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Friday, November 04, 2005

TV captures the moment Also, musings on the Political Church in Science

Yesterday, I didn't blog because I was on a TV show (TV Ontario) called More2Life , this segment featuring the intelligent design controversy. The other guests were Emeritus Prof of Physiology Dan Osmond and James Robert Brown , with host Mary Ito.

For 40 minutes worth of talking heads, it was pretty lively at times, but sorry I don't have an Internet feed. Host Ito knows went just let people talk and when to pull it back.

That said, I notice a pattern with these types of shows, and I will be interested to see how it grows or changes, or both:

- Osmond, who is in the middle on ID but not given to stereotypes, actually was a scientist, as well as a Christian. Brown, a philosophy prof, writes about science. He spoke as a religious skeptic who admires Richard Dawkins, a notorious anti-Christian bigot .

- Osmond is retired (emeritus) now, so it is safe for him to point out the extent to which the system is in the grip of a frankly atheistic worldview. The much younger guy who would have represented ID was told not to go on the show because it's too risky for him. As if that was any kind ofa coincidence.

- Because the real ID guy faces too big a career risk in saying what he knows, the program researcher had to position me as the ID activist, although I am actually - as the title of this blog would suggest - a post-Darwinist. But I've followed the ID-evolution beat for years, so I can help out in a pinch and not spoil the party.

- I kept bursting into laughter over the big conspiracy theory floated by Brown, about ID being just a way for US parents to get prayer and the Ten Commandments back into the schools. (You mean ... as opposed to drugs and guns? How awful! Whatever could those parents be thinking?) I hope the camera wasn't pointed at me, but I don't have time to watch the tape to find out.

In the green room before air time and before Professor Osmond got there, Professor Brown wondered out loud how Osmond could be a religious scientist.

His sniffy tone left no doubt whatever of the ocean of acceptable prejudice underlying the comment. On the show, not surprisingly, he slammed the idea of meaning and purpose in the universe, while Osmond and I defended it.

Later, while watching the trees empty (trying to estimate how many leaf bags I'll need this year), I found myself thinking about the modern day "political church" in science.

In the former Soviet Union, there were churches that never fell afoul of the atheistic establishment because they never said anything that challenged it. To listen to them, the only reason the establishment hated and persecuted Christians was that some Christians brought it on themselves by meeting out in the woods to teach authentic Christian doctrines and secretly printing Bibles.

By the "political church." in science, I mean therefore the Christians in science who do nothing about the genuine persecution and gratuitous cheap shots against their fellows who take the risk of accumulating evidence against materialism. Hey, some can even look me in the face and deny it exists, even when I have covered many of the stories myself!

According to them, dissenters - ID types in particular - who think there might actually be evidence of design or purpose in the universe, bring the persecution on themselves How dare they?

Interestingly, according to science historianTed Davis, of the American Scientific Affiliation,

A significant percentage (I do not have a good sense of how large "significant" actually is, but my sense is that it must be at least 35-50%) of ASA members are sympathetic to ID.

Some in the ASA leadership (ie, members of council, for which I find myself now a candidate) in recent years have been sympathetic to ID, but I think most council members have not been very sympathetic to ID. Partly there could be the following dynamic here: if someone like Dembski or Meyer (say) were to be elected to the council and then in due course to become president for a year, it might appear to many on the outside who do not know us well that the ASA has then become an arm of TDI. [The Discovery Institute] In the political climate that drives this issue on most levels, that conclusion would be wrong but difficult to refute--and thus regrettable, since it is never good to apply the wrong conclusions to organizations or individuals. Hence there may be a greater reluctance than otherwise there might be, to have someone elected to council who is publicly linked with the ID movement. Nevertheless, some recent council members are very sympathetic to ID, a statement I base on personal conversation with the people I have in mind.

Oh, not to worry, Ted. No one would credibly accuse ASA of being an arm of the Discovery Institute. That would take a courage the organization has not demonstrated in the face of obvious provocations.

So they're sympathetic? Then are they just going to stand by and watch the persecution of, say, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez - whose only crime is that he was found in possession of evidence from astronomy against atheistic materialism?

Would the scientists who are sympathetic, for example,

- draft and sign a charter for intellectual freedom in the sciences, and challenge others to sign it?

- start systematically centering out bigoted atheists who make pronouncements that would not be acceptable if directed against anyone other than Christians?

- help provide representation and support for academics who are targeted by persecution campaigns?

Like most hacks, I sleep light, so don't nobody worry about waking me up if THAT happens.

Look, members of the public are not experts, but we are not idiots either. What's clear is that materialism is losing because the current evidence from science doesn't support it. Materialists have every incentive to oppress and ridicule, because that's the only time they can buy. The noise from their bully pulpits is as deafening as it is hollow - except that I keep hearing this curious echo from organized groups of Christians in science who are safe as long as they keep their mouths shut.

Don't tell me I'm wrong. Prove me wrong. I love being surprised by people and organizations that behave better than I expected. I am way overstocked with the other kind.

Note: I disabled comments for the present because I am way behind on my story research, and can't keep running back to the blog to delete defamation or obscenity. - cheers, Denyse
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for the following stories?

Stuart Pivar, a friend of the late Stephen Jay Gould, recently asked NCSE to change the wording of the statement for the Steve list - downplaying the role of natural selection in evolution, and spazzed out a lot of Darwinists. Pivar’s book advocating structuralism (biophysics) is to be reviewed in a science journal.


"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. It will be interesting to see the line that the “separation of church and state” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Joseph, Cardinal Schonborn is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.
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