Thursday, January 14, 2010

William Dembski "Admits" to Something We Pretty Much Already Knew

Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars has called William Dembski on the carpet for being a creationist. The problem is that we have known all along that William Dembski is a creationist. He just hasn't admitted it until now. The Discovery Institute tried valiantly to disassociate itself from the term "creationism" some years back. John West wrote in 2002:
Scientists and scholars supportive of intelligent design do not describe themselves as "intelligent design creationists." Indeed, intelligent design scholars do not regard intelligent design theory as a form of creationism. Therefore to employ the term "intelligent design creationism" is inaccurate, inappropriate, and tendentious, especially on the part of scholars and journalists who are striving to be fair. "Intelligent design creationism" is not a neutral description of intelligent design theory. It is a polemical label created for rhetorical purposes. "Intelligent design" is the proper neutral description of the theory.
As Barbara Forrest has shown in devastating fashion, however, this may be true figuratively but is not true practically. About William Dembski, she writes this:
Dembski contends that ID proponents must “engage the secular world, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting it, pointing to the truth of Christianity and producing strong arguments and valid criticisms that show where secularism has missed the mark” (quoted in Forrest and Gross, 2005, 200).
Brayton points out that Dembski complained bitterly about being labeled a creationist by Robert Pennock, and it is not clear in what sense Pennock meant "creationist." Dembski has stated on many occasions (here and here, for example) that, in terms of the age of the earth, ID has no horse in the race and that he is not a creationist. Imagine everyone's surprise when he took off the mask and said "I am a creationist":
Johnny T. Helms' concerns about my book THE END OF CHRISTIANITY as well as his concerns about my role as a seminary professor in the SBC are unfounded. I subscribe to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as well as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. I believe Adam and Eve were literal historical persons specially created by God. I am not, as he claims, a theistic evolutionist. Within the Southern Baptist seminaries, both old-earth and young-earth creationism are accepted positions. True, young-earth creationism remains the majority view in the SBC, but it is not a litmus test for Christian orthodoxy within the SBC. I'm an old-earth creationist and the two SBC seminaries at which I've taught (Southern in Louisville and Southwestern in Ft. Worth) both were fully apprised of my views here in hiring me.
I don't have a problem with Dembski being a creationist. It is also perfectly fine to stand up and say "I am a Christian!" I am also a creationist. I just happen to be a old-earth theistic evolutionist as well. That's not the problem. The problem is that many within the ID camp want to claim that ID has absolutely nothing to do with belief in God but is amenable to the pursuit of science by itself. The public agenda of those promoting ID, however, is very bent on linking it with Christianity. Dembski himself has said:
Intelligent design, on the other hand, readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory." - quoted from Dembski, W., A., Kushiner, James M., (editors), Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001.
The long and glorious history of the Wedge Document also belies the "neutral description" of the activities of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and culture. Contrast that with the quote that began this post. It is this air of deception that makes people think twice about the whole enterprise.

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