Thursday, April 28, 2005

Swung on and missed

William Demski, proponent of intelligent design, badly misunderstands the role of religion in the ID/evolution debate:
The other side is just as happy to press their cause in churches. By the way, check out the staff directory of the National Center for Selling Evolution (NCSE)....The first photo you’ll see is of Josephine Bergson in a white clerical collar. In the caption we are told that “audiences appreciate her ability to demonstrate the compatibility of neo-Darwinism and Christianity.” The point to appreciate is that this debate is anything but religion-neutral for the other side.

This is a pretty bad reading of the role of religion in the debate. What's going on is that various proponents of ID (not Demski, but the lay folks in this debate) have claimed that Christians have a positive duty to support ID, because it's the only thing consistent with a literal reading of the Bible, or with the Bible generally. The evolutionist counter is to say that, to the contrary, evolution is consistent with the Bible. Note what the evolutionist isn't saying: s/he isn't saying that Christians have a positive duty to adhere to evolutionism; rather, since both sides are consistent with Christianity, we ought to evaluate the evidence without reference to religion.

In other words, the evolutionist counter is merely to rebut the original ID claim and return the debate to, y'know, science. Which is the terrain on which the debate should be taking place.

So why would Mssr. Demski so badly misread what's going on? I'd imagine it's because it fits in neatly with the whole "evolution is a religion!" slogan that ID'ers love to screech to anyone that will listen.

[edited for clarity - as Ultimate175 notes, the original wording suggested I meant that Demski himself had claimed Christians have a positive duty to adhere to ID]