It’s been obvious for a long time that the creationist tactic of “evolution bashing” is counter-productive. Now a leading Christian apologist has recognised this and is calling for a change of tactics. Hugh Ross, from the creationist think tank Reasons to Believe, says that: “Claims that creation or intelligent design must be right because of flaws and shortcomings in the evolution scenario typically go nowhere, and for good reason.” He points out that: “The investigation of flaws and weaknesses is the process that propels science forward toward more precise understandings of the natural world.”
Ross also admits that the common ID tactic of pretending that their “designer” is not necessarily the Christian god is hypocritical:
“To gain a voice in the public arena, we cannot and need not stay “religiously neutral.” We cannot ask for recognition of an unidentified intelligent designer who played an undefined role in bringing about the observable history of life on Earth. This lack of definition will prevent us from being taken seriously as scientists.”
This last sentence does pose the question – is Ross suggesting that he and his mates should behave as “scientists” rather than religious apologists? Maybe? He does go on to say “Creation can be and will be considered as a credible alternative to evolution only if and when we creationists put forth our own testable models to describe and explain the origin and history of the universe and life.”
Mind you he spoils it all by admitting that his real motivation is proselytising. “By displaying a fearless yet humble commitment to follow the truth wherever it leads, Christians can open conversations that lead, ultimately, to conversions. At the very least we can win the respect of those who oppose our views, and that’s one way we can honor our Lord Jesus Christ.”
However, if we were to take Ross’s original points seriously – what would this require to show credibility. Here’s my list:
1: If Ross wants to be a scientist he should disband his think tank which after all is promoting a political, religious, anti-science message. He could then revert to his original training as an astronomer and get a job. Maybe he could then do some real science and discover the real causes of astronomical phenomena, instead of inventing the “god did it” answers – which never promote scientific understanding.
2: He could then develop any ideas he has into structured hypotheses for testing (this requires a bit more than “god did it!). By exposing these ideas to checking against reality and to open and vigorous critique from colleagues he may be able to develop them into worthwhile theories. Or alternatively recognise their faults and abandon them – a perfectly natural scientific procedure.
3: He should dissociate himself from the dishonest attacks on science epitomised by that nasty film Expelled No Intelligence allowed in this Film. To be honest he would also have to dissociate himself from other Christian and Creationist apologetics institutions like the Discovery Institute, Craig’s Reasonable Faith, Creation Ministries, Answers in genesis, etc. In fact, to do a good scientific job he would have to campaign against such organisations.
4: He would have to acknowledge that science is about understanding reality, build a description of that reality which serves mankind. His colleagues will have no trouble respecting his right to personal religious beliefs. However, they would be offended by any proselyting or attempted conversions. Such behaviour is rude and quite inappropriate in the modern workplace – whether it is the scientific laboratory, observatory, factory or office.