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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Did the premier organization of Christians in science really choose to target fellow Christians instead of materialism in science? Apparently so.

Over at Uncommon Descent, another ID blog, a most interesting row is brewing. In "American Scientific Affiliation - whateverhappened to its mission?", Bill Dembski alludes to an earlier post of mine:
I write this post to put into perspective Denyse O’Leary’s recent remarks about the “gutting of a spiritual tradition from within” (see here — the relevance of her remarks to the ASA cannot be missed) and to highlight that with the efforts by Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris to ramp up their propaganda for atheism since this letter by Jack Haas was written suggests that the ASA was mistaken in shifting its emphasis away from “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism.”

He addresses something I find truly shocking:
About three years ago I received the following mass mailing from the ASA’s Jack Haas (I’ve known Jack since 1990 and our exchanges have always been cordial). In this letter he describes how the ASA had, in times past, been concerned to address “the sweeping tide of scientific materialism,” but had recently decided to change its emphasis to combat young-earth creationism.

If the problem with young-earth creationism is that it is off by a few orders of magnitude about the age of the earth and universe, the problem with scientific materialism is that is off by infinite orders of magnitude about what is ultimately the nature of nature.

appending the relevant letter.

Well, that sheds considerable light on why the 2000-member organization of Christians in science has been AWOL from the main battle for so long. In an age when the non-materialist taxpayer has been compelled to fund materialist propaganda in science textbooks, when science textbooks routinely promote long-exploded errors in order to advance Darwinism, and key Darwinists promote a widely publicized anti-God campaign, this premier organization of Christians in science has chosen to largely (or entirely) ignore these problems and instead ... conduct a war against the doctrinal position of some fundamentalist denominations. (The belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.)

It beggars belief, but it is apparently true.

Now, I am not saying that no one has done anything about the attempt of materialists to make materialism a publicly funded religion, with Darwinism as its creation story. As a matter of fact, ID guys like Dembski, the "evil" Discovery Institute, the estimable Muslim Mustafa Akyol, and others have jumped into the fray, even though they could all have just crowed, "See! We told you so! That's where Darwinism leads!" But they didn't do that because they actually cared about what was happening.

The fact that some publicly funded textbooks have had to clean up their act in recent years has everything to do with their efforts, as several correspondents have pointed out to me, and nothing whatever to do with ASA.

I have been covering controversies for my entire career as a journalist (now three and a half decades) and I recognize ASA's decision to combat young earth creationism instead of materialism for what it is - a familiar type of copout on the part of a sclerotic organization.

They removed themselves from the scene of engagement just before the serious battle with materialists began, leaving the field to be defended by the Dembski gang and assorted other non-materialists of varying types.

Worse, they turned their fire on fellow Christians.

YECs have virtually no serious social influence. For example, when Canadian prime ministerial hopeful Stockwell Day revealed that he was a YEC, his chances of the highest office were kayoed. Few scientists will rise in their field unless they conceal any sympathies they may have for non-standard time frames, however justified.

Indeed, I have just learned of yet another scientist who was fired most likely because he was insufficiently supportive of Darwinism (but I cannot say anything as yet). Indeed, if I did, I am sure that the egregious "ASA list" (which supposedly does not represent the organization) would seethe with posts purporting to show that the guy had it coming to him, just as it recently did with attacks on Smithsonian scientist Rick Sternberg, who was widely abused for permitting a journal article to question Darwin.

That, by the way, is another familiar dodge of sclerotic organizations: Claim that the hatchet jobs done under the banner of the organization's name do not really represent it. If the "ASA list" does not really represent ASA, the list should be ordered to change its name, go private, or just shut down.

I suspect that the true reason for ASA's posture is that the ASA types do not want the humiliation of being told in so many words by their atheist peers that the only reason they are not persecuted by materialists - the way the ID guys are - is that they are useless and irrelevant, except when they aid the atheists' cause by attacking fellow Christians.

Anyone who really does give the materialists grief will face serious attacks. For example, is Francisco Ayala invited to a confab to tell everyone about the danger presented by ASA? No, of course not. And why not? Because a chap can be royally popular at ASA and have tons of blowhards defending him against an obscure Canadian journalist - her crime was to reveal to a wider audience than the few people who bother to read the ASA public archive that he doubts that there is any "special supernatural component" in the human being. Well, if he doubts THAT, then ...* Meanwhile, Ayala wants everyone to know that intelligent design is a big danger because the ID guys mean business.

Look, I wouldn't care if I were not a Christian science journalist. After all, if I were an atheist science journalist, I would point gleefully to ASA as an example of the level to which Christians in science have sunk - attacking fundamentalist denominations' beliefs while atheistic materialists ride roughshod over anyone whatever who disagrees with their agenda for the sciences - the Dalai Lama, the Pope, the Southern Baptists, the Muslims, scientists whose research does not support some materialist agenda - or whoever. But at some point the disgrace must surely come to an end.

And here's how I hope it will come to an end: The organization should either get real about the key current issues or diminish in proportion to its irrelevance.

*Apparently, that guy was supposed to be counselling a Christian whose faith was endangered. Well, it's hard to imagine how talking to him would help. The most important thing the troubled person needs to know is that he or she really does have a supernatural component, a light that cannot be extinguished by troubled circumstances.

Since I am here anyway, here is some advice for Christians troubled in faith: Stay away from all Darwinists of whatever type, whether they claim to be Christians, "from a Christian background," or "from a fundamentalist background." Do not concern yourself at present about the age of the Earth. You are immortal; the Earth is not. Join a serious church and ask for a godly pastoral counsellor. Find a committed fellowship group, and avoid obvious occasions of sin. Pray and read the Bible daily. Study the lives of the saints and follow godly examples. Practice charity with everyone you meet. Repeat daily as long as you live.
My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

Animations of life inside the cell, indexed, for your convenience.

My review of sci-fi great Rob Sawyer’s novel, The Calculating God , which addresses the concept of intelligent design. My reviews of movies relevant to the intelligent deisgn controversy.

My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God , my backgrounder about peer review issues, or the evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin and of academic ID publications.

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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