Holy war!

Bill DembskiI have often commented that the contoversy over evolution is not scientific but religious. Further evidence for this is the reaction of intelligent design (ID) guru, Bill Dembski (right) to the publication of Kenneth Miller’s new book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul.

Ken Miller (left) is a cell biologist well known for his biology text books and for his role in defending evolutionary science against ID/creationist attacks. He was an expert witness for the plaintifs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover (2004-05) trial in Pennsylvania, USA which found illegal the attempts by the Dover School board to introduce ID in science classes. Miller is also a devout Catholic and author of the book Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution.

“Isaac Newton of ID”

Bill Dembski is a professor in the School of Theology at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He likes to present himself as the “Isaac Newton of ID.” He is hostile to theistic evolution and couldn’t restrain his anger about Miller’s new book. In an intemperate article Theistic Evolutionists Close Ranks — Let the Bloodletting Begin! he casts this religious controversy as an all-out holy war. He describes theistic evolutions like Miller and Francis Collins as “on the wrong side of the culture war. And they need to be defeated.”

Dembski reveals one “prong” of his strategy in this war – “WIN THE YOUTH.” This “is geared specifically at mobilizing Christian young people, homeschoolers, and church youth groups with the ID alternative to Darwinian evolution.”

He reveals that this religious controversy is not new. That ID faced “vicious” opposition from other Christians right from its lauch in the early 1990s. However, the tone of Dembski’s article suggests that this struggle has reached a criucial stage – at least in his mind. He reacts to the title of Miller’s new book, its reference to the “battle for Americas’ soul,” with an appeal to “let the bloodletting begin.” He finishes with the war cry “Well, you want this fight, you’ve got it.”

I know this battle does involve serious theological issues – and I really hope the pro-secience side wins. But far from bringing to mind Isaac Newtion, Dembskis behaviour reminds me more of Don Quixote.

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See also:
ID Champion William Dembski Declares War on Christians, Children
Dueling Blurbs: Collins vs. Coulter
Hitchens v. Miller debate
Trouble ahead for science
Read the opening pages of Only a Theory
Does science make belief in God obsolete – Templeton survey
Only a theory – science Friday podcast interview

Similar articles:
“Coming out” for evolution
Dembski, peer review and supernova
Teaching science in faith schools
Evolution – a theory or a fact?
Dissent from Darwinism list – further analysis
Darwinism and that dreaded E-word
Intelligent design and depression
Who are the “dissenters from Darwinism”?
Intelligent design and the threat to Christianity

2 responses to “Holy war!

  1. Dembski is simply using the controversy (and sensationally heightening it to war level) to promote his own book.

    The fact that he cites Ann Coulter as a credible endorsement of his book, in contrast to the endorsement from Francis Collins for Miller’s book shows that this most certainly is not a scientific discussion, but a cultural one.

    I find it intriguing that he is citing Ann Coulter’s endorsement of his book as if that somehow lends it weight against Miller’s book. For someone trying to promote ID as credible science, he chose the wrong person.

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  2. Yes, Dembski is a strange one. He is being promoted as a great scientist (his degrees are in philosophy and mathematics) and is used to present a scientific creationist approach of intelligent design. I would have thought he would therefore behave in a more open way to support the scientist image – as Behe does. (Although Behe has more to justify that image because of his research career in biochemistry. And his personality is a lot calmer).

    Dembski’s only “scientific” contribution has been mathematical. It appears, however, that his mathematics is really only an unnecessary dressing (maybe impressive to us mathematically challenged people though) for some quite simple concepts such as his “design filter.” But still, I would have thought a more balanced demeanour would have been useful to the ID people who wish to promote information theory as a supporting argument.

    Instead, Dembski has been more of a street fighter, willingly getting into childish debates (and some childish behaviour such as the “farting video” he placed on his blog). I think that he has always been more interested in the political/ideological fight (he was there at the beginning of ID together with Phillip Johnson and no doubt had a key role in formulating the Wedge strategy).

    Still, some ID supporters are very impressed by his mathematics and won’t hear a bad word about him – despite his behavoiur.

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