to shine the Light where we live. We are clearly beyond the time where we can depend on our own little light, and will be forced to depend on the Light of Christ. Sometimes we are forced finally to publicly acknowledge God, whether we like it or not, when we have no place else to turn.

I think Jesus meant business when He said that if we did not acknowledge Him publicly, He would not acknowledge us before the Father. When we begin putting ourselves at risk for His name, He will begin fighting for us.

5. Evolution & Control

 Another aspect of the intertwining of all things occurred to me. The "other (secular, atheist, eventually, evolutionist) side" had no intention of being objective. Well, yes, there are honest and noble folks on the other side of the fence, but the strategy used politically by evolutionists reveals a masterful plan, not of intellectual freedom, but of control.

Right from the beginning, the movement toward govt control of education was aimed, not at freedom, but at control. What else can one make of the fact that, even though we had, in the pre-1850's, the best educated population in the world (something like an astonishing 95% literacy in Boston), Horace Mann chose the most militaristic nation in the world at that time for his model of education: Prussia, run by the Junkers - who were military control experts with a fine edge. They had a state run, mandatory, tax supported school system, which they used to keep strict control of their people. That is what Mann imported into the US of A.

The Unitarians and Transcendentalists of the time in New England hated the (by now rather defunct) Calvinist Christianity with a passion (as instanced in The Scarlet Letter). They were joined by industrialists who wanted, not an educated population, but a manageable workforce. Neither of them liked the Christian system, which was not a "system", just free-market education. Educate your own children. Build your own schools. Pay the bills and you be in charge.

And then, to top it all off, the control-minded coopted the evangelicals who were scared to death of the waves of Roman Catholics emigrating from Ireland and Eastern Europe. Evangelicals were persuaded that a public school system would be a good way to "Americanize" them.

When evolution came along, it played right in with the newly emerging imperialist mentality, along with the notion that we could now grab the reins of evolution and guide it -- if we could control the population through education and eugenics. Witness the pre-Nazis and the Nazis in Europe, Margaret Sanger (who worked with the Nazis), and many groups in Britain and the US.

Evolution has from the very beginning been the foundation for many control-minded folks to justify their desires. Survival of the fittest. No one ever sees their neighbors as the fittest which ought to survive, so it is always self-serving, not objective and scientific.   And, this was all tied to the quest for sexual liberation. 

So, do not let people tell you that evolution came into influence out of disinterested science. That does not justify lack of scientific objectivity on our part, but it helps put the matter into perspective. We are engaged primarily in a spiritual war. We need to use science as a weapon of truth -- one blade of the Sword of the Spirit. (The two blades, in my interpretation, being reason and revelation welded back to back -- an invincible weapon.)

6. Christian Intellectual Integrity

I agree with KK on the need for intellectual integrity.  However, in real life, things rarely come out so neatly as we want them to. People are going to jump in at various points in their awareness and maturity regarding the issues. There is no way to prevent that. But we can continually call each other to account when we think someone has overstepped the boundaries.

I do not believe that religion and science can be separated in the manner KK seems to want because they are logically connected.  And, the problem is not really "religion" but metaphysics. Do our empirical investigations logically drive us beyond empirical investigations? There is no way they can prevent it from happening.  That, as I understand it, is PH's point. So we will never be able to isolate them, only to keep clarifying them.

(Response to query about why books on homosexuality were present at an ID conference.) That was my table (maybe there were others). The book I wrote talks (among other things) about the connection between the development of Darwinism and the emergence of the sex-revolution and then the homosexual revolution. The sex revolution was almost wholly dependent on the prior emergence of Darwinism. There is a clear connection between sexuality and the development of science in the last 200 years. I am happy to be challenged on that matter.

If God invented science by creating the world, then theistic science would be no different from any other honest science. If we are really interested in looking for the cause of all things, which is certainly what Darwinism is talking about, then I do not see how we can refrain from talking about God -- who is, after all, the primary (I would say in the final analysis, only) contender against Darwinism. We really, ultimately, have only two choices.

We very much need some serious discussion on what we IDers mean by 'science'. We have been very fuzzy about that, and would be happy to be a part of an event next year on the matter where opposing views were discussed.

Given the nature of this conference, this (critique by an emailer about lack of peer review)) may be an unjust criticism. But peer review is certainly what we need to be about. But I do not think we need to fear any event which happens to not have it.  Life is not so tidy. We can keep questions coming informally if not formally. It would be more helpful if critics would address specific questions to, e.g., HH or JJ, rather than generalities. Then peer review becomes a part of our fellowship.

7. Relationship & Intellectual Integrity

 The more I think about the issues raised by the Biola ID conference, the more I think we may be at the beginning of recovering Western Civ. Western Civ is Christian Civ., built on the Biblical worldview.  The two Crown Jewels of Western Civ. are science and due process in civil law. Neither of those could have arisen in a secular or pagan culture. And neither will long survive the loss of Biblical culture. We are already watching the steady erosion of both Jewels all around us -- in both the Darwinian and sexuality discussions. 

I have mentioned John Macmurray more than once, and his notion that "all thought is for the sake of action, and all action for the sake of relationship". Biblically, relationship is the ultimate end, the Kingdom, the two Great Commandments.

Abstract truth, "pure science", is important, but only because there are persons involved. Abstract truth with no persons is of no importance. The very word 'importance' has to do with persons. For a child, "important" means "what dad and mom insist on", and "unimportant" means "what they let me decide on my own". That translates directly to our relation with our heavenly Father -- who alone can give our reason for existence -- the ultimate definition of "importance".

Some of us are involved in the evolution debate by virtue of assisting the recovery of persons battered and broken by a world built on a Darwinian worldview. Evil was around long before Darwinianism, but his supposed scientific undergirding of what is essentially the world of the Fall (independence from God) has unleashed unbelievable tragedy among us. There is no way on earth I will ever be "neutral" about evolution as an explanation of origins. But, I can (and will) be objective.

Soren Kierkegaard has a parable somewhere of a hurting fellow who comes to a scholar for solace. The scholar begins to cogitate about the "problem". He cogitates, expounds, theorizes, while the hurting fellow continues to hurt. He puts the fellow in a parenthesis, says SK, which never ends. That is the danger of isolating pure science, science for the sake of truth alone, from real live relationships and problems.

So, truth is very important, and we must not compromise on intellectual credibility, but we must do so precisely because the importance of truth derives, in the end, from the relationships in which we are all (hopefully) embedded.  Having healthy personal relationships is precisely what makes intellectual integrity so important.

There are hundreds of testimonies from persons in concentration camps and torture chambers whose only hold on reality was their commitment to stick to the truth, come hell or high water, and who found themselves set free by an inner light and strength which their tormentors could not touch.  I have  no doubt that this was the Hand and Voice of God.

It is thus important not to isolate science from practical concerns.  Science has the task of teaching all of us, especially Christians, to be objective truth-seekers and speakers in our daily relationships, not merely when being "academic".   Truth-seeking is the first decision to be made in the Christian spiritual life, and ought to be Standard Operating Procedure for all Christians -- by command of Him who holds the intellectual high ground and calls us to stand there with Him.  If we cannot testify that God holds the intellectual high ground (in Biblical language, that He lives in the Light), we have no testimony at all. 

8. IDers Sharing Jesus Christ?

 (Responding to discussion whether CS Lewis or Tolkein would make their religion obvious.)

I read the Lord of the Rings when I was at Oxford four decades ago, and could not put it down. But, sadly, it was the pagans who made the most of his work, which became the inspiration for things such as Dungeons and Dragons. Tolkien was a very devout RC, attended daily mass, etc. He and CS Lewis apparently had a running debate. Tolkein said that the author should not "tell" the reader his spiritual message, that the story should carry it. Lewis said that the author needed to be more explicit.

Given what happened, I think that Lewis had the better of the argument. Tolkein's work is only marginally Christian, full of good works and noble people (really good & noble, not just pretense), but little on the message of salvation, no sense of the presence of God, or the need for it in the New Testament sense. There is no clear sense of God in charge, or His presence and grace. I kept looking for the Biblical picture as I read TLoR, and was disappointed at not finding it, since I knew Tolkein to be a Christian writer. Tolkein's work is not pagan or secular (not like the Greek or Scandinavian myths), but neither is it, in my reading, Biblical. Pre-Biblical I would call it. Maybe I should read it again. But the *Word* of God needs to be spoken because we as fallen listeners are too good at confusing things and missing the point.

There have been missionaries who decided not to "preach" the Gospel, but only to "live" it, and trust to their behavioral witness to draw people into asking about their lives and about God. My understanding is that such efforts do not yield much fruit. The word and the act must go together. That certainly is the Biblical mode for evangelizing.

So, again, I am in favor of Christian IDers reasonably and gracefully sharing our commitment to Jesus Christ, in and out of scientific conferences. Get all our cards on the table, and invite those who disagree to do likewise.

MM, Lewis would not, I think, have agreed with your notion of "sacrificing the story to the role of message conduit". To leave God out of the story is to tell a different story, or, at best, to tell a story of a gnostic kind of God who does not interact in history and personal relationships. The God of history shows up in discernible ways. Hence, the story of the Bible.

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